Media Review for October 15, 2015

US Troops Deployed to Cameroon for Boko Haram Fight
The United States is sending up to 300 troops, along with surveillance drones, to Cameroon to bolster a West African effort to counter Nigeria’s Boko Haram armed group. In a letter to Congress on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said 90 military personnel began deploying to Cameroon on Monday ahead of the arrival of additional troops “to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region”. “The total number of US military personnel to be deployed to Cameroon is anticipated to be up to approximately 300,” Obama said. “These forces are equipped with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security, and they will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed.”  Al Jazeera

Pentagon Setting up Drone Base in Africa to Track Boko Haram fighters
The White House announced Wednesday that it is deploying 300 U.S. troops to Africa to set up a drone base to track fighters from Boko Haram, the network of Islamist extremists that has destabilized Nigeria and neighboring countries during a long and bloody uprising. The U.S. forces will be based just to the east of Nigeria in Cameroon, where they will operate a small fleet of unarmed Predator drones that will conduct surveillance across the region, according to the Defense Department. About 90 troops arrived Monday, with the remainder expected in the next several weeks. Boko Haram has been waging a vicious insurgency for several years that originated in Nigeria but has since spilled into neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger and left an estimated 20,000 people dead. AP on The Washington Post

Niger Imposes State of Emergency on Region Hit by Boko Haram
Niger imposed a state of emergency on the southeastern region of Diffa on Wednesday where at least 40 people have been killed in recent weeks in attacks blamed on the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The 15-day state of emergency will allow authorities to beef up security, impose a curfew and restrict the movement of goods and people, according to a statement on state television. The government instituted similar measures in February. Niger, Cameroon and Chad have all suffered a spillover of violence from Boko Haram’s northern Nigerian strongholds and Niger has arrested at least 1,100 suspected Boko Haram militants this year. Reuters

Guinea’s Main Opposition Leader Diallo Exits Presidential Race Alleging Election Fraud
Guinea’s main opposition leader Celloun Dalein Diallo withdrew on Wednesday from a presidential election, alleging fraud, and will not recognize the outcome, his campaign director said. His decision came as the national election commission began to announce early results from a vote held on Sunday that is expected to return incumbent Alpha Conde to a second five-year term in the West African country. Figures from three of the capital Conakry’s five communes showed Conde won 55 percent, 60 percent and 49 percent of the vote. All results must be ratified by the constitutional court.  France 24

Guinea Police Fire Teargas at Protesters in Capital
Guinea’s government called for calm on Wednesday after police fired teargas at protesters in Conakry, the capital, before provisional election results are announced later this week. Millions of voters, around 75% of the population, cast their votes on Sunday, in the West African country’s second free election in nearly 60 years since independence. The election was calm and won praise from international observers, but tensions have since been mounting amid allegations of fraud by President Alpha Conde’s challengers. Guinea has a history of political violence, including protests during the 2010 campaign that brought Conde to power. On the Friday before this year’s election, at least two people were killed and 33 injured in fighting between supporters of Conde and his main rival, Celloun Dalein Diallo. News 24

Armed Groups, Parties Boycott Central African Republic Talks
Armed groups and politicians in Central African Republic boycotted the start of a political forum this week, dealing a blow to attempts to get an election process back on track. Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza called for the discussions, which began on Tuesday, partly to discuss elections scheduled for October 18 but which are expected to be postponed for technical and security reasons. The former French colony has been torn by bloodshed since 2013 and authorities are struggling to disarm militias despite a peace agreement in May. A surge in violence in the capital Bangui last month sparked by the murder of a Muslim man killed 77 people and injured 400.  Reuters

Angola Army to Train DRC Soldiers
The Angolan army is to undertake the training of DR Congo troops. According to Voice of America radio, the accord signed in Cabinda province states the training will start soon. Cabinda, which is located 383 kilometers north of the capital Luanda, is Angola’s smallest province, covering 7,000 km/sq. It borders the Republic of Congo to the north and the DR Congo to the east and south. General Etumba Didier, the Congolese army chief of staff, said his soldiers will be going to Angola next month to start the training. His Angolan counterpart, General Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda, said each country’s responsibilities are safeguarded in the protocol. Angola is sub-Saharan Africa’s top military spender.  Africa Review

Uganda Pullout Boosts South Sudan Peace Prospects
Uganda’s withdrawal of several thousand troops deployed in South Sudan since December 2013 is likely to increase the chances of peace, but could it prove pivotal? The pull-out is in line with the terms of an August peace deal signed by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, and also with a 9 October UN Security Council resolution. Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict, which has also driven one in five of the country’s population from their homes.  Clashes have continued in several areas since the signing of the latest peace deal.  IRIN

SPLM-IO Warns of Collapse of Peace Deal over New States
The leadership of South Sudan’s armed opposition group (SPLM-IO) said President Salva Kiir’s failure to retract his move to expand the country’s states from 10 to 28 threatens to unravel the recently-signed peace agreement. Earlier this month, Salva Kii issued a decree which intends to expand South Sudan states from 10 to 28. The opposition led by first vice president designate, Riek Machar, immediately rejected the decree saying it was unconstitutional and in breach to compromised peace accord. Sudan Tribune

Benin’s ‘Chameleon’ ex-President Kerekou Dies at 82
Benin’s former president Mathieu Kerekou, nicknamed “the chameleon” who ruled the tiny west African nation for a total of 30 years after a coup then democratic elections, died on Wednesday. He was 82. “I announce with regret and deep sadness the death on Wednesday October 14 of President-General Mathieu Kerekou at about 1:30 pm (1230 GMT),” President Thomas Boni Yayi said in a statement. The government said there would be one week of national mourning from Friday, with Benin’s flags to be flown at half-mast across the country. Kerekou, who earned his peculiar nickname when he first came to power in 1972, famously said in a statement that he was planning on moving slowly and surely — like a chameleon — in the running of Benin. Contrary to first impressions, he was not called the chameleon because of his changing political affiliations.  AFP on Yahoo News

Marikana Inquiry: South Africa Police Chief Suspended
South African President Jacob Zuma has suspended police chief Riah Phiyega while allegations of misconduct are examined, his office says. Last month, Mr Zuma’s office launched an investigation into her role in the 2012 killing of 34 miners by officers during a strike at the Marikana mine. It followed an inquiry’s finding that police followed a “defective” plan to break up the strike. Gen Phiyega disputes the findings and defends police handling of the strike. Numerous calls have been made for Ms Phiyega to be sacked over the case. No-one has been charged or held responsible for the killings.  BBC

Senior al-Shabaab Commander Captured in Somalia
Mogadishu – A top al-Shabaab commander and two other senior members of the Islamist group have been captured by Somali and African Union troops in the Horn of Africa country, intelligence sources said on Monday. The three were captured near the central town of Elbur late on Sunday, senior Somali intelligence officer Mohamed Hasan said. They included top commander Ali Yusuf, also known as Ali Ganey. He is thought to be responsible for the killings of civilians and attacks against Somali and AU troops in the area, Somali military commander Mohamed Kahiye said. Al-Shabaab issued no comment. Times Live

Relations Between Burundi, Rwanda Deteriorating
Burundi has been dealing with unrest on and off since April when President Pierre Nkurunziza launched his bid for a third term. But the conflict isn’t just internal. Tensions with neighboring Rwanda have steadily been on the rise.   Relations between Central African neighbors Burundi and Rwanda, rarely warm, have been on the downswing in recent months. “Before the crisis, the relations were already a bit complicated, but during the crisis, there has been an exchange of accusations between Bujumbura and Kigali, and both capitals consider that the other capital is supportive of its opponents,” said Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa project director at the International Crisis Group. VOA

‘The Egyptian Government is Waging a War on Civil Society’
When the Egyptian government announced last month that it had dissolved 57 NGOs, all accused of having links to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, it was just the latest step in a process which, under the guise of anti-terrorist policy, is tearing apart the carefully woven fabric of Egyptian society. The war on civil society has come in two forms, with the main target being the Muslim Brotherhood. Back in 2012, after the elation of the 2011 revolution, the MB candidate Mohamed Morsi became Egypt’s first ever democratically elected president. But after the army removed him from power in July 2013, the new government moved swiftly to clamp down on both the Muslim Brotherhood and its civil society activities.  The Guardian

U.N. Official Says French Learned Early of Abuse
A United Nations official who investigated allegations that French peacekeepers had sexually abused children in the Central African Republic says she informed the French military authorities within a month of having started her inquiry, giving a possible new twist to a long-running scandal that led to the intervention of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The official, Gallianne Palayret, a human rights investigator who led the first inquiries into suspected abuse, said in a Skype interview that she had informed the French peacekeepers’ commanding officer and the unit’s legal affairs officer about the allegations in May 2014. This was the same month that she started interviewing children who may have been victimized and two months before the French authorities have said they first heard about the matter. Ms. Palayret first went public with her assertions last week in the French news media. There has been no response so far from France’s Defense Ministry, and her account has not been corroborated by others directly involved. The Guardian

‘This Prison is Hell on Earth’
The dream of a new life in South Africa has turned into a nightmare for hundreds of Ethiopian migrants held in overcrowded Malawian jails despite having served their sentences for illegal entry. “This prison is hell on earth. We are in prison despite paying the fine,” a tearful 15-year-old Eyasu Tadiya told AFP inside Dedza prison, 85 kilometres south of Lilongwe, the administrative capital. Eyasu, looking weak and thin, said he had been on his way to join his father in South Africa, but had now given up hope of making it to the continent’s most developed economy. “The journey has ended here and I just want to go back home rather than suffer in this way,” he said. Prisons spokesman Evance Phiri told AFP the inmates were held even after they had paid their fines or finished their sentences because of a lack of funds to send them home.  IOL News

Eritrean Football Players Seek Asylum in Botswana
Ten players from the Eritrean football team have refused to return home after playing a World Cup qualifying match in Botswana and are now seeking asylum there, officials say. The men were detained by police after deciding not to board their plane. They are reported to have refused to go home despite the intervention of the Eritrean ambassador in Botswana. There have been a number of mass defections by Eritrean athletes in recent years. One of the most noticeable was in 2013, when Uganda granted asylum to 15 Eritrean players and their team doctor after they absconded at the end of a football tournament. BBC

Queensway Tycoon Sam Pa is Detained in Communist Probe
High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. The future of a secretive Hong Kong-based business network at the heart of China’s advance into Africa has been thrown into doubt after reports that its frontman, a jet-setting tycoon with seven names and ties to the intelligence services, has been caught up in a Communist party investigation. Sam Pa, as the bespectacled tycoon is best known, was detained at a hotel in Beijing on October 8, according to a report in Caixin magazine and a person familiar with the matter. Mr Pa, who has cultivated relationships with dictators from Harare to Pyongyang in pursuit of deals in resources and infrastructure worth billions of dollars, could not be reached on his usual phone numbers. […]  JR Mailey, one of the authors of a 2009 US congressional report on the Queensway group and the author of a second study of the group this year for the Pentagon’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said the group’s “sprawling corporate empire . . . remained dependent upon Sam Pa and his connections in Beijing and other capitals”. “It’s hard to imagine that the Queensway group as we know it could survive without him,” Mr Mailey said. “But even if the Queensway group crumbles, it won’t be long before another predatory investor swoops in to fill the void left in its wake.”  The Financial Times

Forest Rangers Discover 26 Elephant Carcasses in Zimbabwe
Officials discovered the carcasses on Tuesday in Hwange National Park, in western Zimbabwe. According to the park’s spokeswoman, Caroline Washaya Moyo, rangers found 14 tusks belonging to the animals. Others were missing. One widlife conservationist suggested that the poachers might have been disturbed by rangers on patrol before they could take them all. Forensic tests revealed the animals had died of cyanide poisoning, Washaya-Moyo said, adding that rangers discovered one kilogram of the deadly chemical which is widely used in Zimbabwe’s mining industry. No arrests had been made so far, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told reporters.  Deutsche Welle

Exclusive: Inside Battle Against Rhino Poaching
Sky News has been given extraordinary access to South Africa’s new Rapid Response anti-poaching unit to witness the efforts being made to stem the deaths of rhinos in the country’s largest national park. The latest official figures on rhino deaths are extremely disappointing. Despite all the increased efforts and extra money being used to fight the rhino wars, the number of rhinos poached is up by nearly 30% in the Kruger National Park. But the teams on the frontline insist they are winning. “We will not give up. We will win this war,” pilot Jaco Mol said, as we flew through the sprawling two million hectares which make up the national park. Pilot Mol flies one of two new “Squirrel” helicopters now part of the park’s armoury against the poachers.  Sky News



Photo: Adam Jones