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Africa

African press review 19 October 2017

media

With the rerun presidential election now just days away, the troubles of the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission continue to dominate east African front pages. Will the election take place at all? Will it be free and fair? Will the opposition accept the outcome? And there's confusion in Uganda and talks about water in Addis Ababa.

The front page of this morning's Kenyan Daily Nation does not make happy reading.

"Chebukati reads riot act to Raila, Uhuru," is the top headline, Wafula Chebukati being the beleagured boss of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Yesterday he cast doubts on the possibility of holding credible elections next week, blaming a sharply divided commission and a political class which has taken the supposedly independent body hostage.

"Kenya at crossroads as 26 October election remains uncertain," is the main headline over at sister paper the Standard.

Their report says Kenya's political crisis deepened yesterday when a senior electoral commission official resigned, citing inability of the agency to deliver a credible election next week.

Commissioner Roselyne Akombe's resignation was followed by an admission by the IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati that credible elections next week were in doubt.

The Standard says President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who Chebukati insisted must sit with the commission to resolve the impasse, stuck to their hard line positions, cheered on by their respective supporters.

Uhuru insisted that the elections would go on as scheduled and warned of stern action against those attacking poll officials.

Raila declared that the opposition National Super Alliance would hold protests planned for 26 October, pointing to a looming confrontation should elections proceed as scheduled.

Regional paper the East African summarises the situation with a headline reading "Kenya election agency under siege".

The report says yesterday's resignation of electoral commission official Roselyn Akombe has exposed a deeply divided team at the commission led by a chairman who does not seem to be fully in charge.

Akombe fled to New York and resigned Wednesday morning, saying she did not feel safe, and that, as currently constituted, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission cannot hold a credible election on 26 October.

What's happening in Uganda?

There's confusion about the situation in Uganda.

The top headline in the Kampala-based Daily Monitor says "One person feared dead as police block FDC rally in Rukungiri".

The East African is in no doubt: "One killed as Uganda bans demos over age limit bill" reads the main headline in the regional daily.

The Monitor quotes unconfirmed reports which indicate that one person was shot dead while scores of people were injured yesterday at Rukungiri Stadium in the west of the country.

During the standoff some opposition supporters pelted police with stones. Police responded by firing bullets and tear gas. The supporters dispersed in disarray but later regrouped and more confrontation ensued.

Police had blocked opposition politicians and their supporters led by former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye from accessing the stadium where they had planned to hold a rally against the proposed amendment of the presidential age limit.

The security forces have in recent days broken up several rallies called to oppose plans which would extend President Yoweri Museveni’s rule after 2021 when his current fifth term expires.

A bill removing the age limit for the president was introduced in parliament last month and MPs are currently holding consultations with ordinary Ugandans to seek their views.

Water ministers meet to discuss dam

Water ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are meeting in Addis Ababa to continue talks on the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The ministers have visited the dam's construction site and were yesterday engaged in closed-door discussions over the filling and operation of the reservoir, the most controversial of the issues.

Egypt has long been opposed to the dam over fears that it will reduce water supplies downstream. Sudan, on the other hand, seems to be convinced that the giant reservoir will regulate the flow of water and prevent flooding.

They'd better get it sorted out soon. Construction of the dam is currently 60 percent complete.

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