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African press review 17 March 2015

The Egypt Independent reports that the Cairo Criminal Court on Monday refered Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and 13 others to the Grand Mufti, asking that religious figure to issue an opinion on sentencing the 14 accused to death.

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The defendants are accused of resisting the state and spreading chaos following the dispersal of supporters of deposed president, Mohamed Mursi, in August 2013.

The judge said there is evidence to prove that the people referred to the Mufti supplied the Muslim Brotherhood with "funds and weapons".

Consulting Egypt's Grand Mufti is a procedural step adopted in all cases which involve death sentences. The Mufti's rulings are not binding, yet it is customary for the court to adopt them.

The main story in the EgyptianDaily News reports that Hamas, the ruling authority in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, is attempting to establish better relations with the Egyptian government under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

The Egyptian authorities accuse Hamas and its armed resistance wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, of committing violent acts in Cairo and in Sinai.

In February, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters designated Hamas a “terrorist organisation”. That decision is current being appealed before the Supreme Court of Justice.

The General Court of the European Union removed Hamas from the EU's list of terror groups in December last year.

South African maths teachers are going to have to sit the same exams as their students, according to Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga. The story is in this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper, BusinessDay.

The minister says the testing of teachers will be implemented only after consultation with the relevant staff, and the participating teachers will be anonymous.

The results will be used for research purposes, and teachers who fail the tests are likely to continue teaching.

Educational quality studies have shown that teachers could not answer questions taken from tests that their students were expected to answer.

Only 38 per cent of South African grade 6 mathematics teachers tested could answer grade 6 questions correctly.

BusinessDay also reports that the agreement between Julius Malema and the South African Revenue Service collapsed, after the revenue collector applied to court for a final order against the politician.

The judge ruled that the matter be extended to 1 June, when lawyers for the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters are expected to oppose the revenue service application.

In February last year the court granted a provisional order against Malema. If a final order was to be granted, Malema would be ineligible to lead the Economic Freedom Fighters in Parliament.

In Uganda, the Daily Monitor reports that Government officials are unaware of claims that Kenya Airways declined a request to pick up President Museveni from western Uganda and fly him to Nairobi to attend a summit.

The Kenyan Standard on Monday published a story that Museveni had asked to be picked up from Mbarara and flown to the 16th ordinary summit of the East African Community Heads of State in Nairobi on 20 February, but Kenya Airways declined the request.

The report claimed that as a result, President Museveni ended up flying Ethiopian Airways.

Museveni allegedly registered his displeasure with his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, the report claimed, adding that a parliamentary inquiry had been set up.

A State House source confirmed to the Daily Monitor that Museveni arrived in Nairobi on an Ethiopian Airways flight, saying this was because the Ugandan presidential jet was being serviced. The source said he was unaware of where the president joined the Ethiopian Airways flight, or whether his choice was the result of Kenya Airways refusal to pick him up.

According to the Punch newspaper, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that Boko Haram insurgents have legitimate grievances.

Criticising the response of the current administration to the Boko Haram insurgency, Obasanjo highlighted the low level of education as a contributory factor.

He was speaking yesterday at an education conference in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

Obasanjo said there were problems of disparity and marginalisation in the nort-east, and that the current government had failed to deal with the security crisis firmly.

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