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African press review 5 December 2012


Egyptians on the streets and fears of a looming war between Zimbabwe and Mozambique are among the stories in today's African papers.

We start in Egypt, where the Cairo-based Independent reports that thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in various parts of the country on Tuesday night to denounce the final draft of the constitution approved by the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly, as well as the new constitutional declaration issued on 22 November which greatly expands President Mohamed Morsi’s power.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

The state-run Al-Ahram newspaper’s website quotes Nasser Youssef, a member of the Free Egyptians Party, as saying that constitutions all over the world are written by consensus, not by a single group, irrespective of how large it is, because constitutions are crafted to protect the rights of minorities.

A Health Ministry spokesman said last night that 27 people have been injured so far in the protests outside the presidential palace in Heliopolis.

The head of ambulance services said earlier in a statement that the injuries are mostly bruises and breathing difficulties due to the tear gas. He reported that there have been no deaths.

The president of the Egyptian Judges Club said on Tuesday the vast majority of judges and prosecutors will decline to supervise the referendum on the new constitution.

He showed reporters the results of a survey of judges in various governorates regarding participation in the referendum. “2039 judges said ‘no’ and 226 said ‘yes,’” he said. “That’s about 90 per cent.”

The Safety and Development Party, the political arm of the Islamic Jihad Organization, has meanwhile demanded that President Morsi investigate the judges who are boycotting the referendum on the constitution and that he suspend their salaries.

The party yesterday accused the judges of carrying out a colonial and Zionist scheme to delay stability and destroy the state.


It's all happening on the Kenyan election front.

"Raila, Kalonzo seal deal as Mudavadi joins Uhuru, Ruto" blasts the main headline in this morning's Standard.

We've known for a while that Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka were likely to forget their past differences in the interest of future gains. Yesterday, the pair signed a pre-election pact which left open the question of who will be the candidate and running mate. That deal, dubbed the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (Cord), involves 11 other political parties.

As Kalonzo switched to Raila’s side, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s National Alliance and Eldoret North MP William Ruto’s United Republican Party, responded by bringing on board United Democratic Party candidate Musalia Mudavadi.

Of course, all of this horse-trading has been put in a different perspective by Kofi Annan who has urged Kenyans not to vote for politicians facing trial at the International Criminal Court.

Annan, former UN Secretary General and now African Union envoy overseeing the election, said Kenya's external relations could be damaged.

Candidates Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are due to stand trial at the ICC after the March vote.

Transport remained paralysed across Kenya as matatu operators continued to stay off the roads to protest the new traffic laws.

This, says The Standard, forced many commuters to walk to their destinations as the few operators who were on duty hiked fares astronomically.

Nairobi commuters were the hardest hit as they were forced to trek through a morning drizzle.

There has been a spate of arrests since the Traffic Amendment Act 2012 came into effect last Saturday. Offences included driving without a licence, failing to maintain parts of a motor vehicle and failing to wear a PSV badge, while two motorcycle riders were also charged with failing to wear helmets and reflective jackets.

Since the amendment, the minimum fine for a motorist is Sh100,000 and the highest is Sh500,000, meaning many Kenyans would be forced either to stay in prison or sell their land to raise the sum to pay the fine.

Also in the Nairobi-based Daily Nation, news that Zimbabwe is reportedly massing troops along the border with Mozambique in anticipation of a civil war in the neighbouring country.

Fears of a war are mounting in Mozambique after opposition Renamo leader Alfonso Dlakama returned to a former military base threatening war unless the Frelimo government agreed to negotiations.

The Harare government has not confirmed weekend reports by a private newspaper that troops were already being deployed in the eastern border region.

But the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday said it feared the deployments would be used as a campaign issue for President Robert Mugabe ahead of next year’s general elections.

Leadership by arrangement is not in the vocabulary of the African National Congress, according to the ruling party's secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, in what is seen as a swipe at Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Motlanthe earlier this week said he was adamant he would not be part of any "deal" to secure a leadership position at the ANC’ s elective conference later this month.

Mantashe did not name Motlanthe when asked about leadership elected by "arrangement" at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Tuesday. But he said it was the "tradition and culture" of the ANC to hold regular conferences when leadership positions were contested.

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