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Africa Press review

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African Press Review 23 December 2017


In Nigeria, Punch leads with the story that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested Ngozi Olojeme.

She also served as the Chairwoman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund for six years, which is an insurance scheme funded by government employees.

In June, a warrant was issued for her arrest for allegedly diverting N69bn from the agency that's more than €160 million.

Olojeme was said to have fled the country shortly after her sacking by the new president in 2015.

But she handed herself in to police earlier this week.

Jets hit rebel positions

Meanwhile, the Ugandan Daily Monitor leads on the news that the army has attacked bases of the rebel group the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An army spokesman told the Daily Monitor that fighter jets hit ADF bases Friday afternoon. 

The ADF are accused of carrying out an attack on UN peace keepers earlier this month that killed 19 and injured more than 50.

The group has its roots in an Islamic insurgency but have shed much of the religious ideology in recent years and their motives are now not universally agreed upon.

In the 1990s, the ADF terrorized the border region between Uganda and the DRC and are believed to have killed more than 3,000 people.

A confusing time for African democracy

Over in the East African, an Op-Ed looks back on the state of democracy in the region  over the past 12 months.

It's been a confusing time for African democracy, according to the paper's commentator. We have seen coups that didn't look like coups and elections that didn't look like elections. 

In this sense, it was a year of illusions.

The paper compiles a list of what we've learned. At the top is this advice: "Don't mess with the military."

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe did and he was swiftly removed from power after 30 years.

Next on the list, "If you're polite, you can get away with murder."

They are referring to the coup in Zimbabwe again. The military intervention was also remarkable for being the politest coup in history, says the paper.

Plotters went to remarkable lengths to make their coup look constitutional.

"Amazingly, the theatre worked. Delighted to see the back of Mugabe, even some committed democrats were prepared to hold their nose and welcome the 'transition'."

Honorable mentions go to the Kenyan Supreme Court, which made history when it became the first judicial body on the continent to nullify the election of a sitting president on 1st of September.

This remarkable assertion of judicial independence was celebrated throughout Africa and beyond, says the East African, as democrats dared to dream of a new phase of judicial activism.

Bell Pottinger's PR disaster

And villain of the year went to the western public relations firm Bell Pottinger,

which was accused of designing a campaign to stir up racial tensions in South Africa as a way of deflecting attention away from the poor performance of the government there.

The company was paid £100,000 (€112,000) a month for this, although it proved too little when the scandal broke and the firm was forced into administration.

While Bell Pottinger has gone, many of the multinational companies who do this kind of work continue to operate, says the East African -- although exactly what they do remains unclear.

Given the lucrative nature of these contacts, we can assume that Western companies will continue to play a questionable role in African elections in the future, unless their activities are exposed.