Ethiopia Holds Funeral Service For Murdered Army Chief

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed/ AFP

 

Ethiopia on Tuesday held a funeral service for its army chief who was assassinated by his bodyguard over the weekend, an incident believed linked to an alleged coup bid in northern Amhara state.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed wept and mourners wailed as the coffin of Seare Mekonnen, draped in the Ethiopian flag, was carried to the front of a room filled with soldiers in military fatigues, in footage carried by state media.

Ethiopia has been left reeling after this weekend’s violence, a massive blow to Abiy who has embarked on an ambitious project of economic and political reforms in the nation.

READ ALSO: Ethiopia Mourns After Bloody Coup Attempt

However, his efforts have unleashed ethnic violence and turmoil as different groups jockey for resources and power.

On Saturday, what the government described as a “hit squad” entered a meeting of top Amhara officials and opened fire, killing regional president Ambachew Mekonnen, his top adviser and the state’s attorney general.

A few hours later in Addis Ababa, some 500 kilometres (310 miles) away, army chief Seare was shot dead by his bodyguard. A retired general visiting him was also killed.

The government said he was coordinating the response to the “attempted coup” at the time.

Abiy’s office also said it appeared to be a “coordinated attack” without giving more details.

Ethiopian authorities have pinned the blame on Amhara’s security chief Asaminew Tsige, who was gunned down by police while on the run on Monday.

Asaminew was only released last year from almost a decade in prison over a 2009 coup plot, under a mass prisoner amnesty that began under former prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn and continued under his reformist successor Abiy.

Analysts describe him as a hardline Amhara nationalist who was likely facing removal from his job over efforts to form a militia and rhetoric pushing for territory in neighbouring Tigray to be reclaimed.

The motives of Seare’s assassin meanwhile, are completely unknown.

Internet services were down Tuesday across Ethiopia for a fourth consecutive day.

Algerian Army Chief Wants Bouteflika Declared Unfit To Rule

In this file photo taken Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen while voting at a polling station in the capital Algiers / AFP

 

Algeria’s army chief on Tuesday demanded President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to be declared unfit to govern, following weeks of mass protests demanding the ailing leader step down.

The move would potentially clear the way for elections to be organised in the coming months unless the president recovers.

“It is necessary, even imperative, to adopt a solution to get out of the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Algerian people, and which guarantees the respect of the provisions of the constitution and safeguards the sovereignty of the state,” General Ahmed Gaid Salah said in a televised speech.

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The armed forces chief of staff, considered loyal to Bouteflika, added that the solution “is in article 102” of the constitution, under which parliament could declare the president unable to perform his duties due to serious illness.

The 82-year-old leader uses a wheelchair and has rarely appeared in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.

Bouteflika said last month he would run for a fifth term in office, despite concerns about his ability to rule, triggering a wave of protests that brought hundreds of thousands into the streets.

He later promised not to stand for another term but also postponed the elections, angering protesters who saw the move as a ploy to stay in power.

The army chief’s call was welcomed with car horns honking in Algiers.

Burkina’s Army Chief Sacked As Jihadist Attacks Continue

Security personnel take cover as smoke billows from The Institute Francais in Ouagadougou on March 2, 2018, as the capital of Burkina Faso came under multiple attacks targeting the French embassy, the French cultural centre and the country’s military headquarters. Ahmed OUOBA / AFP

 

Burkina Faso’s army chief was sacked on Thursday as the armed forces struggle to put a stop to jihadist attacks in the West African nation.

Major General Oumarou Sadou was replaced by General Moise Minoungou, according to a presidential decree read on public television.

For three years Burkina Faso has faced increasingly frequent and deadly jihadist attacks.

The country lies in the heart of the sprawling, impoverished Sahel, on the southern rim of the Sahara.

The region became a hotbed of extremism after chaos engulfed Libya in 2011, followed by an Islamist insurgency in north Mali and the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Jihadist attacks began in northern Burkina Faso in 2015 but then spread to the east, near the border with Togo and Benin.

Burkina has declared a state of emergency in provinces within seven of the country’s 13 administrative regions after 10 gendarmes were killed near the border with Mali.

The capital Ouagadougou has been hit three times, leaving 60 people dead.

In March 2018 Twin attacks on the French embassy in Burkina Faso and the country’s military headquarters left dozens dead or wounded.

AFP

Facebook Bans Myanmar Army Chief Over Rights Abuses

Facebook Faces 'Oppenheimer Moment' Over Trump Scandal

Facebook on Monday banned Myanmar’s army chief and other top military brass after a UN investigation recommended they face prosecution for genocide for a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.

The site is the prime source of news and information for many in a country that only recently came online following nearly half a century of military rule.

But it has also been a platform for the army and Buddhist hardliners to spread hate speech and incendiary posts against the stateless Rohingya and other minorities.

The site aired support for the military’s bloody “clearance operations” last year that forced some 700,000 Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh.

UN investigators lambasted the platform earlier this year, saying it had morphed into a “beast” in Myanmar.

In recent months the tech giant has embarked on a huge PR campaign, admitting it has often been too slow to take down inflammatory posts.

It blacklisted two firebrand Buddhist monks and an Islamophobic group notorious for spreading anti-Muslim propaganda.

But this is the first time it has touched the country’s military.

“We are banning 20 Burmese individuals and organizations from Facebook — including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” the platform said, adding that it wants to prevent them from using the service to “further inflame ethnic and religious tensions”.

Facebook has some 18 million accounts in the country of 51 million people and is also relied on heavily by the government to make announcements.

Millions of followers

Army chief Min Aung Hlaing had two active Facebook accounts, one boasting 1.3 million followers and the other 2.8 million.

Posts in both English and Burmese would refer to the Rohingya as “Bengali”, implying they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and helping reinforce the idea they do not belong in mainly Buddhist Myanmar.

His pages also featured denials of atrocities during the crackdown, which was justified by the army as a legitimate means of rooting out Rohingya militants.

Both accounts were taken down immediately as the explosive UN report circulated.

The accounts of five other top military leaders specifically mentioned in the report were also blacklisted.

A total of 18 Facebook accounts — not all the individuals listed in the ban had a presence on the network — one Instagram account and 52 Facebook pages were removed.

The accounts were followed by a total of almost 12 million people, Facebook said, adding that data had been preserved.

Rights groups have long criticised the platform for taking days to delete malicious posts, by which time many had gone viral. These include calls for the killing of a Muslim journalist and the spreading of messages to both Buddhists and Muslims saying that the other community was preparing to attack them.

The UN report singled out Facebook for its “slow and ineffective” response.

It also strongly criticised civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi for failing to use her position and moral authority to stand up for the Rohingya against the military.

Neither the commander-in-chief nor the president’s office could be reached for comment.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has addressed the violence in Myanmar on several occasions including at a congressional hearing earlier this year.

He told lawmakers Facebook planned to hire more native speakers to help monitor the situation and had partnered with civil society groups to identify perpetrators of hate speech.

“We’re hiring dozens of more Burmese-language content reviewers, because hate speech is very language-specific,” he said at the April hearing in the US Senate.

“It’s hard to do it without people who speak the local language, and we need to ramp up our effort there dramatically.”

AFP

South Sudan’s Former Army Chief Quits Juba

South Sudan’s sacked former Army Chief Paul Malong has left the capital Juba for his home state, its defense minister said, raising concerns over his next move as a civil war drags on.

Malong’s removal followed a slew of resignations by senior generals in recent months alleging tribal bias and war crimes. Some of the departed officers subsequently said they might join the revolt against President Salva Kiir.

Malong left Juba in a convoy of several vehicles for Aweil state in the country’s northwest shortly after his dismissal was announced on Tuesday, Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk said.

“We do not know exactly what the reasons may be,” he told Reuters, adding Malong may have departed out of “anger”. Kuol said he had since spoken with Malong and convinced him to return to Juba, but that it was unknown when that would happen.

Malong, who was replaced as army chief by General James Ajongo, could not be immediately reached for comment. Ajongo is a member of an ethnic minority, the Luo, also from Aweil.

South Sudan, which obtained independence from Sudan in 2011 and is the world’s youngest nation, has been mired in civil war since 2013 when Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy, Riek Machar, from the rival Nuer community.

The move triggered a conflict that has pitched parts of the oil-producing country into famine, paralyzed public services and forced 3 million people – a quarter of the population – to flee their homes. The United Nations has said the violence amounts to ethnic cleansing and risks escalating into genocide.

In February, the military’s logistics chief Thomas Cirillo Swaka resigned, citing rampant human rights abuses by Kiir’s armed forces and the dominance of the president’s Dinka group.

Military To Defeat Boko Haram By End Of 2016

Military To Defeat Boko Haram By The End Of 2016The era of insecurity, especially the Boko Haram insurgence would be a thing of the past before the end of December 2016, a military official said on Monday.

At meeting with the kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, the out-gone Commandant of the 22 Armoured Brigades of the Nigerian Army in Sobi Ilorin, Brigadier General Benjamin Sawyer, said, that the military was determined to end the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists in the region.

Military onslaught had heightened in the region, with focus on Sambisa Forest, to flush out the terrorists from the area seen as their safe haven.

Brigadier General Sawyer was at the meeting with his successor, Brigadier Sulyman Idris.

Addressing the governor on the purpose of the visit, Mr Sawyer explained that having been transferred from the state to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, one of the volatile states in the northeast, there is the need to inform and introduce the new helmsman to the governor.

He also noted that initially, there were lots of worries with the choice of 22 Brigade being deployed to the northeast, but however assured the governor that the personnel were capable of providing the needed security to keep the state safe and secure.

The Army Chief then stressed the military’s determination to tackle the issue of Boko Haram.

He added that with the directive from the Chief of Army Staff, the insurgents “would be a thing of the past by the end of this month”.

In response to this, the Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, commended the Nigerian Army and other security agencies for their bravery in the fight against insurgents in the country and reiterated his readiness to continue to strengthen the relationship with security organisations in the state.

According to Ahmed, the Nigerian Army is a pride to the nation and has demonstrated sufficient competence to secure the nation against internal and external aggression.

He added that given the enabling environment, the army had the capacity to protect and secure Nigeria.

The new commandant, Brigadier Idris, equally gave assurance of his readiness to ensure that security of lives and property are maintained in the state, while he sought the state government’s co-operation and support.

Joint Operation To Wipe Out Boko Haram Is Ongoing – Buratai

Boko Haram, Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army StaffThe Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, says that a joint operation to wipe out remnant of the Boko Haram terrorist group is currently going on at strategic borders of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

General Buratai was speaking on Friday in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, during a visit to the recently established Army Special Forces School in Buniyadi, aimed at addressing insurgency issues in northeast Nigeria.

He said that an operation by the Multinational Joint Task Force was currently going on to clear the remainder of the Boko Haram militants as well as consolidating the gains by opening up more roads that were hitherto taken over during the ceaseless attack.

According to the Army Chief, such opening of roads would further give people the opportunity to move about freely, hoping that it would further boost economic activities within the areas initially under the control of the terrorists.

He thanked the Yobe State government for all the support to security forces towards curbing the insurgency and pledged their resolve to be committed to wiping out the militants.

The Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, commended the establishment of the school.

He said that improved peace machinery has been set in motion to relocate the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their ancestral homes.

The Governor also pointed out that the greatest task ahead of the government and other stakeholders was the resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction of war devastated areas to make those places more habitable.

General Buratai is also expected to visit the 241 Racce Battalion in Nguru, Yobe State to boost the morale of the troops who are located close to the Nigeria-Niger boarder.

Defense Ministry Refutes Report Of Corruption Against Army Chief

Defence MinistryThe Ministry of Defense has refuted media reports alleging ownership of properties by the Chief of Army Staff in Dubai.

A press statement from the ministry, signed by the Principal General Staff of the Ministry, Brigadier Muhammed Ahmed, says that the report is only aimed at tarnishing the image of the Army chief.

A part of the statement reads, “The ministry of defence views this as an attempt by unpatriotic and disgruntled elements to distract the leadership of the Nigerian armed forces from the successes of war against terror particularly in the north east.”

The statement also added that Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai has declared his assets before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Army Denies Rumours Of Communities Recaptured By Boko Haram

Tukur Buratai, Army, Boko HaramThe Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has dismissed media reports that some communities were being recaptured by members of the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria’s northeast.

Speaking shortly after a visit to the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, in Abeokuta, the state’s capital on Thursday, General Buratai noted that the Army is in full control of affairs in the areas.

He promised to maintain the tempo of victory being recorded in the north eastern states being ravaged by the insurgency.

The Army Chief asked Nigerians to be more security conscious and continue to cooperate with the security agencies in the onerous task of protecting the territorial integrity of the country.

Addressing his guest and his entourage, Governor Amosun commended the Army and other security agencies for restoring hope to the disturbed northeast.

The courtesy call was part of the visit of the Chief of Army Staff to military units and formations in Ogun State.

His visit is expected to boost the morale of officers and other rankings of the Nigerian Army towards professionalism and patriotism.

Akwa Ibom REC Confirms Violence, Rigging Attempts

Akwa IbomThe Resident Electoral commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, Barr. Austin Okojie, at a media briefing in his office on Saturday evening, shed more light on happenings during the day’s governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state.

Barr Okojie confirmed that there were instances of violence in some Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state.

Part of the incidents include, Mkpat Enin in Eket Senatorial District where two Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) adhoc staff were injured.

Election materials were snatched in Eket and Ibesikpo Asutan districts where they were later recovered by the Police.

About 10 corps members were found in the residence of a former Director of NYSC, Major General Edet Akpan, thumbprinting on ballot papers in Nsit Atai LGA

The Akwa Ibom REC said that the corps members were arrested alongside the Army Chief, and are currently in detention.

Mr Okojie also said that shooting also occurred in Nsit Ubium LGA.

On the performance of the card reader, the REC said that the machine worked perfectly, except in few areas where failure was experienced and replacement was effected.

Network Africa: Defining Moments In Egypt And Nigeria

Network AfricaThis edition of Network Africa focuses on major events in Egypt and Nigeria with updates on what the Ebola virus has been doing in other parts of the continent.

The Egyptian Electoral Commission finally releases results of the country’s presidential election and as expected, former Army Chief, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, won with an overwhelming majority.

The world’s most dreaded virus, Ebola, claims more lives in West Africa. The World Health Organisation reveals alarming figures from Guinea.

Back in Nigeria, it has been a horrifying story of an attack in a village near the Borno State capital, Maiduguri.

Enjoy our in-depth analysis, interviews and reports.

 

Labaran Maku Hands Over To New Defence Minister, Gusau

Aliyu GusauNigeria’s Minister of Information and erstwhile Supervising Defence Minister, Labaran Maku on Friday handed over to the new Defence Minister, Retired General Aliyu Gusau at a ceremony, in Abuja.

While speaking, Mr Labaran Maku revealed that the Nigerian Military had put a lot of pressure on the Boko Haram insurgents in the last three to four weeks, and this resulted in the recent spate of attacks by the insurgents.

He also said that the military pressure had increased anger and frustrations among the insurgents.

Mr Maku, who served as the supervising Minister of Defence for the past five months, insisted that the insurgents were not necessarily Nigerians and that the Federal Government was working with neighbouring countries to destabilise their camps.

On his part, General Aliyu Gusau (Rtd), while stating his commitment to Nigeria’s fight against terrorism, said that the challenge of the insurgents was not insurmountable. He also asked for more collaboration among security agencies towards ending the attacks on the citizenry.

Gusau had been appointed National Security Advisor by President Goodluck Jonathan in March 2010. He held the same position during most of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency. Before that, he was in Military Intelligence, and was briefly Army Chief.

General Gusau was sworn into office by President Goodluck Jonathan, alongside 10 other Ministers on Wednesday.