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African press review 4 July 2013

Syria's Bashar al Assad's take on events in Egypt, South Africa's mining agreement and teachers in Kenya are the main topics today...


In Cairo, the Egypt Independent gives top spot to Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. He, as well as fighting a two-year uprising against four decades of rule by himself and his late father, takes a keen interest in international politics. In reaction to yesterday's sacking of Mohamed Morsi by the Egyptian army, old Bashar told the official Thawra newspaper that the upheaval in Egypt was a defeat for political Islam.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

The Syrian president says that whoever uses religion in politics or in favor of one group at the expense of another will fall anywhere in the world. "The summary of what is happening in Egypt is the collapse of what is called political Islam," says Assad.

Assad's late father, Hafez al-Assad, used the military to crush an armed insurgency against his rule led by the Muslim Brotherhood, killing many thousands in the conservative city of Hama, which became a centre of pro-democracy demonstrations when the uprising against the younger Assad erupted in March 2011.

The Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most powerful factions behind the mostly Sunni Muslim uprising against Assad.

Mining once again dominates the South African front pages, but maybe this morning's news offers a glimmer of hope for a crucial economic sector.

According to the main story in the Johannesburg-based financial paper, BusinessDay, most industry stakeholders on Wednesday committed themselves to an agreement that aims to bring stability to South Africa’s mines and restore investor confidence.

Despite broad optimism about the accord, the refusal by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union to sign up on Wednesday cast a shadow over the process.

The agreement is being seen as an acknowledgement by mining companies, unions and the government that something has gone badly wrong and needs fixing. The key issues identified include living and working conditions, migrant labour and the debt burden of most employees.

The teachers' strike is continuing in Kenya.

According to the Standard, public schools will remain closed for the eighth day today as Government talks with the main teachers’ union collapsed.

This also means that more than 278,000 teachers will remain without their June salaries following a government directive to withhold pay from all those on strike.

Several hours of talks between the Kenya National Union of Teachers and the government side yesterday failed to agree on a return-to-work formula that would have sent teachers back to class today.

Union officials walked out of the meeting last evening saying the State did not offer anything to make it worth calling off the strike.

The Labour Secretary said the talks were called off in compliance with a court order that told the union to call off the strike first before discussions could begin. But he failed to explain why the unions had been invited to the talks before they called off their industrial action.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

In a separate story, the Standard reports that members of the smaller Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers have started decamping to rival Kenya National Union of Teachers, claiming they have been betrayed.

The defections have been blamed on the smaller union's decision to abandon the nationwide strike called to demand better terms for teachers.

The Daily Nation says the Kenyan government on Wednesday gave a wide berth to the US independence celebrations at the American embassy in Nairobi.

At a function to which top government officials were invited, there was no president, no deputy, no cabinet secretary nor principal secretary to be seen.

The celebrations came just two days after President Barack Obama completed his Africa tour without setting foot in his father’s homeland of Kenya.

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