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African press review 13 September 2017


Uganda's ruling National Resistance Movement votes to change the constitution on presidential age limits. Kenya's presidential election re-run is still in doubt as opposition candidate Raila Odinga says the electoral commission must go. And a Biafran separatist group warns the Abuja government against sending troops to the region.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni seems to be digging in for the long run.

Yesterday members of Uganda's ruling National Resistance Movement voted unanimously in favour of a motion seeking to amend the constitution to remove the presidential age limit.

The move is seen as a significant step towards securing a free run for Museveni to seek reelection in 2021.

The 72-year-old president is barred by the current constitution from standing again as he will be beyond the 75 years limit by the next election.

The question will now go before the Ugandan parliament, probably tomorrow.

Kenya's election crisis survives miracle cure

We might have been too quick off the mark yesterday in announcing a miracle cure to Kenya's election crisis.

Despite the intervention of a Catholic bishop, who spent last weekend trying to bring the sides together, the opposition has repeated its threat to boycott the 17 October presidential election rerun if the electoral commission does not address its grievances. This is reported in today's Daily Nation.

The National Super Alliance has listed nine issues it termed as the "irreducible minimum" for the fresh elections, including contracting a new printer for poll materials and excluding 11 poll agency officials the opposition. It accuses the electoral authorities of messing up last month's election, which was subsequently annulled by the Kenyan Supreme Court.

Opposition chiefs, led by Raila Odinga, said yesterday there would be no election if Ezra Chiloba, the chief executive of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and his team do not step aside.

Raila urged his supporters to march to the commission offices to force the officials out if they do not quit.

Zuma's lawyers earn their crust

South African President Jacob Zuma had a mixed day in court yesterday.

In Pretoria Zuma's lawyers were busy defending their man against claims by the opposition Democratic Alliance that the president should be obliged to institute a judicial commission of inquiry into interference in state affairs by private individuals.

Zuma's team claim that the public protector - South Africa's ombudsman - exceeded her powers in calling for the inquiry.

Meanwhile, in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, a ruling declaring the 2015 ANC conference in KwaZulu-Natal unlawful dealt a huge psychological blow to the faction aligned to Zuma and gives his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign a moral boost, according to the Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay.

The ruling, which declared the election of Zuma ally Sihle Zikalala null and void, throws a big spanner in the works for the governing party as it continues preparations for its national elective conference in December.

KwaZulu-Natal is the ANC’s largest and the most influential provincial organisation. It is also at the centre of the Zuma camp’s push for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed him.

The ruling means that the province is now effectively leaderless.

The ANC is considering an appeal.

Biafran separatists warn Abuja government

A pro-Biafra group has given the Nigerian government 48 hours to demilitarise the south-east of the country.

According to the Lagos-based Guardian, the Biafra Zionist Federation issued the 48-hour ultimatum to the federal government to withdraw troops from the south-east and other parts of the country. The move followed the recent launch of operations by the Nigerian army and the killing of suspected agitators in Umuahia, the Abia State capital on Sunday.

In a statement yesterday in Enugu, the leader of the separatist group, Mazi Benjamin Onwuka, warned that the government and army would pay dearly for the lost lives. The army has since denied killing anyone.

The separatists say deploying soldiers in the zone amounts to political suicide and will provoke a reaction.

The statement goes on to warn that Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari is wasting his time because the army will not stop Biafra’s independence.