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African press review 27 November 2012

It's not all smooth-running for Kenya's voter registration. Kenya's justice system sets up a new court. Party leaders start a charm offensive on the V-P. Will the Mwakwere rule be implemented? Is Kabila in a no-win situation? And can there be peace in the DRC?


In Kenya The Standard reports that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has already fallen behind in the effort to register the nation's estimated 20 million voters.

The target for the first week of the Biometric Voter Registration system was 3.7 million voters.

Exactly 2,795,604 Kenyans had registered to vote by last Saturday, nearly one million short of commission ambitions.

The exercise has been slowed down by the failure of the registration kits in some areas and insecurity in others. There are three weeks left to register the remaining 17 million voters.

Also in The Standard, news that Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has announced that the judiciary is in the process of establishing a special division within the High Court to complement the International Criminal Court.

The International Crimes Division of the High Court will deal with various crimes against humanity, post-election violence perpetrators, piracy, financial and cyber-crime. Mutunga, however, clarified that the court will have nothing to do with the four cases currently before the ICC.

Sister paper The Daily Nation gives pride of place to the news that Kenyan Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka is being avidly courted on three fronts as the major political groupings race to seal preelection alliance deals.

According to the Nation, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavad and Eldoret North MP William Ruto were all attempting to charm Musyoka into joining their respective groups.

Many analysts believe that an Odinga-Musyoka ticket would deliver victory in the first round. However, others insist that, given their known differences when they were in the Liberal Democratic Party and later in the Orange Democratic Movement, Odinga and Musyoka will be unable to run a government smoothly even if they win the election.

According to regional newspaper The East African, an intriguing power game is quietly playing out within the Kenyan government over whether to implement a new rule requiring all foreign mining companies to cede 35 per cent of their shares to local investors and institutions.

The new requirement, referred to as the “Mwakwere rule” and introduced by Environment Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere in September, is now the subject of power politics pitting the Office of the Prime Minister and the Treasury against the Environment Ministry and the Office of the President.

Dossier:  DRC elects a president

Launched as a means of allowing citizens to share in the benefits of mining activities in the country, the Mwakwere rule has been widely criticised as a ploy by sections of the ruling elite to force foreign mining companies to sell them shares on the cheap.

The East African also looks to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), suggesting that the capture of North Kivu capital Goma by M23 rebels  and their continued push northwards has put President Joseph Kabila in a precarious situation and deepened the discontent that has dogged his presidency, especially since last November’s deeply flawed elections.

Whether he eventually caves in to the rebels' repeated demands for direct talks or sticks with Kinshasa’s political class, which is totally opposed to the idea of negotiations, Kabila is trapped in a no-win situation.

To survive politically, says The East African, Kabila will have to break ranks with the so-called Mobutuists in his camp and agree to M23’s demands, which essentially come down to semi-autonomous control of the Kivus and their vast mineral wealth. What such an official recognition of the de-facto situation would really mean for Kabila, for the DRC and for the regional struggle for power centred on North and South Kivu is anyone's guess. But long-term peace and stability are unlikely to be the first result.


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