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African press review 7 March 2013

Kenyans anxiously await election results. A Maasai woman candidate survives a curse. Is there a split in M23's ranks? And when will Egypt's next election take place?


Kenya's electoral body has said it now expects to announce the official presidential results on Friday morning.

Chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Isaack Hassan however cautioned that the law gives the commission a deadline of Monday should they encounter challenges in the tallying of results

According to TheDaily Nation in Nairobi, controversy over whether spoilt votes would influence the final presidential result continued on Wednesday. And we've had the Jubilee coalition lead by Uhuru Kenyatta accusing the British government of meddling in Kenya’s elections.

British High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner was accused alongside human rights activist Maina Kiai of putting pressure on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to include invalid votes in the final tally.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

This means spolied votes would be part of the overall count used to determine whether the winning presidential candidate gets the 50 per cent plus one vote threshold.

The British high commissioner has been canvassing to have rejected votes tallied in an attempt to deny the Jubilee Coalition outright victory, the alliance claimed at a press conference yesterday.

In the statement, the alliance also asked the British government to explain what it claimed was a sudden “abnormally high influx of British military in the country, which began around the voting day, under the pretext of training”.

London has dismissed the allegations as “entirely false and misleading”.

On the question of spoiled votes, the Kenyan constitution is less than helpful, since it says a candidate will be elected if he or she receives "more than half of all the votes cast", without specifying whether a spoiled vote is considered to be a vote or not. And that's what the row is about.

As counting continues, Uhuru maintains his lead. Less than an hour ago, with 98 of 291 constituencies reporting, Kenyatta had 2,387,467 or 54.8 per cent with Raila Odinga on 1,721,385, 39.5 per cent.

On a more positive note, The Nation reports that Peris Pesi Tobiko yesterday became the first Maasai woman ever to be elected MP after she won the Kajiado East constituency.

Tobiko triumphed despite being “cursed” at one time by Maasai elders after she beat seven National Alliance Party aspirants in the primaries.

The elders said it was against tradition for women to seek leadership positions and threatened to put a curse on anyone who supported her bid.

She has promised to make the problems of Maasai women one of her chief concerns.

Regional newspaper The East African reports that leaders in the Great Lakes region are assessing the potential impact of an apparent split in the M23 rebel group on ongoing negotiations between the rebels and the Democratic Republic of Congo government.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

Reacting to reports that the rebels’ military high command had dismissed Jean-Marie Runiga Lugerero, M23’s political head, on charges of “high treason”, Uganda’s Minister of Defence Crispus Kiyonga, the chief facilitator of the talks, said he was waiting for details. The talks have been going on for the past 12 weeks.

Rugero’s dismissal late last month followed days of armed clashes between rival factions aligned to Sultani Makenga, the rebels’ military head, and Bishop Runiga, who is alleged to have been working on behalf of Bosco Ntaganda.

The International Criminal Court has indicted Ntaganda, whose nickname is "the Terminator", on seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity.

The US has offered a 3.8 million euros reward for whoever arrests him or provides information leading to his arrest.

In Egypt, the Cairo-based Independent reports that President Mohamed Morsi has refused to challenge the court ruling delaying parliamentary elections.

The Cairo Administrative Court said the electoral law promulgated by the president needed to be reviewed by the Supreme Constitutional Court. Elections for the People's Assembly were due to take place in four stages over two months, starting on 22 April.

The Independent says the court decision has been broadly welcomed in opposition circles.

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