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African press review 12 October 2015


The South African ruling party plans to lead a campaign to get African countries out of the International Criminal Court, considered by many to be biased against African interests. Egypt is spending a lot on military hardware. And Burundi says European sanctions are doing nothing to help dialogue.

In South Africa, financial paper BusinessDay gives front-page prominence to yesterday's decision by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to attempt to lead a continental walkout from the International Criminal Court.

The ANC’s decision, at its national general council meeting, comes after the Pretoria government came under fire in June for ignoring a court order to arrest Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, when he visited South Africa for the African Union summit.

The ICC has issued two arrest warrants for Bashir suspecting him of complicity in crimes against humanity during Sudan's Darfur conflict.

The ANC says the court has "lost its direction" and is no longer primarily focused on human rights.

Following yesterday’s resolution, the government is expected to start a formal process of withdrawing from the ICC. This could take up to a year. South Africa is also expected to lead a push by African countries to stage a major walkout from the ICC.

Among those who warned at the weekend of the potential dangers of such a move was former minister in the Presidency, Aziz Pahad. Pahad warned the ruling party that a decision to pull out of the ICC needed to be backed by a strong emphasis on human rights.

President Jacob Zuma said in his closing remarks on Sunday that the ANC disagrees with the double standards of the International Criminal Court.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

A state official says early indications are that only Botswana was opposed to the call for members of the African Union to distance themselves from the ICC.

The International Criminal Court is also making the headlines in Kenya.

According to the top story in both The Standard and The Daily Nation, more than 100 Jubilee politicians yesterday renewed pressure on opposition leader Raila Odinga to appear at the ICC to testify on behalf of Deputy President William Ruto.

The politicians want Odinga to exonerate Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang, the two Kenyans who are still facing crimes against humanity charges at the court.

The more than 100 leaders, including MPs and senators, said the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader should record a statement which would help to resolve the Ruto case. Ruto was a senior ODM official at the time of the 2008 post-election violence.

In Cairo, the Egypt Independent looks at government military spending in the wake of confrimation that Egypt has signed a deal with France for the purchase of two Mistral helicopter carriers.

That rings up 950 million euros on the cash register.

An earlier arms deal with France for 24 Rafale fighter jets and a frigate last February, cost an estimated 5.2 billion euros. Deals with Moscow arms suppliers are said to be currently worth four billion euros every year.

Dossier: War in Mali

In August the British government resumed arms sales to Egypt following the partial suspension of those sales following the 2013 uprising.

The UK’s arms sales to Egypt is estimated to have surpassed 55 million euros during the first three months of 2015.

The main story in regional paper The East African reports that Burundi’s ruling CNDD-FDD party has warned that European Union sanctions against top officials may derail efforts to resume dialogue between the government and the opposition.

A fortnight ago, the EU imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on four Burundians for allegedly blocking attempts to resolve the country’s six-month conflict.

Belgium announced the suspension of about 50 million euros in aid to Burundi, whose budget is 52 per cent donor-funded.

Some other Western countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, also suspended aid, while the United States is currently reviewing the eligibility of Burundi for the Agoa special commercial partnership deal, which earns the country close to three million euros in foreign exchange every year.

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