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Africa Press review

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African press review 29 March 2018


Chadians may have Idriss Déby at the helm until 2033. Sexual violence is, once again, on the rise in the DRC. And the turn-out in Egypt's presidential election is not looking great.

Idriss Déby could hold onto his job as president of Chad until 2033. This is reported in regional paper the East African.

Déby would be allowed to stay on until 2033 and be granted greater powers under constitutional changes recommended by a national conference that the opposition says is intended to create a “monarchy”.

A two-week forum involving 800 politicians, business leaders and traditional chiefs, but boycotted by the opposition, issued its report earlier this week, recommending the elimination of the post of prime minister and the creation of a fully presidential system.

The forum proposed re-instating presidential term limits scrapped by a 2005 referendum. The changes would let Idriss Déby, who came to power in a rebellion in 1990, stay on well into old age.He'll be 81 years old in 2033, if he survives till then.

Rape on the rise in eastern DRC

Sexual and ethnic violence are on the rise in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This is according to celebrated gynaecologist and three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Denis Mukwege.

At least 13 million Congolese need humanitarian aid, including eight million who are severely food insecure, the UN Security Council said last week in a unanimous statement which the Kinshasa government dismisses as a gross exaggeration.

As that diplomatic dispute continues, with Kinshasa refusing to attend the donor conference in Geneva next month aimed at raising one-and-a-half billion euros to tackle the crisis, rapes are increasing in the region.

Denis Mukwege says there was a noticeable decrease in sexual violence in 2015. But that trend has tragically been reversed since the end of 2016 and 2017.

Mukwege said the profile of rapists has changed.

"Now the majority of sexual violence in South Kivu is committed by civilians and no longer by security forces and armed groups," he said.

Egypt gets ready for another round of Sisi

Under the headline "Egypt anoints a new pharaoh," South African daily the Mail & Guardian says the concept of democracy at the very highest levels of power is new to Egypt. Judging by this week’s election charade, the paper says, the country’s leaders are still struggling to understand the most basic tenets of democracy.

The Mail & Guardian reminds us that up until 2005, there was no such thing as a presidential election in Egypt. Previously, voters were asked to approve or reject a candidate selected by parliament. Running against himself, former dictator Hosni Mubarak won every time.

Despite the intervening years, among the most turbulent in Egypt’s modern history, little seems to have changed.

The Mail & Guardian warns that by running essentially unopposed while cracking down on civil liberties, president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is playing a dangerous game. Soaring food prices, high youth unemployment, social instability were exactly the conditions which led to the Arab Spring, and it didn’t end well for Mubarak or his fellow dictators in Tunisia and Libya.

How long will the new pharoh reign?

In Cairo, the front page of the Egypt Independent notes that the Human Rights Council has described voter turnout as moderate, weak in some areas of the capital, with a separate story reporting a very low participation by the country's youth.

The Independent's main headline carries the warning from the National Election Agency (NEA) that non-voters will be fined.

Eligible voters who do not cast a ballot will face fines of up to 500 Egyptian pounds, about 23 euros.

The NEA’s statement goes against Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal’s assurances on Monday, when he said that citizens would not be fined if they chose not to participate in the presidential election.

According to the NEA, 59.78 million Egyptian are eligible to vote.