Media Review for March 28, 2016

2 More Suspects Arrested in Ivory Coast Resort Attacks

Authorities in Mali say two men with alleged links to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have been arrested in connection with terror attacks earlier this month in Ivory Coast that left at least 19 people dead. Police on Sunday said the two suspects were arrested in the past 48 hours in northern Mali, two weeks after the March 13 gun and grenade attack on three hotels and a beach in the Ivorian resort town of Grand-Bassam. Police identified one of the suspects, Ould Mohamed, as a driver who brought the attackers to Ivory Coast. The French news agency quotes police sources as saying he is believed to be a close confidant of the mastermind behind the Grand-Bassam attacks. Local prosecutors, speaking last week, said 15 other suspects are in custody. VOA

Libya: Coastguard Nabs 600 Migrants off the Sabrathan Coast

The Coastguard today reported that it had picked up around 600 sub-Saharan Africans off the coast near Sabratha. It said the migrants were travelling in three large inflatable craft. Among them were some 80 women, a number of who was pregnant or travelling with young children. It is unclear where the craft had been launched. This is one of the largest migrant interceptions that Libyan coastguards have made in recent months. It has not been revealed were the detained migrants were taken. Libya Herald

Libya: Mitiga Airport Closed and Reopened Again Monday as Heavy Gunfire Dominates Tripoli

Tripoli’s Mitiga airport was closed ‘’indefinitely’’ at dawn this Monday morning due to heavy gunfire, including anti antiaircraft guns around the airport – only to be reopened again at around 10 am Libya time. It will be recalled that Tripoli and Misrata airspace had been closed for six hours, from 8 am to 2 pm, yesterday by the de facto Tripoli authorities due to alleged ‘’technical’’ reasons. The real reason was thought to be the imminent arrival of Faiez Serraj and his Government of National Accord (GNA). This morning, flights that were already in the air had to be redirected. Libyan Airlines flights from Istanbul and Jeddah as well as Libya Wings flight from Istanbul were rerouted to Misrata airport. A Libyan Airlines source confirmed that the closure this morning was purely for safety reasons due to the heavy gunfire near Mitiga airport. Libya Herald

US to Fund Multi-Million-Dollar Tunisia Border Surveillance

The United States has agreed to fund a multi-million-dollar project to install an electronic security surveillance system on Tunisia’s border with strife-torn Libya, the US embassy said Friday. In a statement, the diplomatic mission said that the US was disbursing the first installment of the $24.9 million project to strengthen security along the frontier. The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) awarded the contract to American construction group BTP and consulting and engineering firm AECOM, a diplomatic source told AFP. According to the embassy, the project involves the installation of an integrated surveillance system using sensors and regular security equipment. The project includes training Tunisian forces to use the system, the statement added, without giving a start or completion date. Al Arabiya

Burundi Ruling Party Accuses Rwanda of ‘Exporting’ Genocide, Also Criticises Foreign Journalists and Catholic Church

BURUNDI’S ruling party has accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame of seeking to “export” genocide, as relations between the two neighbours deteriorate further. In a statement provided to AFP Sunday, the head of the CNDD-FDD party said Kagame had previously “experimented” with genocide, referring to the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which around 800,000 people were killed, mostly ethnic Tutsis. “The genocide laboratory is in Rwanda because President Kagame, having experimented there, (wants) to export it to Burundi (to) play a minor imperialist,” wrote CNDD-FDD president Pascal Nyabenda. … Nyabenda also claimed that some European governments supply arms and funds to the Rwandan leader, who he said is responsible for “recruiting and training young Burundians in refugee camps in Rwanda, so that they can return home to commit acts of genocide”. The ruling party chief went on to criticise the Catholic church which recently called for a dialogue between Kigali and Bujumbura to help de-escalate the growing crisis. Nyabenda also condemned foreign journalists for taking up the cause of “terrorists”, the term used by the ruling party to refer to opponents of the government, both armed and peaceful. Mail & Guardian

Burundi Rebel Group Says Behind Killing of Senior Army Officer

A Burundi rebel group led by a former officer who launched an abortive coup claimed responsibility on Saturday for the killing of an army colonel this week in the capital, the group said on a Twitter account. The claim by FOREBU, which wants to topple the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza, will add to international worries that Burundi’s year-long political crisis is sliding towards a full-blown conflict. More than 400 people have died so far. Lieutenant Colonel Darius Ikurakure was shot dead on Tuesday by an assassin dressed in a military uniform, the army said. Soldiers gave similar accounts and also said he was killed inside the ministry compound in the capital Bujumbura. “We promised the people to defend them. We are at work. We will not stop until the mission is accomplished,” FOREBU announced on a Twitter account. Journalists confirmed the account had been used for other FOREBU statements. Reuters

Nigeria: Gunmen Abduct Serving Colonel in Kaduna

A Senior Army Officer, Col. Samaila Inusa, was on Saturday reportedly kidnapped around the Kamazo area in Chikun Local Government of Kaduna State by yet-to-be identified gunmen. The Army officer, who was said to be serving with the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji, near Kaduna was in the company of his wife when the incident occurred. The kidnappers, it was gathered, dropped off the wife and left with the senior military officer and headed towards Abuja. No group has claimed responsibility for the abduction of the senior military officer or placed a ransom on him as of the time of filing this report. Punch

Nigeria Sends Chibok Parents to See if Suicide Bomber is Missing Schoolgirl

The Nigerian government is sending parents from the Chibok community of northeast Nigeria to neighbouring Cameroon to verify whether a suspected female suicide bomber is one of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram nearly two years ago.Garba Shehu, spokesperson for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, said the Nigerian High Commissioner in Cameroon, Hadiza Mustapha, has been in contact with Cameroonian authorities who have shown a willingness to assist the Nigerian government. The abduction of about 270 school girls by Islamic militants from a school in Chibok on April 14, 2014, sparked international outrage and a campaign #bringbackourgirls. While about 50 of the girls managed to escape, 219 of these girls remain missing. Military and local government sources on Friday reported that one of two girls arrested in northern Cameroon carrying explosives claimed to be one of the missing Chibok schoolgirls. The girls were arrested after being stopped by local self-defence forces in Limani near the border with Nigeria that has been the target of frequent suicide bombings in recent months. Reuters

Five New Reports on South Sudan Ceasefire Violations

The Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) published on Friday on its website five new reports on ceasefire violations that took place in recent months. Three of the reports are about violations by SPLM-IO or allied forces and two are about government violations. Here is a summary of the newly released findings of the ceasefire monitors. Radio Tamazuj

SPLM-N Rebels Say South Sudanese Militiamen are Fighting Beside Sudanese Troops

The Sudan people’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) said it forces have repelled a series of attacks carried out by the Sudanese troops on its position in South Kordofan, and claimed that South Sudanese militiamen participated in the fighting along the Sudanese government forces. Clashes between the Sudanese army and the SPLM-N are taking place in the Blue Nile and the South Kordofan states since several weeks. However, nowadays the fighting intensified between the sides, after the rebels’ refusal to sign a roadmap to stop war and engage in peace talks. In statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Sunday, SPLM-N spokesperson Arnu Ngutulu Lodi said they repulsed simultaneous attacks in six different areas in South Kordofan state mainly in Buram, Um Dorain, Heiban and Dalami counties. Sudan Tribune

‘Good Girls Don’t Protest’: Report Exposes Attacks on Sudan’s Female Activists

On her way to a meeting with a UN official to discuss sexual violence in Sudan, Nagwa was detained by plain-clothed policemen who blindfolded her and held her in a cell for eight hours. Nagwa, a women’s rights activist, thinks she was silenced because the authorities feared she would blow the whistle on the time when security agents raped her and placed her under house arrest for her work with Nuba Mountain communities displaced by ongoing conflict. Nagwa’s story is one of many outlined in a report released today by Human Rights Watch that documents the abuse experienced by female activists at the hands of Sudan’s security forces. In more than 85 interviews researchers found that almost all the women had experienced some form of gender-based violence perpetrated by the authorities as a result of their work. “Generally in Sudan, the government is targeting women more than men,” Fatima, a women’s rights activist in Khartoum, said in response to the report. “A lot of laws and a lot of legislation have been drafted since this government came, [targeting] women, [restricting their] dress, and even mobility and work.” The report also details frequent violations such as rape and sexual violence, psychological and verbal abuse, with many interviewees adding they had also been subjected to arbitrary detention. Nuba Reports

Sudan: SPLM-N Report Major Govt. Attacks in South Kordofan

The Sudanese government reportedly launched a major offensive on areas held by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SDPLM-N) today. The military spokesman for the SPLM-N, Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, reported in a statement today that government forces launched attacks in six different locations in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan this morning. Areas in Buram, Um Dorain, Heiban, and Dalami were targeted, Lodi reported. He said that “South Sudanese militiamen of the opposition” were fighting alongside the Sudanese army and allied militia troops. “This shows how the National Congress Party regime is linked with these militias. The authorities even opened training centres for them in Abu Jubeiha, El Liri, and other places in Sudan.” Radio Dabanga

Hospitals Targeted Across South Sudan

Instead of being places of care and refuge, medical facilities have become the sites of massacres and looting. The aid worker could only watch as hundreds of survivors of an attack on the Malakal Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in South Sudan frantically looted the only surgical facility for hundreds of miles.The 48,000 residents of the UN camp’s sea of metal shelters had sought protection from the country’s civil war there. But on the morning of February 18, the war caught up with them. At least 25 people were killed and around half the shelters destroyed in an act Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said could constitute a war crime. The following day, as the thousands who had fled returned, they began to scavenge through the rubble for anything that could be of use. Metal pots and plastic jugs that could transport water became as valuable as money. Al Jazeera

Republic of Congo Police Fire Teargas, Make Arrests at Opposition Meeting

Police in Congo Republic fired teargas at opposition supporters and arrested around 10 of them on Friday ahead of a planned news conference by opposition candidates who say last weekend’s presidential election was won fraudulently. President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled the Central African oil producer for 32 of the last 37 years, won re-election in Sunday’s poll with 60 percent of the vote, according to official results announced on Thursday. Early on Friday, around 100 police officers were positioned outside of the headquarters of the opposition UPADS party in the capital Brazzaville’s Diata neighbourhood, where a coalition of five candidates was expected to announce their own poll results. A Reuters witness saw police fire at least two teargas canisters at the crowd that had gathered there and force about 10 opposition supporters into vehicles. VOA

Republic of Congo Opposition Urges Protest of President’s Re-election

Four defeated opposition candidates in Congo’s recent presidential poll called on their countrymen to challenge the re-election of President Denis Sassou Nguesso through “peaceful” legal means, according to a statement confirmed by AFP Saturday. Sassou Nguesso was declared the winner of the March 20 elections held under a media blackout, extending his 32 years in power in a vote the opposition says was marked by “massive fraud”. The rallying call was signed by runner-up Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas who received more than 15% of votes cast, third-place candidate Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko who polled nearly 14%, and candidates Claudine Munari and Andre Okombi Salissa. The four called for a repeat of the ‘ville morte’ national strikes in which many Congolese have participated in recent months to protest Sassou Nguesso’s controversial bid for a third term. News24

Somali Pirates on Trial in France for Fatal Hijacking

Seven suspected Somali pirates are due in court in Paris on Tuesday over the hijacking of a French yacht that left the owner dead and his wife facing a hellish kidnapping ordeal. Christian and Evelyne Colombo had sold everything to make their dream voyage around the world. But around lunchtime on September 8, 2011, naval authorities received a distress signal from their “Tribal Kat” catamaran. They had left the port of Aden in Yemen five days earlier and were heading for Oman, a journey that took them through notoriously pirate-infested waters. A German frigate found the boat several hours later. There were bullet holes in the deck and a pool of blood with a pair of glasses floating in it. No one was onboard. Two days later, a Spanish warship located the skiff suspected to belong to the pirates. They tried to approach but turned away when the attackers dragged Evelyne Colombo into view, a gun to her head. The Spanish military prepared a raid and attacked a few hours later, leaving two pirates dead and the remaining seven arrested. Seychelles News Agency

Ethiopia’s Oromo People Demand Equal Rights in Protests

Six-year-old Abi Turi and her nine-year-old brother Dereje have not been attending classes in Wolonkomi. Their school was closed in January as the Ethiopian government began what its critics call a crackdown on protests by the Oromo, the country’s largest ethnic group. It is uncertain how many people have died in clashes between security forces and protesters since November, when a series of demonstrations began. Local estimates put the figure at between 80 and above 200. The New York-based Human Rights Watch has said that more than 200 people may have died in about six months, a figure the government denies. News24

Newly-Elected Benin President Aims to Reduce Presidential Terms

Newly-elected Benin president Patrice Talon plans to reduce presidential mandates to just one five-year term, he said late on Friday, after the constitutional court confirmed his election victory over prime minister Lionel Zinsou. Talon took 65.4 percent of the vote in last Sunday’s run-off poll to decide who would replace President Thomas Boni Yayi, who is stepping down after serving two terms in office, the constitutional court said on Friday. The figures confirmed results that came out earlier in the week. “I will first and foremost tackle constitutional reform,” Talon told reporters, reinforcing a promise made during campaigning. One term of five years would reduce presidential “complacency”, he said. Benin presidents can currently serve two five-year terms. … By relinquishing power after serving two terms in office, Boni Yayi stands in contrast to leaders in other African nations, including Burundi, Rwanda and Congo Republic, who have altered their constitutions to extend their rule. Reuters

China Donates $5M Military Equipment to ECOWAS Troops

The Government of the People’s Republic of China has donated military equipment worth five million dollars to the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) to assist in its peace-keeping operations. The equipment include Personnel Protective Equipment, high-capacity generators, tents and tentages, ablution facilities, portable kitchens, movable cabins, IT and Communications Equipment, eight transport vehicles, among others. n a remark, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Gu Xiaojie said the donation of the non-lethal military equipment was in recognition of the tremendous efforts of ECOWAS towards maintaining peace and stability in the region. The envoy said the donation was also in line with the five point agenda of China in its relationship with Africa. Daily Trust



Photo: Adam Jones