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Africa

African Press Review 26 December 2017

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The East African looks ahead to today's election in Liberia. George Weah's Coalition for Democratic Change urged voters not to drink too much on Christmas Day and to get up early today to cast their ballots, says the paper. The chairman of the National Elections Commission Francis Korkoya echoed the idea saying it was a "sacrifice for the good of our democracy and country".

And how about predictions?

"It's too close to call," says Ibrahim Al-Bakri Nyei, a Liberian political analyst.

He said Weah was in a similar position to 2005 when he lost despite widespread predictions of victory. His opponent, Liberia's Vice President Joseph Boakai, has been publicly confident of a win.

Low turn-out likely

Given the date of the vote, it's likely to have a lower turnout than the first round, says Nyei.

"While ordinary Liberians are grateful peace has held through President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's two terms in office, living standards remain dire for most and have become the focus of the campaign."

"Whoever wins faces an economy battered by slumped commodity prices for rubber and iron ore, and a rapidly depreciating currency."

Recklessness of the Zuma presidency

The link between economics and politics is also on the mind of the South African Mail and Guardian.

Cyril Ramaphosa has replaced the outgoing head of the ANC, South African president Jacob Zuma.

Brought to its knees by the recklessness of the Zuma presidency, the South African economy needs a new deal, says analyst Owen Skae, writing in the paper.

Ramaphosa has promised exactly that. And he has the advantage of bringing a deep understanding and strong networks of business and organised labour to the position.

Clearly the markets like him. His election saw the country's currency strengthen and a flurry of activity on the stock market. Even credit rating agencies are getting a little excited.

But with a divided party, and Zuma still running the country until the next election, Ramaphosa's power is limited.

Recall Zuma as soon as possible

He needs to push for Zuma to be recalled by the ANC as soon as possible and then fire all conflicted ministers and bring back those with the best credentials to manage the economy, writes Skae.

Leaving Zuma to act as if it is business as usual might have dire consequences for Ramaphosa, says Skae, citing Zuma's recent announcement that the government will deliver free higher education for about 90% of South African students from next year. It's a populist move but one that will strain the country's budgets.

Whatever he does, Ramaphosa will have to show his hand soon enough; otherwise those within the ANC who still back Zuma will make his task as difficult as possible.

Many Ugandans believe the Constitution was abused

The Ugandan Monitor devotes its editorial to the country's recent constitutional changes.

The courts there have just removed an age cap that will allow its current President Yoweri Museveni to run again in the next elections.

He has been in power for the past 30 years already.

Many Ugandans are dissatisfied and believe (rightly or wrongly) that the Constitution was abused for the benefit of a few individuals, says The Monitor, treading carefully.

The question many Ugandans are asking themselves as they spend time at home for Christmas is where is their social contract, or whatever is left of it?

"The Constitution is the embodiment of that contract and must, therefore, at all times be treated as sacrosanct. It is the reason leaders swear to uphold and defend the Constitution. This does not mean it cannot be changed.

"Yet today, in the aftermath of the events in Parliament last week, many Ugandans have a feeling that many of our political leaders treat the Constitution as a collection of papers bound in one volume, not a social contract that defines us a nation."

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