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African press review 2 February 2016


South Sudan government troops stand accused of killing 50 people by stuffing them into a shipping container in baking heat. Former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete is the new African Union special envoy to Libya. And Nigeria and Angola are both feeling the pinch as oil prices stay low on world markets.


Regional newspaper The East African reports that the presidential palace in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, yesterday came under mortar attack.

Police said a child was killed and six others wounded in the shelling of Villa Somalia, the main government complex which includes the presidential palace.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

No group has claimed responsibility for the shelling but Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shebab extremists have carried out similar attacks in the past.

The same paper claims that South Sudan government troops killed 50 people by stuffing them into a shipping container in baking heat, this according to a report by ceasefire monitors on the latest atrocities in two years of war between supporters of President Salva Kiir and militia loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar.

Despite an August peace deal, fighting continues, and the conflict now involves multiple militia forces who pay little heed to paper peace deals, driven by local agendas or revenge attacks.

The report, by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, was submitted to the African Union (AU) summit and made public late on Sunday.

A UN panel of experts has said both Salva Kiir and Riek Machar should face sanctions for their role in the war.

Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission chief Festus Mogae, a former Botswana president appointed by regional bloc Igad, warned that efforts to force through a unity government had stalled after Kiir nearly tripled the number of regional states, undermining a fundamental pillar of the power-sharing deal.

The African Union has appointed former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete as its new special envoy to Libya.

Kikwete replaces Dileita Mohamed Dileita of Djibouti, who has occupied the post since 2014.

According to The East African, Kikwete's appointment gives a high profile to the AU's attempts to restore peace in the north African country that has been beset by violence since the ouster of long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Libya currently has two rival governments, one based in the eastern city of Tobruk, and another in the former capital Tripoli.

Policy uncertainty in South Africa was high in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a newly launched index reported in the Johannesburg-based financial paper, BusinessDay.

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The policy uncertainty index, compiled by the North West University School of Business and Governance, was recorded at 55.4 in the fourth quarter. A figure beyond 50 reflects greater policy uncertainty while a rating below 50 reflects less policy uncertainty.

High-scoring policy uncertainty makes private-sector companies invest less, which compromises economic growth and job creation.

The sacking of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in December, an interest-rate hike in November, negative assessments of South Africa’s economy by rating agencies in December and lacklustre growth in the global economy were among factors that contributed to policy uncertainty.

Also in BusinessDay, it appears that AU commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is bent on keeping everybody guessing until the last minute on the question of whether she will stay on in her position at the African Union, or come home to run for president.

When asked if she would put her name forward for a second four-year term at the helm of the continental body when nominations close in March or April, Dlamini-Zuma told journalists at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, to wait and see, adding that there is time to decide.

The Nigerian and Angolan governments’ decision to approach the World Bank and the African Development Bank for concessionary loans could lead to a devaluation of the two countries’ currencies.

Both nations, Africa’s biggest oil producers, desperately require support to help survive current low crude oil prices and strained public finances.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is seeking to spend its way out of an economic crisis triggered by a collapse in the price of oil.

Buhari has proposed boosting this year’s budget to a record 6.1-trillion naira (30 billion euros). Nigerian Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said last month the authorities would borrow about five billion euros in external debt from multilateral agencies and the Eurobond market to plug the budget gap.

Legislators in Nigeria’s parliament begin deliberations this week on the 2016 spending plan.

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