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African press review 30 September 2017


Raila Odinga will talk about next month's Kenyan election re-run, on one condition. He wants government attempts to change electoral law stopped. Was this week's fighting in the Ugandan parliament provoked by the police? What have the authorities in Kigali got against the organisation Human Rights Watch? And what have Jacob Zuma and South African Airways got in common?

Kenyan opposition presidential contender Raila Odinga has agreed to talks about next month's election re-run on one condition.

According to the main story in this morning's Nairobi-based Daily Nation, the National Super Alliance leader says he is ready for dialogue with the Jubilee Party on the fresh presidential poll if the ruling coalition drops its plans to change the electoral laws.

Odinga yesterday accused the Jubilee administration of a plot to water down the Constitution following its decision to amend the law to change the management of elections ahead of the 26 October poll.

The Supreme Court nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory following the August election, citing irregularities and illegalities and ordered a fresh election.

Odinga has been insisting on a raft of changes at the national electoral agency before going into the repeat poll.

All in a good cause, say Jubilee leaders

Over at sister paper the Standard, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have been defending the move by Jubilee Party to amend the electoral laws.

The President said Jubilee wants to ensure that the repeat presidential election is conducted in a free and fair manner in line with the Supreme Court ruling.

Ugandan parliamentary battle was planned

The Daily Monitor in Uganda claims that Wednesday's parliamentary battle between lawmakers and plain-clothes security operatives was the outcome of a planned operation by the authorities.

Fighting broke out in the parliament in Kampala when MPs opposed to the proposal to change the constitutional age-limit for presidential candidates staged a noisy protest and were evicted by security personnel.

Earlier in the week, troops and special police units were stationed near the parliament buildings, ready to intervene. The Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura was in overall charge of the operation.

He told journalists yesterday that he had been informed that some legislators planned to start a fire to burn the parliament building.

Kigali accuses Human Rights Watch of deceit

The Rwandan government says the organisation Human Rights Watch is “irrelevant and deceitful” and exploits situations for financial gain.

This follows a statement from the human rights body yesterday criticising Rwandan authorities for arresting, forcibly disappearing and threatening political opponents since the presidential election last month. This story is at the top of the front page of regional paper the East African.

In particular, Human Rights Watch referred to the arrest of Diane Rwigara, her mother and sister on 22 September. The police claim they have credible evidence linking the trio to offences threatening state security.

Diane Rwigara, who failed in her attempt to stand as an independent candidate in the presidential race, faces charges of forgery, tax evasion, treason, inciting public insurrection and creating an illegitimate movement.

It is not clear whether her mother and sister also face prosecution.

President Zuma gets another let-off in court

Jacob Zuma got another judicial let-off yesterday.

The Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay reports that the application by the opposition Democratic Alliance asking the court to compel the South African president to institute a commission of inquiry into state capture, has been stayed, pending the finalisation of a review of the allegations.

State capture is the name given by South Africans to the alleged takeover of some administrative functions, like the appointment of ministers and the awarding of state contracts, by non-elected individuals or groups.

The judge said it would not be in the interests of justice to compel the president to implement any remedial action before the review is completed.

South African treasury saves SAA from bankruptcy, again

The national carrier, South African Airways, got a let-off too.

BusinessDay reports that government yesterday approved the transfer of money from the National Revenue Fund to the bankrupt airline so that it can meet its debt obligations and avoid a default of three billion rand (about 190 million euros), which was due to be repaid to Citibank today.

In June, the South African treasury stepped in to pay 137 million euros to Standard Chartered Bank.

The two advances have been explained on the basis that a default by the air carrier on any of these relatively modest loans will leave the South African treasury exposed to much larger claims.

The state has promised to support the airline to the tune of well over one billion euros.

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