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African press review 18 February 2017


Why is the Kenyan government refusing to issue new international landing licences at Nairobi airport? Why has South Sudan's labour minister resigned? And why has a court in Cyprus decided to send a suspect back to Egypt, acknowledging that he may well be tortured on his return?

The Kenyan government is struggling to keep the national air carrier aloft, according to the top story in regional paper the East African.

The report says Kenya is limiting the issuing of new licences for international airlines seeking to exploit the strategic Nairobi hub in a protectionist move aimed at reviving the dwindling fortunes of national carrier Kenya Airways.

The policy shift is already being applied after the government hastily withdrew a licence that had been granted to Emirates Airlines to operate a third daily flight on the Dubai-Nairobi route, which would have increased its frequency between the two cities to 21 flights a week.

The government has also put on hold licence applications from at least 35 other airlines, most of which are seeking to either increase their frequency to Nairobi or switch to larger aircraft to increase capacity.

Speaking to the East African, Kenya’s Transport Ministry Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera said the withdrawal of the licences is part of the government’s plan to protect the Nairobi hub strategically for Kenya Airways.

Kenyan nurses forced to fill in for striking doctors

In Nairobi itself the Daily Nation reports that county governments may be forcing nurses to carry out functions beyond the scope of their training.

The National Nurses Association of Kenya said some counties are pressuring its members to undertake services normally reserved for doctors who have now been on strike for 76 days in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

Details emerge of South African foreign exchange fixing scandal

South African financial paper BusinessDay continues to focus on the foreign exchange fixing scandal in which 16 local and international banks are accused of colluding to set prices for the rand-dollar market to defraud bank customers.

The Competition Commission’s report explains how traders at these banks, including Absa, Investec and Standard Bank, engaged in activities designed to rig a market with a daily turnover of nearly 50 billion euros.

It has also emerged, says BusinessDay, that a number of the traders identified in the commission complaint were not new to foreign exchange rigging.

South Sudanese minister resigns from Kiir government

South Sudan's Labour and Public Service minister Lieutenant-General Gabriel Duop Lam has resigned.

Lam cited inconsistency in President Salva Kiir's leadership as the reason for his resignation.

He is a member of the opposition faction headed by First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai.

Lam said he is unhappy with the direction in which Kiir is leading the country.

He described the current unity government as no more than a partial transitional government of national unity.

What has happened to the 20,000 displaced from Wau Shilluk?

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan is unable to locate some 20,000 people believed to have fled fighting in the north of the war-ravaged country. This is also reported in the East African.

The lack of information about South Sudanese recently displaced from Wau Shilluk, a town on the west bank of the Nile River, has been described as “very frustrating”, by the UN mission head, David Shearer.

Egyptian hijacking suspect to be returned from Cyprus

The Cairo-based Egypt Independent reports that a court in Cyprus has rejected a political asylum request submitted by the hijacker of an Egyptian plane that landed on the island last March.

The court said that the hijacker, Seif Eddin Mostafa, has to be handed over to Egypt, which is his homeland, despite fears that he may be tortured. The Geneva agreement strips political asylum seekers of their right to request asylum if they commit serious crimes.

Seif Eddin hijacked an EgyptAir plane during a domestic flight from Cairo to Borg al-Arab airport in Alexandria last year. He falsely claimed to be wearing an explosive belt and forced the pilot to head to Larnaca airport in Cyprus.

Once there, the hijacker surrendered and was arrested by the Cypriot authorities.