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African press review 17 November 2014

For once, the main story in the Nigerian Guardian is NOT about Boko Haram extremists. The Guardian is worried about the national economy.

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Under the headline "Government unveils austerity measures," we learn that the global drop in the price of crude oil has forced the Abuja government to take action to cushion the impact on the economy.

Official travel and state spending are to be drastically cut. The Nigerian budget for next year was based on a crude oil price of 78 dollars a barrel; the current market price is less than 73 dollars.

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

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet in Vienna on Thursday, where it is expected to discuss its oil production policy within the prevailing circumstances.

The Guardian does, of course, report the news that the Nigerian army claims to have re-taken the town of Chibok from Boko Haram extremists.

The paper remains unclear about the death toll and circumstances following the bomb blast yesterday in Azare in Bauchi State, suggesting that as many as twenty people may have lost their lives. One local interviewed by the paper said that, because members of the Joint Health Sector Unions are on nationwide strike, many who could have been saved died in the Federal Medical Centre.

Punch reports that the third six-month period of emergency rule imposed in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in an effort to combat Boko Haram, expires on Thursday.

In Burkina Faso, daily paper Le Pays salutes yesterday's signing of the transitional charter, the document intended to guide the country to next year's elections.

Dossier: Ebola outbreak 2014

Le Pays says the fact that it has taken just two weeks to establish a political framework in the wake of the popular up-rising that ousted long-time president, Blaise Compaoré, is proof that those who predicted a bloodbath if Compaoré was removed were wrong.

But, says Le Pays, yesterday's solemn agreement involving all the political, moral and civic actors in Burkinabé society is only a first step on the road to true democracy. It is now up to the people of Burkina Faso to ensure that their revolution is not usurped by corrupt and selfish individuals.

In Algeria, the independent paper Le Soir d'Algérie reports that the official black-out of information on the health of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika continues, 48 hours after the ailing leader's return from medical treatment in Franch.

Le Soir says Bouteflika's official diary for the week includes a Council of Ministers meeting, and a reception for the visiting Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Thursday.

The five-year battle by South African newspaper the Mail & Guardian to get public access to a report by South Africa’s judicial observers mission into the fairness of Zimbabwe’s 2002 general election ended last Friday with a revelation everyone expected: the elections were not free and fair because of the violence and intimidation that preceded them.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

Three successive South African presidents fought for the report by then Pretoria high court judge Dikgang Moseneke and Johannesburg high court judge Sisi Khampepe to remain secret. A constitutional court judgment last week resulted in the report being handed to the Mail & Guardian on Friday. The South African government refused to condemn the elections.

The Khampepe report differed from the official South African Observer Mission report on the election. That official report described the polls as "legitimate", based on the participation of the political opposition and the high voter turnout.

The poll was preceded by the violent occupation of white-owned farms by war veterans, co-ordinated and organised by the military. The occupations also involved the terrorising of rural communities and over a hundred killings of members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The editorial in South African financial paper BusinessDay is headlined "It's either Zuma or Democracy".

The paper says that the ruling African National Congress has been abusing the power that comes with its majority in Parliament for years, a state of affairs that has worsened during the Jacob Zuma presidency and accelerated since Baleka Mbete was made speaker of the National Assembly. Her bias in favour of the ANC has made a mockery of Parliament’s primary purpose which is to hold the executive to account.

Similarly, Mr Zuma’s reluctance to accept that submitting to questioning by the elected representatives of the South African people is an indispensable part of the checks and balances that govern our democracy, is deeply problematic.

The ANC’s decision to ignore opposition objections to its handling of the Nkandla issue, and especially its determination to use its majority in Parliament to adopt a report exonerating Zuma is, says BusinessDay, the final straw.

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