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African press review 6 November 2013

DRC's M23 are believed to have ended their rebellion. SA wine expects another goor year in 2014 after this year"s bumber crop. Jonathan visits Gambia. Development money is heading the Sahel's way. NGOs join the opposition to Kenya's media laws. 


The Pretoria summit on the situation in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has ended with at least a diplomatic victory, according to South African financial paper, BusinessDay.

The Johannesburg-based daily reports that, following a run of military defeats, M23 rebels effectively threw in the towel on Tuesday.

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However, lasting peace will require UN-backed government troops to ensure Rwanda’s cooperation by swiftly neutralising other armed groups terrorising civilians in the mineral-rich region.

According to a statement released yesterday from M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa, the commanders of all major units are requested to prepare troops for disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration on terms to be agreed with the government of Congo.

The wording was less than had been demanded by leaders at the Pretoria summit   namely a formal declaration of the end of the 20-month rebellion. But delegates in Pretoria are said to be treating the statement as a decisive breakthrough.

Russell Feingold, US special envoy to the Congo and the Great Lakes region, described the Pretoria outcome as "a significant positive step in the right direction."

The next stage will be for the Congolese government to announce the full cessation of hostilities and a plan for political negotiations with the rebels.

Also in BusinessDay, news that the South African wine industry can expect a good harvest next year, though smaller than this year’s record levels, according to a preliminary report for the wine season, which stretches from November to the end of April.

Following the bumper 2013 harvest, five per cent up on the previous record set in 2008, South Africa exported 469 million litres of wine, most of it to Europe.

The Point in Gambia reports that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will arrive in Banjul this morning for a two-day state visit.

It will be Jonathan's first official visit to Banjul since assuming office as president of Nigeria in 2010.

The Nigerian leader is expected to discuss cooperation between the two countries with his Gambian counterpart President Yahya Jammeh.

Several west African papers report that world leaders appear to have woken up to the need to invest development money in the sub-Saharan Sahel region.

According tothe Point, published in Gambia, two international development agencies have announced major financial pledges. The World Bank Group is to invest nearly 1.5 billion euros in the region over the next two years, in addition to significant country programs; and the European Union will spend five billion euros in six countries in the region over the next seven years.

The World Bank Group’s pledges for the next two years will support major regional development priorities such as social safety nets to help families weather the worst effects of economic adversity and natural disasters, improve infrastructure and create opportunities in rural areas.

The European Union’s support to Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Chad will aim to help those countries tackle the problems of security and stability, development and resilience.

In Kenya the Standard reports that civil society organisations have joined the wave of opposition against proposed media laws, warning that the draconian legislation also targets non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The Kenya Information and Communication Amendment Bill 2013 seeks to introduce a fresh regulatory framework and impose a firmer government grip on media operations through hefty fines targeting individual journalists and media houses.

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Opponents have described the bill as an attempt to muzzle freedom of expression in Kenya and as a threat to reverse the democratic gains made from the mid-1980s.

According to the Standard, the bill not only proposes laws gagging the media but also targets NGOs with legislation limiting their operations and sources of funding.

In the same paper news that a Kenyan al-Shebab member, who is said to have been the key organiser of the 21 September Westgate shopping centre attack which left 67 people dead, is now on the list of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

The suspect, Mohamed Abdikadir Mohamed also known as Ikrima, a native of Mombasa, is now regarded as one of the most dangerous al-Shebab commanders. He is said to be in the central command of a terror web that connects operatives in Kenya, Yemen and Somalia.

US officials have confirmed that Ikrima was the target of a failed US Navy Seal Team Six raid near the town of Baraawe in early October.


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