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African press review 19 March 2013

More on the aftermath of Kenya's election and more changes in South Africa's ANC party - both big stories in today's African papers...

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According to regional paper the East African, confusion surrounds Kenyan government operations in the wake of a petition challenging the presidential election result.

One of the areas of contention is whether incumbent ministers, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga, should continue serving in the government until a new Cabinet is sworn in. Also in question is the extent to which president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta should exercise the powers of the president.

The fact that several ministers have been elected as senators, governors and Members of Parliament further complicates matters, as it is not clear which of their elected roles they should now assume.

Raila Odinga’s Coalition for Reform and Democracy moved to court last Saturday, to challenge the result declaring Uhuru Kenyatta the winner, in a case the Supreme Court is required by law to hear and dispose of in two weeks.

The East African reports that the Attorney-General has advised that the Prime Minister and other ministers should continue to hold office until the incoming president picks a new team.

The chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution argues that ministers should have relinquished their posts immediately after the 4 March elections.

The main story in the Nairobi-based Daily Nation reports that courts around Kenya have turned into battlefields for poll-losers and those dissatisfied with the way the electoral commission conducted the recent elections.

Apart from the Supreme Court challenge to the presidential result, no fewer than 10 petitions have been filed at the High Court in Nairobi, either by disgruntled voters or by defeated candidates seeking to have results declared invalid.

Botswana's Foreign minister, Phandu Skelemani, has denied reports that he apologised to Kenya for comments he made about that country's president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his International Criminal Court case.

Botswana online publication Mmegionline quoted the minister as saying: "I have nothing to apologise for."

Skelemani was last week reported as warning Kenyatta not to set foot in Botswana, should he refuse to cooperate with the ICC.

The Kenyan dailies also carry reports from Zimbabwe on the on-going struggle between the president and the prime minister.

According to the Daily Nation, Zimbabwe's Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, said on Monday the arrest of his aides is intimidation by political rivals in the run-up to general elections due later this year.

Four of Tsvangirai's aides were arrested on Sunday, in a raid on the prime minister's communications office in the capital, Harare.

The arrest of lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who was still in police custody on Monday, despite a judge ordering her release, has drawn the ire of rights groups across the globe.

Mtetwa, who has defended several rights activists, was arrested on Sunday morning as she sought to help Tsvangirai's aides during the raid on their offices.

Police said Mtetwa was detained for shouting at detectives.

A court ordered her release late on Sunday, but police defied that order.

According to the South African financial paper, BusinessDay, African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Monday promised more bold action from the party’s top brass, in the wake of the decision at the weekend to disband the ANC Youth League and Limpopo executives.

The action is seen as part of rebuilding the ANC, with the team elected at the ruling party congress in Mangaung last December starting work to curb the effects of factionalism and internal power struggles.

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National executive committee members are also wary about next year’s elections, expected to be the most difficult for the party so far. The polls will mark 20 years of democracy in a country where poverty and unemployment threaten to erode the benefits of freedom - and destroy the ANC’s electoral majority.

The party has identified public anger over poor service delivery as a possible threat to its future electoral performance.

A national executive meeting at the weekend nullified the youth league and Limpopo executives, in both cases citing factionalism.

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