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African press review 21 September 2018


Sudan stays on the US terror blacklist. Kenya gets a new fuel tax, despite an angry debate in parliament. And the Tanzanian president, John Magufuli, wants more babies.

The United States yesterday confirmed its positive rating of Sudan’s record in combating terrorism but kept the country on its blacklist of states that sponsor terrorism.

In the latest Country Reports on Terrorism released yesterday and reported in today's Sudan Tribune, Washington notes the recent easing in Sudan-US relations that resulted in the lifting of economic sanctions in place since 1997.

The report notes that Sudanese security forces are playing a role in intercepting the flow of potential terrorists along the border with Libya as well as preventing arms smuggling and other illicit activities.

The US State Department accepts that Sudan's vast surface area, and the government’s outdated technology and limited visa restrictions, present special challenges for border security.

Chaos in Kenyan budget vote

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday got his way as a raft of new taxes were passed in a chaotic parliamentary session characterised by claims of underhand dealings and blackmail.

This is the top story in today's daily Standard.

The Nairobi-based paper says that MPs opposed to the eight per cent value added tax on petroleum products were defeated because they couldn't raise the two-thirds majority  required to override the president’s recommendations.

The controversial vote means that besides the fuel tax, salaried workers will have to hand a fraction of their pay to the government to finance a housing project, mobile phone users will incur additional duty and there will be news and increased bank transfer costs.

Sister paper the Daily Nation says confusion marred yesterday's debate on the president's reservations on the Finance Bill, after MPs expressed sharp disagreement with the manner in which the vote on the introduction of the fuel tax was conducted.

With the victory, the executive has the power to raise up to Sh130 billion through taxes on sugar products, money transfers, betting companies and winnings, and kerosene.

Magufuli wants more babies

Tanzania has suspended the broadcasting of family planning advertisements by a US-funded project.

This is reported in regional paper the East African.

The latest action comes just two weeks after President John Magufuli said family planning was for those “too lazy to take care of their children”.

The decision, announced in a letter from the permanent secretary for health and gender issues obliges the head of FHI 360, a US-based non-governmental organisation, to stop airing advertisements immediately.

Al-Shabaab terrorists still pose threat

The Kenyan Daily Nation reports that the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militant group remains a potent threat to regional security. This, despite the fact that the terrorist organisation's capacity to stage regular attacks in urban areas has diminished.

The International Crisis Group, in a report released on the fifth anniversary of Westgate Mall terror attack in the Kenyan capital, warns against complacency despite the reduced number of attacks in cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa.

The report says that the al-Qaeda affiliate has adapted in a number of ways to its reduced ability to carry out bombings and gun and grenade assaults in urban areas.

Al-Shabaab has recently focused on targets in the border region between Kenya and Somalia, killing dozens of policemen and soldiers, principally through the use of improvised explosive devices.

A crucial additional change according to the International Crisis Group has been a shift by militants from the Kenyan coast to the Pwani region of Tanzania, where Shabaab has forged alliances with local militants and staged numerous attacks.

Egypt near top of continental wealth rankings

Egypt is the African country with the second-highest gross wealth on the continent.

This is proudly reported on the front page of this morning's Egypt Independent.

With over 300 billion euros in total wealth, Egypt is surpassed only by South Africa which, although it has roughly half of Egypt’s population, tops the list with 700 billion.

Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya and Angola complete the top six.

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