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African press review 2 February 2015


South Sudan takes the front-page honours in this morning's Kenyan Daily Nation.

Under the headline "South Sudan warring factions sign peace deal," we learn that South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and former vice-president, now rebel leader Riek Machar, earlier this morning signed a peace deal that immediately ends fighting between their rival factions.

Negotiations are due to resume later this month between the Dinka president and his Nuer rival, with a view to signing a comprehensive peace pact on 5 March.

An African Union report says African governments are losing billions of dollars every year to wealthy tax cheats.

The story makes the front page of this morning's South African financial paper, BusinessDay.

The report was produced by the AU high level panel on illicit financial flows, chaired by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, and it ranks Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa as the top three nations in terms of cumulative losses between 1970 and 2008. These ran to an estimated 72 billion euros.

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

Illicit financial flows involve the transfer of money earned through corruption, bribes, tax evasion, criminal activities and transactions involving contraband. They are growing at an average rate of 9.4 per cent a year, and account for 5.5 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product.

The report emphasises that illicit outflows rob African nations of money that could otherwise have been used to pay for health, education and infrastructure and reduce dependence on foreign aid.

Malian rebels fought pro-government militia in the northern village of Kano, near Timbuktu, on Saturday night, according to security sources.

Two years after a French military intervention to drive al Qaeda-linked Islamists from northern Mali, sporadic attacks by armed groups continue.

Fighting between pro-government militia and Tuareg-led groups seeking greater independance has intensified in recent weeks. At least nine people, mostly rebels, were killed last week in a suicide attack near the town of Tabankort.

The Nigerian press is dominated by reports that Boko Haram fighters yesterday launched a second attempt to take over the strategically crucial northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri.

After heavy fighting three kilometres south of the regional capital, troops backed by vigilantes repelled the Boko Haram attack, but the militants then began a separate assault to the east and gun battles were reported by eyewitnesses to be ongoing.

The Islamist rebels tried to capture Maiduguri just a week ago.

The same story is being reported in South Africa, where BusinessDay gives the same details, but adds the crucial information that the army has repelled the Boko Haram attack.

Dossier: War in Mali

The Lagos-based Guardian also says the attack has been repelled, crediting the 7th Division of the Nigerian army with the defeat of the islamists.

BusinessDay also says that, with violence plaguing much of northeastern Nigeria and Boko Haram controlling large swathes of territory, fears are rising over the prospect of organising polls on February 14.

The opposition All Progressives Congress, which claims to be gaining momentum in its campaign against President Goodluck Jonathan, has rejected a call by the national security adviser for the vote to be postponed.

Election officials have insisted the vote will go ahead on 14 February but conceded that polling will be impossible across much of the northeast. Foreign observers have said that they will not attempt to monitor the election in the region because of the violence.

The main story in the Kenyan Standard reports that former prime minister, now opposition leader, Raila Odinga, is willing to testify in defence of Deputy President William Ruto who is facing charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

Raila said yesterday that he would be happy to testify at the The Hague-based court where his former political ally is on trial for his alleged role in the violence which followed the 2007 elections.

Raila says he is ready to tell ICC judges that his party, the Orange Democratic Movement, never planned violence to harm any sections of the Kenyan community.

Prosecutors allege that Ruto and the ODM orchestrated violence against supporters of former president Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity.

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