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African press review 18 December 2015

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Burundi is dangerously close to civil war. That tragic news is being reported from Nairobi to Pretoria. In Rwanda, where polling has opened in a referendum on term limits for the presidency, 92 per cent of voters want Paul Kagame to serve a third term. And the Muslim Brotherhood thinks London is wrong.


Burundi is rushing headlong into civil war. That's the opinion of the United Nations, and it's reported on the African News pages of BusinessDay. The story is also top of the front page of regional newspaper The East African.

According to the Johannesburg-based financial daily, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein says Burundi is heading for civil war and risks Rwanda-style atrocities.

Yesterday, Hussein called for immediate international action to ward off catastrophe.

He says those responsible for human rights violations and instigating violence should be subject to sanctions, including asset-freezes and travel bans.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also warned earlier this week that Burundi was on the brink of a civil war that risks engulfing the entire region.

The East African adds the fact that Elisa Nkerabirori, a representative of Burundi's human rights ministry, has slammed yesterday's special meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and accuses international actors of deliberately disguising the reality of the situation in Burundi and supporting the radical opposition.

According to the Ugandan Daily Monitor, neighbouring Rwanda is in no danger of Burundi-style violence.

The Kampala-based paper says 92 per cent of Rwandans want their current president, Paul Kagame, to stand for a third term.

The popularity of the president is attributed to the current strong economic performance of the country and his commitment to fighting poverty, the promotion of peace and stability, and the fight against corruption.

Paul Kagame has been in charge in Kigali for the past fifteen years.

Rwanda votes today on changing the consitution to allow Kagame run for election again.

The Kenyan Standard is none too hopeful that a meaningful deal will be reached at the World Trade Organisation negotiations, due to close in Nairobi later today.

The Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, who is co-chairing the talks, reluctantly admitted the negotiations had reached a ‘critical stage’ and that there was not much time left. “There is some heavy lifting to be done today if we are to find compromises,” she said.

The Standard says Kenya's main agenda on agriculture is unlikely to be concluded, meaning there is no guarantee that the demands of local farmers will be met at the Nairobi conference.

Poor countries are demanding that richer nations cease paying agricultural subsidies to their farmers, a situation that distorts international market prices.

Kenya and other developing countries had hoped that a deal would be struck that would level the playing field for exporters from around the world. Richer nations have the resources to grant subsidies at levels that developing countries cannot match, effectively ensuring that produce from the developing world is un-competitive on global markets.

Also on the front page of the Standard, news that President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to sign into law a bill that critics claim will frustrate the work of the Auditor General to scrutinise public spending.

Coming in the wake of a swathe of corruption cases that have rocked the Jubilee administration, provisions in the Public Audit Bill restricting oversight on national security matters and control in hiring security staff, are viewed as obstacles to the effective scrutiny of government expenditure.

In Cairo, The Egypt Independent reports that the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood has criticised as unacceptable and politically motivated the results of a British review that concluded membership of the Islamist group was an indicator of extremism.

The Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement yesterday the British position suggested that London supported the military overthrow in mid-2013 of Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood member who was democratically elected president after the 2011 uprising.