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African press review 2 June 2016

DR

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye could not be presented in court yesterday to hear treason charges, because he's a security risk. Turkey's president says Europe made a mistake in cutting funding for African peacekeeping missions. And South Africa has done enough to avoid an immediate downgrade to junk status, according to its finance minister. Tomorrow we'll find out if the ratings agencies agree with him.

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Regional paper the East African gives the top of its front page to the news that the state failed to produce opposition leader Kizza Besigye in court yesterday.

The state argued that Besigye could not be presented to the court because of security concerns and requested that the hearing be conducted at the Luzira Maximum Security Prison where he is being held.

Besigye, who was the runner-up to Yoweri Museveni in the 18 February presidential election, had been scheduled to appear at the High Court in Nakawa to answer to treason charges arising from a video in which he allegedly appeared to swear himself into the office of the president.

The presidential candidate of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party has been in prison since 11 May, when he was arrested before the official swearing-in of President Yoweri Museveni.

Both Besigye and the FDC party dismissed the official results of the election, insisting they were the rightful winners of the poll.

Turkey criticises EU peacekeeping cuts in Africa

In Uganda itself the Daily Monitor gives pride of place to the visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Speaking yesterday in Kampala, Erdogan warned that the decision by the European Union to cut funding for African Union troops in Somalia was a mistake.

Last month the Ugandan army said it would review its operations in Somalia after the EU which announced it would cut funding for the mission by 20 percent.

The Turkish government has invested over 100 million euros in the rebuilding and reconstruction of Somalia.

South Africa safe from downgrade says Gordhan

The South African government has done enough to prevent the country’s credit rating from being downgraded to junk status by Standard and Poor’s and Fitch when the two international agencies publish their reviews tomorrow, according to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

This story is on the front page of the Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay.

Both agencies currently rate South African debt one level above noninvestment or junk status.

Twelve of 13 economists surveyed by business analysts Bloomberg in April said they expected Standard and Poor’s to lower the rating to noninvestment grade by the end of this year, with four expecting the downgrade to happen this week. That would put South Africa on a par with Turkey and Indonesia.

Yesterday Finance Minister Gordhan accepted that the country is facing difficulties, but he stressed that the three-year budget demonstrates the government’s commitment to fiscal discipline, adding that the authorities have implemented reforms to tackle energy shortages and other economic constraints.

Don't forget to put your name down . . .

And this is the final day for candidates to hand in their nominations for South Africa's local government elections, due in August.

BusinessDay reports the opposition Democratic Alliance as saying that no serious criminals need apply to run as councillors.

Party bosses said all DA candidates had to make a declaration about credit defaults, criminal history or anything that would embarrass the party if it were to be made public. If applicants are found to have made a dishonest declaration they will be removed from the list.

Discretion has been assured. According to the DA's federal executive chairman, James Selfe, someone who had committed a serious offence such as murder could not stand but the party was unlikely to disqualify an aspiring candidate who had served a sentence for a minor offence committed decades ago.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane challenged the ruling African National Congress to make its candidate list public so that the governing party’s supporters would know ahead of the local government elections who their mayors and councillors were likely to be.

Egypt to investigate "slaves and dogs" accusation

The "slaves and dogs" row has finally reached the front page of the Cairo-based daily Egypt Independent.

An Egyptian diplomat has been accused of "uncivilised, undiplomatic, irresponsible, degrading and insulting behavior" by a Kenyan colleague after the remarks allegedly made last week at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Kenya.

The comment comparing sub-Saharan Africans to "slaves and dogs" was allegedly made in Arabic during consultation on the lack of a quorum to pass resolutions affecting the Palestinian enclave in Gaza.

The Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has ordered an investigation into the incident.

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