Media Review for September 2, 2015

‘At least 50 dead’ in Shebab attack on AU base: Western sources
At least 50 African Union soldiers are believed to have been killed and another 50 are missing after Shebab militants overran a military camp in southern Somalia on Tuesday, according to Western military officials.  The attack on the camp in Janale, 80 kilometres (50 miles) southwest of Mogadishu in the Lower Shabelle region and manned by Ugandan troops, now ranks as one of the deadliest yet against AMISOM troops. “It is assessed that at least 50 AMISOM troops died,” said a briefing note sent to diplomats by Western military officials and seen by AFP. It said that in total around 100 soldiers were “unaccounted for” after the attack.  AFP on Yahoo News

AMISOM Morale ‘is High’
Islamist militant group al- Shabab reportedly overran an African Union military base in southern Somalia early on Tuesday. AMISOM says it never lost control of the base and claims troop morale is high.  Deutsche Welle

Extremists Attack Malian Army Checkpoint, Killing 2 Soldiers
Suspected Islamic extremists attacked an army checkpoint in Timbuktu early Tuesday, killing at least two soldiers and injuring one, the government said. Another soldier is missing and a search has been launched for the extremists who carried out the attacks with automatic weapons, Mali’s government said in a statement. A security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to journalists, said the soldiers’ throats were slashed in the attack just north of a town where Islamic extremists are active. Authorities had made several arrests outside Timbuktu following the attack, residents said. The SunHerald

Mali’s Most Precarious Peace and Fragile Future
The Malian peace plan signed a few months ago does not seem to have had a discernible effect on the conflict. From Bamako, Simon Allison reports on the intricate web of drugs, terrorists, separatists and corruption that makes this conflict so intractable. The bottom line is that Mali is already dangerously close to the bottom, and treading water – and that’s about the best we can hope for. Maybe it’s time to rethink our approach. Daily Maverick

A Troubling New Wall Rises At The Tunisia-Libya Border
Mounds of ocher-colored soil dot the horizon. The embankment, still loose, shows that the trench is fresh. We can’t get too close as the place has been declared a “closed military area.” In Ras Ajdir, the last Tunisian position before the Libyan coastline, there has been an unusual amount of activity involving excavators over the past few weeks. Tunisia has decided to dig a trench filled with saltwater and topped with a sand dune to protect itself from perils on the Libyan side of the border. Designed to spread across 168 kilometers — of the 520 kilometers of shared border — the wall signals a break in the history of this porous Tunisian-Libyan zone, which has long been open to all kinds of traffic.  Worldcrunch – Le Monde

Libya Bans Yemenis, Iranians, Pakistanis From Entry
Libya’s internationally recognised administration based in the east has banned Yemenis, Iranians and Pakistanis from entering the divided country, a military statement said on Tuesday. The move widens a visa ban already applied to Sudanese, Bangladeshis, Palestinians and Syrians. Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni runs only a rump state in eastern Libya after a rival group seized Tripoli a year ago, setting ups its own parliament and a government not recognized by world powers. Thinni’s government and allied security forces would therefore only be able to enforce the ban at the eastern airports of Tobruk and Labraq and the land crossing with Egypt. France 24

Libya: Criminal Economies and Terrorist Financing in the Trans-Sahara
The Security Council will vote this week on an EU proposal to allow military action in Libya’s waters to stop the illicit migration across the Mediterranean. While addressing these flows is a significant and important challenge, interventions off Libya’s coast alone is unlikely to significantly influence the flow of migrants given the extent of the catchment area, and may in fact increase the flow, as the smugglers already pay scant regard for the fates of migrants once they leave Libyan shores. This policy brief, prepared in collaboration with the Norwegian Centre for Global Analysis, is based on interviews and analysis in the region, takes  a closer look at the criminal economies of the trans-Sahara.  This indicates that not only is sea-based action going to do little to stop the trade: in fact, it might trigger a greater threat: driving greater profits into the hands of the Islamic State (IS). Global Initiative

The Ninth Time Is Not A Charm: Elusive Peace in South Sudan
Following months of meditation and efforts by South Sudanese and international negotiators, a long-awaited peace agreement was finally signed last week, and a cease-fire began over the weekend. However, barely hours after the official beginning of the cease-fire, the South Sudanese army and rebels accused each other of breaking the cease-fire and compromising the peace agreement. This new peace deal is not the first the warring parties put their names on a cessation of hostilities. (see, for example, August 2014 and February 2015) and, like its eight predecessors, this new cease-fire looks like it may also be doomed. UN Dispatch

US Warns South Sudan Warring Parties on Ceasefire
The United States on Tuesday warned both sides fighting in South Sudan to down arms or face sanctions that have already been authorized by the UN Security Council. A truce aimed at ending the brutal civil war between government and rebel forces in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation and one of its most troubled, came into effect on Saturday. But rebel leader Riek Machar has already accused President Salva Kiir’s forces of breaking the ceasefire and the peace process is in danger, while 200,000 civilians are sheltering in UN bases. AFP on Yahoo News

China Welcomes Sudan’s War Crime-Accused Leader as “Old Friend”
Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, an accused war criminal, as an “old friend” on Tuesday, as China’s foreign ministry defended his invite to a military parade to mark the end of World War Two. The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010, accusing him of masterminding genocide and other atrocities in his campaign to crush a revolt in the western Darfur region. Members of the ICC are obliged to act on arrest warrants, but China is not a member. Meeting in Beijing’s cavernous Great Hall of the People, Xi lauded the partnership between the two countries. Reuters

Sudan’s Vaccination Card Black Market
[…] “Would you like to change dollars? I give good rates,” he says in a voice that’s little more than a whisper. “How about some cigarettes? Or perhaps you’d like a vaccination card?” Black market currency dealers are a longtime fixture in Sudan, where two decades of trade sanctions have battered the economy, cut off access to Western banks, and empowered those with American bills, who can buy 30 percent more Sudanese pounds on the street than they can when exchanging at the official rate. The trade in fake Yellow Fever certificates is, however, a more recent development, which has sparked concern among international health organizations that see proof of inoculation before travel as a prime means of stymieing the disease’s spread. The Daily Beast

Congolese Child Soldiers to Give Evidence Against ‘Warlord’ Bosco Ntaganda at The Hague
Scores of Congolese child soldiers are due to give evidence at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the coming weeks against a man nicknamed The Terminator and held up as one of Africa’s most brutal and feared warlords. Bosco Ntaganda, 41, a former rebel commander in the mineral-rich and restive northeastern province of Ituri in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, faces 18 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity including the rape and abuse of women and child soldiers by his troops. He was accused of presiding over abuses over a year between 2002 and 2003 but remained at large for a decade when he unexpectedly walked into the US embassy in Rwanda after the collapse of then rebel group, the M23. The Telegraph

More than 100 Child Soldiers Desert
More than 100 child soldiers have deserted an armed group in eastern Congo, the United Nations mission to the country said on Tuesday. The 113 children aged between 12 and 17 years took advantage of fighting between the Front for Patriotic Resistance in Ituri (FRPI) and government forces, Oussou Laurent Sam from the UN mission said from Bunia by telephone. Since a new offensive was launched against the FRPI in May, child soldiers have been escaping to army and UN bases, Sam said. News 24

New Ebola Death Confirmed in Sierra Leone
A woman who recently died in northern Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola. It comes as a setback to the country’s effort to eradicate the deadly disease. Sierra Leone was celebrating last week when it discharged its last known Ebola patient from hospital. News of the new case means the country is no longer Ebola-free. High-risk contacts of the woman have been identified, isolated and will now be watched for symptoms.  BBC

Nigeria to Start using Drones to Fight Oil Theft
Nigeria is to deploy drones to monitor the movement of ships in an effort to curb the rampant oil theft in the country, the state oil firm says. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says it wants to end crude theft in the next eight months. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest crude producer but its revenue is severely reduced by theft and attacks on oil pipelines. New President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to clean up the industry. Oil generates around 70% of government revenues in Africa’s biggest economy. BBC

Nigeria Army to Partner Brazil on Jungle Warfare
The Nigerian and Brazilian armies have commenced talks on collaboration to improve Nigeria’s Defence industry and training of personnel on jungle warfare. Nigeria army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman on Tuesday said the discussion started on Monday when Deputy Chief of Army Staff for International and Special Affairs, Brazilian Army, Major General Pereira Junior met the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai at the Army Headquarters in Abuja.  Colonel Usman in a statement said Lt. Gen. Buratai noted that Brazil’s Defence Industries was a typical area of interest between the two countries.  The Daily Trust

A New Apartheid: South Africa’s Struggle With Immigration
On April 15 of this year, Themba Maphosa awoke to news that five immigrants had been killed by South African gangs the previous night in Durban. A month earlier, the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini shouted at a rally that “foreigners must pack their bags and go home.” A wave of violence soon engulfed the country. South Africans remembered similar violence in the country in 2008 when scores were killed. As a Zimbabwean, Themba sympathized with the victims. But he also thought back to his own personal terror — eight years earlier when, despite having his papers in order, he was deported by the South African government. Themba’s experience opens a lens on an increasingly prevalent problem in South Africa Islamist Militants attack African Union Base in southern Somalia. The Huffington Post

Uganda Lawmakers Debate Controversial NGO Bill
Ugandan lawmakers debated on Tuesday a bill that would give authorities sweeping powers to regulate civil society as rights groups warned it would “strangle” criticism of the government. Orders from the parliamentary clerk put the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) bill at the top of Tuesday’s agenda for discussion. Civil society groups say the legislation would give the government unprecedented powers, including the ability to shut down NGOs and jail members. News 24

Central African Republic to Limit President to 2 terms
Central African Republic’s transitional government on Sunday adopted a new constitution that would limit future presidents to two terms in office as the country seeks to end more than a year of sectarian violence. The new charter would limit the president’s mandate to five years that can only be renewed once and cannot be prolonged for any reason, and would create a new senate to help govern. The constitution, which will now be put to a public vote, also includes the creation of a special court to judge the most serious crimes. News 24

Being a Journalist in Gambia
Unlike some of its West African neighbours, Gambia has enjoyed relative stability, portrayed in tourist brochures as an idyllic holiday destination. But it’s also a country whose government is well known for intolerance to dissent. Gambians have been imprisoned, exiled and even allegedly disappeared for being critical of President Yahya Jammeh and his government. Our mission in the country was to objectively report on issues that affect Gambians: human rights; why thousands of young people are risking their lives to take the perilous journey across the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe; government measures to empower and protect these young people; and an interview with Jammeh on his vision of transforming Gambia into a self- sustaining agricultural hub by 2016. Al Jazeera

Guinea Arrests Ex-Wildlife Director for Alleged Trafficking
Authorities arrested Guinea’s former wildlife director for allegedly playing a key role in trafficking chimpanzees and other endangered wildlife, an alliance formed by a United Nations initiative to save great apes said Tuesday. Ansoumane Doumbouya, who was also Guinea’s representative to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, was arrested Aug. 21 following investigations by Guinean authorities and Interpol, among others. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, according to the Great Apes Survival Partnership. The alliance, also called GRASP, is a U.N. initiative of governments, conservation and research organizations, U.N. agencies and private companies. “To finally have him under arrest is a major achievement,” said alliance coordinator Doug Cress. West Africa: Nigeria, Others Scramble for Airspace in Gulf of Guinea  AP on ABC News

China’s Currency Wars Rattle African Economies
Since China’s devaluation of the yuan last month, an estimated $5tn has been wiped off global stock markets. Jolting financial markets, emerging and developing nations have been the hardest hit and have seen their currencies fall to multi-year lows. Albert Essien, the CEO of the pan-African bank EcoBank, joins the programme to discuss the impact on African economies. Al Jazeera

Kenyan Chief’s Twitter Feed Helps Round up Stolen Cows and Lost Phones
[…]  In the West, tweeting politicians and public officials are banal, tolerated by followers and watched hawkishly by gaffe-trawling opponents. But Kariuki — @Chiefkariuki — has become celebrated in Kenya as the “tweeting chief,” sending out a steady stream of 140-character (or fewer) missives. All the village news, good and bad, trickles across his Twitter feed. He passes on messages from distressed villagers and telegraphs their calls for help. LA Times

    



Photo: Adam Jones