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African press review 29 July 2016

The struggle for control of the opposition continues in South Sudan, with Riek Machar saying he's still the man. A judge has fled the DRC after revealing that she was put under pressure to sentence opposition figure Moise Katumbi. And Zimbabwe's war veterans have had enough of President Mugabe.

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Juba is back at the top of the front page of regional newspaper the East African . . .

Earlier this week, the United Nations warned that the decision to sack vice president Riek Machar was a violation of the South Sudan peace agreement.

Yesterday, South Sudan's Information minister Samuel Makuei criticised the UN, saying the nomination of Taban Gai Deng to replace Machar was the business of the opposition and not the government.

The United Nations maintains that the decision to sack Machar was a violation of the peace agreement.

What the peace agreement actually says . . .

The peace agreement says that in the event that the post of the First Vice-President falls vacant during the transition period, for any reason, the replacement shall be nominated by the top leadership body of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition.

Machar was appointed to the post in April after nearly two years of fighting between his supporters and President Salva Kiir’s forces.

Riek Machar fled Juba again on July 11 following the latest flare up between the rival forces.

On Monday evening, President Kiir’s office said the decision to replace him had been made within the law because Machar had deserted his post.

Machar says his replacement is "illegal"

According to the front page of this morning's Sudan Tribune, Riek Machar says his replacement by Taban Deng Gai, is “illegal”. He reaffirmed his call for a third party force to be deployed in the national capital, Juba.

Machar also insists that he is still the First Vice President under the terms of the peace agreement and is awaiting the deployment of a peace-keeping force in Juba which will allow him to return safely to his office.

Machar says the right to nominate his successor falls to him as leader of the opposition.

Judge in Katumbi trial put under pressure

A senior judge in the DRC has said she was pressured into sentencing opposition figure Moise Katumbi by Congolese authorities seeking to thwart his presidential ambitions.

Katumbi, seen as the leading challenger to President Joseph Kabila in elections due later this year, was last month found guilty in absentia of fraud in a real estate deal and sentenced to three years in jail.

The ruling was handed down by a three-judge tribunal but in a letter seen by the French news agency AFP, the presiding judge said officials had harassed her into signing the verdict and even threatened her with arrest if she did not comply.

The judge said the goal of the pressure was to ensure that Katumbi would be ineligible to take part in the upcoming presidential polls, for which a date has yet to be set.

War veterans get tired of Zimbabwe's veteran president

Zimbabwe makes the front page of South African paper BusinessDay for the second day running . . .

According to the report, police have arrested a leader of Zimbabwe’s War Veterans’ Association after the association accused President Robert Mugabe of "dictatorial" behaviour in a shock rupture with the long-serving leader, lawyers said on Thursday.

Veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war, who had previously been loyal Mugabe supporters, issued a statement bitterly denouncing the ninety-two-year-old president, who faces growing signs of opposition.

Douglas Mahiya, spokesman for the association, was arrested late on Wednesday in Harare, according to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

The charges against him include subverting a constitutional government and insulting the office of the president.

Recent demonstrations, the largest in several years in Zimbabwe, have been triggered by an economic crisis that has left banks short of cash and the government struggling to pay its workers.

In a sharp change of stance, the liberation war fighters last week vowed not to support Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, if he seeks re-election in 2018.

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