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Africa

African press review 29 January 2016

media DR

Religion is making headlines in Kenya and Egypt, while the US relationship with Rwanda's Paul Kagame is being criticised. Plus, the Ugandan army is concerned over potential chaos ahead of parliamentary elections.

We start with Kenya, and a regilious bill that has been dropped by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

According to today's Daily Nation, Kenyatta has bowed to pressure from religious leaders and ordered the immediate withdrawal of the proposed Religious Societies Rules.

The draft regulation had proved controversial: it proposed to organise the "registration process and theological qualifications of religious leaders" as well as the introduction of "umbrella bodies that were to promote self-regulation and require a declaration of sources of income".

Religious leaders were, needless to say,  against the reforms, explains The Daily Nation - the idea of them being forced to state their assests and "any affilitations with foreign religious groups" was deemed outrageous.

The first aim of the now dropped regulations was to block Kenyan churches from receiving money from foreign evangelical groups. According to Kenyatta, the withdrawal now "paves the way for" a public consultation on the matter.

Staying with religion, The Egypt Independent has a story about a Niqab ban.

According to the paper, the Cairo University President Gaber Nassar is "receiving death threats following the university's decision to ban the Niqab (face veil) among teaching staff".

The situation is being taken seriously by the government and Nassar now apparently has two body guards.

"Nassar banned faculty members from wearing the Niqab in September 2015 and later prohibited prayers on campus unless done so at the university's main mosque" explains The Egypt Independent.

The decision has proven controversial - even amongst staff members - but a Cairo court upheld the decision last week. The opponents of the measures are describing it as "racist and unfair".

Regional paper The East African is criticising the US relation with Rwanda...

The paper wonders why on earth is the US is"pressing on with its economic investment in Rwanda, even as it continues to express disappointment at the recent changes to the country's constitution which allow President Paul Kagame to run for a third term".

The short answer to that question, of course, is money.

US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker arrived in the East African country last Wednesday on a visit, you guessed it, which focused mainly on the economy.

Rwanda, explains the paper, is "a remarkable success story" when it comes to the economy. But according to Pritzker, that didn't stop him "from speaking candidly" about Kagame's third term.

And it's true that the US has been vocal in criticising the Rwandan government. But as long as it doesn't translate into actions, these talks are not going to change much.

In Uganda, an army chief is worried the upcoming elections will bring chaos to the country.

You'll find that story in today's Daily Monitor. The remark came from General Katumba Wamala, the Chief of Defence Forces, who was speaking at an event.

"The army is historically the fulcrum of political power in Uganda" explains the paper.

That's why Wamala warned his forces would not tolerate "disturbances by any election loser, wheter instigated by the ruling National Resistance Movement party or the opposition".

The country is set to go to the polls in 3 weeks to renew its Parliament - President Museveni, who has been in power for 30 years, is expected to win the elections.

Earlier this month, says the Daily Monitor, "the EU Election Observation team [said they had] received reports of “potential election violence”.

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