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Africa

African press review 25 February 2016

media DR

The UN in Uganda, the budget in South Africa, democracy in Egypt and trade in the DRC, all of those items, and more are in today's menu of the African press review.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon decries irregularities over the presidential polls in Uganda according to today's Monitor.

The UN Secretary said he stands "by findings of international election observer groups, the European Union and Commonwealth, which noted widespread irregularities that marred" last Thursday's elections.

As The Monitor explains, current President Yoweri Museveni "was last Saturday declared winner with 60.8 per cent poll victory with his main challenger FDC’s Kizza Besigye receiving 35 per cent of the vote".

But Besigye claims he won the election.

International organisations reported that the elections were marked by a blatant lack of a level playing field, voter intimidation, a biased Electoral Commission, incidents of violence and harassment of Opposition politicians.

That's probably why Ban called for all parties to resolve the matter peacefully.

Now to South Africa, where the government has announced the 2016 budget and economic paper Business Day has everything you should know about it.

South Africans can expect "a higher tax burden for all except low- to middle-income earners and a higher fuel levy" explains the daily.

The government also plans to reduce the budget deficit at a faster pace than previously projected. A freeze will also be placed on the public sector starting from April, in an effort to reduce spendings.

All of this, says Business Day, means that the next three years will be "tough" with " a credit ratings downgrade, falling revenues" and a slow economic growth.

What's more, the budget is regarded by economists "as based on overly optimistic economic growth forecasts" according to Business Day. The South African Treasury projects a 0.9% growth this year, 1.7% in 2017 and 2.4% in 2018. The annoucement made the Rand slip sharply, down to 1.6%.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made some annoucements this Wednesday. Sisi was speaking during the inauguration of Egypt's long-term development strategy "Egypt Vision 2030".

The Egyptian Indepdent reports that Sisi said "that the Russian plane that crashed in Sinai last year was downed by terrorists" - this is the first time an Egyptian official indicates the plane was deliberately downed in an attack.

But Sisi, in a move that I'm sure will anger activists, also said "it is too early for Egyptians to practice real democracy".

"Media criticism of the government's performance has increased recently, amid worsening currency reserve shortages, reports of police violence against members of the public, and a languishing tourism sector" says The Egypt Independent.

The Egyptian president also demanded "that the media relent in its criticism of the government" explaining "it could undermine the country".

Finally a good news for trade in East Africa. The Democratic Republic of Cong (DRC) has joined the Comesa free trade area (FTA) according to today's East African.

This means the "flow of goods on the Mombasa-Malaba corridor will ease further" explains the paper. Now the DRC will gradually reduce reduce and phase out tariffs.

"Under FTA, a designated group of countries agrees to eliminate tariffs, quotas and preferences on most (if not all) goods" explains the paper.

Uganda and Ethiopia have also recently undertook to join the Comesa FTA to boost trade in the region

 

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