United States Africa Command Public Affairs Office 16 April 2012 USAFRICOM - related news stories

Good morning. Please see today's news review for April 16, 2012. This e-mail is best viewed in HTML. Of interest in today's report: -Mali Ready to Talk With Rebels, Not To Foreigners. -Guinea Bissau Main Party Rejects Transition Plan. -Presidential Hopefuls Barred From Egypt's Poll. -Congo President Counters Call For Army Defection By Rebel Leader Bosco.

U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs Please send questions or comments to: publicaffairs@usafricom.mil 421-2687 (+49-711-729-2687) Headline Mali ready to talk to rebels, not "foreigners" Date 04/16/2012 Outlet Reuters

Mali's interim president is willing to open dialogue with Tuareg-led rebels and Islamists occupying the north of the West African country, but "armed foreign jihadist groups" among them should leave, a Malian envoy...

South Sudan accuses Sudan of bombing 04/16/2012 Heglig

Aljazeera

South Sudan has accused its northern neighbour Sudan of bombing a disputed major oil field "to rubble". Barnaba Marial Benjamin, a spokesman for South Sudan's government, told reporters in the capital Juba on Sunday that the aerial bombardment of the facil...

Swiss woman abducted by gunmen 04/16/2012 in northern Mali

BBC

A Swiss woman has been abducted in the rebel-held northern Malian city of Timbuktu, officials and residents said. The woman, a Christian in her 40s called Beatrice, was kidnapped from her house by armed men, residents said. Most foreigners fled Timbuktu af...

Presidential hopefuls barred from Egypt 04/15/2012 poll

France 24

The body overseeing Egypt's presidential election disqualified 10 candidates from the race on Saturday, including the Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat al-Shater, former spy chief Omar Suleiman and ultra orthodox Salafi sheikh...

G. Bissau main party 04/15/2012 rejects transition plan

Aljazeera

Guinea-Bissau's main political party has rejected the ruling military's call for all political parties to form a "national unity" transitional government to organise fresh elections, days after being overthrown in a coup.

High Court Rejects Ingabire Petition

04/15/2012

AllAfrica.com

15, 2012 (The New Times/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX News Network) -- The Supreme Court, yesterday, rejected a case filed by the embattled leader of FDU-Inkingi, Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire, challenging the use of the law against genocide ideology in h...

Congo president counters call for Army defection by rebel Bosco

04/15/2012

Christian Science Monitor

Following a wave of defections from the Congolese army last week led by rebel leader-turned-commander Bosco Ntaganda, President Joseph Kabila has countered with a show-of-force of his own. Kabila traveled to the capital cities of Goma and B...

Mediator opens Mali crisis talks

04/15/2012

Gulf Times

West African mediator Blaise Compaore yesterday began talks with Malian politicians and the military junta that briefly seized power last month to resolve the country's crisis. Compaore, president of Burkina Faso, said the talks in Ouagadougou were aimed...

Islamist group Ansar Dine says open to 04/16/2012 talks with Bamako

France 24

Islamist group Ansar Dine, which controls the north of Mali along with Tuareg rebels, said Sunday that it is open to negotiations on the country's future with Bamako.

Up close with Rwanda's 04/15/2012 endangered mountain gorillas

CNN

Hidden high among the forested volcanoes of central Africa, the mountain gorilla was unknown to science until 1902, when two were first encountered by a German explorer -- and promptly killed. It set the tone for the relationship...

Malawi leader Mutharika's body returns from South Africa

04/15/2012

BBC

The body of Malawi's late President Bingu wa Mutharika has been flown home from South Africa. Thousands joined new President Joyce Banda at Kamuzu airport to receive the South African military aircraft. Mr Mutharika, who was 78, suffered a heart attack on ...

Nigeria: The World of Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs - The 04/15/2012 Business of Detecting and Detonating Bombs African Lion 12 Underway After 'Historic' Maritime Offload

AllAfrica.com

Just in January, 40 explosions rocked the ancient city leaving over 120 people dead.

04/15/2012

US Africa Command

Service members from all over the United States teamed up with the Moroccan Armed Forces to kick off Exercise African Lion 2012, in Agadir, Morocco, April 7-18. Approximately 1,200 U.S. military...

United Nations News 04/15/2012 Centre - Africa Briefs

United Nations News Service

-Ban repeats appeal for end to conflict in conversation with Sudan's foreign minister -In meeting with president, UN peacekeeping chief reaffirms commitment to Liberia -Ban and Security Council strongly condemn Guinea-Bissau military coup -UN envoy spea...

News Headline: Mali ready to talk to rebels, not "foreigners" | News Date: 04/16/2012 Outlet Full Name: Reuters News Text: By Laurent Prieur NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) - Mali's interim president is willing to open dialogue with Tuareg-led rebels and Islamists occupying the north of the West African country, but "armed foreign jihadist groups" among them should leave, a Malian envoy and mediator said on Sunday. "We want to resolve the difficulties in the north of our country through dialogue and negotiation," Tiebile Drame, a prominent Malian politician and mediator for interim Malian President Dioncounda Traore, told Reuters in Nouakchott. Malian envoys later met a separatist MNLA rebel delegation, which said further talks were possible and indicated that they would consider a form of federation within Mali rather than a new state, which has already been rejected by world leaders. Mali has been divided in two since the rebels declared an independent Tuareg homeland in the north this month, following a March 22 military coup in the southern capital Bamako that led to the insurgents capturing key northern towns. Drame, who opposed the Bamako coup, was accompanied by Mustapha Diko, an aide of Traore, who was sworn in on Thursday in a transition deal. Traore has vowed to restore Mali's territorial integrity, by military force if necessary. The two envoys met Mauritanian President Mohamed Abdel Aziz to request his help in solving the Malian crisis. "We've come to look for credible interlocutors," Drame said. While offering dialogue to the MNLA, Drame said the separatist Tuareg rebels should bear in mind that no foreign government nor international organization had recognized their declaration of an independent Azawad homeland in the north. He recommended they withdraw this declaration of northern independence, saying this would "accelerate the dialogue that we want to have with them". Speaking after a meeting with the delegation from Bamako, Hama Ag Mahmoud, a senior MNLA figure in Mauritania, said that the idea of a federation as well as an independent state would both be on the table in further talks. "We would need guarantees from the international community on the implementation by both sides of any deal and that talks would be held by a legitimate government in Bamako," he said. OCCUPIERS NOT LIBERATORS Drame said the rebels' occupation of major northern towns like Timbuktu and Gao had created a "humanitarian crisis" and added many residents there saw them as occupiers not liberators. He made clear that the offer of talks did not extend to what he called "armed foreign jihadist groups" which had taken advantage of the lightning MNLA rebel advance southwards to establish themselves deeper in Malian territory.

This was a clear reference to members of al Qaeda who have been using north Mali, a vast and rugged area bigger than France, as a base from which to seize and hold Western hostages. "We want those who are not Malian to quickly leave ... because they've no reason to be on our soil," Drame said. He said the authorities in southern Mali had also been in contact with another of the principal north Mali rebel groups, the Islamist Ansar Dine movement led by veteran Tuareg insurgent Iyad Ag Ghali, whom he said "we know well". Ag Ghali, he said, recently freed 161 Malian army prisoners captured during the rebel advance. "I think there are objective conditions for a frank and sincere discussion," Drame said. The declaration of a Tuareg rebel homeland in northern Mali has raised fears among Western security experts that the remote, inhospitable zone could become a secure haven for al Qaeda and a "rogue state" in West Africa. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday it was essential to prevent a "terrorist or Islamic state" emerging in northern Mali.
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News Headline: South Sudan accuses Sudan of bombing Heglig | News Date: 04/16/2012 Outlet Full Name: Aljazeera News Text: South Sudan has accused its northern neighbour Sudan of bombing a disputed major oil field "to rubble". Barnaba Marial Benjamin, a spokesman for South Sudan's government, told reporters in the capital Juba on Sunday that the aerial bombardment of the facility, located in the Heglig region, had caused serious damage. "They are bombing the central processing facility and the tanks to rubble as we speak," he said. Sudan denied the claim and said it would not negotiate until the South withdrew all its troops from Heglig. Earlier, Juba denied that Heglig had been reclaimed by Sudanese forces, saying that its army was still in control of the town. Sudan had earlier said that it had taken back control of the oil town, which provides half of its oil needs. Colonel Philip Aguer, South Sudan's military spokesman, said on Saturday that southern forces did not plan to give up the town, which lies along the ill-defined border between the two Sudans. But a Sudanese army spokesman insisted troops from the north were in Heglig. "We are now in Heglig region a few kilometers from Heglig town and oilfield," Al-Sawarmi Khalid said, adding that fighting was continuing.

South's 'war machine' Khalid said the Sudanese army's immediate aim was not to enter Heglig town but to destroy the South's "war machine". Limited access to the remote border region makes it difficult to independently verify claims from both sides. South Sudan has accused the North of carrying out airstrikes south of the border, including a strike in Bentiu, in Unity state, in which five civilians have reportedly been killed. In-depth coverage of North-South strife over border "The Sudanese Armed Forces are conducting indiscriminate air bombardment by Antonov jetfighters, indiscriminate bombing of Heglig, bombing of oil installments," Aguer said. "They tried to attack our positions around 65km north of Heglig last night but it was contained," he said. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the South Sudanese government spokesman, said they had called on the UN Security Council and the African Union [AU] to step in. They needed "to ensure Sudan ends immediately the atrocities and the senseless killings of innocent civilians‖, Benjamin said. Khartoum has denied bombing Southern territory. South Sudanese troops wrested control of the disputed Heglig oilfield from Sudan on Tuesday, prompting widespread international condemnation, including by the AU. The UN Security Council has demanded the withdrawal of South Sudan's military forces from Heglig. It has also urged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his southern counterpart, Salva Kiir, to hold talks to resolve their conflicts. The South says it will withdraw from Heglig only if the UN deploys forces to monitor a ceasefire. Close to conflict The fighting has brought the former civil war foes closer to a resumption of full-blown conflict than at any time since South Sudan seceded in July last year under a 2005-peace accord. Most of the oil resources ended up with the South, an outcome that struck a blow to Sudan's oil-reliant economy, which saw the cost of imports going up and a rise in inflation. Production has stopped at Heglig oil field, which is vital to Sudan's economy as it produced about half of the country's 115,000 barrel-a-day crude oil output. Landlocked South Sudan shut down its own output, about 350,000 barrels a day, in January after failing to agree how much it should pay to export crude via pipelines and other infrastructure in Sudan. The crisis has all but killed hopes that the two countries will be able to reach a swift agreement on partition-related issues through AU-brokered talks. Sudan pulled out of the negotiations after the South seized Heglig, as the two sides continued

to fail to resolve issues including the position of the 1,800km border, division of the national debt and status of citizens in each other's territory.
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News Headline: Swiss woman abducted by gunmen in northern Mali | News Date: 04/16/2012 Outlet Full Name: BBC News Text: A Swiss woman has been abducted in the rebel-held northern Malian city of Timbuktu, officials and residents said. The woman, a Christian in her 40s called Beatrice, was kidnapped from her house by armed men, residents said. Most foreigners fled Timbuktu after Tuareg and Islamist rebels seized the town early this month in the aftermath of a military coup. The kidnap comes amid concern the area could offer a safe haven to an al-Qaeda branch which operates in the country. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the network's North African wing, has links to the Islamist rebels. The group is already holding 13 Westerners. "Beatrice, a Swiss national, was abducted this Sunday at Timbuktu by armed men," local official Mohamed Ould Hassen told AFP. One resident of the town told the news agency that they saw six armed men take the woman. "They shouted 'Allah Akbar' [God is great]," the resident added. Sources cited by Reuters said the woman, who stayed in the Abaradjou neighbourhood, had lived in Timbuktu for some years and knew several local languages. Islamist group Ansar Dine and secular Tuareg rebels seized territory in the north of the country after Mali was plunged into political crisis when the president was overthrown in a coup. After facing sanctions from regional body Ecowas and being unable to control the rebellion in the north, coup leaders in Banako later agreed to hand over power to civilian rule.
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News Headline: Presidential hopefuls barred from Egypt poll | News Date: 04/15/2012 Outlet Full Name: France 24 News Text: By Florence Villeminot REUTERS - The body overseeing Egypt's presidential election disqualified 10 candidates from the race on Saturday, including the Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat al-Shater, former spy chief Omar Suleiman and ultra orthodox Salafi sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. Farouk Sultan, head of the presidential election commission, told Reuters the disqualified candidates had 48 hours to appeal against its decision. He declined to give details on the reasons for their disqualification.

The disqualification of some of the leading candidates would redraw the electoral map with just weeks to go before the May vote that decides who will replace Hosni Mubarak as head of the Arab world's most populous country. A council of military generals has been governing Egypt since Mubarak was swept from power a year ago in a popular uprising against his rule. Abu Ismail's candidacy has been in doubt since the election commission said it had received notification from U.S. authorities that his late mother had an American passport, a status that would disqualify him from the race. Abu Ismail followers have held several demonstrations to warn against any move to disqualify their candidate. On Friday they besieged the headquarters of the election commission, forcing it to evacuate the premises. His lawyer, Nizar Ghorab, told Reuters he expected ―a major crisis to happen in the next few hours.‖ A spokesman for the Shater campaign said their candidate had already prepared his appeal. Shater's candidacy had been in doubt because of a former criminal conviction. ―We will not give up our right to enter the presidential race,‖ said Murad Muhammed Ali. ―There is an attempt by the old Mubarak regime to hijack the last stage of this transitional period and reproduce the old system of governance.‖ Suleiman, appointed deputy president by Mubarak in his last days in power, entered the presidential race at last moment, triggering both concern and heavy criticism from reformists who see him as a symbol of Mubarak's rule and a danger to democracy. Hussein Kamal, a top Suleiman aide, told Reuters his campaign would also challenge the commission's decision. ―Omar Suleiman will take legal route to challenge this decision to exclude him from the presidential race,‖ he told Reuters.
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News Headline: G. Bissau main party rejects transition plan | News Date: 04/15/2012 Outlet Full Name: Aljazeera News Text: Guinea-Bissau's main political party has rejected the ruling military's call for all political parties to form a "national unity" transitional government to organise fresh elections, days after being overthrown in a coup. The leadership of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which holds two-thirds of the seats in the West African country's parliament, said that it "rejects any anti-constitutional or anti-democratic proposal of a solution to the crisis", in a statement released on Saturday. The PAIGC demanded that Raimundo Pereira, the interim president, and Carlos Gomes Junior, the former prime minister and frontrunner in the country's presidential poll, be released from detention. Both are members of the party, and were arrested after the military seized power in a coup on Thursday evening.

Small protests in favour of Gomes erupted in downtown Bissau, the country's capital, on Saturday, even as soldiers met with political leaders from other parties to try and organise the formation of the transition government. Soldiers subdued the protests by erecting roadblocks and arresting several demonstrators, according to Peter Thompson, head of a British election observer mission in the city. Businesses began to slowly reopen on Saturday, but shut in the evening in order to observe a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed by the military. 'Unity government' call Leaders of Guinea-Bissau's military coup set conditions for the formation of a "unity government" on Friday, a day after they seized control of the country's capital amid international condemnation. The coup's leaders announced that they had "deposed" the interim president, prime minister and army chief-of-staff, according to a statement. The overnight curfew was imposed by the self-titled "military command", with members of the toppled government ordered to surrender themselves to the army. Alain Yero Mballo, the correspondent for Radio France Internationale in Bissau, told Al Jazeera that the coup leaders had not clarified election plans. "They didn't say anything about the election... They just tried to organise themselves," he said. "But I think the elections will be postponed, maybe for two years." The coup leaders said that they "did not have ambitions of power", and had toppled the government because of an alleged "secret deal" with neighbouring Angola involving 200 military trainers. They alleged that the prime minister had signed a deal that would "annihilate Guinea-Bissau's armed forces". On Saturday, the military said that it had reached an agreement with Angola that would see those military trainers leave the country. International condemnation Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has led global condemnation of the coup, and on Saturday the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP), of which Guinea-Bissau is a member, added its voice to those opposed to the military's actions. It called for a UN-mandated intervention force to be formed in conjunction with the African Union and European Union. The United Nations Security Council has also condemned the military action, urging "the immediate restoration of civilian authority", Susan Rice, the United States' ambassador to the UN said on Friday. Jean Ping, the African Union's commission chief, condemned "outrageous acts which undermine the efforts to stabilise the situation in Guinea-Bissau and tarnish the image of the country and Africa". The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional bloc, also

condemned the coup. Former colonial power Portugal criticised those responsible for the coup and rejected suggestions that there was anything untoward in the Angolan military presence.
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News Headline: High Court Rejects Ingabire Petition | News Date: 04/15/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: Apr 15, 2012 (The New Times/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX News Network) -- The Supreme Court, yesterday, rejected a case filed by the embattled leader of FDU-Inkingi, Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire, challenging the use of the law against genocide ideology in her ongoing trial. Ingabire, who faces three counts, including propagating genocide ideology, last month petitioned the Supreme Court, seeking interpretation of the genocide ideology law and if it is relevant in her case. Ingabire had claimed that the prosecution is using the law on genocide ideology retrospectively, since it came into force in 2008, on crimes she allegedly committed in 2007. However, the nine-member jury, headed by Deputy Chief Justice, Zainabu Kayitesi, in its ruling, said Ingabire did not fulfil all the legal requirements while filing her petition. Ingabire, through her lawyer, Gatera Gashabana, had told court that she had failed to secure a copy of the 2008 law on genocide, which was also supposed to be attached to her plea. Prosecution had also requested that Ingabire's case be rejected, noting it also lacked the necessary legal backing. "The court makes its ruling on the basis of evidence (produced before court) submitted," Justice Marie Theresa Mukakarisa stated while reading the verdict. According to the ruling, giving Ingabire another chance to produce the missing documents to support her case or to resume the case was immaterial. "Based on the fact that Ingabire's plea does not fulfil legal requirements, the court rules that her plea be rejected," she judge said. The law against genocide ideology, which Ingabire was challenging, is currently undergoing amendment but prosecution insisted the review had no bearing on the proceedings of the case. Ingabire faces charges of terrorism, promoting ethnic divisionism and propagating genocide ideology. In the case, she is accused along with four other suspects who have all pleaded guilty. Ingabire is also accused of having colluded with the four, who are former officers with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia, to form a military activities aimed at destabilising the country. Based in DRC, FDLR is composed of elements largely blamed for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which claimed more than a million lives.

Copyright © 2012 The New Times. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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News Headline: Congo president counters call for Army defection by rebel Bosco | News Date: 04/15/2012 Outlet Full Name: Christian Science Monitor News Text: By Enough team Following a wave of defections from the Congolese army last week led by rebel leader-turnedcommander Bosco Ntaganda, President Joseph Kabila has countered with a show-of-force of his own. Kabila traveled to the capital cities of Goma and Bukavu early this week to meet with high-level military commanders and announced the suspension of the three-year long Amani Leo operations mainly targeting Hutu combatants of the FDLR. All military operations will now fall under the command of the government's 8th military region in North Kivu province and the 10th in South Kivu. What this means for the infamously ill-disciplined Congolese army is still unclear. One theory is that ending the Amani Leo operations could take many of the rebel fighters (ex-CNDP, PARECO) now integrated in the army, who play a prominent role in the Amani Leo operations, off of the battlefield. But what Kabila gains in this scenario isn't immediately apparent, and as blogger Jason Stearns in Goma pointed out, some army officers ―are worried that the malcontents may stir up trouble.‖ Another tactic heard from Enough sources in Goma is President Kabila is planning to restructure the Congolese army into four defense zones, with primary bases of operations in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Equateur, and Kisangani. While the Congolese government vows justice through military tribunals for the mutineers, the fate of Bosco Ntaganda is a matter of intense talks. On April 8, ahead of Kabila's own visit, the president sent Kalev Mutond, the trusted head of ANR, the national intelligence agency, to meet with senior Rwandan officials and army officers. According to Enough Project sources, the ongoing discussions are focused on the March 2009 peace agreement forged to officially end the rebel CNDP's armed insurrection, which was backed by Rwanda, and integrate the rebels into the army under some strict expectations about where they would deploy, among other conditions. But how will Ntaganda fare at the end of talks between Congolese and Rwandan officials? At this stage, several outcomes look possible, and it's difficult to say which is most likely, especially in light of Congo and Rwanda's last big, secret compromise on the CNDP, which led to the surprise arrest of former CNDP leader Laurent Nkunda and set up the present arrangements that gave Ntaganda so much power. Any of the outcomes will have important ripple effects in eastern Congo and perhaps the wider Great Lakes region, so they're worth considering ahead of time. Arresting Bosco: Following Congo's fraudulent elections late last year, President Kabila has come under intense international pressure and increasing domestic pressure to arrest Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. In a stunning about-face after claiming that Ntaganda is essential for peace in the Kivus, Kabila indicated yesterday that he would arrest Ntaganda but made a point of saying that his approach is not a result of international pressure. "We have over a hundred reasons for arresting and prosecuting him here and if not here [in Goma], then it could be anywhere else, including in Kinshasa. That said we are not short of reasons [to arrest him],‖ Kabila said. The army Chief of Staff Didier Etumba, who traveled to Goma to join in the talks with Rwanda, sounded an unequivocal note: "Someone who refuses to be patriotic cannot serve under the flag,‖ Mr. Etumba said. ―And when this happens, when they take up arms, well, they must be hunted and neutralized and those who have legal problems will have to answer for them.‖

Helping deliver Ntaganda to The Hague to stand trial for his alleged crimes would earn Kabila praise for (finally) cracking down on impunity. Of course, without a swift apprehension, Ntaganda will likely try to evade capture by drawing from his significant fortune, amassed largely through his dealings in conflict minerals, to convince fighters to stick by his side. The rebellion they could mount would likely lead to widespread insecurity before a ―victory for the ICC‖ could be declared. Killing Bosco: For the Rwandans, letting their occasional ally Bosco Ntaganda take the stand in The Hague and lay bare their shadowy partnership and dealings in Congo's smuggled conflict minerals may be reason enough to orchestrate or at least give Congo their blessing to kill Ntaganda. The Rwandan government may calculate that it is in their interest to prioritize its relationship with Kinshasa over continuing to protect Ntaganda, who for Kigali as well has become an object of international criticism. Of course, any actions against Ntaganda apart from a negotiated settlement (see below) that force Ntaganda to ensconce himself in his renewed rebellion will in the meantime have a devastating impact on communities in the crossfire. Letting Bosco ―retire‖: Ntanganda's whereabouts remain unknown. However, he might be forced to step down from his military exploits and retire to his farming land in Masisi, according to an ex-CNDP loyalist colonel who attended recent meetings with senior government officials in Goma. Despite clear calls by the international community to arrest Bosco and transfer him to the International Criminal Court, there is no clear indication that the Congolese government will comply. Meanwhile, it seems that talks with Rwanda and Kabila's bold engagement have started to influence the calculations of the soldiers that mutinied alongside Ntaganda last week. In Uvira, South Kivu, 128 defecting soldiers have reportedly returned to their base with their commanders. In Bunagana, north of Goma, 200 soldiers have reportedly turned themselves in so far. The Ugandan army reportedly captured nine mutinous senior officers Col. Innocent Kayina, who had fled to Uganda under FARDC pressure. As the tense situation continues to unfold, Congo advocates should seize the opportunity of this uncertain time to utilize all possible leverages, including cutting funding unaccountable institutions, to oblige Joseph Kabila to deliver meaningful reforms to the Congolese security sector—a need rarely seen as more urgent than now.
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News Headline: Mediator opens Mali crisis talks | News Date: 04/15/2012 Outlet Full Name: Gulf Times News Text: West African mediator Blaise Compaore yesterday began talks with Malian politicians and the military junta that briefly seized power last month to resolve the country's crisis. Compaore, president of Burkina Faso, said the talks in Ouagadougou were aimed at finalising an accord reached last week for a return to civilian rule and finding ways to end a rebellion that has left the north of the country in the hands of Tuareg separatist and Islamist groups. Meanwhile the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), which named Compaore its mediator, said it had asked regional leaders to approve a troop deployment to end the rebellion. Compaore said the intention of yesterday's talks was to agree on a roadmap to ―ensure the proper functioning of republican institutions, restore territorial integrity and hold free and transparent elections in a peaceful and secure environment.‖ Compaore called on Malians to back the transitional government which is being formed ―to strengthen the rule of law, respect republican values and maintain the integrity of the country.‖

More than 80 people were taking part in the closed-door talks with Compaore in a conference hall in the Burkina Faso capital, including senior officials of the junta, parliamentary and regional leaders and religious heads. Former parliament speaker Dioncounda Traore was sworn in on Thursday as Mali's interim president after Amadou Toumani Toure resigned under the April 6 agreement. The 70-year-old mathematician turned politician is expected to name a prime minister soon, and to organise elections within 40 days. Toure has threatened ―total war‖ against the northern rebels, who seized a vast swathe of territory amid the disarray that followed the March 22 coup, which the mutineers justified by the Toure government's mishandling of the Tuareg rebellion. Ecowas has raised the prospect of sending a force of up to 3,000 men to try to reclaim the region. It said in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday that the bloc's mediation and security council decided at an extraordinary meeting in Abidjan on Thursday ―that the regional force will be deployed if dialogue being brokered by the regional mediator, President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, should fail.‖ ―Ecowas shall take all necessary measures to end the rebellion and maintain the unity and territorial integrity of Mali including the use of force,‖ the statement said following the meeting attended by foreign and defence ministers. The ministers also insisted that the rebels withdraw from all occupied territories as a precondition for negotiations. To address the anticipated humanitarian consequences of the crisis, the ministers approved $3.0mn in aid to the legitimate government of Mali and another $1.5mn to the neighbouring countries of Burkina Faso and Niger. The European Union, France and the US have already indicated their willingness to support Ecowas' efforts to end the rebellion and preserve Mali's territorial integrity. The junta is expected to retain some influence in Mali, with observers saying coup loyalists could be named to key ministerial posts, notably those linked to security as the army tries to reverse the massive rebel gains. Many of the Tuareg rebels, who have waged several separatist campaigns over the years, are heavily armed and battle-hardened from last year's Libya war where they fought as mercenaries for slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Joined by Islamist extremists linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), they made unprecedented gains in the weeks since the coup, seizing the key towns of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu. The main Tuareg rebel group, Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA), declared an independent state, a move rejected by the international community and also the Islamists. Ansar Dine, the Islamist group that controls several key towns, has imposed Shariah in some areas under its influence and distanced itself from the Tuareg nationalist cause. The UN Security Council has warned of the growing ―terrorist threat‖ in northern Mali, while the world body's rights chief Navi Pillay said violations could be worsening in the region.
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News Headline: Islamist group Ansar Dine says open to talks with Bamako | News Date: 04/16/2012 Outlet Full Name: France 24 News Text: AFP - Islamist group Ansar Dine, which controls the north of Mali along with Tuareg rebels, said Sunday that it is open to negotiations on the country's future with Bamako. "We are available to discuss with Bamako authorities. We are available to talk about the future with Bamako," Oumar Ag Mohamed, a source close to the Islamist group's chief Iyad Ag Ghaly, told AFP. "We have already freed about 200 prisoners. We will free others," said Mohammed.

On Saturday, Ansar Dine, which means "Defenders of Islam" in Arabic, said it had released 160 Malian military prisoners captured during fighting. "Between Muslim brothers, we can get along. But non-Muslims must not meddle in our problems," added Mohamed, referring to Western powers. "We are also ready to allow food aid for our Muslim brothers to arrive in the three regions in the north of Mali," he said. Speaking in Nouakchott, Malian envoy Tibile Drame said earlier Sunday that there was a "basis for dialogue" with Ansar Dine, which is seeking to impose sharia law throughout Mali. Backed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb, Ansar Dine had fought alongside the Tuaregs but is against their separatist ambitions.
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News Headline: Up close with Rwanda's endangered mountain gorillas | News Date: 04/15/2012 Outlet Full Name: CNN News Text: By Errol Barnett (CNN) -- Hidden high among the forested volcanoes of central Africa, the mountain gorilla was unknown to science until 1902, when two were first encountered by a German explorer -- and promptly killed. It set the tone for the relationship. For much of the time since, due to deforestation and poaching, it has seemed the mountain gorilla was swiftly destined to be lost to the world again. Not long after the species' greatest champion, the American zoologist Dian Fossey, was killed in Rwanda in 1985, there were fewer than 300 of the giant primates left in the wild. These days, however, while the species remains endangered, their numbers have grown to nearly 800. This is due to the efforts of conservationists such as those working in Volcanoes National Park, in northwest Rwanda, where Fossey established a research center which continues to run in her name today. Efforts to change attitudes towards the mighty animals have seen them become an important source of income for the local economy through the tourists they bring, and turned poachers into vocal advocates for conservation. The world's largest mountain gorilla population, thought to number less than 500 animals, is found in a mountainous region known as the Virungas, incorporating Volcanoes, Uganda's Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A second, smaller population can be found in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in another region of Uganda. See also: Rwanda's conservation king The Karisoke Research Center, operated by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and located in Volcanoes National Park, is the world's most important facility for studying the mountain gorilla. Studying Dian Fossey, it's really clear how one person can really make the difference Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator at the Karisoke Research CenterVeronica

Vecellio, its gorilla program coordinator, said she developed the desire to work in her field after seeing "Gorillas in the Mist," the 1988 film which popularized Fossey's story. "Studying Dian Fossey, it's really clear how one person can really make the difference," said Vecellio. "It's what inspired me." Staff at Karisoke, which have observed the animals for more than 40 years, study the behavior of 10 groups of gorillas -- including those initially named and studied by Fossey, and their offspring. Vecellio said the center focused on new research topics every year -- it had been able to learn, for example, that the life expectancy of a mountain gorilla was 35 years, as the animals had been under observation for their entire lifespan. Fossey had believed in preserving the gorillas' isolation by keeping tourists away. But today the tourism generated by the gorillas is essential to the local economy, and the organization that carries Fossey's name is in favor of the visitors. "It's thanks (to) gorilla tourism that the gorillas are so well protected here in Rwanda," said Vecellio. "I'm sure that if she was still there now, she would just appreciate the fact that thanks to the tourists, the gorilla (gets) to be alive. Before it was her keeping the gorillas alive, and now it's the tourism." Fossey was found murdered in her cabin in the Virunga Mountains in 1985, and is buried in the park. Her killer has never been found. See also: Central African gorillas may go extinct Mountain gorillas are not frequently hunted for their meat, but can be maimed or killed by poachers leaving traps or snares for other animals. They have also been killed for their body parts to be sold to collectors. We were very poor. We were relying on the park to get the meat Francois Ndungutse, a former poacher turned conservation advocateFrancois Ndungutse grew up in the area and used to hunt in the park. The former poacher says the last animal he killed was about eight years ago -- these days he urges people to protect the park's animals as part of their livelihood. "We used to live near this volcanic park, depending on it," he said. "At that time, we were very poor ... we were relying on the park to get the meat." He said he and fellow poachers were persuaded to change their ways due to education programs from government agencies. "In order to stop all this ... poaching, deforestation or any other illegal activities, it was a combined effort of the former Rwanda National Parks and Tourism Office and the current Rwanda Development Board (RDB)," he said. "The RDB met us and gave us a plan of action and showed us how we can live without poaching in the parks." Vecellio said one of the amazing things about studying mountain gorillas was how close the primates let observers come to them, compared to other species she had studied. "I started with western lowland gorillas, and the top distance was 50 meters to have them doing their activities," she said. "But here you can approach a gorilla very close, and they ignore your presence ... you can be there and just be a natural part of the forest and collect your data."

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News Headline: Malawi leader Mutharika's body returns from South Africa | News Date: 04/15/2012 Outlet Full Name: BBC News Text: The body of Malawi's late President Bingu wa Mutharika has been flown home from South Africa. Thousands joined new President Joyce Banda at Kamuzu airport to receive the South African military aircraft. Mr Mutharika, who was 78, suffered a heart attack on 5 April and was flown to South Africa. His death was confirmed two days later. The delay in announcing his death had prompted fears of a power struggle until Ms Banda was sworn in on 7 April. Ms Banda had been vice-president since 2009 but fell out with Mr Mutharika in 2010 and became one of his fiercest critics. 'Authoritarian' Malawi's armed forces mounted a guard of honour for the former president and sounded a 21gun salute as South African military personnel handed over his coffin draped with the Malawian flag on the airport tarmac. His body will now lie in state in the capital, Lilongwe, and elsewhere in the country before a funeral on 23 April. Mr Mutharika, a former World Bank economist, came to power in a 2004 election, after being backed by outgoing President Muluzi. Following his re-election with a large majority in 2009, critics allege he demonstrated an increasingly authoritarian streak. He had been under mounting pressure to resign, amid accusations of nepotism and economic mismanagement. The criticism has led to a souring in relations with major foreign aid donors, especially the United Kingdom. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated 75% of the population living on less than $1 (60p) a day. The country has suffered shortages of fuel and foreign currency since the UK and other donors cancelled aid.
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News Headline: Nigeria: The World of Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs - The Business of Detecting and Detonating Bombs | News Date: 04/15/2012

Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: By whiskers, the city of Kano was last Easter Monday spared another carnage! Just in January, 40 explosions rocked the ancient city leaving over 120 people dead. That fateful Monday, a Honda car, laden with Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, was spotted at a very busy junction in the city. The area was along the ever busy and strategic Eastern bye-pass The spot where the car was sighted is quite close to a military checkpoint - just a shouting distance. Now, whether the choice of that spot was with a view to hitting at the military men positioned at that spot may never be known. But that was where the car was parked. Upon sighting the car and discovering its cargo of death, the area was immediately cordoned off by security men. Men of the Joint Task Force, JTF, immediately sent for the Police Bomb Disposal Unit to defuse the high caliber improvised explosives. Sunday Vanguard gathered that the explosives had a timer attached to it. In fact, information available to Sunday Vanguard suggests that the immediate need for cordoning off the area was just so that the flow of human traffic to the spot would be halted. Although men of the bomb disposal unit turned down Sunday Vanguard's request for an interview, it was discovered that the timer may have been attached to the explosive devices because of what an expert described as the need for precision and target bombing. In the event that the timer is linked to a cellular phone or a device that emits radiation, "those who parked the car there may not be too far from that spot. That way, the bomber (in this case since it is not a suicide mission) can determine at what point or the exact time when he wants the explosives to go off. So, for the bomb squad, one of the very first equipment they use is the scanner For this operation in Kano, detonating the bombs lasted for some 30minutes. While the operation lasted, a military helicopter was seen hovering over the area. Because of the twin factors of precision and target specificity on the part of the terrorists, the JTF, Sunday Vanguard was made to understand, continues to device more pro-active means of detecting IEDs before they are set off. It was one of such activities that led to the discovery of the Honda car in Kano last Monday. All efforts to get the JTF and the disposal unit to respond to enquiries about details of its detonating engagement did not yield any response. The reason is not far-fetched. In mid-February, in the same Kaduna, an explosion went off at Ungwa Sarki Market, Kaduna North, around 11:30am. 10 munities later, another bang occurred some 500metres away, under a busy overhead pedestrian bridge instantly maiming to death a policeman. The first explosion took place opposite the Kaduna state Transport Authority (KSTA) motor park with various states' transport services having loading units there. File photo: Policemen from bomb disposal unit of Kano State Police Command packing defused home made bombs made from cans of soft drinks.

The second occurred at Sultan Bello Road, still within the Ungwa Sarki area, killing an antibomb squad police officer. The policeman, according to sources, was killed while using a bomb scanner to ascertain an object suspected to be a bomb allegedly dumped by terrorists at the Ungwan Sarki area, near the popular Sultan Bello Mosque - a grandiose, imposing structure revered by Kaduna Muslims as their Central Mosque. The dangerous nature of IEDs makes the devices really very difficult to detonate compared to normal bombs. For instance, whereas there are standard procedures meant to be followed in any attempt to detonate a bomb, IEDs are configured to suite the desired effect of the producer. An IED can sometimes be so easy to defuse or detonate but for those who have acquired geo-physical and chemical expertise in manufacturing IEDs, such contraptions put together by them may be very difficult to defuse, therefore, utmost caution is required. More dangerous: Visualise a terrorist emptying the highly combustible and explosive contents of a rocket into small cans of soft drinks in tens or hundreds for the purpose of making an IED. The explosion such materials would set off would be near the same impact of the rocket itself when it hits its target. Which explains why the suicide vehicles are always mangled beyond recognition once the IEDs are set off. Apart from Kano, Gombe State also had its fair share of recovered explosives. Were it not for the tip-off that yielded positive results, Gombe, perhaps, would have recorded an orgy of unprecedented bomb attacks during the Easter celebrations last week. Over 60 explosives planted at different locations at the BCGA area of Gombe metropolis, waiting to be set off were discovered and detonated by the Anti-Bomb Squad of the Nigerian Police. According to sources, the bombs were meant to explode Thursday morning which many feared would have disrupted the Easter celebration in the state. Five persons suspected to be Boko Haram Islamic sect members were arrested by the State Security Service, SSS, over the intended attack. The Gombe State Director the SSS, Mr. Bitrus Asha, who spoke to journalists at the scene of the incident in the outskirts of Gombe town where men of the Anti Bomb Squad of the Nigeria Police from Yola detonated the explosives, said the suspects were rounded up after a tip-off. Collaboration comes in handy, very handy - and even across borders. For instance, whereas it was the British intelligence operatives, with the active involvement of Home Secretary John Reid, at that time Britain's top law-and-order official, who actually commenced investigations into the activities of some Arabs who were planning to use liquid bombs aboard flights into America, once their American counterparts were informed, it became a joint effort such that at both ends of the command, no stone was left unturned. This was in 2006. Rashid Rauf, the mastermind, based in Pakistan was arrested on the prompting of the Americans. He was said to have escaped after a few months but has since been reportedly killed in a drone attack in the mountainous region of Pakistan. In London, M15 operatives arrested the following in the liquid bomb plot which has prompted aviation authorities to ban any form of liquid on board a flight - Tanvir Hussain, 25; Umar Islam, 28; Arafat Waheed Khan, 25; Ahmed Abdullah Ali, 25; Ibrahim Savant, 25;Waheed Zaman, 22; Assad Sarwar, 26, and Adam Khatib, 19.

Their attempt to get liquid materials for IEDs aboard flights from Britain to the United States, led to the global banning of passengers bringing liquid materials on board flights. What these people had done was to buy purified water in plastic bottles. They used syringes to extract the purified water content of the plastic bottles and in turn employed the use of syringes again to fill the same bottles with liquid chemicals that were meant to be smuggled aboard flights. Once the bottles are filled from the bottom, they are then sealed cleanly. Meanwhile, the tamper-proof corks remain intact Operatives of the M15 kept trailing them until this secret was discovered. They rounded up all the suspects who are serving varying degrees of jail sentences in Britain. The connection to the activities of Nigeria's home-grown terrorists is that those cans of soft drinks packed with different types of chemicals may look simply harmless. But assembled with different chemicals for the production of IEDs instantly turn them into very dangerous cans of death. The business of detecting and detonating IEDs remains a very dangerous one.
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News Headline: African Lion 12 Underway After 'Historic' Maritime Offload | News Date: 04/15/2012 Outlet Full Name: US Africa Command News Text: By Gunnery Sgt. William Price AGADIR, Morocco, Apr 13, 2012 — Service members from all over the United States teamed up with the Moroccan Armed Forces to kick off Exercise African Lion 2012, in Agadir, Morocco, April 7-18. Approximately 1,200 U.S. military personnel have arrived in various regions of the Kingdom of Morocco to take part in the annual exercise, designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's military tactics, techniques and procedures. AL-12 is a U.S. African Command-sponsored, Marine Forces Africa-led exercise that involves various types of training including command post, live-fire and maneuvering, peace keeping operations, an intelligence capacity building seminar, aerial refueling/low-level flight training, as well as medical and dental assistance projects. Leading Joint Task Force African Lion 12 is Col. Roger Garay, 14th Marine Regiment commanding officer, out of Fort Worth, Texas. Garay said plans for this year's exercise are bigger and better than ever. "This is the first time a MEU and a reserve regiment have teamed together in this capacity, and it has proven to be an adrenaline shot, as it brings aviation and amphibious capabilities to the table that our Moroccan partners are very interested in." In preparation for AL-12, JTF Marines from 4th Marine Logisitics Group, 4th Marine Division, conducted a massive maritime offload at the Port of Agadir, April 5. "We unloaded 169 pieces of rolling stock assets from the MPF [Maritime Pre-positioning Force] in under 12 hours," said Gunnery Sgt. Fermin Rodriguez, logisitics chief, JTF AL-12. "Everything from M-777 Howitzers and logistical items to M1A1 Abrams tanks. All totaled it was more than two million pounds of gear." CWO-3 James Clark, Assistant Strategy Mobility officer, MFA, said the offload was historic for the Marines of the JTF. "It is very rare the reserve component is afforded the opportunity to

integrate and lead staffs from throughout the United States, in order to utilize the dynamic capability of the Maritime Pre-positioning Force." This mission-essential gear will be shipped to several different locations throughout Morocco to include Kenitra, Tifnit, and the deserts of Cap Draa and Tan-Tan. "African Lion has grown so much. It is so well organized. Marines and Moraccans are always ready to train together in such austere environments," said Al Myers, Force Protection liaison officer at the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, Morocco. "This year's African Lion is a potential precedence-setting enlargement of the exercise that will further deepen the ties between our two countries," Garay added. "On the heels of nine months of joint and bi-lateral planning, the JTF is ready and excited to go above and beyond AFRICOM's goals for this enduring U.S. and Moroccan relationship." With the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force all present and accounted for, U.S. service members will partner with more than 900 Moroccan Armed Forces counterparts in the coming weeks, to ensure the roar of African Lion 12 is heard by the world.
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News Headline: United Nations News Centre - Africa Briefs | News Date: 04/15/2012 Outlet Full Name: United Nations News Service News Text: Ban repeats appeal for end to conflict in conversation with Sudan's foreign minister 14 April – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today spoke with Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti and emphasized the need for an immediate de-escalation of the ongoing conflict with South Sudan, noting that there can be no military solution to the dispute. In meeting with president, UN peacekeeping chief reaffirms commitment to Liberia 13 April – The United Nations peacekeeping chief today re-affirmed the Organization's commitment to its efforts to help bring stability to Liberia, regardless of any possible reconfiguration of the peacekeeper force currently serving in the West African country. Ban and Security Council strongly condemn Guinea-Bissau military coup 13 April – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council today strongly condemned the military coup that took place in Guinea-Bissau and demanded the immediate restoration of constitutional order. UN envoy speaks out against reported child soldier recruitment in northern Mali 13 April – The United Nations envoy for children and armed conflict today voiced grave concern over reports of recruitment of child soldiers by Tuareg rebels and Islamist militias in northern Mali, stressing that both groups have a responsibility to comply with their obligations under international law.
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