Media Review for March 16, 2016

Nigeria Mosque Hit by Maiduguri Suicide Bombers
Two female suicide bombers have attacked a mosque in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, killing 22 worshippers, emergency officials say. The first bomber struck inside the mosque, while the second blew herself up outside as survivors tried to flee, eye witnesses told the BBC. Seventeen other people were wounded in the attack, an official told AFP. Militant Islamists Boko Haram have often targeted the city in their seven-year insurgency. BBC

West Africa violence: France to Deploy Reaction Force in Burkina Faso
France has said it will deploy a paramilitary police force in the capital of Burkina Faso to react quickly in the event of new attacks by Islamist militants in West Africa. The move comes two days after gunmen opened fire at an Ivory Coast beach resort killing 18 people, including four French citizens. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said it carried out the assault. Militants have also launched attacks in Burkina Faso and Mali recently. BBC

Al Qaeda’s Branch in Africa Makes a Lethal Comeback
Almost four years ago, the group, known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, had reached its zenith, ruling over a remote stretch of northern Mali the size of Texas. But when it started creeping south toward the capital, Bamako, French troops rushed in, chasing the militants across the desert, where they were believed to have suffered catastrophic losses. Now, the group is making a devastating comeback. Until relatively recently, it was best known around the world for kidnapping Westerners in remote parts of the Sahel and using the ransoms to support itself. But its recent assaults on three enclaves for expatriates and African elites — in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Mali — seem to be patterned after the kind of big, shocking terrorist attacks carried out by rival extremist groups like the Islamic State. The New York Times

What Went Wrong in Côte d’Ivoire? [Video]
With West Africa – and France – still reeling from last week’s bloody attack at the Grand Bassam beach resort outside Côte d’Ivoire’s the political situation in the region is growing increasingly unstable. General Dominique Trinquand is a military specialist, and former military envoy at NATO and the EU, as well as permanent military representative at the United Nations in recent times.  In an interview Tuesday we asked him about the security situation in the Sahel and West Africa in the wake of the attacks just outside Cote d’Ivoire’s economic capital, Abidjan. The attack has been claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and left 15 civilians dead, including three special forces troops. In all 33 people were reported injured 26 of whom are still in hospital.  RFI

Al Qaeda Says Ivory Coast Attack Was Revenge Against France
Al Qaeda’s North African branch said its attack on a beach resort in Ivory Coast on Sunday that killed 18 people was revenge for a France’s offensive against Islamist militants in the Sahel region and called for its forces to withdraw. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve arrived on Tuesday to reassure the large French community and boost the investigation into the attack in Grand Bassam, in which four French citizens died. Three Ivorian special forces personnel were killed and three of the attackers were also among the dead. [nL5N16M30G] The statement by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was posted on the group’s social media accounts on Monday. “We repeat our call to all countries involved in the French invasion of Mali to withdraw,” it said, naming the attackers but giving no further details of their identities. France launched Operation Serval to oust militants from northern Mali and replaced it in 2014 with Operation Barkhane which targets militants across the Sahel region. Reuters

In Senegal, a Beach Town Slowly Wakes Up to Islamist Threat
Two days after al Qaeda gunman shot dead 18 people on an Ivory Coast beach, tourists strolled nonchalantly down a similar stretch of sand in the Senegalese resort of Saly on Tuesday, browsing trinkets on sale and paddling in the Atlantic. Even though the jihadist group’s Saharan wing, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has made clear Senegal is in its sights because of its close ties to France, security was noticeable largely by its absence. No police patrolled the beaches, a favourite weekend retreat 60 km (40 miles) south of the capital, Dakar, and the only guards wandering around as hotel guests sat eating breakfast in the shade of palm trees were unarmed. And yet a cloud now hangs over Saly and resorts across West Africa after the Ivory Coast attack, which marked a change in tactics by AQIM, whose militants have in the last four months hit large hotels and restaurants in Bamako and Ouagadougou, the capitals of Mali and Burkina Faso respectively. Ivory Coast, the largest economy in Francophone West Africa and the world’s top exporter of cocoa, was already on high alert, knowing it was a target for Islamist militants keen to expand their reach beyond the Sahara and Sahel. Reuters

Nigeria Massacre, Two Years On: Justice is Elusive for Forgotten Prison Dead
“The soldiers asked the people to lie on the ground… a few minutes later they started shooting. I counted 198 people killed at that checkpoint,” a man told Amnesty International, recalling the roundup of detainees who had escaped from Giwa barracks two years ago. The people killed there are just some of the more than 640 men and boys slaughtered by the Nigerian Army on 14 March 2014. Most of them were shot, but some had their throats cut, before they were tossed into open mass graves. Two years on, not a single person has been held to account for this atrocity. The jailbreak that preceded this carnage in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri in March 2014 occurred when armed militant group Boko Haram descended on Giwa barracks in the early hours of the day. Hundreds of detainees were released. The fighters fled the city with any detainees who wanted to join the group. The Nigerian military responded with murder. Many of the 1,600 detainees held at Giwa were afterwards arrested in so-called “screening” operations in which entire communities were rounded up and young males picked out, without any evidence of having committed a crime. They were detained for months or even years without charge or trial. Daily Maverick

Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea to Sign Maritime Security Agreement
Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea will work together to secure waters in the Gulf of Guinea, a region plagued by piracy and militant unrest, according to the office of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari will lead a delegation on Monday to Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, for concluding talks with President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and the subsequent signing of an agreement on Tuesday, the Nigerian presidency said in an e-mailed statement on Sunday. The Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean straddles both nation’s maritime boundaries. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and pumps almost all of its crude from the gulf and the neighboring Niger River delta. Shipments are poised to shrink to a two-year low amid rising pipeline shutdowns linked to sabotages.  Bloomberg

Nigeria’s Government May Have Just Caught the State-Owned Oil Company Hiding $16 Billion
When Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari came to power a year ago, the former military leader vowed to rid the West African country of corruption that costs the economy billions of dollars annually. Now, his administration may have uncovered the biggest case of graft to date, with a report out this week revealing missing revenues from the state’s nationalized oil company totaling $16 billion. The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) is required to pay all of its revenue to the federal government, but in 2014 the corporation reportedly held onto the 3.2 trillion naira in revenues. The information was revealed in a report that Auditor-General Samuel Ukura gave to the national assembly on Monday. Each year, NNPC is expected to pay the entirety of its revenues to the Central Bank of Nigeria. In total, oil company exports $77 billion worth of oil per year. Ukura compiled the information for the report by examining information from NNPC and the central bank. VICE

Nigeria’s ‘Eight-Year-old Teachers’ Draw Salaries
Children as young as eight are being paid teaching salaries by the state as part of identity fraud in the north-eastern Nigerian state of Bauchi, officials have found. The scam, which involves drawing the salaries of non-existent civil servants, is widespread, a BBC correspondent in Nigeria says. But the government has recently been cracking down, removing thousands of “ghost workers” from its payroll. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy. It is the continent’s top oil producer, but its economy is currently under huge strain due to the recent collapse in oil prices. The state has been able to save millions of dollars as a result of an ongoing verification of its workforce, the auditor general for Bauchi said. BBC

New Libyan Government Prepares to Establish Tripoli Office
Ministers from a newly appointed Libyan unity government are expected to establish an office in Tripoli in the coming days, but their arrival is likely to be contested and could trigger fresh violence in the capital. Western capitals predict the new government will give a green light to a future military training programme for a new Libyan army and back the US-led airstrikes against Islamic State militants already under way. The new government of national accord was nominated over the weekend by a UN-recognised provisional government in exile, the presidency council based in Tunis, a move that was quickly endorsed by the US, the UN and EU. The Guardian

UK Denies Plan to Send Troops to Support New Libyan Government
The government has said it has no plans to deploy British troops to provide security for Libya’s newly-appointed national unity government. The denial came in response to a letter to the foreign secretary from Crispin Blunt MP, the chairman of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, seeking a statement to parliament in advance of any military action. Blunt had argued that the first formal move of a new Libyan government was likely to be to ask Britain and its allies to conduct airstrikes against Islamic State targets in the country, according to Blunt. Isis, with strongholds in Syria and Iraq, has expanded its presence in Libya, taking over the town of Sirte and other areas, taking advantage of the absence of a government and of increasing unrest. The Guardian

Morocco Says to Cut U.N. Western Sahara Mission After Ban Remarks
Morocco’s government said on Tuesday it would cut staff at the United Nations’ Western Sahara mission and threatened to pull out of United Nations peacekeeping missions after “unacceptable” comments by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the disputed region. The statement came on Tuesday after Ban met with Morocco’s foreign minister to express his anger over remarks by the Moroccan government and a demonstration in Rabat which he said was a personal attack following his Western Sahara comments. Rabat accused Ban last week of no longer being neutral in the Western Sahara conflict, saying he used the word “occupation” to describe Morocco’s presence in the region that has been at the centre of a dispute for decades. Reuters

Algerian Extremist Killed in Military Operation
Algerian authorities say they have killed a long-time extremist fighter in a military operation west of Algiers. Mouloud Baal, also known as “El Moundhir,” was a former member of the Armed Islamic Group, which tried to bring down the Algerian state during the 1990s. Algeria’s defense ministry said in a statement that “a dangerous terrorist” was “neutralized” on Sunday near the town of Gouraya, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of the Algerian capital. Baal also played a role in the suicide attacks against the Cherchell military academy in 2011 whose responsibility was claimed by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The ministry added in Monday’s statement that a Kalashnikov-type assault rifle and ammunition were seized during the operation.  AP on Stars and Stripes

IMF Sees Oil Price Risk for Algeria
The International Monetary Fund warned Algeria’s government that deep structural reforms are necessary to buffer against pressure from low oil prices. Algeria has the 10th-largest natural gas deposits in the world and is the third-largest supplier to Europe. Its exports have been in decline, however, because of lagging foreign investments. Crude oil production is around 1.1 million barrels per day and the country is the largest African member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Jean-Francois Dauphin, a regional staff leader for the IMF, said the nation’s economy is under sustained pressure from lingering weakness in oil prices. “The impact of the oil price shock on growth has been limited thus far, but the fiscal and external balances have deteriorated significantly,” he said in a statement. UPI

Italy’s Largest Contractor a Threat to Thousands in Kenya‚ Ethiopia
An Italian engineering company has been reported to the OECD because the dam it is building is set to destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in Kenya and Ethiopia.Survival International (SI)‚ a global movement for the rights of tribal peoples‚ reported engineering giant Salini to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development over the construction of the dam‚ which has cut off the Omo River’s regular flooding‚ which 100‚000 people rely on to water their crops and livestock. Times Live

SA Military Court Sitting in the DRC
South African military justice is in theatre this week to try 32 soldiers accused of misconduct by MONUSCO, the UN mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A statement issued by the mission, the largest of its kind operated by the United Nations and currently under the command of Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi, former SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations Division head, said the cases to be heard this week in the DRC did not involve sexual abuse. This comes in the wake of 99 allegations of sexual abuse attributed to UN peacekeepers last year. While not confirmed by the SANDF, this week’s hearing are believed to be in connection with charges of AWOL (absent without official leave). This is not the first time the South African military legal apparatus has been deployed continentally with judges, prosecutors and legal clerks working from mobile courts based where needed. DefenceWeb

South African Court Attacks Government over ‘Disgraceful’ Flight of al-Bashir
South Africa’s Supreme Court (SCA) has criticised the government’s “disgraceful conduct” for allowing Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), to leave the country despite a high court order for him to be detained. The SCA said the government broke international and domestic laws when it ignored an interim instruction by a Pretoria judge that he be kept in South Africa while he decided whether an ICC arrest warrant should be executed. Mr Bashir normally struggles to travel internationally because of the warrant but was invited by South Africa to attend an African Union summit in Johannesburg in June last year. The court also dismissed the government’s explanation that it did not know Mr Bashir was flying out because his passport were not among those handed to South African officials by the Sudanese delegation as “risible”. The Telegraph

Sudan Security Agents Seize Newspaper
Sudanese security agents confiscated all copies of the Tuesday edition of a newspaper seen as close to the government, its editor said, the latest such seizure in a country criticised for media restrictions. On Monday night, “after the printing finished for the Tuesday edition, members of the security apparatus came to the printer and seized all copies” of Al-Sudani without giving reasons, the daily’s chief editor Dia al-din Bilal told AFP. Journalists in Sudan complain of harassment from the authorities and the country regularly ranks near the bottom of international press freedom indexes. The powerful National Intelligence and Security Service often confiscates entire print runs of newspapers over articles that it deems to be offensive, rarely explaining why.  News 24

Mbabazi Lawyers Say EC Had No Results to Announce Museveni Winner
On the second day of the hearing in the ongoing election petition at Uganda’s Supreme Court challenging President Yoweri Museveni’s win, the petitioner’s lawyers spent much of Tuesday scrutinising affidavits as part of their evidence of non-compliance with the various electoral laws and the Constitution. The petitioner – former prime minister Amama Mbabazi’s – legal team said that there were no results that the Electoral Commission used to declared the winner in line with the Presidential Elections Act, the Electoral Commission Act and the Constitution. Led by Muhammad Mbabazi, the former premier’s team argued that under the law, Declaration of Results (DR) forms, tally sheets and returns from the districts’ polling stations were mandatory before the Electoral Commission, the second respondent in the case, declared the presidential election winner. “We have discharged the burden that there was non-compliance with section 56 of the Presidential Elections Act and Section 48 (iii) of the Constitution because there was fundamental departure from the principles underlying these sections which rendered the outcome a nullity,” said Mr Mbabazi. The East African

Mugabe is ‘the Godfather of Corruption’
The opposition People’s Democratic Party has called for the immediate resignation of President Robert Mugabe over the missing $15 billion in diamond revenue and to allow a national transitional authority to lead the country to fresh elections. The party’s national organising secretary, Solomon Madzore, said Mugabe’s recent revelation that the country had lost such a huge amount in the Chiadzwa mining fields in the past seven years had confirmed fears by former Finance Minister and now PDP President, Tendai Biti, that Chiadzwa diamonds had been looted on a large scale. IOL News

Zimbabwe Hunger May Spiral Out of Control, UN Warns
Malnutrition rates in Zimbabwe are at risk of “spiralling out of control” if more is not done to prevent the crisis, the UN has warned. The country has endured two years of failed rains, with this year’s problems linked to the El Nino weather pattern. Last month, President Robert Mugabe declared a state of disaster in rural parts of the country hit by a drought. In January, nearly three million Zimbabweans needed food aid, but that figure may have risen. The UN’s children’s agency, Unicef, said nearly 33,000 children were suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and they were in urgent need of treatment. “We have not seen these levels of malnutrition in more than 15 years,” Unicef’s Zimbabwe representative Jane Muita said.  BBC

Hunger Crisis Deepens in Africa
The number of Zimbabweans requiring food aid has risen from 3 million to 4 million as the southern African nation struggles with its worst drought in more than two decades. Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Minister, Prisca Mupfumira, told the Herald newspaper that the authorities were speeding up grain imports to ensure that no one starves. “Indications are that the figure of vulnerable households requiring food assistance could be as high as four million people,” she said. A committee comprised of UN agencies, government officials, and NGO activists, last year concluded that 1.5 million needed food aid. They also appealed for $1.6 billion (1.5 billion euros) in aid to help pay for grain and other food. Mupfumira said government stocks of maize, the staple food, were 91,326 metric tones as of March 10 – enough to last three months but drought may stretch until next year. Deutsche Welle

Fearing the Tide in West Point, a Slum Already Swamped With Worry
[…] Liberia and neighboring countries, West Point is a place where poor people can survive — and where the more ambitious can make a modest something from nothing.“Our brothers can help us, and we can help them,” said Mary Goll, a former fighter for Charles G. Taylor, the warlord who is serving a 50-year sentence in a British jail for crimes against humanity. Ms. Goll now runs a bar in West Point, where she has lived since the end of the country’s civil war in 2003. “To look for money here is easy.” West Point rose from the ocean in the 1940s, when Monrovia’s first shipping port was dredged and created. A group of fishermen moved to the sandy patch of land next to the heart of Monrovia, and the capital’s largest slum was born. As the years passed and migration and war pushed more Liberians into Monrovia, West Point expanded. Now it is packed with local fishermen and migrants from upcountry; gangsters who steal car batteries, rob people and deal drugs; and market women selling piles of coal, chicken feet and potato greens. The New York Times

Video: Hunting Elephant Poachers in Democratic Republic of Congo
The BBC’s Alastair Leithead joins rangers in Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Garamba National Park as they hunt elephant poachers. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones