Media Review for March 23, 2016

Niger President Issoufou Wins 92.5% of Votes in Runoff Election
Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou won more than 90 percent of votes in a runoff election, according to the electoral commission. Issoufou garnered 92.5 percent of the ballots, Ibrahim Boube, the head of the electoral commission, said at an event in the capital, Niamey, on Tuesday. Opposition leader Hama Amadou got 7.5 percent of votes, he said. The turnout was about 60 percent for Sunday’s election, he said. Issoufou has pledged to keep fighting militants, with the help of the U.S. and France, on three of its seven borders. The West African nation is the least developed in the world, according to the United Nation’s Human Development Index, despite being the world’s fourth-largest producer of uranium. Amadou was flown to a hospital in Paris last week for urgent medical treatment and had been in jail since November in connection to a probe about child-trafficking. He has denied all wrongdoing.  Bloomberg

Burundi: Senior Army Officer Assassinated In the Capital
A high ranking officer in Burundi’s army seen as close to the president was killed in the capital Tuesday, officials said. Lt. Col. Darius Ikurakure was shot dead inside the army headquarters in Bujumbura, multiple officials in the military told The Associated Press. One official said he was hit as he stood reading a noticeboard. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press. Ikurakure had been commander of Camp Muzinda, in Bubanza province, a position that put him in charge of security operations in Bujumbura districts seen as hostile to the government. Ikurakure had been seen as a regime enforcer, accused of being behind extra-judicial killings and disappearances of civilians opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government, said Vital Nshimirimana, a Burundian human rights activist. AP on Stars and Stripes

At Least 5 Dead in Guinea Ebola Flare-up
Ebola has likely killed five people in Guinea after re-emerging in the country’s south, health authorities said on Tuesday, confirming two more deaths registered in recent days. “Since the re-emergence of the disease, we have recorded five deaths, three probable and two confirmed,” said Fode Tass Sylla, spokesperson for the government’s Ebola response unit. The three probable deaths were people who were buried before they could be tested, Sylla said, adding that 961 people may have come into contact with the victims and would now undergo monitoring. Ebola was suspected in the case of a married couple who died in the rural southern village of Koropara, the wife in late February and the husband in early March, authorities had said last week. News 24

Liberia Closes Border with Ebola-hit Guinea
Liberia closed its border with Guinea on Tuesday as a precaution against Ebola following at least four deaths from the virus in Guinea, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nangbe told Reuters. Guinea’s Ebola coordination unit has traced an estimated 816 people who may have come into contact with victims of the disease or their corpses during a recent flare-up in a village in the country’s southeast, a health official said on Monday. Guinea said on Thursday that it had discovered new cases of Ebola just hours after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared neighbouring Sierra Leone’s latest outbreak over. Four people have died in the flare-up in Porokpara. The East African

Benin’s Election is a Setback for la Francafrique
[…] I interviewed Zinsou, by telephone, in early 2015. I was working on a story about the CFA Franc – the currency used by 14 African countries but managed via Paris – and no one, not even French Treasury officials, would go on record in support of the controversial currency, whose primary purpose is to maintain the influence of France in its former colonies. No one, that is, except Zinsou, then managing a private equity firm. He was charming and intelligent, but his argument was premised on a basic assumption: that CFA Franc countries were better off with French involvement than without. That they needed France more than France needed them. Whatever its merits may be, Benin’s recent election result is an unmistakeable rejection of this argument. We’re used to seeing examples of France’s pervasive influence in the region, but this result is an illustration of the limits of that influence. Zinsou’s defeat was, at least in part, a message to the former colonial power that Benin can no longer be considered a vassal state. Attention turns now, as it should, to the man who actually won the ballot. President-elect Talon is a larger-than-life character, a multimillionaire businessmen who turned up to the vote driving a Porsche and wearing a designer suit. Although he led the charge against Zinsou’s French connections – calling him a “yovo”, or “white man” – he also has ties to France. When Talon was accused of attempting to poison President Boni Yayi in 2012 – he has subsequently been pardoned – he fled to France for safety. Daily Maverick

Rising Tension as Cameroon ‘Annexes’16 Nigerian Communities
This certainly is not the best of time for Nigerian communities located along the borders with the Republic of Cameroun. Indeed, 13 years after the ceding of the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroun by the International Court of Justice, ICJ, at The Hague, Netherlands, the Cameroun authorities have been preying on these hapless Nigerian communities in their quest for territorial expansion. They recently upped the tempo when they again annexed 16 more Nigerian villages following the invasion of parts of Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa-Ibom State located within the mangrove island along the Nigeria/Cameroun maritime boundary. Aside from invasion of the Nigerian communities, chieftains of the16 Nigerian communities confessed that the Cameroun authorities have already conferred Cameroun citizenship on them as well as issued them certificates of recognition as chieftains of villages in Cameroun just as many indigenes of the affected 16 Mbo mangrove island communities have succumbed to the pressure of taking up citizenship in Cameroun to save them the ordeals of unsolicited molestations by the Cameroun Gendarmes. Vanguard

US, Senegal Continue Fight Against Illicit Trafficking in West African Nation
Senegalese soldiers completed a month-long training exercise with U.S. Marines, March 18, at a military training facility in Thies, Senegal. U.S. Marines with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, trained their counterparts with Senegal’s Compagnie Fusilier de Marin Commando, or COFUMACO, in infantry tactics, making this the 10th training between the two forces. In an effort to combat illicit trafficking in the region, the Marines were in Senegal at the request of the host nation government in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Dakar. The Marines trained with the COFUMACO in Toubacouta in the southern part of the country for two weeks before moving up to Thies. Thanks to previous training missions focusing on small-boat operations, where the Senegalese commandos and Marines worked together on beach raids, the Marines were able to focus more on land-based infantry skills. The month-long training was tailored to patrolling, reconnaissance, raids, combat marksmanship and scouting.

Trained Guards Prevent Mali Hotel ‘Massacre’
Four months after a deadly siege at a luxury hotel in the Malian capital Bamako, suspected jihadists have struck again targeting another hotel in the same neighborhood. It serves as the headquarters for the European Union military training operation EUTM Mali. A witness said the attackers tried to force their way through the entrance of Bamako’s Nord-Sud Hotel at around 6.30 pm local time and “the guards posted in front of the entrance opened fire. One of the attackers was killed.” An EUTM Mali spokesperson said four people tried to force their way through the barricade firing shots. “One of the four was neutralized, we are searching for the others.” The area around the hotel was cordoned off and armored vehicles belonging to the UN and Malian military were on the scene. Deutsche Welle

Ivory Coast Tracks Key Suspect in Beach Attack
Authorities in Ivory Coast say they have arrested 15 people suspected to have links with the deadly terrorist attack on a popular beach resort earlier this month. The national prosecutor also released a photo of a key suspect on the loose. Ivorian authorities say the suspect, whose name they believe to be Kounta Dallah, played a key role in organizing the attack that killed 19 people in Grand-Bassam. They are now calling for the population to help track him down. National prosecutor Richard Adou said the man is believed to have organized and executed everything that happened in Grand-Bassam, so we have already launched a warrant against him. No other information about him was released. VOA

BP and Statoil Pull Employees From Algeria Gas Fields After Attack
BP and the Norwegian oil company Statoil announced on Monday that they were withdrawing their employees from two of Algeria’s largest natural gas fields after Islamic terrorists staged the second attack in three years on their installations. In the assault, on Friday, a rocket-propelled grenade attack hit the In Salah natural gas field and processing plant in Krechba, 750 miles south of Algiers. BP, a British company, and Statoil operate the installation jointly with the Algerian national oil company Sonatrach. The attack on the plant did not result in damage or casualties, according to the companies, and production was interrupted only briefly. The Algerian Army rushed to secure the area, but the episode highlighted the difficulty it has in defending the country’s oil and gas fields, which stretch across a wide swath of the Sahara.  The New York Times

Oil revenues Down, Algeria Woos Energy Investors
After a deep slide in oil prices, Algeria’s Sonatrach is shifting strategy to offer foreign firms direct negotiations to buy stakes in 20 oil and gas fields in a bid to attract investors and increase output, a source at the state energy company said. The campaign to bring in energy investment comes at a crucial time for the North African OPEC producer as it tackles lower revenues and stagnating production. Algeria, a key gas supplier to Europe, is also in talks with European Union officials on holding a summit in Algiers in May that will discuss energy investment opportunities in Algeria as EU leaders look to diversify from Russian gas. The switch to bilateral deals follows two energy bidding tenders that failed to attract much interest. A bid scheduled for last year was canceled because of low crude prices. “Direct negotiations are a more efficient, less expensive, a faster, and a less bureaucratic approach,” the Sonatrach source said of the talks. “Sonatrach is already in negotiations with ENI and several other foreign firms.”  Reuters

Nigerian State Oil Firm ‘Withheld $25bn Over Five Years’
Nigeria’s state-owned oil company has failed to pay the government $25bn (£17.5bn) over five years, the nation’s fiscal commission has said. It includes $15bn that the nation’s auditor general last week said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to pay in 2014 alone. Oil revenue accounts for roughly two-thirds of the government’s funding. President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to crack down on corruption since coming to office last May. In a statement, the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), an independent body, said: “Records at the Commission’s disposal indicate that between January 2011 and December 2015, the total indebtedness of NNPC to the Federation Account was 4.9 trillion naira.” BBC

U.N. Shuts Western Sahara Military Liaison Office, as Morocco Wanted
The United Nations has closed its military liaison office in the disputed territory of Western Sahara as demanded by Morocco amid an escalating dispute over remarks by the U.N. chief, a U.N. spokesman said on Tuesday. Dozens of U.N. international staffers pulled out of the Western Sahara mission, known as MINURSO, after Morocco demanded they leave because Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used the term “occupation” during a recent visit. U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said Morocco demanded the closure of the U.N. Dakhla military liaison office. It was Rabat’s latest retaliatory step. “This was completed yesterday,” Haq said. “The three military observers based there were relocated to the Asward team site, on the western part of the territory, controlled by Morocco. Morocco’s request to close the liaison office in Dakhla is the first request directly targeting the military component.” Reuters

Utilisation of Military is Key in Neutralising Negative Forces in DRC
South Africa believes that neutralising the negative forces in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will require the optimum utilisation of military resources deployed in the DRC. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was speaking during a Security Council debate on the Great Lakes region that also covered the political concerns in Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is part of the United Nations mission to the DRC’s Force Intervention Brigade. Mapisa-Nqakula acknowledged the relative improvement to the security situation in the eastern DRC, making a number of observations for Council to consider. “South Africa believes the objective of neutralisation of negative forces should not be perceived as only implying the use of force against the armed groups but also includes application of all possible methods of influencing the negative forces to renounce violence as a means towards attaining their objectives; and to opt to disarm and demobilise. This would enable the fast-tracking of the process of restoration and consolidation of state authority in the eastern DRC.” SABC

Tunisia Extends State of Emergency by Three Months
Tunisia on Tuesday extended by three months a state of emergency imposed after a November suicide bombing claimed by ISIS killed 12 presidential guards. President Beji Caid Essebsi “has decided after consultations… to extend the state of emergency for a period of three months from March 23,” his office said in a statement that came two weeks after another attack blamed on jihadists near the border with Libya. This month’s attack on police and army posts in the town of Ben Guerdane left seven civilians and 13 security personnel dead. Forty-nine militants have been killed by security forces in clashes immediately following the attacks and in subsequent raids. AFP on Al Arabiya

Mbeki Urges All Parties to Sign Sudanese Peace Initiative
Thabo Mbeki, Chairman of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP) has pleaded with combatants not to allow the conflicts between the Sudan governments and rebels in the Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions to drag on for another five years. The former South African President, who has been mediating to end conflict in Sudan, urged armed rebel groups and the internal opposition to sign on to a Road Map Agreement to end the conflict. He said at a press conference in Addis Ababa this week that after the independence of South Sudan in 2011 there had been hope that the conflicts in this region would be solved. But it did not happen. “Stop shooting, so people can live their lives and return to agriculture. I’ve been mediating talks between the Sudanese government and Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement, North (SPLM-N) which is involved in the Blue Nile and Nuba mountains conflict for five years,” he said. IOL News

Remains of 83 Hanged Prisoners to be Exhumed from Kgosi Mampuru II
Justice Minister Michael Masutha is expected to launch the Gallows Exhumation Project on Wednesday which will see the remains of 83 political prisoners who were hanged during the apartheid era, being exhumed. The launch would take place at the Gallows Museum at Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre on Wednesday, formerly known as Pretoria Central Prison, where prisoners were executed until the law prohibited it under the new democratic government led by the African National Congress. A total of 130 political prisoners were hanged on the gallows of the correctional centre between 1960 and 1990. Forty-seven human remains of those prisoners have already been exhumed while 83 of them remain buried in unmarked graves, the department said. News 24

Sisulu Denies Being Removed as Defence Minister Because of Gupta Influence
Lindiwe Sisulu has denied allegations that she was removed as minister of defence and posted to the ministry of Public Service and Administration because of influence from the Gupta family. She was responding to allegations made by Deputy Economic Freedom Fighters President Floyd Shivambu. He was speaking at a rally in Uitenhage in commemoration of Human Rights Day on Monday. eNCA reported him as saying that “We can tell you for free that the reason Lindiwe Sisulu was shifted from [the] defence ministry to public service and administration, is because the Guptas wants [sic] to have the tender to lease planes to defence for R106 billion. They have that tender now. She wanted to buy cheaper planes, but the Guptas said no, we will sell you a plane for R4 billion. And when she refused, they shifted her to public service and administration,” he said.  DefenceWeb

Why is Nobody Talking About Africa’s Drought?
El Niños happen frequently – on average every three to five years – and tend to flip-flop normal global weather patterns, drenching much of the Northern Hemisphere and causing lower-than-average rainfall in much of the Southern. (It is far more complex than that, but those are the general patterns.) The El Niño that struck at the end of 2015 was the strongest in nearly two decades and severely delayed rains in both Southern and Eastern Africa, causing immediate crop failure, livestock deaths, and widespread water shortages. […] The World Food Program says 10.2 million people are in critical need of food aid in Ethiopia alone, and as many as 49 million people may be affected by drought in Southern Africa. Why haven’t I heard more about this situation? CS Monitor

Food Costs Soar for Africa’s Poor Amid Worst Drought in Decades
The corn that is a food staple for much of southern Africa is now so expensive it has become a luxury many can’t afford, after the worst drought in three decades damaged crops from Ethiopia to South Africa. In Malawi, one of a dozen nations affected by the dry spell, Meleniya Mateyu says she has to forage for wild water-lily roots called nyika from streams and swamps to feed her two orphaned grandchildren. The small amount of grain she gets from an aid agency is barely enough for them to eat during one meal a day. “We are surviving on nyika,” Mateyu said in an interview at her village in the southern district of Chikwawa, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of the capital, Blantyre. “This year’s hunger is the worst I’ve seen in 10 years.” Bloomberg

UN Report Criticizes Surge in Attacks on People with Albinism in Africa
The UN report published Tuesday condemned superstitious practises behind the violence. All the attacks took place in sub-Saharan Africa and most victims were children, according to Ikponwosa Ero, the UN’s independent expert on human rights and albinism. The report pointed to 40 attacks as having occurred in the last eight months across seven countries, but that figure could be greater, as many happen in secret and are not reported. In some regions of the world albinos’ body parts are valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Victims’ body parts are sometimes hacked off to create potions or amulets. Some superstitions believe that such body parts can bring wealth, luck or political success and prices range from $2,000 (1,780 euros) for an albino limb to $75,000 (66,850 euros) for an entire corpse, the report said. Attacks against people with albinism this year have been reported in Burundi, Malawi and Mozambique, according to Under the Same Sun, a Canadian advocacy charity. Deutsche Welle

Zimbabwean War Veterans Want Vice President Out
At a meeting in Gweru, the fifth largest city in the country, the former liberation fighters also passed a vote of no confidence in a host of other senior party officials, including Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo and President Robert Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao.  This came as battles to succeed Mugabe, who has been at the helm for more than 35 years, intensified. In February, the war veteran’s ousted minister Chris Mutsvangwa accused what he called “newcomers” of fomenting divisions within Zanu-PF. The former Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association boss alleged that a faction within Zanu-PF, known as Generation 40 (G40), was destroying the party, with individuals positioning themselves to succeed the 92-year-old Mugabe.   Times Live

Tanzania Ghost Workers Face Purge in Parastatal Payroll Clean Up
Tanzanian authorities have launched a national audit to find ghost workers and remove them from civil service payrolls under a corruption crackdown ordered by the president, a minister said. The public sector wage bill has escalated sharply over the past few years, analysts say, partly because of the numbers of people registering fake names to collect extra wages. A 2015 audit found the government had paid Tsh141.4 billion ($64.80 million) to fake workers over that year.  The East African

Details of Collapsed Kenya, Uganda Pipeline Talks Emerge
Ugandan energy officials are still in the country a day after bilateral talks to unlock the deadlock around the Uganda- Kenya oil pipeline collapsed. It is now emerging that other than security, Uganda is uneasy about the Kenyan government’s ability to acquire the land needed for the pipeline. The Ugandan energy officials will be carrying out a review of both the port of Lamu and Mombasa before presenting a joint report in Kampala in two weeks. Four weeks ago, Uganda appeared to do a u-turn after what had been touted as successful discussions on the subject of a joint pipeline in August last year, and now Kenya has quickly swung into action. Monday morning, President Yoweri Museveni jetted into the country for bilateral talks on a way forward. CitizenTV

China Offers to Train African and Asian Legislators
China will launch a programme to train members of parliament of some Asian and African countries so as to improve the capacity of parliament in the developing countries, a senior Chinese official said Tuesday in Lusaka, Zambia.  Chinese top legislator Zhang Dejiang announced the programme at a breakfast meeting with Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)’s President Saber Chowdhury and parliamentary leaders of Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Cambodia on the sidelines of the 134th IPU Assembly. Mr Zhang said that China, a member of the developing world, will firmly safeguard the common interests of developing countries and continuously expand south-south cooperation. Mr Zhang attended the inaugural ceremony of the assembly, and delivered a speech on Sunday. It was the first time a chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress participated in the IPU Assembly.  The East African