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African press review 10 February 2018


Is Kenya on the road to dictatorship? Or civil war? How much longer will Jacob Zuma hang on as South African president? Why have three Sudanese newspapers been taken out of circulation? And why has South Sudan's ambassador to Washington been recalled to Juba?

Kenya is sliding into dictatorship. That's the opinion of veteran politician Koigi wa Wamwere and it's reported in today's Nairobi-based Daily Nation.

Wamwere, a former MP who participated in the second liberation struggle, yesterday condemned the government’s recent crackdown on opposition leaders and the media.

He said that, although National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga’s recent "swearing-in" was unnecessary, the government’s reaction to it was uncalled for.

The politician also described as unconstitutional this week's deportation to Canada of lawyer and opposition figure Miguna Miguna.

Fighting talk from Raila

The main story in the Nairobi-based Standard is headlined "Nasa leaders threaten to call for more protests".

The report has even less clout than the headline, telling us that opposition alliance leaders will meet on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the resumption of countrywide mass action if the ruling Jubilee administration does not agree to dialogue.

“Everyone knows the country is in crisis. Everywhere we go, people are ready and willing to take up arms and fight for what they think is right,” Nasa leader Raila Odinga is quoted as saying. "If no dialogue is held, we will soon go down the path of anarchy.”

Zuma still hanging on

The pressure to resign continues to build against South African President Jacob Zuma.

Yesterday the national executive committee (NEC) of the South African Municipal Workers Union met and declared that Zuma must vacate his position immediately if the ANC wants South Africans to take the ruling party seriously.

Zuma has been under constant pressure since Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa became the leader of the ANC. This week‚ party treasurer Paul Mashatile told delegates at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town that the executive committee had planned to oust Zuma after a meeting last Wednesday. But that meeting was cancelled.

Zuma’s reluctance to step down has resulted in the state of the nation address being postponed.

An opinion piece in BusinessDay describes Zuma as "the belligerent teenager of South African politics", quoting the president as telling a group of parliamentarians who came to his this week to discuss transition "Go back to your working committee and the NEC and tell them I am not resigning."

Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday promised that the situation will be resolved within days.

Papers siezed Sudan media crackdown

Sudanese police seized the entire print-runs of three newspapers earlier this week after they covered food price protests in Khartoum and other towns.

The claim was made by the editors of the three publications and is reported on the front page of this morning's East African.

Opposition groups have organised repeated demonstrations since bread prices jumped in early January when a government decision to leave wheat imports to the private sector triggered a sharp rise in the cost of flour.

Several newspapers have criticised the government's decision and on Thursday agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service confiscated the print-runs of Al-Tayar, Al-Midan and Al-Jadida newspapers.

The East African adds that Sudan regularly ranks near the bottom of the international press freedom rankings.

South Sudan recalls ambassador from Washington

And the Sudan Tribune notes that South Sudan has recalled its ambassador to the United States.

The ambassador himself describes relations with the United States as cordial saying there was no cause for alarm.

The Tribune points out that the recall of an ambassador is generally seen as a protest against a decision or a declaration by the country to which he is accredited.

Following Washington's decision to impose a weapons embargo on South Sudan earlier this month, the country’s First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai said the United States was no longer a partner.

He said his country would look to China and Russia as development partners, pointing to Chinese and Russian investment in oil refinery and production as well as the construction of roads and bridges.

Uganda arrests refugee relief officials

Uganda has suspended five officials following United Nations allegations of fraud in the management of relief aid to the country, home to about 1.5 million refugees.

The allegations have drawn criticism from foreign governments, including the US ambassador.

The five officials suspended include Apollo Kazungu, a commissioner in the office of the prime minister who has been in charge of refugees.

Uganda said this week it had started an investigation into allegations that officials were defrauding donors by inflating refugee numbers and diverting food aid.