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African press review 16 January 2015


The Burundi Supreme Court sentences four former army and police chiefs to life imprisonment for their part in last year's failed coup. Health officials say residual ebola cases are to be expected in west Africa, even if the epidemic is over. And Kenya suffers heavy losses fighting al-Shebab militia.


A court in Burundi yesterday sentenced four former generals to life in prison for their part in last year's failed coup, with nine others jailed for 30 years for their role in the unrest, regional paper The East African tells us.

Bujumbura descended into bloodshed last April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a controversial third term, leading to the failed coup in May.

Coup leader Godefroid Nyombare is on the run. Those sentenced at the Supreme Court yesterday included four of his deputies.

Among them are three former army generals, including the former defence minister, and one police general.

They were found guilty of the three counts of launching an attempted coup, killing soldiers, police and civilians and the malicious destruction of buildings.

Nine officers, from both the army and police, were sentenced to 30 years in prison for cooperation with the coup leaders.

Dossier: Ebola outbreak 2014

The East African also looks into this week's setback in the fight against the Ebola virus.

Health officials confirmed a new death from the virus just a day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an end to the outbreak in west Africa.

The regional paper points out that, in giving the all-clear, the WHO warned that “flare-ups” were to be expected.

Liberia was the first country to be declared Ebola-free in May last year but the virus has resurfaced twice since then, with the latest case confirmed in November.

To date 10 such flare-ups have been identified in the region that were not part of the initial outbreak and are believed to be the result of the virus persisting in survivors even after recovery.

In Nairobi The Daily Nation reports that the Kenya Defence Forces yesterday deployed helicopter gunships and fighter jets in a massive counter-offensive against al-Shebab fighters after the terror group attacked an army camp in Somalia, killing an as yet unknown number of soldiers.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, saluted the Kenyan troops who were killed, saying they had died protecting Kenya from her enemies.

The President said Kenyan troops would remain in Somalia to sustain the offensive against al-Shebab until the terror group was defeated.

The Standard gives pride of place to the same tragic story, saying that Kenyan troops are feared to have suffered the highest number of casualties in Somalia during yesterday's battle.

The Nairobi-based paper says there have been conflicting reports on the death toll. While a Kenyan military statement made no reference to the number of dead, the BBC, quoting al-Shebab, put it at 60.

In South Africa, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is top of the front page of BusinessDay for the second morning in succession.

Yesterday the minister was confident that South Africa was not on the brink of recession.

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This morning he says the country faces difficult choices about how to manage its finances as commodity prices decline and negative sentiment toward emerging markets persists.

Gordhan will present the nation’s budget next month against a backdrop of weakening investor sentiment that saw the rand crash to a record low against the dollar this week.

Further down the same front page, we read that, as drought conditions continue, the estimated amount of maize that South Africa will need to import this year has risen to between  five million tonnes and six million tonnes, up from the earlier estimate of four million.

On Thursday the opposition Democratic Alliance called for the drought to be declared a national disaster. The Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, has already hinted that there would be more money for drought relief in the February budget.

The Daily Monitor in Kampala, which yesterday carried the news that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni would indeed take part in last night's televised debate between the eight candidates in the presidential race, this morning carries the blunt headline "Museveni shuns debate".

No explanation is offered. The man simply did not show up.

Opponent Kizza Besigye said Museveni’s absence was unfortunate since he has been in power for 30 years and has a lot to explain about why Uganda has failed to develop.


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