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Africa Press review

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African press review 31 August 2017


Cameroon's President orders the release of top Anglophone leaders facing trial for terrorism, but questions linger about the fate of an unknown number of activists under detention while Kenya's Supreme Court hires 40 experts to help compile its election verdict as Friday's deadline closes in.

We begin in Cameroon, where  the  papers lead with  President Paul Biya's decision to halt the trial by a military tribunal of leaders of the country's English-speaking community who were accused of violence and terror-related charges over their fight for Anglophone rights in the predominantly French-majority nation.

The State-owned Cameroon Tribune named lawyer Felix Agbor Nkongho, University lecturer Neba Fontem and Supreme Court judge Paul Ayah Abine as the leaders directly concerned by the Presidential decree.

It also underlines the President's strong response and his "choice of appeasement" in resolving the "situation" in the English-speaking regions.

“Free at last” is the big splash on the front page of today’s Guardian Post. The paper carries photographs of eight of roughly 30 activists who had been facing prosecution on charges that include terrorism as well as rebellion, which are punishable by death in Cameroon.

But as Cameroon Post observes, Biya's decree did not mention by name one of the movement's jailed leaders, the broadcaster Mancho Bibixy, which leaves his fate uncertain for the moment, according to the publication.

“Anglophone terrorists freed, Biya bows to Anglo power", crows The Voice. The paper reports that the freed Anglophones plan to sue the government for torture.

Meanwhile, The Median underlines a portion of the Presidential decree reaffirming Biya’s determination to “relentlessly combat and bring before the courts, all so-called “enemies of peace and progress, champions of division and criminals of all kinds who under the guise of political demands attempt to jeopardize the future of the country and especially that of the youths”.

The online publication Cameroon Info-Net says President Biya's decision, is seen as an effort to calm tensions in the crisis over the rights of Anglophone who represent 20 percent of the country's 22 million inhabitants.

According to the news portal, the crisis was triggered by a strike by lawyers demanding that the Anglophone regions use Anglo-Saxon common law as their judicial benchmark.

Teachers then followed as the protest against Anglophone marginalization swelled into a clamour from the two main English-speaking northwest and southwest regions for a federal state while some secessionists called for independence.

In Nigeria, Vanguard relays claims by Amnesty International that the Federal government is holding hundreds of people in secret facilities across the country.

The paper reports that the revelations were made at an event in Abuja to mark the International Day of the Disappeared.

Amnesty's country director for Nigeria, Osai Ojigho reportedly stated that  “most enforced disappearances take place in the conflict ridden North-East of Nigeria, where young men are often seized by the military after being accused of affiliation to the armed group, Boko Haram, citing recent research by her organization .”

In Kenya, the papers have their eyes glued to the election litigations trial taking place at the Supreme Court where opposition leader Raila Odinga is seeking the invalidation of President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election on grounds of mass irregularities.

According to the Standard, during the trial Raila's lawyers have produced logs which they said were evidence of how and when the database was hacked into, calling the digital break-in the biggest fraud in Kenya’s history.

Daily Nation says that two days to Friday's deadline to publish its verdict the Supreme Court judges, has hired an army of 40 experts to help them wade through 70,000 pages of evidence on top of weighing oral arguments made by various lawyers in court to determine if President Uhuru Kenyatta was validly re-elected.

In South Africa, the Star has a big splash on a Walter Sisulu University student who accidentally received a payment of 900,000 euros on her student debit card and allegedly blew over 51,000 euros of the money before her account was blocked.

According to the paper, the money from the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme destined as food allowance for more than 18,000 poor students was mistakenly deposited in the young woman's account by a third party company used to administer the payments.

Times reports that the student was meant to receive an allowance of 90 euros, adding that the error was detected five months later, after students complained about her "lavish" spending.