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African press review 10 October 2012

Kibaki vetoes Kenyan MPs' golden handshake plans. Should Kenyata and Ruto be able to stand for president? Museveni outlines a 10-point get-rich plan for Uganda ... but not everybody was listening. And how many Ugandans are there, anyway?

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"Kibaki rejects MPs' hefty exit package". That's the main headline in this morning's Kenyan Standard.

The story confirms that the president yesterday refused to sign the amendment to the finance bill, passed by parliament last Thursday, whereby members of the Kenyan parliament voted to allow themselves the shilling equivalent of about 80,000 euros each in severance pay.

The president objected to the amendment on the grounds that it was unconstitutional and that, given the prevailing economic circumstances in Kenya, it is unaffordable.

Also in Kenya, The Daily Nation tells us that the attorney-general has gone to the Supreme Court with a case that could dramatically reshape the politics of the 2013 presidential election.

Many politicians and activists have argued that Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto, who have been charged with crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court, should not be allowed to run in the presidential race.

Now the attorney-general has asked the Supreme Court judges to decide whether the right to seek elected office is more important than personal integrity. Article 10 of the Kenyan constitution binds all state officers to national values and principles of governance which include national unity, the rule of law, social justice, equality, good governance, integrity and accountability.

The ICC upholds a suspect’s innocence until they are proved guilty. The Kenya case against the two men does not start until after the election, set for 4 March.

Also in The Nation, news that barely a week after mobile phone operators switched off fake handsets, technicians in the backstreets of Nairobi are reactivating the gadgets for as little as nine euros.

According to the Communications Commission of Kenya, the technicians are copying identity codes of original handsets to fake phones to give them a new lease of life.

The director-general of the commission says he's aware that this is going on, warning that those involved risk a jail term of up to five years and a fine of not less than 10,000 euros or both.

Uganda's Daily Monitor reports that President Yoweri Museveni used yesterday's Golden Jubilee Independence celebrations to launch a strategy designed to turn Uganda into a first-world country over the next 50 years.

Museveni unveiled a 10-point programme, singling out expected oil revenues as the primary fuel to drive the transformation.

The often acrimonious disagreement among Uganda's political elite was evident yesterday. Opposition leaders boycotted the anniversary celebrations, claiming there was nothing to celebrate because Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, has run the country down and stifled legitimate political dissent and fundamental human rights and freedoms.

The disagreement is not limited to the political elite. An opinion piece in The Monitor is headlined "As 35 million beggars celebrate 50 years of independence…", and it's a bitter reflection on some recent failures, notably the failure to hold the long-awaited national census.

"To begin with," says the writer, a former managing editor of the Daily Monitor, "even the figure of 35 million Ugandans is just a guess, because nobody knows how many citizens the great Pearl of Africa has. The census which was supposed to take place this month was called off because our begging efforts did not yield enough money for the exercise. Maybe next year the European Union will donate a few computers and shame us into holding the census.

"In many ways, therefore, Ugandans are not very different from the Congolese, who sit on enormous wealth and expect someone else to help them with everything, including securing their government. We may be laughing at the Congolese as all sorts of dodgy foreigners steal their fabulous wealth under their noses. But if we are not careful, our begging mentality will attract similar Samaritans to exploit our resources for us too.

"And by the time the country marks its platinum jubilee, even the 35 million beggars might be no more. They may have starved to extinction."

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