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African press review 7 October 2011

Kenya's consumers hit by a weak shilling. ICC accused will no their fate in January. Trees will be planted for Wangari Maathai. Tutu has a birthday party and the Dalai Lama's absence is noticed.

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Our review of Friday’s African press starts in Kenya where a weak shilling is wreaking havoc on consumers' buying power.

The Daily Nation warns that the prices of imported second-hand cars, medicines, petrol and spare parts have shot up, as the falling shilling begins to hit consumers’ pockets.

Kenyan banks moved to raise interest rates by four per cent, a decision welcomed by the Kenya Bankers Association as the right signal to the market.

The Nation however raises concerns in the industry that the effect of higher interest rates on business could lead to loan defaults and less interest income.

Top government officials indicted by the International Criminal Court for masterminding the post-election violence will know about their fate in January.

Presiding judge Ekaterina Trendafilova disclosed a post-hearings timetable that requires defence lawyers to submit their final written submissions on 16 November.

The Daily Nation explains that the law binds the judges to deliver a decision two months after that date.

According to the paper, that means Kenyans will know the outcome of one of the most watched court cases in the nation’s post-independence history in the third week of January at the latest.

The judge used the final statement of the hearings to repeat a warning to the suspects that they should not engage in any activities that could trigger a return to violence.

According to The Nation, she also took the unusual step of passing a message directly to the Kenyan nation, urging them to avoid threatening witnesses and to put their trust in the integrity of the ICC process.

The Standard underlines that The Hague has changed Kenya. Regardless of which way the two cases at The Hague go, the general feeling among most Kenyans is that the process is a watershed moment in the fight to end political impunity in the country.

Leaders are being welcomed in areas previously perceived to be hostile to them and much of the ugly rhetoric that was a feature of weekend rallies is diminished.

The Standard looks ahead to the state funeral on Saturday of Kenyan Nobel laureate Professor Wangari Maathai who died in Nairobi after a long bout with cancer.

The Nairobi-based newspaper says the body of the late Prof Maathai will be cremated and her remains interred at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies in accordance with her wish.

Tree-planting is set to mark the burial of Kenyan environmentalist. Part of Karura Forest that Maathai helped save from land-grabbers years ago has been set aside to commemorate her achievement in tree planting.

Several NGOs have also organised a nationwide tree-planting campaign in honour of the late Nobel laureate starting Saturday at all the 10 forest conservancies countrywide, according to The Standard.

The South African papers mark the celebration of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday in Cape Town today.

Mail and Guardian reports that Irish singer Bono joined the Nobel laureate at his book launch inside the St George’s cathedral in Cape Town Thursday.

The newspaper noted Tutu’s anger against the government for denying the Dalai Lama a visa to attend his birthday celebration. Tutu said earlier this week he would pray for the downfall for the ANC, like he had prayed for the downfall of the apartheid government.

According to the newspaper, veteran journalist Allister Sparks, who coauthored the book on Tutu's life, made fun at the function of a remark by President Jacob Zuma that the ANC would rule until Jesus Christ returned.

The Star claims that the Dalai Lama may yet receive his visa. According to the Johannesburg newspaper the planned visit of the Tibetan spiritual leader cancelled on Tuesday was potentially on again on Thursday night, after the organisers urged deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe to “back up” his statement that the government was ready to give him a visa.

The Sowetan highlights a protest staged by about 200 students and lecturers dressed in their academic gowns at Wits University to vent their disappointment in the South African government for not approving the Dalai Lama's visa.

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