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Africa African press review Press review

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African press review 13 June 2017


A warning to the parents of newborn children in Egypt. The contenders to face Paul Kagame in Rwanda's August presidential battle begin to come forward. And the Intergovernmental Authority on Development is criticised for its handling of the crisis in South Sudan.

Egypt's parliament will today discuss a law banning Western names for newborn children.

The law would impose a fine of up to 5,000 Egyptian pounds (250 euros), or even a prison sentence of up to six months, on individuals who give their children Western names. This is reported by the Egypt Independent newspaper. The illegally named babies will not, as far as we know, themselves face imprisonment.

Western names such as Lara, Mark or Sam are specifically mentioned by the MP who introduced the legislation. He finds such names difficult to pronounce for Arab speakers.

“Using Western names and abandoning Arabic ones will lead to an undesired and radical change in our society and culture," the same MP claims. "Our sons will no longer be connected to their true identity.”

Davids line up to face Rwanda's Goliath

Challengers to Rwanda's president Paul Kagame have started lining up against him.

Regional paper the East African reports that contenders for Rwanda's August presidential elections began submitting their bids to the National Electoral Commission yesterday.

Frank Habineza, the president and flag bearer of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, the country's sole opposition party, was the first to submit his documents.

He was followed by independent candidates Gilbert Mwenedata and Fred Barafinda Sekikubo.

The Social Democratic Party, the second largest party in Rwanda, and the Liberal Party, which have both been part of the ruling coalition, have rallied behind Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front and are therefore not fielding candidates.

Polling day is set for 4 August.

Call for new initiative to bring peace to South Sudan

There's been more criticism of the way the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) has handled the crisis in South Sudan.

In a statement released yesterday morning, international lobby the Enough Project said that Igad's approach to the spiralling conflict is inadequate.

International experts are urging the African Union and the United Nations to lead the peace process in South Sudan.

The peace process has ground to a halt largely because many South Sudanese elites, who have personally profited during the years of conflict have little incentive to negotiate in good faith, according to one analyst.

A solution could be offered by targeted financial pressures and an arms embargo. All concerned should also recognise how the conflict has evolved, says the same report. It is no longer a two-sided clash between Dinka and Nuer forces but involves many actors whose input will be necessary if a real settlement is to be reached.

Machar not yet welcome at peace talks

The South Sudan national dialogue committee yesterday denied any involvement in blocking the return of the exiled rebel leader Riek Machar, and preventing his participation in the political process.

This is the main story in this morning's Sudan Tribune.

The dialogue committee goes on to say it is trying to persuade President Salva Kiir to allow the return of Machar as a normal citizen.

Kiir and government officials say they prefer to keep the former first vice-president in exile but they continue to support the idea that representatives of Machar's rebel group join the dialogue.

The South Sudan government says the insistence by Machar on the need for “armed resistance” contradicts the basic principles of a peaceful dialogue.

Trouble down the mine!

Things are not adding up too well in the Tanzanian mining sector.

According to a front-page report in the East African, Tanzania may have lost more than 30 billion euros in revenue through what the regional paper politely calls "creative accounting" by mining companies.

Presenting its report to President John Magufuli yesterday, a committee set up to probe earnings in the sector said mining companies, often colluding with government officials, underreported the export of mineral concentrates in order to dodge taxes.

The report covers the period from 1998 to 2017.

South African banks get a mauling from Moody's

And, since no African press review would be complete without a financial downgrade story from South Africa, the main report in this morning's Mail & Guardian tells us that international agency Moody’s yesterday downgraded the credit rating of South Africa’s top five banks.

The institutions concerned are the Standard Bank of South Africa, FirstRand, Absa, Nedbank, and Investec.

Moody’s also downgraded 10 South African regional and local governments and three development finance institutions.