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African press review 21 October 2017

Ugandan opposition figure Kizza Besigye is back behind bars, accused of attempted murder. The government and opposition in Kenya have been drawing up battle lines ahead of Thursday's presidential election rerun. South African leader Jacob Zuma could, finally, face the hundreds of corruption charges dropped against him in 2009. And Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been named a "goodwill ambassador" by the World Health Organisation.


Ugandan opposition figure Kizza Besigye is back in police custody.

Under the headline "Besigye detained at Nagalama, denied police bond," the Kampala-based Daily Monitor reports that the former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate is currently detained at Nagalama police station in central Uganda following his arrest on Thursday.

Besigye was arrested along with other FDC party officials in connection with incidents in Rukungiri near the border with Rwanda where he allegedly commanded a group of people who threw stones at police officers as they tried to disperse FDC supporters who had gathered for a party rally.

The charges against Besigye include the attempted murder of police officers and unlawful assembly.

Kenya prepares for stormy run-in to election rerun

The battle lines in Kenya are clearly drawn as we count down to Thursday's presidential election rerun.

The main story in the Nairobi-based Daily Nation says President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday laid down the law in no uncertain terms, saying anyone who tries to disrupt the poll will be dealt with firmly.

And Raila Odinga of the opposition alliance, who has withdrawn from the race, was also categorical: there will be no election on Thursday. He has called for mass protests on the day.

Yesterday Odinga said he would be making a major declaration on Wednesday, promising to end the political impasse “in a way people won’t believe”.

The president repeated that his administration will not tolerate any interference.

Zuma given month to explain dropping of corruption charges

The legal net seems to be tightening around South African president Jacob Zuma.

According to the top story in this morning's BusinessDay, Zuma has just over a month left before he has to make representations to the National Prosecuting Authority explaining why he should not face corruption charges.

The authority yesterday gave the president until 30 November to make submissions before it decides whether to reinstate 783 fraud and corruption charges filed against Zuma before he became president.

The opposition Democratic Alliance has also been invited to make further representations by the end of November.

The prosecuting authority has also given the special police anti-corruption division 30 days to check the availability of 218 witnesses in the matter.

Last Friday the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling to reinstate the charges filed against Zuma and dropped without explanation in 2009.

Uproar as Mugabe named health ambassador by UN

The United Nations was harshly criticised yesterday after naming Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a "goodwill ambassador" to promote health causes, despite Zimbabwe's dire health crisis under his rule, regional paper the East African reports.

The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) asked Mugabe to serve in the role to help tackle non-communicable diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and asthma across Africa.

Mugabe, who is 93, was in Uruguay for the announcement by WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said he was "honoured to announce that President Mugabe has agreed to serve as a goodwill ambassador for Africa."

Tedros hailed Zimbabwe as "a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all".

Zimbabwe's healthcare system, like many of its public services, has collapsed under Mugabe's authoritarian regime, with most hospitals out of stock of essential medicines and supplies and nurses and doctors regularly left unpaid.

The appointment angered international rights campaigners and opposition parties, who accuse Mugabe of violent repression, election rigging and presiding over the country's economic ruin.

The Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition party in Zimbabwe, described the appointment as "laughable".

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