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Africa

African press review 20 June 2018

media

Today's South Sudan peace talks between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar are all set for Addis Abeba. But have the main participants been informed? The Ugandan oil industry faces further delays before production can begin. The South African rand reaches a six-month low against the dollar.

It may come as a surprise to some of the participants, but South Sudan President Salva Kiir will meet his rival and former vice president Riek Machar in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa today. That's according to the Ethiopian foreign ministry, reported on the front page of regional paper the East African. The two men are to hold talks with a view to ending the civil war which broke out in 2013.

The reason the report is surprising is because the South Sudan government yesterday rejected Ethiopia as a suitable venue for the face-to-face talks, insisting that the meeting should take place in a neutral country.

President Kiir said he was prepared to travel to meet Machar in South Africa, where the rebel leader has been under house arrest since November 2016.

Even more seriously, the Sudan Tribune reports that the South Sudan Opposition Alliance has rejected a proposal by the Intergovernmental Development Authority to end the four-and-half year conflict in the country, saying it failed to consider crucial outstanding issues.

However, the Sudan Tribune report goes on to say that the regional block is counting on today's meeting between President Kiir and his main rival Riek Machar to reach a compromise on three disputed issues: the composition of the government, the organisation of parliament, and the powers and composition of state administrations.

Further setback for Ugandan oil industry

French oil company Total says it expects to start producing oil in Uganda in 2021 at the earliest. China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation has already indicated that it will be unable to meet the 2020 target set by the country.

President Yoweri Museveni’s government has been targeting 2020 as as the start of oil production and is banking on a windfall to clear mounting public debt and lift sagging growth.

Uganda discovered an estimated 6.5 billion barrels of hydrocarbon deposits 12 years ago near its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Production has been repeatedly delayed by disagreements between the authorities and the oil firms over field development strategy and tax levels, and by a lack of refinery and pipeline infrastructure.

Hard times for hard cash

The South African rand is taking a battering.

According to the top story in the Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay, the South African currency slumped to its weakest level in more than six months yesterday, reaching lows last seen under the presidency of Jacob Zuma.

The rand, which peaked against the US dollar following the election of Cyril Ramaphosa, has been damaged by speculation that US President Donald Trump will spark a full-scale trade war with China, fuelling a slide in emerging market assets on concerns that the global economy will slow.

On the domestic front, concerns include an economy that contracted more than 2 percent in the first quarter, lingering worries about the financial viability of state-owned institutions   much of whose debt is backed by the government   infighting within the ruling ANC, and the debate about the expropriation of land without compensation.

Boris Becker plays a sneaky backhand

The authorities in the Central African Republic say that a diplomatic passport which former tennis star Boris Becker claims entitles him to immunity in bankruptcy proceedings is a fake.

The document's serial number proves that it is one of a batch of passports stolen in 2014.

Last Friday, lawyers for Germany's three-time Wimbledon champion lodged a claim in the High Court in Britain saying that he had been appointed a sports attache for the CAR to the European Union in April.

This, they argued, granted him immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations from bankruptcy proceedings over failure to pay a long-standing debt.

The foreign ministry in Bangui denies ever appointing Becker, saying the post he claims to occupy simply does not exist.

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