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Africa Press review

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African Press Review 22 December 2017


Many African papers carry news of the ceasefire signed between South Sudan's government and several armed groups during peace talks in Ethiopia. However, the Ugandan Monitor carries a report about fresh fighting in the conflict and says the ceasefire is under threat before it's even begun.

Refugees are streaming into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, and bringing with them news of a fresh government offensive, says the report.

Government troops are pushing to recapture the key rebel stronghold of Lasu from South Sudanese rebel forces are vowing to take back any government gains -- regardless of the planned ceasefire.

Museveni cleared to run again

The Kenyan Daily Nation is more concerned with Uganda's politics and the controversial changes its lawmakers made to the constitution this week.

Uganda's parliament this week voted to allow current president Yoweri Museveni to run for a sixth term in office.

The Daily Nation is not impressed.

"Even though Uganda is a sovereign state and has every reason to govern itself in whichever way it deems fit, many East Africans will be concerned about political events unfolding there," says the paper's editorial.

Of course, this is a matter of interest to other East Africans as Uganda is a member of the East African Community, whose biggest dream is a political federation.

Member countries have forged economic integration, convinced that working together, they can prosper.

Ideally, East Africans would like to see greater democratisation, says the Nation, rather than any slide in the quality of the region's democracy.

The trouble with the Ugandan vote is the bitter acrimony with which it was carried out. Some opposition MPs were kicked out of Parliament for protesting, while others walked out as the ruling party got its way.

The vote is symptomatic of the diminishing democratic space in the region, with leaders becoming increasingly autocratic, says the Kenyan daily.

This trend and the growing manipulation of elections in the region undermine the people's right to freely choose their leaders.

And that's not a good thing for anyone in the long run... except perhaps octogenarian autocrats.

Ramaphosa's poisoned chalice

The editorial in the South African daily Sowetan looks to the new ANC party leader and wonders whether he has been passed a poisoned political chalice.

"After years of waiting his turn, Cyril Ramaphosa has finally achieved his ambition of being the ANC's number one. But fate has dealt him a bad hand," says the paper.

He inherits the governing party at a time when there is great contestation over its legacy. The days of the ANC having the luxury of relying on its liberation dividend are, frankly, over.

If Ramaphosa is able to turn the ANC around, he will be counted among the likes of former presidents of the movement including Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela, who steered the ANC through difficult times.

This will take a courage that does not fear censure. But, according to the paper, that's a courage that Ramaphosa has -- as yet -- been reluctant to display.

The paper looks at the other party leaders to emerge from its conference last week and calls their make-up "a compromise that could hinder rather than help".

Room for optimism

The top ranks of the party is still stuffed with staunch supporters of outgoing ANC President Jacob Zuma. They "will be stumbling blocks" to the new leader.

Nonetheless, says the paper in a separate editorial, "while we are none the wiser about the policy direction the governing party will pursue under the new leadership, there is room for optimism that new party president represents a break from what his predecessor Jacob Zuma stood for".