Media Review for September 16, 2015

More than 40 000 Dead Under Chad’s Habre
The number of Chadians killed under the brutal regime of ex-dictator Hissene Habre far exceeded the frequently-quoted estimate of 40 000, his trial in Senegal for atrocities heard on Tuesday. The 73-year-old, who fled to Dakar after being deposed in 1990, is being prosecuted in his adoptive country for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture during eight years of repression. Mahamat Hassan Akabar, president of a commission into atrocities committed under Habre’s regime, explained how investigators had arrived at the figure, adding that it was probably a vast underestimate.  News24

Russia, Angola Help South Sudan Avoid Sanctions
Russia and Angola on Tuesday blocked a US request for UN sanctions to be imposed on South Sudan’s army chief and a rebel commander for failing to uphold a peace deal and stop fighting, diplomats said. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the move followed a recent visit to Moscow by the foreign ministers of Sudan and South Sudan who made the case against resorting to sanctions. “The United States, they just say ’sanctions, sanctions, sanctions’ but in some cases it aggravates the situation,” Churkin told reporters. The United States had requested that a global travel ban and assets freeze be imposed on South Sudan’s army chief Paul Malong and rebel commander Johnson Olony for their role in the continued fighting.  I24 News

Machar in Khartoum to Meet Presidents Bashir and Museveni
South Sudan’s former vice-president, Riek Machar, arrived to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to meet with president Omer Hassan Al Bashir, his spokesperson, has revealed on Tuesday evening. “Comrade Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of SPLM/SPLA, Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, has left for the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Tuesday evening. He will meet with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir,” said James Gatdet Dak, spokesperson of the opposition leader, in a statement he issued on Tuesday evening.  Sudan Tribune

Report Warns of Abuse in Kenya’s War on Terror
A report published by the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) accused the government of using similar tactics used by terrorist groups in its war on terror. Kenya’s official human rights watchdog cited 25 extra-judicial killings and 81 forced disappeared in its report, entitled “The Error of Fighting Terror with Terror.” “The Kenya security agencies have continued to conduct abusive operations against individuals and groups suspected to be associated with terror attacks in the various parts of the country,” said the report. The report also outlined the state’s use of torture, including mock executions, genital mutilation, waterboarding and exposure to stinging by ants.  Deutsche Welle

Report: Foreign Fishing Boats Could Reignite Somali Piracy
High levels of illegal and unreported fishing in Somali waters could spark the return of piracy, a U.S.-based organization has warned.   In a new report, Secure Fisheries says foreign fishing boats caught more than 132,000 metric tons of fish off Somalia in each of the last two years (2013 and 2014), while local fishermen caught only 40,000 metric tons.   In monetary terms, foreign vessels have outearned their Somali counterparts by nearly $250 million per year. Sarah Glaser is the lead author of the report. She stops short of saying today’s fishermen are tomorrow’s pirates.  But, she says, “One of the solutions to piracy is to improve economic security in Somalia, in particular reducing youth unemployment.  VOA

Zimbabwe President Mugabe Repeats 25-minute Speech in Parliament by Mistake
Robert Mugabe has been leader of Zimbabwe since 1980. On Tuesday, he read again the entire 25-minute speech he had given for his state of the nation address in August. The veteran leader appeared not to notice the error and completed the speech. Afterwards, presidential spokesman George Charamba said: “There has been a mix-up of speeches resulting in a situation where… the president delivered the wrong speech.” “The mix-up happened in his secretarial office,” Charamba added. “The error is sincerely regretted and corrective measures are being considered.”  Deutsche Welle

Egypt Says Killed 55 Militants in Sinai, Two Soldiers Killed
Egyptian security forces killed 55 militants in Sinai on the ninth day of an operation against Islamists in the area, the military said in a statement on Tuesday. It was not possible to independently confirm the figure. Egypt is battling an insurgency that gained pace after its military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist movement in mid-2013 in the wake of mass protests against his rule. The insurgency, mounted by Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate, has killed hundreds of soldiers and police and has started to attack Western targets within the country. In Tuesday’s fighting, two soldiers were killed, the military said.  Reuters

China Trying to Undercut Germany on Submarine Offer to Egypt
China is trying to sell two submarines to Egypt that are cheaper than vessels on offer fromGermany, industry sources told Reuters, as Beijing looks to expand weapons exports beyond its traditional customer base in Asia. Beijing has sought to undercut Western submarine makers on price and by offering attractive export-credit terms for sales in Asia, the sources said. It has won deals withPakistan and Bangladesh so far. China displaced Germany as the world’s third-largest arms exporter, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in March, though nearly 70 percent of those weapons went to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.  Reuters

UN Investigator Warns of Mass Atrocities in Burundi
A U.N. special investigator warns Burundi could slip back into open warfare unless the international community takes urgent preventive action. Pablo de Greiff, a U.N. special investigator on mass violations, said much has happened since he visited Burundi in December — and none of it good. He said Burundi has turned away from the peaceful path it had followed since the 2000 Arusha agreement that ended the country’s civil war. He said the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza is no longer attempting to build a society based on the rule of law, and that the tradition of impunity from past decades has become further entrenched and is being used as a tool of repression and violence.  VOA

EU vote Observers in Guinea as Opposition Mulls Boycott
The European Union on Tuesday deployed its first observers for Guinea’s presidential election, amid opposition warnings that they may refuse to take part. The ruling party and opposition last month sealed a deal on the organisation of the October 11 vote, raising hopes for a peaceful election. But the opposition parties say the government of President Alpha Conde has reneged on the deal. Opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo on Monday accused Conde of making decisions “unilaterally” with election commission chief Bakary Fofana, in “flagrant violation” of the law. “We are so concerned that we are questioning whether we should even continue to participate in this process,” he said.  AFP on Yahoo News

Libya’s Recognised Government rejects Peace Deal Amendments
Libya’s internationally recognised government said Tuesday it had rejected changes introduced by its rivals to a draft UN peace deal, denting hopes of a breakthrough in the country’s political crisis. A statement from the recognised government said it “rejects all amendments and modifications to the text of the deal” to which it had agreed in July, but which the rival administration in Tripoli asked to modify. Libya, torn apart since dictator Moamer Kadhafi’s ouster in 2011, has two rival administrations — the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli and the internationally recognised government in the east. The factions agreed in January to set up a national unity government to restore stability to the North African country, but have disagreed about the details.  AFP on Yahoo News

In Dabiq Magazine, Islamic State Complains About Jihadist Rivals in Libya
[…] While the Islamic State has successfully poached some of the organization’s members, including a high-profile sharia official, Ansar al Sharia’s senior leadership refuses to fall in line with the Islamic State’s exclusionary demands. “Many of the leaders and soldiers of [Ansar al Sharia] were from the first to pledge [bayat] in Libya to the Islamic State,” Qahtani says. And Ansar al Sharia “continues to have men who wish to implement” sharia law in the manner advocated by the Islamic State, Qahtani claims. But the group supposedly prefers “division to unity,” which has been made “most clear in its lack of a [bayat] to the [caliphate] and in its unity with ‘revolutionary’ movements linked to the apostate regime of Tarābulus [Tripoli] in some regions, as well as its acceptance in other regions of suspicious aid from filthy hands.”  The Long War Journal

Algeria Orders Additional Su-30 Fighters
Algeria has ordered 14 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets from Russia’s Irkut, which will augment the 44 Su-30MKs the country has in service. RIA Novosti on Friday quoted Sergei Chemezov, the head of Russian defence technology holding company Rostic, as saying the contract was signed near the beginning of this year. Speaking at the 2015 Russian Arms Expo in Nizhny Tagil, he said the Algerian aircraft will be delivered in 2016 and 2017. Last week the Russian military ordered eight Su-30SM fighters.  Algeria received 28 Su-30s as part of a 2006 contract and another 16 under a 2010 contract. It appears the 16 aircraft in the second batch were delivered to replace 15 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29SMT fighters Algeria returned to Russia after declaring them “defective.”  DefenceWeb

Congo Opposition Protesters Accuse Kabila of Power Grab
More than 1,000 people demonstrated on the streets of Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital on Tuesday against what they said are plans by President Joseph Kabila to cling to power after his constitutional mandate ends next year. The crowd, which gathered in the N’djili commune of Kinshasa, waved the flags of opposition parties and banners reading “Respect for the constitution is not negotiable” and “Mr Kabila’s mandate ends on December 19, 2016″. Kabila’s opponents accuse him of trying to stay in office beyond the end of his second and final elected term next December. The 44-year-old president took power in 2001 when his father was assassinated and won disputed elections in 2006 and 2011. “We need to respect the constitution,” said Bienvenu Seffu, a 53-year-old school teacher and a supporter of the opposition Union for the Congolese Nation. “This is a county for all Congolese, not just one man.”  Reuters

Ethiopia Says Hundreds of ‘Eritrea-Backed’ Rebels Lay Down Arms
Hundreds of Ethiopian rebels have fled their base in Eritrea and surrendered to authorities, handing over their weapons, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday. The little-known Tigray People’s Democratic Movement (TPDM) says it launched an insurgency 14 years ago seeking to “establish a popular democratic government” in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia has previously dismissed the group as “puppets” acting under the orders of arch-foe Eritrea, with whom it is embroiled in a border dispute. Authorities in Eritrea’s capital Asmara were not immediately available for comment. Eritrea and Ethiopia routinely accuse each other of backing rebels trying to destabilise and topple the other’s government – a legacy from the two-year war they fought in the late 1990s. Eritreans make up the third largest group among the refugees and migrants heading for Europe. Reuters

Liberia’s President Fires top Security Official After Social Media Erupts Over Assault Claim
Liberia’s president fired her deputy security chief after social media erupted in outrage over allegations that he and his men beat a woman and stabbed her with a glass bottle. Darlington George, the deputy director of operations for the presidential security team, has been fired and the justice ministry has been advised to investigate the case for possible prosecution, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s office announced in a statement. Sirleaf’s office “will not condone such acts of sheer indiscipline and total lack of morals on the part of any member of state security institutions,” said the statement issued late Monday night.  AP on US News and World Report

17 UN Personnel Accused of Sex Abuse in C. African Republic
A civilian staff member with the United Nations mission in Central African Republic is alleged to have committed sexual exploitation, bringing the total number of those accused of sexual abuse to 17 since the peacekeeping mission arrived to help stabilize the country, the U.N. said Tuesday. The U.N. mission gave few details about the allegations other than to say that the suspect is a civilian. Thirteen of the 17 cases involve U.N. peacekeeping personnel, it said. The U.N. mission “condemns in the strongest possible terms any instance of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by U.N. personnel in the CAR,” said the statement issued Tuesday.  AP on Stars and Stripes

Nigeria Mulls Boko Haram Prisoner Amnesty for Schoolgirls’ Return
President Muhammadu Buhari told AFP Wednesday that Nigerian authorities were talking to Boko Haram prisoners in their custody and could offer them amnesty if the extremist group handed over more than 200 schoolgirls abducted last year. “The few (prisoners) we are holding, we are trying to see whether we can negotiate with them for the release of the Chibok girls,” Buhari said in an interview in Paris during a three-day visit to France. “If the Boko Haram leadership eventually agrees to turn over the Chibok girls to us — the complete number — then we may decide to give them (the prisoners) amnesty.”  AFP on Yahoo News

Nigerian Army Says it Has Freed kidnapped Women, Children from Boko Haram
Nigeria’s army said Tuesday it had rescued at least a dozen kidnapped women and children held captive by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. In a statement military spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman said the group was rescued as the army cleared Boko Haram camps on Monday in northeastern Borno state. The army did not say where the women and children had been kidnapped from or their condition. Hundreds of hostages have been freed from Boko Haram captivity this year but none of the 219 girls abducted in April 2014 from a school in Chibok were among those rescued.  AP on Stars and Stripes

I Remember the Day… I Confronted Boko Haram
[…] Many of the town’s 20,000 inhabitants had fled; others had been incorporated into the Boko Haram frontline – terrified human shields protecting the 200 or so members of the group who were now attacking, determination etched onto their faces, sophisticated weaponry in their hands. But as Jefferson caught his first glimpse of the fighters, it was surprise, not fear that he felt. “They were not what I expected,” he recalls now, describing how many of the men had the kind of light skin, curly hair and fine facial features normally associated with indigenes of Chad or Niger or other countries along Nigeria’s northern border. And the ease with which they fired their Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) made it immediately clear that, far from being the mob of ragamuffins he had envisioned, these fighters were well-trained and highly efficient. Just a few weeks earlier, in June 2013, Jefferson, a captain in the Nigerian army, had assumed duty as the commander of a ‘garrison quick response force’ in Borno.  Al Jazeera

New Nigerian President, Same Old Problems
The dust has finally begun to settle. For Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, it was pixie dust, which enveloped and elevated him, along with the entire country, into an epic global spotlight that is only now starting to recede. The March 2015 presidential election marked the first time in Nigeria’s history that the ruling party stepped aside for the opposition, a story that graced the front pages and airwaves of major media outlets the world over. Buhari’s victory was framed as a new dawn for Africa’s wealthiest and most populous nation — a nation whose failure to curb widespread corruption and insecurity has been consistently blamed on the absence of strong leadership. A little more than three months into Buhari’s presidency, it is still too early to say for sure what direction his administration is driving Nigeria. What everyone seems to agree on, however, is that he’s driving too slowly. Initial efforts to sanitize the oil industry and deal with pervasive insecurity suggest that the president is at least still focused on pursing his main campaign promises. But the economy is in trouble, the ruling party is split into warring factions, and tribal tensions are brewing. Foreign Policy

Africa’s Oversold Growth Story Has Investors Confronting Losses
Just a year ago, Africa was touted as the next investment El Dorado. Two decades of record growth, a rapidly urbanizing population of 1.1 billion, rising incomes and vast untapped mineral reserves would lead to the creation of a broad middle class, the theory went. General Electric Co. and Marriott International Inc. announced African expansion plans, while buyout firms Carlyle Group LP and Helios Investment Partners set up funds targeting the continent. The region attracted $128 billion in foreign direct investment last year, up from $52.6 billion in 2013, according to accounting firm EY. Now a slowdown in China, Africa’s largest trading partner, a commodity price rout and a power shortfall are separating the losers from the winners. The MSCI EFM Africa Index of shares has dipped 18 percent this year, five percentage points more than agauge of stocks across 24 frontier markets. Twenty-two of 24 African currencies tracked by Bloomberg have lost ground against the dollar as the Federal Reserve prepares to raise rates. Bloomberg

Measles Outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo Kills 400
More than 23,000 people, mostly children, have been infected with measles in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 400 have died, according to United Nations agencies and Doctors Without Borders. In one village of 500, more than 30 children under age 5 died within two months — a third of all the children in that age group. “Their little graves are still visible in the cemetery,” said Augustin Ngoyi, the response coordinator for Doctors Without Borders. The epidemic started in February, but as of early this month, the central government in Kinshasa had not acknowledged that it was underway and deaths were not being officially counted, he said. The New York Times

Fake Doctors Run Kenya’s Unregulated Hospitals
Some 90 per cent of Kenya’s clinics are run by unqualified people, according to the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU), which is calling for a quality health care commission to clamp down on non-qualified personnel. The KMPPDU is calling on the government to better regulate the health sector after a number of high-profile cases of malpractice – including patients being molested, paralysed and even killed by people pretending to be doctors – have come to light across the country. “In the Kenyan context sometimes the population takes it for granted that everyone in a white coat is a doctor and that is not true,” KMPPDU general secretary Dr George Oluga told RFI. RFI



Photo: Adam Jones