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African press review 5 January 2015

Sudan springs a surprise by joining the diplomatic war between Saudi Arabi and Iran on the side of Riyad. Washington is on the brink of kicking South Africa out of the African Growth and Opportunity deal. And the South Sudan peace deal could be in jeopardy because another rebel faction wants to get on  board.


"Sudan cuts diplomatic relations with Iran." That's the main headline on the front page of regional paper The East African.

According to the report, the Sudanese ministry of foreign affairs said yesterday that it had severed relations with Iran to protest the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran following the execution of Shiite religious leader Nimr al-Nimr.

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

Sudan, once a close ally of Iran, has thus made its pro-Saudi stance extremely clear. The East African says Sudan dramatically reversed its once close relationship with Tehran, joining the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Shia-Muslim Houthi militias.

Tensions remain high across the Middle East following the weekend execution of al-Nimr and 46 others variously accused of terrorist and political crimes.

Washington is on the brink of striking South Africa out of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, after Pretoria missed the 31 December deadline to resolve a dispute on trade levies.

South Africa’s deadline to comply with a US trade agreement or risk losing export benefits was 4 January 2016.

The deal with Washington eliminates import levies on more than 7,000 products.

Total two-way trade between South Africa and the US was worth about 12 billion euros last year.

South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry is confident the dispute, which seems to be centred on animal health and food safety rules, will be resolved, allowing South Africa to retain duty-free access for farm exports.

Johnnesburg-based daily BusinessDay covers the same story under the headline "South Africa tries to avert trade own goal in extra time".

Dossier: Independence for South Sudan

According to Pretoria's special envoy, the negotiations are 95 per cent complete. He expects the outstanding issues to be finalised by the end of the week.

The East African also reports that a breakaway South Sudan rebel group wants to be included in the Compromise Peace Agreement signed last year by President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.

The group, the Federal Democratic Party/South Sudan Armed Forces, which split from Machar in July last year, yesterday sent a delegation of ten to Juba from Nairobi to launch what it calls South-South dialogue.

The new development could delay the implementation of the Compromise Peace Agreement.

Speaking in Nairobi yesterday, a spokesperson for the rebel faction said the agreement left out several armed groups and failed to address the root causes of the conflict.

The Federal Democratic Party/South Sudan Armed Forces want the killings of about 50,000 Nuer in Juba in December 2013, when the war broke out, to be investigated; they want the prosecution of 75 public officials accused of corruption by the government; and the restitution of money allegedly looted between 2006 and 2013.

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The Daily Monitor in Uganda says that some of the election promises being made by the current president and candidate for reelection, Yoweri Museveni, are identical to unfulfilled pledges made by the same Museveni during the last election campaign.

In November 2013 the parliamentary Government Assurances Committee, a team charged with chronicling and following up on political promises, produced a report showing that, since coming to power in 1986, Museveni has defaulted on no fewer than 817 pledges.

The Monitor claims that the president is picking from those unfulfilled promises as he attempts to get himself elected for a fifth time.

And the Cairo-based Egypt Independent reports that the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie and 13 other group leaders were granted retrial yesterday. They are charged with instigating the murder of nine opposition protesters outside the Brotherhood’s headquarters in 2013.

Four others in the same case have already had their death sentences annulled.

Clashes between supporters of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and opponents flared in late June 2013 against a background of mass protests calling for the ouster of group leader and former president Mohamed Morsi.

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