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Abdoulaye Wade African press review Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Liberia Macky Sall Nigeria Oil Sudan

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African press review 3 April 2012


The on-going crisis in Mali is still very much in the news, but it is not the only big story.

South Africa’s Mail and Guardian reports on the inauguration ceremony of Senegal’s new president Macky Sall, who it describes as a "stolid geologist".

Sall was sworn in yesterday to succeed Abdoulaye Wade. The paper compares the different political careers of the two men. On the one hand, Wade spent 25 years as an opposition leader while Sall won the top job in government on his first attempt.

The paper observes that many commentators had believed that Sall would get into the presidential palace under Wade’s patronage. But instead Sall’s career was a "spectacular rise" in which he held several ministerial posts before becoming prime minister. He fell out of grace with Wade, quit the party and struck out on his own.

Wade did concede defeat gracefully after losing to Sall in the 25 March run-off, telephoning the new president to congratulate him from the palace which Sall will now occupy.

Sall’s priorities are now to deal with Senegal’s public finances and resolve the food crisis in the north of the country, as well as halving the size of the government.

The Nairobi-based Daily Nation reports on simmering tensions between Sudan and South Sudan.

Yesterday, South Sudan called on Kenyan President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to intervene to avert a full-scale war between the two nations.

Dossier: Independence for South Sudan

During a press conference in Nairobi, South Sudan's information minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin accused Khartoum of conducting sustained bombing attacks on villages and oil fields in South Sudan over the past four days.

According to the paper, Benjamin said that the raids were designed to scupper a planned visit by Sudanese President Omar Al Bachir to Juba today to sign two framework agreements on nationality and borders.

Nigerian paper The Vanguard wades into the debate over the next head of the World Bank. A Nigerian, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is in the running.

And, according to the paper’s editorial, she should get the top job. Until recently she was one of the managing directors at the bank and this should have given her ample experience to pick up the job.

The Vanguard gripes that the top job at the bank has always gone to an American, due to an informal pact with European leaders who traditionally nominate a candidate to the head of the other major financial institution, the IMF.

But, argues the daily, the US is facing an unprecedented challenge this time around. Angola, Nigeria, South Africa and the entire African leadership are challenging this status quo.

It says that her nomination is good for Nigeria and the African continent. It adds that African leaders expect an open and fair selection for the appropriate person to take the position.

The Heritage paper of Monrovia has obtained documents showing that one of the president’s sons is suing a Liberian paper for 11 million dollars for libel.

Robert Sirleaf, son of president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, claims that the Independent newspaper published a libellous article in early March about his control of Liberian oil resources. That article headlined ‘Sirleaf’s Oil or Liberians’ Oil?’

Sirleaf is the chairman of the Board of Directors of Liberia's national oil company.

Apparently, Sirleaf says that the Independent did not sufficiently fact-check the story which accused him of hijacking five oil blocks.

But, the Independent refuses to issue an apology. The paper’s lawyer retorts that the question mark in the headline posits a hypothesis and undermines Sirleaf's accusations of libel.

He added that “The use of lawsuits to muzzle the free press into submission may be a show of power because of privilege, but it inarguably threatens our new democracy and undermines the dynamic leadership credentials of his mother.”