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African press review 2 October 2012

The latest developments in Kismayo in Somalia and fake mobile phones in Kenya are among the stories covered in today's African papers..

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African Union and Somali troops have entered the Somali port city of Kismayo.

They have been battling the al-Shebab militia for control of the city.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

On Saturday, the al-Qaeda-aligned militants said they had withdrawn from Kismayo after an AU military assault.

According to this morning's edition of the Kenyan Standard, quoting local witnesses, a small infantry unit of 11 Somali soldiers entered the city from the west and are patrolling the main roads on foot. Another local said he had seen both Kenyan and Somali troops entering the city centre from the airport.

Around 100 troops were seen by a tribal elder in Kismayo taking over a police station and setting up an outpost on top of a tall building.

A Somali government spokesman said that AU and Somali forces had gone into the city to make it secure for the population, and had also taken up positions at the airport and the harbour.

The Standard also reports from the on-going commission of inquiry probing the helicopter crash in which former Internal Security minister George Saitoti and five others lost their lives earlier this year.

Yesterday, the commission heard the surprising news that the body of the dead co-pilot bore significant amounts of a poisonous gas not found in the other victims.

A toxocologist testified that blood samples taken from the co-pilot indicated 69 per cent carbon monoxide poisoning, a level that would normally kill a victim.

Surprisingly, analysis of blood samples taken from the body of the senior pilot indicated no carbon monoxide toxicity, despite the fact that the pilot and co-pilot were sitting side-by-side in the ill-fated aircraft.

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The Kenyan Daily Nation carries the same story, saying the new evidence suggests that a fire had broken out in the helicopter just moments before the fatal crash. Another police witness yesterday testified that no traces of explosives were found in the debris.

The hearing continues.

Yesterday was the day of reckoning for more than one million Kenyan mobile phone users.

According to the director-general of the Communication Commission of Kenya, at least 1.4 million fake phones were switched off between midnight and 4pm on Monday.

However, a survey by the Daily Nation revealed that some owners of fake handsets were still operating their devices well after the 4pm cut off.

The Consumer Federation of Kenya yesterday used a counterfeit phone to monitor the switch-off and was still able to access the networks without difficulty last night.

Because of a gap in the legislation, consumers using unregistered SIM cards escaped yesterday's exercise unscathed, despite threats from the Communications regulator.

Phone manufacturers are hoping for a sales boom as a result of the switch-off. In recent weeks, both Nokia and Samsung launched campaigns offering discounts to phone users with fake handsets.

In today's Johannesburg-based BusinessDay, former South African president Thabo Mbeki accuses the media of shamefully ignoring the recent signing of the Sudan-South Sudan Co-operation Agreement, treating this immensely important African development as a non-event.

According to Mbeki, who is chairman of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, at least three features mark these agreements as epoch-making in terms of the remaking of the African continent.

First, he says, they constitute an agreement negotiated and concluded by Africans whose implementation will make it possible for the UN Security Council to determine that the conflict in this part of Africa has ceased to be a threat to international peace and security.

Second, they are unique in terms of defining African interstate relations, because they constitute the most comprehensive set of agreements determining relations between two African neighbouring states, akin to the complex system of interstate relations governing European Union members.

Dossier: Independence for South Sudan

Third, the Addis agreements represent the only example on our continent of the conclusion of an inter-state treaty by which two independent African states enter into a binding commitment to work together for their mutual benefit, to ensure that each develops as a viable state.

Media refusals to give the agreement proper prominence, says Mbeki, only feed the perception that Africa’s future continues to be decided by forces outside the continent, and that Africans are incapable of resolving their own problems.

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