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African press review 9 May 2014

Pledges of assistance from four big powers to secure the release of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram and early returns in the South African election are the big subjects in today's African press.


"Northern governors hail foreign intervention" headlines Nigeria's very influential Punch newspaper.

It reports that leaders of the predominantly Muslim region welcomed the offer of foreign military assistance during a reception at the Abuja residence of the Nigeria director of the US Agency for International Development.

Vanguard highlights a strongly-worded condemnation of Boko Haram by former Nigerian military leader, retired general Muhammadu Buhari, who has been accused by the government of more or less abetting the Islamic insurgency. According to the paper, Buhari urged Nigerians to put aside politics and all other divisions to crush the insurgency, which he said is fanned by mindless bigots masquerading as Muslims

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

Vanguard is also reporting that Cameroon’s government has denied harbouring the girls amid rumours that Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau had gone ahead and auctioned the girls as sex slaves at market places on Nigeria’s borders with Cameroon and Chad - for nine euros each, according to some sources.

The Sun and the Nigerian Tribune lend credence to claims by an ex-Boko Haram negotiator that the girls are probably not going to be sold. Shehu Sani told the newspapers that Abubakar Shekau is more likely to use the girls as a bargaining chip to secure the release of Boko Haram members captured by the joint military taskforce.

Meanwhile the Nation acknowledges Michele Obama’s emergence as the latest high-profile celebrity to join the cry for the rescue of the kidnapped schoolgirls. The paper reports that a fortnight after #BringBackOurGirls first appeared on Twitter; followers in cities as far apart as Abuja, Washington, Los Angeles, Dublin and London, demonstrators have put on red T-shirts to draw attention to the girls’ plight, demand their release and to vent a deepening sense of anger.

Further protests are due to be held over the next few days in the UK, the US, South Africa, Jamaica and Switzerland, according to the Nation.

This Day has been following a new twist in the insurgency, the bombing by Boko Haram of a bridge linking Nigeria to Cameroon, which left 30 people killed on Thursday. The bridge links the immigration checkpoints of both Cameroon and Nigeria.

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Punch says the bridge was situated on the outskirts of Gamboru Ngala, a village where over 300 people were killed by suspected Boko Haram members on Monday. Local sources told the Sahara Reporters newspaper that the bombing took place while religious leaders and scores of villagers held a mass burial for relatives massacred in the commercial town.

In South Africa the eyes of the press are glued on the returns of the 7 May general election,  with the ruling ANC party for reelection with a solid 61 per cent lead with 94 per cent of the votes counted. The main opposition Democratic Alliance is at 23 while Julius Malema’s Freedom Fighter are third with almost six per cent, Julius Malema securing his seat in parliament, the South African public broadcaster SABC projecting 20 more for his new party, according to the Sowetan.

City Press focuses on the disastrous showing of the Congress of the People (Cope), whose leader Mosioua Lekota promised to eat his hat if his party got less than the seven per cent it got in the 2009 general election. Cope is at the bottom of the table with 0.67 per cent, .the paper blaming the setback on internal squabbles which have crippled the party since it was formed, leading some of its high-profile members to return to the ANC in the past few weeks.

The Mail and Guardian is monitoring widespread concerns about the slow pace of the vote-counting process in Gauteng, where the ANC faces its biggest threat. This is while the other provinces were racing towards the finish line with well over 90 per cent of their votes counted by 4.00am Friday morning, according to the Johannesburg-based newspaper.

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