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Africa

African press review 13 January 2015

media DR

A court in Burundi is due to decide the fate of a former defence minister who has admitted taking part in last year's attempted coup. Washington has given Pretoria until the middle of March to meet obligations under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Failure could cost South Africa millions.

A Burundi court will announce its verdict tomorrow in the trial of the former defence minister and 27 others accused of being behind a foiled coup in May, according to a Justice Ministry official in Bujumbura. The story is top of the front page of The East African.

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The former minister, Cyrille Ndayirukiye, and five other generals are among the group on trial for seeking to topple President Pierre Nkurunziza, who plunged the nation into a crisis last year over his decision to stand for a third term.

The accused are charged with attempting to unseat the country's constitutional institutions, as well as assassinations and other violent acts.

The former defence minister pleaded guilty to attempting a coup but denied charges of killing police officers and others, or of providing weapons to civilians.

There's been another round of hostilities in the chicken war.

The United States will suspend duty-free benefits for South Africa on 15 March, according to the latest statement from President Barack Obama. This is because the country has failed to meet the requirements of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. A suspension would cost South Africa millions of euros.

The extra time is seen by analysts as a move to pressure Pretoria to loosen restrictions on US farm exports, in particular on America's poultry products.

South Africa has said it is concerned that an outbreak of avian flu in the United States, which killed nearly 50 million birds, could pose animal and human health risks to its economy. The US denies there are any health risks from its poultry.

South African financial paper BusinessDay quotes the Department of Trade and Industry’s director-general as saying the US government has adopted a "prudent, risk-averse" approach in extending rather than completely lifting the threatened suspension of SA’s agricultural products.

He insisted the US approach did not indicate a lack of trust in South Africa’s commitment, nor was it heavy-handed and threatening.

South Africa’s manufacturing sector is on the edge of a recession, according to data released yesterday.

Output shrank for the second month in a row in November, as the sector buckled under depressed demand and lower commodity prices.

Manufacturing is the economy’s fourth-largest sector and lower output suggests possible job cuts and a poor contribution to fourth-quarter economic growth.

Already last year, some manufacturers, notably in the steel industry, laid off workers as commodity prices plunged.

Statistics South Africa data showed a one per cent decline in manufacturing production in November compared to the previous year. The pace of the contraction was smaller than the 2.1 per cent recorded in October.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court are to focus on the weight of evidence to seek a conviction against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto in his trial on charges connected to the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya. This after multiple witnesses for the prosecution withdrew their testimony.

Lawyers for Ruto and his coaccused, broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang, want the judges to throw out the crimes against humanity charges against the pair, saying the loss of the six witnesses' testimony has fundamentally undermined the case.

The prosecution told the court yesterday that sufficient evidence remains to convict Ruto and Sang.

Regional paper The East African reports that host nation Rwanda has decided to drop visa fees for fans from countries competing at the 2016 African Nations Football Championship, to be played between 16 January 16 and 7 February.

Rwanda has also removed the pre-clearance requirement for entry meaning fans will be be able to receive their visas on arrival in the host nation.

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