Media Review for September 10, 2015

Report Details New Atrocities in Darfur by Sudanese Force
A Sudanese government counterinsurgency force has carried out two campaigns of killings and mass rape in the Darfur region since early 2014, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday in a report that evoked the atrocities committed there by the feared janjaweed militia a decade ago. The 88-page report, based on interviews with 212 victims and witnesses, describes in detail the accusations against the Sudanese unit, known as the Rapid Support Forces, and says they amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Darfur, the rebellious region in western Sudan, became known in the mid-2000s for systematic killings, rape, forced relocations and other crimes committed against mainly non-Arab tribes by government forces and their nomadic militia allies, known as the janjaweed.  The New York Times

Somali Islamists Claim to Be Holding Uganda Soldiers Hostage
Somalia’s Islamist Shebab insurgents claimed on Wednesday to be holding Ugandan troops hostage after an attack last week, although Kampala has said all its troops are accounted for. “The soldiers are in the mujahedeen jail,” Shebab spokesperson Abdiaziz Abu Musab said in a statement broadcast on the al-Qaeda-linked group’s Radio Andalus, but gave no further details on the alleged hostages. “They are healthy, we will provide their names, ranks and other details very soon,” he added.  News 24

Boko Haram’s Cost to Nigeria’s Borno: $1 Billion And Rising
Boko Haram militants have destroyed infrastructure that may cost more than $1 billion to rebuild in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, the main theater of the government’s six-year fight against the Islamist insurgency, according to Governor Kashim Shettima. “Hospitals, bridges, roads that they mined will require about 79 billion naira ($397 million)” to rebuild, Shettima, 49, said in an interview at his office in the state capital of Maiduguri. “If you are to quantify the homes, the figure may reach even three times the figure I quoted.” The conflict has displaced 1.6 million people in Borno state, or 27 percent of the population, and about 121,000 live in camps in Maiduguri, according to the National Emergency Management Agency. With Boko Haram razing villages, schools, hospitals, clinics and businesses in 22 of 26 of Borno’s local government areas, residents have abandoned their homes and sought refuge in the relative safety of the state capital and the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.  Bloommberg

Nigerian Army Releases 128 Boko Haram Suspects
Nigeria’s army said on Wednesday it had released 128 detainees held on suspicion of being Boko Haram militants, two months after nearly 200 others were freed after security screening. Human rights groups have repeatedly accused the military of arbitrary detention of civilians in the country’s northeast, which has been wracked by Islamist violence in the last six years. Senior commanders have strongly rejected claims of wrongful imprisonment, torture, ill-treatment and even extra-judicial killings of prisoners.  News 24

Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister Resigns After ‘Unconstitutional’ Appointment
Dja announced his resignation to reporters on Wednesday, 48 hours after President Jose Mario Vaz decreed the formation of a new government. However, the appointment of at least 15 ministers and 15 secretaries of state by presidential decree met with strong criticism from elements of Vaz’s majority African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). A ruling backed by eight of the Supreme Court’s 12-judge panel also declared that Vaz’s decision to appoint Dja by presidential decree violated the constitution. The court added that Vaz had failed to meet certain legal criteria, including proper consultation of the ruling party and listening to the opinions of other parties in Parliament.  Deutsche Welle

Yemen Crisis: Egypt, Morocco To Send Ground Troops To Battle Houthi Rebels With Saudi Arabia
For the first time since Saudi Arabia formed a 10-country coalition in March to battle the Yemeni Houthi rebels, Egypt and Qatar have expanded their involvement — previously limited to airstrikes — by sending hundreds of ground troops to Yemen this week. Nine coalition members are expected to have forces fighting on the ground alongside Saudi troops before the end of the week, according to Yemen local news. Egypt, which has one of the strongest armies in the Arab world, sent 800 troops armed with tanks and military transport vehicles into the war-torn country Tuesday night. The day before, Qatar sent 1,000 troops into Yemen. Morocco, Sudan, Jordan and Kuwait are expected to follow suit and join the thousands of troops already on the ground from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Some reports claim that many of the countries listed had already sent troops into Yemen as of Wednesday.  International Business Times

US Puts Algerian Al-Qaeda Figure on Terror Blacklist
The United States added an Algerian Islamist who once called for a global “jihad” against France to its terror blacklist on Wednesday. The State Department said Abu Obaida Yusuf al-Annabi is a leading member of Al-Qaeda’s north and west African franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). He has regularly appeared in the group’s propaganda videos, and in 2013 famously demanded that Muslims retaliate against France’s intervention in Mali. AFP on Yahoo News

Ivory Coast Validates 10 Presidential Candidates
Ivory Coast’s constitutional council has validated 10 candidates for a presidential election scheduled for Oct. 25. The president of the Constitutional Council Mamadou Kone read the list of candidates Wednesday that included President Alassane Ouattara, and former Prime Ministers Pascal Affi N’Guessan and Charles Konan Banny. Two women are also on the list, former minister Henriette Lagou and Jacqueline Kouangoua. The council rejected 23 applications from the provisional list of 33 candidates for incomplete filing or missing the deposit of 20 million CFA ($34,000). The campaign for 2015 elections opens on Oct. 9 and will last for 15 days.  AP on ABC News

Maritime Dispute With Cote d’Ivoire: Ghana files Statement of Case
Ghana has filed a detailed memorial urging the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to ward off Cote d’Ivoire from disputed oilfields. The memorial (statement of case), which was filed on September 4, 2015, was filed on time, thereby making it possible for Ghana to meet the deadline. Attached to the memorial are voluminous documents aimed at building a solid case for the country. The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra on Monday said, “we have met the deadline of September 4, 2015 and I am glad the team worked around the clock to meet the timeline”.  GhanaWeb

Massive Bribery Scandal Hits Ghana’s Judiciary
It may go down in history as the single most massive bribery scandal to hit Ghana’s Judiciary, as 180 officials of the Judicial Service have been caught on camera taking bribes and extorting money from litigants. Thirty-four of the suspected culprits are said to be judges at the High, the Circuit and the District courts. Some of the culprits have also been linked to sex scandals in a three-hour edited video emanating from a two-year investigation into corrupt practices in the Judicial Service. Trending Information gathered by the Daily Graphic indicates that ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who conducted the investigations across the country, is under intense pressure not to air the video as planned.  The Accra Report

Biden Marks $375 million, Electric Power Deal with Benin
Vice President Joe Biden said “giving people hope is sometimes more consequential than giving them help,” as he touted a new $375 million deal Wednesday between the U.S. and Benin to invest in the African country’s electric power sector. Biden was joined by Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi at the White House as officials signed the five-year Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact. The deal will help fund electricity generation, distribution, off-grid access, monitoring, oversight and policy reform. Biden said the question the U.S. poses to other countries is not what we can do for you, but what we can do with you. “Africa is a continent of incredible potential and beautiful energy,” he said. “We have to focus to provide opportunity for this incredible, youthful energy that exists out there, in solving today’s biggest challenges.” AP on Yahoo News

Sierra Leone court Upholds VP’s Sacking
Sierra Leone’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that President Ernest Bai Koroma was within his rights to sack the vice president in a judicial decision likely to bolster the executive’s political authority. The decision to fire Samuel Sam-Sumana in March provoked outrage because it appeared to violate the 1991 constitution. Showing the tension the issue has provoked, armed police ringed the court during the hearing. Sierra Leone has been plagued by political instability, including military coups and civil war that ended in 2002 and the country has since 2014 been fighting an outbreak of the Ebola virus that now appears to be in its final stages.  IOL News

Turkey’s Engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa: Shifting Alliances and Strategic Diversification
Turkey’s engagement in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years has been driven by the region’s growing economic importance to Ankara; its interest in diversifying away from the Middle East; and the apparent desire for influence among sub-Saharan Africa’s large Muslim population. Turkey’s increasingly strained relations with traditional partners in the Middle East suggest that it will continue to expand its Africa strategy. The number of Turkish embassies in the region has risen, as have the number of high-level bilateral visits. The Second Turkey–Africa Partnership Summit was held in Equatorial Guinea in late 2014. Chatham House

Cameroon Soldiers Deployed to Central African Republic Strike for Unpaid Dues in Capital
Hundreds of Cameroon soldiers who served in the United Nations mission in Central African Republic have gone on strike in Cameroon’s capital for unpaid salaries. The soldiers on Wednesday marched to the prime minister’s office and national assembly. They said they will march to the defense ministry on Thursday. The soldiers, who helped bring order to Central African Republic, say many of them were killed and wounded in the sectarian violence. The soldiers would not say how much pay they are owed. Cameroon’s government spokesman Issa Tchiroma asked the soldiers to go back to their barracks, saying the government understands their sacrifices and is handling the issue.  AP on U.S. News and World Report

UN Creates Weapons-Free Zone in CAR
The United Nations has established a “weapons-free zone” in a town in Central African Republic to protect civilians from armed groups involved in inter-religious clashes that killed more than 10 people last month, the head of peacekeeping operations said. Thousands of Central Africans have died and more than 800 000 remain displaced following two years of violence that erupted after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country in 2013. Fighting in the town of Bambari, a Seleka stronghold, began when members of the mainly Christian “anti-balaka” militias, which have emerged in response to Seleka abuses, beheaded a Muslim youth. Reprisals by Muslims followed.  News 24

In Africa, Those Who Bet on China Face Fallout
As the global oil-price slump passed its one-year anniversary in June, Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos booked a trip to Beijing. The long-serving autocrat hoped fresh loans and investment from China, Angola’s top trading partner, would buoy his country’s oil-dependent economy through choppy waters, according to financiers who do business with his government. On a weeklong visit, he signed a deal for China to build a $4.5 billion hydroelectric dam and a series of other projects. “China and Angola are good brothers and long-lasting strategic partners,” China’s President Xi Jinping said during meetings with Mr. dos Santos at the Chinese capital’s Great Hall of the People.  The Wall Street Journal

South African Gold on the Brink With Half of Mines Losing Money
South Africa’s gold mines, the deepest and among the oldest in the world, are in big trouble. The four largest producers in the country are losing money on about 35 percent of production at current prices, according to company data compiled by Bloomberg. At the same time, higher costs are cutting into profits as electricity bills climb to a record. Workers are also pushing for wage increases, with some threatening to strike if salaries aren’t doubled. The nation, whose Witwatersrand Basin has supplied about a third of all gold ever mined, dropped from the top producer to sixth-biggest in just eight years. Now that miners who still crawl through tunnels using hand drills and dynamite have extracted much of the easy-to-dig metal, companies use modern technology to go deeper. That’s another expense, especially when bullion prices are near a five-year low.  Bloomberg

South Africa’s Julius Malema Ejected from Parliament
Fiery South African politician Julius Malema has been ejected from parliament after refusing to retract comments in which he accused Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa of being a “murderer”. Mr Malema was thrown out by security guards after refusing to leave. Last month, Mr Malema accused Mr Ramaphosa of involvement in the 2012 killings of 34 striking miners shot by police near the Marikana mine. A commission of inquiry into the shooting exonerated Mr Ramaphosa. He had been a non-executive director at Lonmin, the platinum producer that owned the Marikana mine. BBC

Official: US Sending 75 Additional Troops to Sinai to Beef Up Protection for Peacekeepers
A Pentagon official says the U.S. is sending extra troops and support equipment to improve protection for U.S. peacekeepers in the northern Sinai Peninsula, in the aftermath of a roadside bomb attack last week that wounded four U.S. soldiers. The official said about 75 additional troops are being deployed, including a light-infantry platoon and a surgical team, as well as surveillance equipment and other assets designed to beef up the peacekeepers’ self-protection. The official was not authorized to discuss the details publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The U.S. has about 720 peacekeepers in the Sinai as part of a multinational peacekeeping and observer force that has continually monitored compliance with the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.  AP on Fox News

Rwanda Court to Hear Case on President’s Third Term
Rwanda’s Supreme Court has said it will hear a case on whether the country’s President Paul Kagame should be allowed to run for a third term as leader. The move on Wednesday came after parliament voted to change the constitution and lifted a two-term limit amid widespread calls for Kagame not to stand down after his current term. The proposals were voted on after the presentation of a petition to legislators that had garnered more than 3.8 million signatures in support of the move.  Kagame still has two years remaining before his current mandate expires. Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from Kigali, said Kagame is widely credited with bringing stability and development to the country after its genocide in the 1990s.  Al Jazeera

Even Amidst Civil Unrest, Burundi’s Economy is Bouncing Back
Burundi has recorded an exponential 61% increment in its earnings in tea exports for the first half of the year. The landlocked country, against all odds, emerged out of the civil unrest which left Burundi rather inundated. Since the first quarter of this year, tea export revenue increased 52% from 2014. Cumulative sales rose from 2, 306, 702 kg in 2014 to 3, 197, 534 kg in March this year. The Office Du The Du Burundi (OTB)- the state run tea board- reported in April that the country earned $8.2 million as of March in comparison to $5.4 million at the end of 2014. Currently, earnings from tea exports have skyrocketed to $17.9 million. This is a reasonable growth for a country overwhelmed civil unrest. According to OTB export chief, Joseph Marc Ndahigeze, “Earnings grew significantly in the first half of the year due to a combination of higher sales and better prices for Burundi’s tea on the regional market.”  Ventures Africa

Joint Kenya, Uganda Taxation Deals a Blow to Sugar Cartels
Kenya and Uganda on Monday began joint collection of custom taxes on sugar imported through the port of Mombasa, dealing a blow to cartels involved in dumping of the commodity in the regional markets. Dicksons Kateshumbwa, Commissioner of Customs at Uganda Revenue Authority, said consignments of sugar cleared in Mombasa for warehousing in Uganda are now handled under the Single Customs Territory (SCT) arrangement — which allows for joint collection of customs taxes by the East African Community (EAC) partners. Uganda has also added containerised refined edible oil, second-hand clothes and shoes as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for clearance under the seamless tax system.  The East African

New Scheme Seeks to Improve Tracking of DRC Minerals
The eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is renowned for its mineral wealth, but much of that wealth is untapped, partly because of fears that mineral exports have been funding conflict and that miners are exploited. But a new initiative supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development is trying to reassure buyers that they can buy clean minerals from the area and that it’s worth investing in eastern Congo’s miners. The mining industry in the eastern part of the D.R.C. has come a long way since 2010, when an international outcry over conflict minerals led to legislation in the United States.  VOA

African Science Research Fund Launched by AESA
A new fund has been launched for African science, amid concerns that research is too Western-focused. A lack of investment may threaten Africa’s development, say backers of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA). To address this the AESA will provide an estimated $100m (£65m) for Africa-focused research. It is also hoped that African governments will invest 1% of GDP in scientific work. The AESA was created by the African Academy of Sciences with the financial backing of the Wellcome Trust, the Gates Foundation and the UK government.  BBC

IRA-Libya Weapons Compensation Inquiry to Begin at Westminster
Links between the IRA and Libya can be traced back to 1972 when the country’s leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi first praised the group as allies in a struggle against Western imperialism. Gaddafi later helped provide the IRA with the weaponry they needed to wage an armed campaign that lasted more than 30 years and claimed more than 1,000 lives. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones