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African press review 13 December 2013

DRC papers declare the M23 rebel movement dead. Kenya celebrates 50 years of independence. And are South Africans suffering from delusions of grandeur?


Firstly, that top African story and the news that the M23 rebel group and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have struck a deal. These negotations have been going on for over a year and the Kinshasa daily Le Potentiel sounds a triumphant note with a headline  declaring that the deal signed in Nairobi is effectively the death certificate of the M23.

The article comes with a cartoon showing a skeleton with an M23 helmet signing the document, beads of sweat dripping off its brow. Le Potentiel gives credit to the Congolese army for the death of the M23 although the certificate was signed through diplomacy.

Le Potentiel is confident that the days of the M23 are over.

Kenya marked its 50th year since independence yesterday. The Daily Nation takes a look at the celebrations saying that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto were in a celebratory mood despite the early morning downpour. The main photo shows them clapping along as the ceremonies rolled out with their usual pagentry and pomp at the Safaricom Stadium.

The Nairobi daily remarks upon two aspects of the day.

Firstly, how Kenyatta's speech was orientated towards the African continent. The paper remarks that Kenyatta "without specifically mentioning the ICC cases that he and Mr Ruto are facing at The Hague, ... said that Africa had stood with Kenya and that his government would reciprocate the gesture".

This is a reference to the, International Criminal Court case looming over Kenyatta and Ruto; who are accused of war crimes in the wake of the 2008 elections. In terms of concrete measures he announced that African visitors would be able to obtain visas more easily, based on reciprocity, of course.

The second point of note was the lack of representatives of Western countries, which were instead represented by the miltary attachés from the embassies. Interesting dynamics!

An editorial in the Daily Nation caught my eye with the headline "Happy birthday Kenya, but we really need to change the way we do things". The piece takes the opportunity to look at projections for the country over the next 40 years in terms of population, foreign-born residents, child mortality, even the effect of precipitation on agriculture.

The newspaper points to a stark choice - "whether we want to live in an environmentally devastated, polluted and overpopulated but desperately poor country, or whether we want an organised, greener, richer future for our children". Their solution: forget trickle-down economics, stop stealing from the public and fix the nation's unhealthy politics. It may give the polticians pause for thought.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

Friday is the third day that former South African president Nelson Mandela's body is lying in state and thousands of people have been travelling to pay their respects. The Mail and Guardian sounds a note of caution in its editorial about South Africa's image of itself as this political giant passes on. In an editorial, Chris Roper examines " the lies Nelson Mandela taught us".

According to Roper, South Africans have an exaggerated sense of their own importance, thinking that they are somehow exceptional and that the rest of the world cares. He says that whilst these lies gave the nation the kick-start it needed, they have now run their course. He says that discarding these lies would be a homage to Mandela. South Africa instead needs to face up to its "distressing propensity for the three isms of the apocalypse – nepotism, despotism and cronyism". His solution is to tackle these issues head on.

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