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African press review 11 October 2017


Presidents and presidential hopefuls dominate this morning's front pages in Kenya and South Africa.

"Raila’s move confounds supporters, critics," reads the main headline in the Nairobi-based Daily Nation.

Raila Odinga has withdrawn from a rerun of the presidential election in the latest twist to a political saga that has plunged Kenya into uncertainty, says the Nation.

Constitutional experts, the clergy, politicians, business leaders and diplomats were yesterday mulling over what the decision means for the country’s political and economic stability.

The Supreme Court on 1 September annulled President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in the 8 August elections after finding that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had not conducted the poll in accordance with the constitution and relevant laws.

Subsequently Raila Odinga demanded a raft of reforms at the IEBC, including the sacking of top officials, conditions he says must be met before he can participate in a repeat election.

"Declare Uhuru president, MPs tell IEBC after Raila's withdrawal" is the main headline at the Kenyan Standard.

The report says a group of Jubilee MPs want the electoral body to declare Uhuru Kenyatta elected unopposed now that his challenger, Raila Odinga, has withdrawn from the repeat poll.

They claim a precedent was set in the 2014 parliamentary election when Moses Kuria was declared the winner of the Gatundu South bye-election after his sole challenger pulled out of the race.

Regional paper the East African also leads with the Kenyan election situation, quoting Raila Odinga criticising those outside the country who have sided with the ruling coalition.

"It is unfortunate that international actors who have supported Kenyans in their quest for democracy and good governance are now on the side of appeasing dictatorship in the mistaken belief that it will maintain stability," he said.

So where does that leave the price of spuds?

For the moment no one seems to have a clue what's going to happen next.

According to the Daily Nation, yesterday’s withdrawal of the National Super Alliance from the 26 October repeat election throws the ball back into the court of the IEBC, which must now interpret what the pullout means as the far as the constitution is concerned.

The Standard kicks for touch, declaring that the country is facing a major political and constitutional crisis following Raila Odinga’s withdrawal. The Nairobi daily says opinion was divided evenly on the impact of his move. Interviews with politicians, lawyers and analysts yesterday gave varied views that pointed to at least six options going forward even as the IEBC yesterday evening went into a crisis meeting with its legal team.

The six options are:

  • The IEBC could continue with the presidential election on 26 October as planned, but with only one contender;
  • Or fresh elections could be organised within 90 days;
  • Or the IEBC could declare Uhuru elected president based on Article 138(1) of the constitution that provides that if only one candidate is nominated he/she shall be declared winner;
  • A further suggestion is that, based on the action the IEBC takes, a petition could be filed at the Supreme Court;
  • Another proposal is that parliament could proceed with proposed electoral amendments to integrate a solution to the crisis into Kenyan law;
  • Finally, some analysts are saying the withdrawal has opened the route to a caretaker government after 1 November when Uhuru Kenyatta's current mandate expires.

Zuma's life and death decisions

We've been talking for months now about the ANC's elective conference, due to be held in December, at which the South African ruling party will choose its new president. In due course, the chosen ANC leader will go on to become the next president of South Africa.

The two main contenders are Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

So far, so good.

Yesterday, according to the Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay, former opposition Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko threw her support behind Ramaphosa.

But President Jacob Zuma’s preferred candidate is his ex-wife and former African Union Commission chief Dlamini-Zuma.

Lindiwe Mazibuko says the choice made at the December conference is a question of life and death for Jacob Zuma - either he gets his candidate in place or he lands up in court and is prosecuted for the 783 charges he faces.

Mazibuko says she has been told by rulling party insiders that unless Zuma gets his way‚ the chances of the ANC hosting its elective conference in December are slim.

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