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African press review 21 May 2014


Twin bombings stoke the Nigerian press’s anger with Boko Haram. An SA judge forces the two sides in the platinum mining strike to talk. Kenya’s election organisers are under fire and protesting students are arrested.

All today’s Nigerian papers carry the tragic news of yesterday's twin bombings in Jos, the capital of Plateau State.

The details remain confused, there has been no claim of responsibility, the president has condemned the attacks.

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

The Lagos-based Punch reports that the opposition All Progressives Congress yesterday accused the Federal Government of being insincere in its war against the armed Islamic sect, Boko Haram.

Following a four-hour meeting in Abuja, a statement from the the APC expressed disappointment that the federal government had yet to reach out to the political opposition, in spite of an offer of assistance and an appeal to the Jonathan-led administration to convene a national security summit.

The statement concludes that only a non-partisan approach will extricate Nigeria from what the main opposition party calls "the death grip of Boko Haram".

The All Progressives Congress controls the three northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobé, worst affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Punch also reports that the Nigerian Senate yesterday unanimously approved President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for the extension of emergency rule in those three states.

The main headline in South African financial paper, BusinessDay, reads "Hope flares as judge intervenes in strike".

The 17-week wage dispute in the platinum sector yesterday took an astounding turn when Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker of the Labour Court persuaded the parties to enter three days of mediation talks, beginning today and supervised by the court.

The talks will be the first between the platinum companies and striking employees for over three weeks and represent the first glimmer of hope that the dispute can be solved by negotiation.

Judge Rabkin-Naicker had been due to hear an urgent application by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union for an order to prevent employer companies from directly communicating with employees on the wage offer.

Slideshow Mandela

But instead of deliberating on the application, the judge held talks behind closed doors with the parties, in which she urged them to consider the bigger issues at stake in the strike, rather than getting bogged down on the question of the communication between employers and employees.

That's good news but BusinessDay warns that the parties to the longest dispute in South African labour history remain very far apart and a deal will be hard to broker, particularly if the terms of the conversation remain the same.

In Kenya the Standard reports that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is back in the wars.

Dossier: Rwanda remembers genocide 20 years later

According to the Nairobi-based daily paper, Members of Parliament have criticised the IEBC for "secretly" beginning voter registration for the next elections, due in 2017.

Registration apparently began, in a flurry of silence, on 15 April last.

The MPs allege that the commissioners have already started creating room for suspicion ahead of the 2017 polls.

The IEBC's acting Chief Executive Officer explained the initiative as part of the commission's strategy to carry out voter registration continuously at the ward level as opposed to undertaking registration at the constituency level which has proved to be inefficient and inconvenient.

The Standard also reports that learning ground to a halt in public universities across Kenya yesterday as students took to the streets to protest against a proposal to increase tuition fees. Police engaged in running battles with the protesters after the demonstrations, which the students had promised would be peaceful, turned chaotic.

More than 100 students were arrested during the protests in the city and taken to Central Police Station. Several are expected to be charged with public order violations later today.

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