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African press review 17 July 2013

Kenya's government may lock out striking teachers. Miners and victims' widows pull out of SA's Marikana inquiry.  Nigeria's north pitches for the presidency. Uganda charges junior officers with coup-plotting. 

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The Kenyan teachers' strike continues to dominate the country's front pages.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

The Nairobi Standard reports that the government is considering the early closure of schools to face down striking teachers as turmoil in the education sector reaches boiling point.

The early closure emerged as one of the options authorities are debating in efforts to break the standoff with striking teachers affiliated to the Kenya National Union of Teachers. The strike, over unpaid allowances, is now in its fourth week.

State primary schools in Kenya are scheduled to close on 9 August, according to the second term calendar, but senior education officials are reportedly contemplating an earlier date should teachers dig in.

The authorities have threatened to fire teachers who defy the directive to resume duty but experts have questioned the government’s ability to replace the 278,000 teachers who are members of the union leading the strike.

Sister paper the Daily Nation reports that the teachers’ employer, the independent Teachers Service Commission, has started hiring out-of-work teaching staff to replace those who have refused to return to their schools.

Those interested in filling the positions have until Friday to register in their respective counties in readiness for interviews should the striking teachers be fired.

The Education Secretary Enos Oyaya gave the striking teachers until 8.00am yesterday to return to work but most teachers ignored the directive.

In South Africa, according to today's edition of BusinessDay, the Marikana inquiry hit another major snag on Tuesday, one day after mineworkers and their lawyers withdrew from the proceedings.

The commission was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to investigate events at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine in August last year that left 44 people dead and more than 270 injured.

On Tuesday the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the widows of the dead miners withdrew from the hearings. This follows similar action on Monday by the 270 miners who were arrested and injured during the disturbances.

The widows said they were acting in solidarity with the mineworkers, who are seeking funding from the government for their legal representation at the commission. The miners have asked the court to order the government to provide them with legal aid on the same basis as that provided to state parties.

The Nigerian daily paper Punch gives top honours to a report that six northern organisations, including the Arewa Consultative Group and the Northern Elders’ Forum, on Tuesday insisted that the nation’s president in 2015 must come from the north.

At a news conference held in Kaduna that group insisted that the existing agreement that the presidency should alternate between north and south must be strictly followed.

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They warned that, if parties to the pact failed to adhere to it, the north would use its numerical strength to ensure victory in 2015.

The main story in Uganda's Daily Monitor reports that six soldiers, among them two junior officers of the elite Special Forces Command, have been arrested and charged with plotting to overthrow the government.

That's an offence that attracts a death sentence on conviction.

The other suspects are four men who worked in various capacities in the Office of the Coordinator of Intelligence Services headed by General David Sejusa, currently on the run and living in London.

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