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African press review 11 January 2015

media DR

From Rwanda to South Africa and Kenya and from Netflix to an anti-social media bill, as well as an appeal in front of the International Criminal Court, the African press review covers what the papers are talking about.

Kenyan vice-president William Ruto is travelling to the Hague Monday for a case at the International Criminal Court. Ruto is facing charges over his implications in the 2007 elections violence.

And, as The Daily Nation explains, the vice-president is going to the Hague for two appeals "that could impact his role in the 2017 election".

The first one is a "no-case-to answer motion", while the second appeal is "against the use of recanted evidence", it says.

"A favourable decision to the first case will see Mr Ruto walk away as a free man despite prosecutor Fatou Bensouda having called 29 witnesses," says the paper.

In the case of a decision in favour of Bensouda, Ruto will have "to respond to the prosecution's theory that the violence was planned".

"Going by past experience, a decision that does not favour Mr Ruto will certainly see the case roll over to 2017, which is an election year," notes The Daily Nation. "This will make the case against the deputy president a campaign issue, as what happened in 2013," it concludes.

Regional paper The East African has a story about Rwanda looking to the east.

The country could be "looking for new friends in the Middle East and Asia", writes the paper, "as it rides out a wave of criticsm by Western countries for allowing President Paul Kagame to seek another term in office in 2017".

And it's true that Kagame visited the United Arab Emirates right after announcing he would be running for a third term. Countries such as "China, Turkey, Israel, the Emirates, Singapore and far east countries like South Korea" could become Rwanda's new best friends.

"Unlike the US and Europe, they will not criticise or take action over Kagame's decision," writes The East African. Rwanda was once a “darling of the US” for "his economic transformation" after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Nigeria could get rid of a so-called "anti-social media bill", according to today's Punch. The newspaper points to indications that the country's Senate might dump the bill when it resumes Tuesday.

"The leadership of the federal parliament, obviously uncomfortable with the barrage of criticisms that greeted the introduction of the bill, had started planning a way to carefully drop it," says the paper.

The proposed bill came under intense criticism from web activists, tech professionals, rights groups and the Nigerian opposition when it was introduced. They fear it might limit freedom of expression.

The proposals include up to two years in prison and/or a 10,000-dollar fine for anyone posting an abusive statement on social media, creates offences for false publications.

According to various Senate sources, the bill might be dropped soon.

"There are laws already in place that could address virtually all of the provisions of the proposed bill," one told the paper.

Streaming video service Netflix has come to South Africa, and not everybody's so happy about it. The Mail & Guardian wonders "what the big fuss is about".

The streaming service, which was available in only about 40 countries, went global last week and is now streaming in 190 nations. South Africans reacted happily on Twitter and Facebook when the annoucement was made, but according to the paper, regular TV stations shouldn't be worried quite yet.

According to an expert interviewed by the newspaper, the on-demand market is very small in South Africa. Plus, some of Netflix's own series, including "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black", are not available on the South African Netflix.

But just because cable TV is safe now, "this doesn't mean it should relax," says the Mail & Guardian. "All Netflix is doing is giving us a glimpse into the endless variety of entertainment South Africans haven’t had access to – until now."

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