Media Review for May 9, 2016

Kenya Says It Will Shut Down The World’s Largest Refugee Camp
Kenya says it plans to shut down two refugee camps, including the world’s largest, due to security concerns. The announcement was swiftly condemned by human rights groups that say the move puts some of the world’s most vulnerable people at risk. In a statement, the Kenyan government says it is working to expedite the closure of the Dadaab and Kakuma camps. They’re home to hundreds of thousands of refugees, the vast majority fleeing violence in neighboring Somalia. The government has made such threats previously. Last year, it announced it was closing the camps but later “backed down in the face of international pressure,” CNN reports. NPR

Somalia: 4 Klled as Extremists Attack Police Headquarters
A suicide car bomber struck the entrance of Somalia’s traffic police headquarters in the capital on Monday , killing four people and injuring nine others, said a police official. Two police officers were among the dead and two armed extremists who tried to storm the traffic police premises in Mogadishu’s Abdiaziz district were also shot dead, said Capt. Mohamed Hassan. Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack, which shattered a period of calm in the seaside city.  AP on The Washington Post

U.S.-Funded Somali Intelligence Agency has Been Using Kids as Spies
For years they were children at war, boys given rifles and training by al-Qaeda-backed militants and sent to the front lines of this country’s bloody conflict. Many had been kidnapped from schools and soccer fields and forced to fight. The United Nations pleaded for them to be removed from the battlefield. The United States denounced the Islamist militants for using children to plant bombs and carry out assassinations. But when the boys were finally disarmed — some defecting and others apprehended — what awaited them was yet another dangerous role in the war. This time, the children say, they were forced to work for the Somali government. The boys were used for years as informants by the country’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), according to interviews with the children and Somali and U.N. officials. They were marched through neighborhoods where al-Shabab insurgents were hiding and told to point out their former comrades. The faces of intelligence agents were covered, but the boys — some as young as 10 — were rarely concealed, according to the children. Several of them were killed. One tried to hang himself while in custody. The Washington Post

Uganda Considers Withdrawing from Somalia
Uganda is considering pulling its troops out of Somalia, which could bring to an end a nine-year peace keeping mission in the war torn country. Since 2007 Uganda has played an important role in the war country that has resulted in the pacification of large parts of Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu. It has emerged; however, that Uganda’s army is carrying out a review of its deployment in peacekeeping missions in Somalia with a view of returning its forces back home. Quoting sources in government today, BBC reported that the review could also affect Uganda’s troop currently stationed in Central African Republic. It is not clear why Uganda is considering the latest move. However, quoting sources in government, BBC reported that President Yoweri Museveni had mentioned the possible end of both missions to foreign diplomats recently. Army spokesman Lt Col Paddy Ankunda confirmed the development. – New Vision

East Africa: Nairobi, Juba Lead Region in Military Expenditure
Regional economies last year spent $3.2 billion on their military hardware last year, an increase from the previous year, as they sought to modernise their weapons and to tackle the increasing terrorism threat. Data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an independent resource on global security, shows that South Sudan and Kenya continued to be the region’s top spenders on military equipment. Juba spent $1.36 billion while Nairobi spent $954 million, up from $819 million in the previous year. Only Uganda recorded a drop in its military spending, from $326 million in 2014 to $288 million last year. East African on allAfrica

Machar Calls for Forgiveness and Reconciliation in South Sudan
South Sudan’s First Vice President, Riek Machar, has called on the people of South Sudan to forgive one another and reconcile in order to unite the people of the young nation and leave behind the bitter past. Machar, who is also the chairman of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) and commander-in-chief of the SPLA-IO, made the remarks on Sunday to over 5,000 members of the Presbyterian church congregation in Juba who attended the church service. Sudan Tribune

Uganda Rebels in Deadly Attacks on Two Villages
A Ugandan rebel group killed at least 10 people and abducted six others during attacks on two villages in eastern Congo, a rights organisation said on Saturday. Rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) carried out the attacks in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, a leading activist of the Congo-based human rights organisation CRDH said. A team was investigating the killings on Friday, coordinator Jean-Paul Ngahangondi told dpa, adding that the number of victims could increase. The Islamist ADF was founded in Uganda in 1995 and later moved to Congo. It has massacred hundreds of civilians in the eastern Congo in recent years.  IOL News

Kenya, Rwanda Record Positive Growth as Violence Takes Toll of Burundi
Rwanda and Kenya are the only economies in the region that saw growth rates rise last year, as currency depreciation, falling commodity prices and high interest regimes hurt various sectors in the other economies. Rwanda’s economy grew to 6.5 per cent last year up from 6 per cent the year before, while Kenya recorded a 5.6 per cent up from 5.3 per cent, buoyed by expansion in the agriculture, construction and real estate sectors. Uganda recorded the sharpest drop in growth, from 5.9 per cent in 2014 to 5.2 per cent growth last year, while Tanzania saw a 0.3 percentage point drop to 6.9 per cent — but it still recorded the highest growth within the region. The East African

IS Group Claims Deadly Attack on Police Vear Cairo
Gunmen shot dead eight plainclothed Egyptian policemen in the Helwan district south of Cairo, the interior ministry said Sunday, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group. The policemen were travelling in a minivan when the assailants in a pickup truck blocked their path and sprayed the vehicle with automatic rifle fire, the ministry said. The IS group’s Egyptian branch claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying that “a squad of the soldiers of the caliphate” opened fire on the van in Helwan, killing the policemen and then making off with their weapons. It said the attack was retaliation for “the pure women imprisoned” in Egyptian jails. The interior ministry said the dead included a lieutenant and seven lower ranking policemen who were patrolling the area just south of the capital when they were ambushed late at night. France 24

Egypt Sentences 6 to Death over Spying for Qatar
An Egyptian Court on Saturday sentenced to death six people linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood on charges of spying and leaking “classified documents” to Qatar, state-run Nile TV reported. Ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and four other prominent Brotherhood figures are also charged in the case, but the court delayed their verdict till June 18 due over failure to show up in the court room on time, a judge said. The six convicted defendants include two documentary and media producers with Qatari Al Jazeera channel. Morsi was convicted in three other cases to death, a life sentence and 20 years in prison. According to the prosecution, Morsi and the other 10 co-defendants had leaked “classified documents” to Qatar. IOL News

Gaddafi Loyalists Join West in Battle to Push Islamic State from Libya
Former henchmen of Colonel Gaddafi are being recruited to join the Western-backed battle to drive the Islamic State from Libya, the Telegraph has learned. Commanders who fought on Gaddafi’s side during the revolution in 2011 have signed up to a coalition now gearing up to push Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) from his home city of Sirte. The commanders – some of whom fled Libya after the revolution – see the move as a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of their fellow countrymen. In joining the anti-Isil coalition, which is made up of different Libyan militias, they will be fighting on the same side as SAS teams sent to help behind the scenes. British and American special forces have already spent several months on intelligence-gathering operations around Sirte, from where Isil is feared to be planning attacks on European soil. The Telegraph

Djibouti President Sworn In for Fourth Term in Office
Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh was sworn in for a fourth term in office Sunday in a ceremony attended by several regional heads of states and dignitaries. Guelleh took the oath of office at his presidential residence in the capital, Djibouti City. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn were among those in attendance. VOA

China Envoy to Visit Djibouti, Site of 1st Overseas Base
Chinese President Xi Jinping is sending a special envoy to visit the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, where China is establishing a naval logistics center that is widely seen as the first overseas base for its increasingly powerful military. Deputy head of the national legislature Yan Junqi will this week attend the inauguration of Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh followed by that of President Yoweri Museveni in nearby Uganda, The official Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday. The report didn’t say whether Yan would visit the base construction site. However, her presence at the inauguration underscores the region’s political, military and economic importance to China. China says the logistics center is intended to service a variety of missions, primarily anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast that China has been participating in since 2008. AP on ABC News

Death Toll in Kenya Building Collapse Rises to 49 – Police
The six-storey building in Huruma, a poor neighbourhood in the city, was constructed near a river and had been condemned by the authorities but it is unclear why it remained occupied. It tumbled down in a heavy downpour on the night of April 29. “Seven more bodies were retrieved at the collapsed building over the weekend, bringing the death toll to 49,” Japheth Koome, Nairobi police commander, told Reuters. He said the number of those rescued now stood at 140 and that a rescue operation continued at the site. The disaster was the latest of its kind in a rapidly expanding city where enforcement of construction codes is lax and violations are rarely punished. Reuters on Times Live

Home of Congo Presidential Challenger is Surrounded by Police
Moise Katumbi, the former governor of an important province in the Democratic Republic of Congo and now an outspoken opposition figure, has announced he is running for president of Congo in an election that is supposed to be held by the end of this year. Analysts have said that Mr. Katumbi poses the greatest threat to Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, and soon after his announcement, his home was surrounded by security forces, aides to Mr. Katumbi said on Thursday. Mr. Katumbi said on Twitter that the police had arrived to arrest him. “This is Kabila’s response to my presidential bid!” he wrote in French and English. Dangerous tensions have been steadily rising across Congo as the presidential election approaches. Mr. Kabila, who has been in office since 2001, faces term limits and is supposed to step down this year, but he has not indicated he will do so. He seems to be heading in the direction of other recent African presidents who plunged their nations into turmoil by tinkering, or trying to tinker, with term limits. The New York Times

DRC Opposition Politician to be Quizzed over ‘SA Mercenaries’
Opposition politician Moise Katumbi will appear before a prosecutor in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday over government allegations he recruited foreign mercenaries. Katumbi – who plans to run against President Joseph Kabila in elections due this year – has been summoned by the public prosecutor in Lubumbashi in the southeast of the country as part of an inquiry into his alleged use of mercenaries. “He has absolutely nothing to hide,” said Olivier Kamitatu, of G7, a coalition of seven opposition parties supporting Katumbi’s candidature. Kamitatu called for international observers to be present at the hearing to avoid any miscarriage of justice. Katumbi, 51, who went over to the opposition in September 2015 after resigning as governor and quitting the president’s party, is a major figure in the political scene of the giant central African country. News 24

DRC Proposes Slashing 2016 Budget by 22%
Democratic Republic of Congo’s government is proposing slashing its budget for 2016 by 22 percent, in large part due to lower global metals prices, according to a revised budget to be presented to parliament. The government also revised its projection for gross domestic product growth this year to 6.6 percent from an initial forecast of 9.0 percent, according to the document released on Friday. “The decline in government receipts is notably due to the suspension of some mining activities, the closure of some mining businesses and a decline in the amount of imports coming through the (Tanzanian) port of Dar es Salaam,” it said. Congo is Africa’s leading copper producer but it has been buffeted by a commodities slump that has lowered foreign exchange reserves and heaped pressure on its currency, the franc. Africa Report

Congo Captures Senior Commander of Rwandan Genocide-linked Rebels
Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo said they had arrested the deputy commander of a rebel group linked to Rwanda’s genocide, in a blow to a militia at the heart of two decades of conflict in the region. But in a reminder of ongoing violence in Congo’s conflict-torn east, suspected rebels from another group hacked at least nine people to death near the boundary between North Kivu and Ituri provinces on Friday. General Leopold Mujyambere, the chief of staff of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), was arrested earlier this week in the eastern city of Goma during a routine police stop, government spokesman Lambert Mende said. “He was recognised (by) the security services who were there,” Mende told Reuters. Mujyambere has been transferred to the capital Kinshasa, where the military justice system will decide whether to try him in Congo or extradite him to his native Rwanda, Mende added. Reuters

Unmasking Mugabe’s allies at the centre of $13 billion diamond scam
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe got the world talking in early March this year, when he used his traditional birthday interview with state television to reveal that his country had produced diamonds worth more than $15 billion over six years, yet only about $2 billion had been accounted for. He dumped this stinking carcass at the doorstep of the eight mining companies that had been operating in the sprawling diamond fields of rural Marange in eastern Zimbabwe and claimed he had no clue how the leakages happened. hat way, President Mugabe, who has been in power for 36 years, skirted, quite conveniently, the role played by the ruling elite in the leakages. The story goes that diamonds were discovered in Marange in 2006. Thousands of illegal miners swamped the area and fed local and international underground syndicates with the gems until 2008 when the government sent in soldiers to violently flush out the gem miners. The East African

Mozambique’s Invisible Civil War
On April 28, local and Portuguese news outlets reported the discovery of a mass grave in central Mozambique containing some 120 bodies. A hasty inspection by local government officials concluded that the report was false — but two days later, a journalist who was prevented by police from visiting the grave itself found a pile of bodies nearby. Further investigations have discovered more bodies in the area. The horrific discoveries add to a growing body of evidence that, almost a quarter century after the end of a 16-year civil war that killed a million people, Mozambique is once again mired in conflict. Our own investigation, which was supported by the Journalism Fund, confirms that the country’s civilian population is once again in the crosshairs — and that this time it’s the government that’s responsible. Mozambique’s civil war was noted for its brutality, meted out in particular by Renamo, a rebel group that was founded, financed, and armed by foreigners bent on destabilizing the country: first by white Rhodesia, then apartheid South Africa. Foreign Policy

Thousands Protest Against Axing of Mauritania Senate 
Thousands of people gathered in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott on Saturday to protest against a move by President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to abolish the senate. The president, who seized power in a coup in 2008, announced on Tuesday that he would hold a constitutional referendum that would remove the senate and replace it with a “regional council”. The protesters massed under the banner of a coalition of 10 opposition parties, which promised further protests if the president continued to “provoke”, and chanted slogans including “Get out”, “No to the gang of predators” and “No to the extension of mandates”. “Our protest today it to tell Ould Abdel Aziz that the constitution is a red line,” said Saleh Ould Henenna, president of the opposition’s Forum for Unity and Democracy (FNDU), addressing the rally in the centre of Nouakchott. News 24

African Countries Deeply divided over Ivory Trade Before U.N. Meeting
Member states of the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) are not meeting until September, but some African countries have already drawn their battle lines on divisive issues such as the ivory trade. Proposals for the meeting in Johannesburg were made public this week, pitting bids by Namibia and Zimbabwe to open up the trade in elephant ivory, against initiatives led by Kenya for a complete global ban on the coveted commodity. Those seeking to open up the trade of wild animal products argue it will raise badly-needed funds for conservation, but others say it would provide cover to poachers and make products that can endanger species socially acceptable to consumers. Reuters

Zambia Former Ruling Party Member ‘Disillusioned’
Mulenga Sata, formerly of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), says he defected to Zambia’s main opposition because he was disillusioned and unhappy with what he says is the lack of fiscal discipline to change the country’s economic outlook to improve the lives of citizens. Sata’s defection to the United Party for National Development (UPND) comes just months ahead of the August 11 general election. He said he couldn’t stand by and do nothing when there are things “seriously” wrong with the way the current administration is running the country. He said PF party officials routinely share with him their frustration and disillusionment of the government and what it is doing wrong. “With the Patriotic Front, what used to happen before is that you have to come up through the ranks to gain seniority to achieve those senior positions. What is happening now is that people are coming in left, right and center, and some of them quite obnoxious members and these are things that were injurious to me and others in the party,” said Sata. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones