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African press review 4 November 2014

What next for Burkina Faso, more extremist violence in Nigeria and journalists in Egypt worrying about press freedom - all in today's papers ..


In Burkina Faso, the front page of the daily paper, Le Pays, is dominated by the debate about transition.

The main story insists that there are plenty of competent civilians ready to fill the power vacuum left by last week's departure of President Blaise Compaoré. The problem, according to Le Pays, is to prevent the military from usurping a popular victory.

Separate stories in the same paper question the role of the army since the destitution of the president. Why has the high command felt obliged to take such a central place in the evolving situation? And who gave the authorisation to use live ammunition against protestors?

There is a growing popular demand, says Le Pays, to see an academic or church figure oversee Burkina Faso's transition. To replace Compaoré with a man in uniform would be like recovering from the plague, only to contract cholera, according to the Ouagadougou.daily.

The South African trade union Solidarity yesterday accused national electricity company Eskom of negligence with regard to the collapse of a coal storage silo at the Majuba power station in Mpumalanga last Saturday.

Solidarity claims that Eskom had been aware of worsening structural vibrations since January, and ignored evaluations showing deterioration in June and again just three weeks before the collapse.

No one was injured in Saturday's incident, but nationwide power cuts are likely tomorrow and Thursday as a result.

In Nigeria, a suicide bomber yesterday killed at least 23 people at a procession of Shiite Muslims in the northeastern state of Yobe.

Another person, allegedly carrying explosives that failed to detonate, was arrested.

In a separate incident overnight in central Kogi state, gunmen using explosives blew their way into a prison in the city of Lokoja, killing one person and freeing 144 inmates.

The state prison service refused to say how many of those freed were suspected members of Boko Haram.

In Egypt, the Cairo-based Independent reports that a former Muslim Brotherhood Member of Parliament has proposed dialogue between the Brotherhood and the Al-Sisi government which ousted it last year.

Saying that the initiative was a personal one, Ali Fatah al-Bab called on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to give priority to the interests of the country and save it from its current circumstances.

Imam Youssef, a leading figure at the Muslim Brotherhood-led National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, said the initiative was unacceptable and would fail because the government will reject any political reconciliation, fearing that the Islamists might return to politics through the next parliamentary elections.

Also in Egypt, news that more than 480 journalists have signed a petition condemning last month's meeting of national newspaper editors at which the editors declared their solidarity with the state in the face of terrorism.

The October meeting followed a terrorist attack that killed 31 Egyptian security personnel in Sinai. The editors agreed to stop criticising the security forces.

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

Many journalists see the pact as a form of gagging, describing the deal as a setback for press freedom. It added that the agreement with the authorities was a “voluntary renunciation of the freedom of opinion … and a submission to an authority that still wreaks havoc on freedoms and persecutes journalists through its security services and protégés in the profession.”

Egypt recently slipped one place in the Reporters Without Borders’ annual press freedom index, due to increasing harassment of journalists since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

In Kenya, the Standard reports that explosions rocked Kapedo in Baringo County overnight, as Kenya Defence Forces troops began an air and ground offensive to flush out bandits who killed 21 police officers in an ambush last Saturday.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had earlier given a 24-hour ultimatum for the surrender of the attackers and the return of weapons seized from the slain officers.

Over at the Daily Nation, the main story concerns the rebuke issued by the commander of US Navy's elite force to those soldiers who break the tradition of secrecy and humility by publishing memoirs and speaking to the media.

Days after the Fox News network announced it would broadcast a documentary with a commando who claims to have shot Osama bin Laden, Rear Admiral Brian Losey, the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, wrote to his troops denouncing anyone who seeks fame or fortune by revealing details of secret missions.

The programme is due to be broadcast on the 11th and 12th of this month.

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