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African press review 3 June 2016

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The centre of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, is calm again after Wednesday's attack on the Ambassador Hotel. The United Nations calls on Sudan to stop repatriating Eritrean refugees. Seven out of 10 Ugandan junior school kids can neither read nor count, many because they've never been inside a school. And South Africa nervously awaits a ratings announcement by Standard & Poor's.


Regional paper the East African reports that Somali security forces have brought to an end the bomb and gun attack on a central Mogadishu hotel that killed at least 16 people and wounded 55.

Islamist militant group Al Shebab claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack on the Hotel Ambassador.

Somali police sources say the hotel is now secure.

UN refugee agency tells Sudan to stop

Also in the East African, news that the UN High Commission for Refugees yesterday urged Sudan to stop "forcibly" deporting hundreds of Eritreans.

Many of those sent back were arrested as they tried to enter Libya from Sudan, with a view to crossing the Mediterranean.

The UN agency's concerns over the collective expulsion of Eritreans came a day after the group Human Rights Watch said the deported Eritreans were likely to face abuse from the authorities if returned to their own country.

According to the United Nations, around 5,000 Eritreans flee the country every month.

Garish - and costly - parliamentary garb

In Uganda the Monitor gives the top of the front page to a row over parliamentary dress codes.

It turns out that the black, yellow and red striped blazers worn by Vice-President Edward Ssekandi and some Members of Parliament during this week's State-of-the-Nation address cost a cool Shs1 million each. That's 270 euros apiece!

The Monitor says the snazzy blazers were bought from the Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa.

Several parlaimentarians said they bought the gear thinking it was an obligatory ceremonial outfit.

However, parliament’s director of communications and public affairs refuted the claim, saying the only ceremonial garb the House has is that worn by the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the parliamentart clerk.

The Monitor doesn't have a word on the fate or prospects of opposition leader Kizza Besigye, currently in a cell in Luzira jail, waiting to be formally charged with the capital crime of treason.

The Kampala-based paper does, however, report that seven out of 10 Uganda primary school children can neither read nor count. The teachers are not to blame. Some districts report that as many of 61 percent of primary age children have never been inside a school.

South Africa waits for S&P to set the standard

South Africa is on a knife edge as it counts down the hours to the announcement later this evening by ratings agency Standard & Poor's on the country’s sovereign debt. According to Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay, the agency's decision is likely to have a profound effect on the economy and the political sphere.

Standard & Poor's already rates South Africa’s debt just one notch higher than subinvestment grade. A downgrade to junk status would put the country on a par with Russia, Indonesia, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

A junk rating will increase South Africa’s overseas borrowing costs for companies as well as the state, reduce the country’s attractiveness to foreign and domestic investors, and further weaken the rand.

Algerian central bank has new director

Mohamed Loukal, former head of the Banque Exterieure d’Algérie, assumed the governorship of the state bank in Algiers yesterday. He replaces Mohamed Laksaci, sharply criticised for his performance during the plunge in oil prices that has damaged the country’s finances.

The local currency, the dinar, has lost 30 percent of its value over the past two years and is still considered "significantly overvalued" by the International Monetary Fund.

Tonight's prime-time Egyptian television . . .

And, if you live in Egypt and are planning a quiet evening in front of your television, be warned that the President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will mark two years in office by giving an interview on state-owned channels. The prerecorded interview lasts one hour and 40 minutes.

According to the Cairo-based Egypt Independent, Sisi requested that the questions not be prepared or checked in advance, thus helping to ensure openness and transparency, in contrast to traditional interview formats involving senior statesmen.

The interviewing journalist assures us that Sisi did not intervene to alter the questions in any way. I'll bet he doesn't tell any jokes, either.