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African press review 18January 2013

African press coverage is dominated by the hostage crisis at an Algerian gas plant. Also, South Sudan agrees to pull back fro, a contested border with Sudan, and Barack Obama's half-brother runs in the Kenyan elections.


Algerian newspaper Liberté is full of coverage on the attempts to save hostages at the In Amenas gas field. It also says it has an exclusive from Daho Ould Kablia, a spokesperson for the Algerian government who tells them that the terrorist group had entered Algeria through the Libyan border, not the Malian border as the militants claim.

He adds the armed group of around 30 men was even trained in Libya. In another article Algeria's head of communication is quoted as saying the terrorist attack on a multinational company and hostage taking was a new and difficult ordeal for the people of Algeria. He added that the goals were clear: to destabilise Algeria and get it directly involved in the war that is currently taking place in Mali.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

Over in Kenya, The Daily Nation has an article on South Sudan pulling back from a contested border "with Sudan, as part of an agreement to demilitarise the flashpoint area that sparked a major conflict last year".

The paper notes this is a breakthrough move that comes after months of deadlock following an African Union brokered deal last September over undefined border areas. "South Sudan has also agreed to demilitarise the contentious area known as "Mile 14" by 4 February, after months of protest and debate at home."

South Sudan's Justice Minister John Luk Jok is quoted as saying his country's acceptance to pull back forces and demilitarise border areas was "demonstrating its full compliance with the signed security agreements and full commitment to their implementation." He's also calling for "similarly implement fully and unconditionally the security agreements and all other agreements".

Meanwhile, the Standard is very disappointed by primary elections in Kenya which it says has descended into "Confusion, violence spoilt party primaries". This is in relation to party nominations alongside coalitions and obviously ahead of the general elections in March.

It writes that what was " billed to be a ‘mini-election’ by way of countrywide nominations by three key political coalitions ended up being a monumental shame after chaos and confusion ruled the day." A voter was gunned down by police in Baringo county triggering protests in Seguton Ward while in "In Homa Bay a returning officer was stripped naked and a former MP was arrested for attempting to run away with a ballot box and nomination papers".

Dossier: Independence for South Sudan

The Standard also notes a number of parties postponed the exercises, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission relaxed its 18 January deadline for parties to submit their final lists. A number of voters had waited all day to cast their ballots but to no avail.

In South Africa, US President Obama's name is in two newspapers, firstly in the Mail and Guardian which reports that the half brother of the United States' president "has hit the campaign trail in his native Kenya in a bid to get a seat in the upcoming elections."

The paper quotes Malik Obama, who shares a father with the US president, as saying "that the achievements of his more famous brother have 'inspired and challenged' him to get into politics". "I can confidently say that I am the best placed candidate ... by virtue of my second name alone, I have the connections to bring development"

Meanwhile The Star has an article on South African musicians starring at Obama’s inauguration. It writes excitedly that in a few days, some of the country’s finest musicians will jet off to perform at an event that is set to draw an audience of millions around the world.

Those attending include singer-songwriter Lira and house music favourites MiCasa and Jazz powerhouse Hugh Masekela who is also a Grammy nominee. The Star reports that the minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile held a press conference yesterday to congratulate them.

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