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Africa

African press review 4 January 2016

media

Washington is upset at Paul Kagame's decision to run for a third term as president of Rwanda. There's a slim chance that François Bozize's former prime minister could win the presidential race in the Centra African Republic. And the African Union is trying to decide what to do about Burundi.

Top billing on the front page of South African financial paper BusinessDay goes to Rwanda's Paul Kagame whose weekend announcement that he will, indeed, stand for a third term as president has got Washington in a tizzy.

Deeply disappointed at Kagame's decison to run again, the US authorities are also worried about the credentials of Rwandan democracy, noting the complete absence of a functioning political opposition, and the fact that Paul Kagame was elected with more than 90 per cent of ballots cast in the 2003 and 2010 polls.

"The United States believes constitutional transitions of power are essential for strong democracies and that efforts by incumbents to change rules to stay in power weaken democratic institutions," according to the State Department in Washington.

Further down that same BusinessDay front page we read that early results from last week's presidential election in the Central African Republic are giving former prime minister Faustin Archange Touadera a slim lead in the capital, Bangui.

The head of the UN’s peacekeeping mission in CAR, has hailed the election as a success. If there's no outright winner, there'll be a run-off poll on January 31.

BusinessDay also says that the threat of violence by Islamist group Boko Haram hangs heavy over Nigeria, despite official claims that the battle against the terrorists is technically over.

In his New Year message on Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari commended the military for "significantly curtailing the insurgency" but acknowledged there was "still a lot of work to be done in the area of security".

Late last month, more than 50 people were killed in a 48-hour wave of attacks in the mainly Muslim norteast of Nigeria.

Finally, a piece of good news in the form of a report from Somalia where new housing estates are being built in an economic boom as Somalis return from overseas and newly wealthy businessmen capitalise on the relative peace in the capital, Mogadishu, once dubbed the most dangerous city in the world.

Somalia remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with a gross domestic product per capita of just 300 euros, according to the World Bank, against a sub-Saharan Africa average which is four times larger.

And, while we're on the subject of Somalia, Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2016 US Republican presidential nomination, said yesterday he would maintain his tough stance against Muslims, despite the use of his comments in a recruitment video from the Somali extremist group al-Shabaab.

Trump has called for a total ban on Muslims entering the United States. A clip of him proposing the temporary ban appeared in a video produced by al-Shebab, a terrorist group with ties to Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

The main story in regional paper The East African reports that there's a doubt about the resumption of the Burundi peace talks later this week, as the Bujumbura government pushes for a homegrown initiative, complaining about what it considers external interference in its domestic affairs.

The African Union is considering what sanctions it can impose on Burundi after the government refused to allow the deployment of 5,000 peacekeeping troops, with President Pierre Nkurunziza saying he would order an attack against the force if it were deployed against the will of Parliament.

The intra-Burundi dialogue that was relaunched last week at State House, Entebbe, under the leadership of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, ended in a stalemate as both sides issued conditions to be met before the resumption of peace talks — scheduled for Arusha in Tanzania.

Mediators for President Nkurunziza’s government have complained that there is no clear definition of who is supposed to participate from the opposition side, with some of the participating parties either not recognised by Burundian law or are those who organised the attempted coup against Nkurunziza last May.

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