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Africa Press review

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African press review 7 July 2017


Several of the African papers follow through on Zambia's state of emergency, declared by President Edgar Lungu yesterday though not yet officially enforced. While Malawi suffers a deadly football stadium stampede.

"I'm no dictator!" screams a headline of the Times of Zambia.

President Edgar Lungu made the forthright declaration - just in case people thought he was - among spiralling concerns that the country is indeed heading that way.

The church in Zambia is among those who have already rung alarm bells of increasing signs of dictatorship over past months. Now after the president's declaration of a state of emergency - yet to be approved by parliament before coming into force – Lungu has faced more cries of "dictator”.

Speaking to journalists at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka shortly before leaving for Ethiopia yesterday, Lungu reportedly said he would "not be distracted from discharging his duties by people peddling such a falsehood".

If he was a dictator, he added "he would not have allowed criticism or consulted the citizenry on matters of national interest".

"The president charged that those labelling him a dictator just wanted to get media coverage because they had nothing substantive to talk about," the paper reported.

Moot point - Lungu's crackdown comes after fires and riots in the capital Lusaka this week.

He claims they were politically motivated and needed to be rapidly addressed.

He had taken all the punching and hitting he could stomach the paper quotes him as saying, and it was time to hit back.

The Zambian Observer meanwhile claims in a headline Lungu has vowed to "Get That Fool Mweetwa", referring presumably to the MP Cornelius Mweetwa, and is targeting "private journalists, social media activists and politicians".

There are also plans to close the newspaper The Mast.

Biafra death threats

The Nigerian Vanguard reports that the country’s separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has threatened to kill former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Kanu founded the Indigenous People Of Biafra in 2014 and has spearheaded the move for an independent Biafra state.

The alleged threats come after Obasanjo urged Nigerians to do everything possible to stop the campaign for the secession of Biafra.

Addressing elders and chieftains at his residence in the south-western Abia State yesterday, the British-Nigerian activist said his organisation would kill Obasanjo if he attempts to harm him, the paper reports.

Malawi deadly stampede

The Vanguard also reports on a football stadium stampede which has killed eight people,including seven children, in the south-eastern African nation of Malawi.

Another 62 people suffered multiple injuries in yesterday's crush at the Bingu national stadium in the capital Lilongwe, ahead of a match to mark Malawi's 53rd anniversary of independence from British colonial rule.

The incident occurred, says the paper, as thousands of people rushed to enter the Chinese-built, 40,000-seater stadium ahead of a friendly game between top sides Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers.

Despite the deaths, the game went ahead in a packed stadium.

Although President Peter Mutharika did not attend as planned, he was due to visit victims in hospital and said the government would do all it can to assist the families of the bereaved.

The newspaper ends the report with the comment: "In spite of having one of the worst-performing national football teams in the region, local games in Malawi pull in tens of thousands of fans."