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African press review 6 December 2016

A smuggling racket is costing two east African governments millions of euros, and hundreds of jobs, every year. Kenya becomes the latest country to support Saharawi self-determination in the western Sahara. And former UN employees in the Sudanese province of Darfur say they have been cheated out of wages and pensions by the world body.


Governments in east Africa are losing millions of euros in unpaid taxes every year to a smuggling racket for animal hides and skins. That's the top story in regional paper the East African.

As a result, according to the daily, tanneries in Kenya and Tanzania are reducing their output and are being forced to lay off employees.

According to documents seen by the East African, rogue traders collude with customs officials, exporting hides and skins to China without paying duty.

The documents show that at least 65 containers leave the Port of Mombasa every month with hides and skins that are exported as damaged material.

The traders and customs officials also underdeclare the weight of containers.

Kenya says yes to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic

Kenya has become the latest country to support Saharawi self-determination.

Speaking on a visit to the western Sahara country, the Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said Nairobi supports the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic's quest for full self-determination and membership of the African Union.

Amina Mohamed is herself campaigning for the job of chairperson of the African Union Commission.

Morocco considers the Western Sahara as part of its territory and withdrew from the Organisation of African Unity in 1981 in protest at the admission of representatives of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Protestors claim UN cheated them on wages and pensions

The Sudan Tribune reports that dozens of former local staff of the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur protested yesterday in front of the mission’s premises in four state capitals in Darfur for non-payment of money owed to them since 2010.

The former employees claim they were dismissed and have had their financial and pension rights denied by the United Nations.

A spokesman for the protestors claimed the UN mission had not honoured its previous commitments, saying Unamid came to Darfur to protect human rights but it is now robbing and violating the human rights of its own former employees.

Chill between Cairo and Riyad continues

The main story in the Cairo-based Egypt Independent looks at the continuing diplomatic tension between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, saying that a meeting between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and possibly the United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Zayed, is expected to be held soon to discuss the crisis.

According to the Egypt Independent, elations between the two countries have been strained since Egypt voted in support of two UN Security Council proposals on Syria. Saudi Arabia subsequently suspended oil supplies to Cairo for three months, without stating clear reasons.

Saudi Arabia also suspended all agreements signed by President Sisi during King Salman's visit to Cairo last April.

Egypt favours a political resolution of the conflict in Syria and backs the supply of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.

Morsi can keep his medals for another few weeks

The Independent also reports the adjournment of the case before the Cairo Summary Proceedings Court in which the state is trying to withdraw all medals granted to former President Mohamed Morsi.

A prosecution lawyer claimed that Morsi had awarded himself most of the honours, adding that it is inappropriate that the ousted president should possess the medals, despite having been convicted of harming Egyptian interests and national security.

Among other honours, Morsi holds the Order of the Nile, meaning that he should be given a military funeral on his demise.

The case will be reopened on 26 December.

Gambia's new president not keen to leave the ICC

The Monitor in Uganda notes that Gambia may not quit the International Criminal Court after all.

Under former president Yahya Jammeh, defeated in last weekend's election, Gambia notified the United Nations that it was withdrawing from ICC, becoming the third African country along with South Africa and Burundi to give formal notice of a pullout.

Banjul's decision to pull out of the court struck a personal blow against the tribunal's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian lawyer and former justice minister.

But Gambia's president-elect Adama Barrow says he sees no need for the country to withdraw from the ICC. He says he hopes the country will return to the Commonwealth (which Gambia quit, claiming it is a neocolonial institution, in 2013) and be part of all international organisations.


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