African press review 6 April 2011

6 min

The eyes of the continent are turned on Côte d'Ivoire but there are also reports of Nigerian parliamentary polls being put off, Darfur rebels walking out of peace talks, South Africa deciding to teach African languages and Kenya assessing with violence in 2008 and during its struggle for independence.

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Côte d'Ivoire is the main story this morning in South Africa.

The Johannesburg Star gives pride of place to Laurent Gbagbo's denial that he is trying to negotiate a surrender deal.

According to the man who is widely judged to have lost last November's Ivorian presidential election to Alassane Ouattara, the army has called for the suspension of hostilities and it is currently discussing the conditions of a ceasefire with the other forces on the ground, but on a political level no decision has yet been taken.

The Star quotes Gbagbo as saying discussions over who won last year's elections were continuing. He said face-to-face talks with rival presidential claimant Ouattara, who has been recognised as the winner by the African Union and by France, was the only way to return Côte d'Ivoire to peace.

Darfur's most powerful rebel group has suspended meetings with Sudan's government at peace talks in Qatar, in protest at Khartoum's plan to hold a referendum in the wartorn region. This story is also in today's Star.

The Justice and Equality Movement left the talks in protest over the government's decision to hold a referendum on the administrative make-up of Darfur, according to the group's chief negotiator Ahmed Tugod Lissan.

He accused Khartoum of taking the decision without consultation.

Every university student in South Africa could be required to learn one African language as a condition for graduation, the Republic's Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, said on Tuesday.

According to The Star in Johannesburg, an advisory panel had been tasked with looking into the issue, Nzimande said in Pretoria at the launch of the teacher education and development plan intended to cover the next 15 years. Nzimande made his statement to the press in isiZulu.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has backed the chairman of the country's Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, saying Jega had been left with no option but to postpone general elections after voting materials failed to arrive on time.

Nigeria decided to abandon parliamentary polls on Saturday after results sheets failed to arrive in many parts of the country, sparking fury among voters who had been promised a break with a history of flawed and violent polls.

Jega said he had been let down by suppliers who blamed shipping problems caused by the tsunami in Japan for failing to get ballot papers to Nigeria on time. But some saw a conspiracy to deprive them of a free vote.

An electoral official in the northern city of Zaria was beaten up after announcing the postponement, while voters in the southern commercial hub, Lagos, remonstrated with police over what would happen to the ballots already cast.

The Herald in Zimbabwe reports that the strike by magistrates entered its second day yesterday. The Judicial Service Commission and the Magistrates Association of Zimbabwe met but failed to break the deadlock over the salary impasse.

Magistrates countrywide went on strike on Monday protesting over poor salaries and working conditions. The judicial officers are demanding minimum salaries of between 700 and 2,300 euros depending on seniority. After a meeting, which lasted four hours, the parties issued a joint statement saying negotiations would continue until a solution is found.

The Zimbabwe police have approved 94 per cent of proposed political gatherings by the Tsvangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change this year, contrary to claims by the party that they were being denied permission to conduct meetings. This according to a story in today's edition of the government-owned Herald.

A report by the Police Commissioner-General reveals that the MDC-T has been allowed to conduct 644 out of 682 political meetings countrywide.

The report was compiled following a special cabinet meeting last month in which MDC-T leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, claimed that the police were barring his party from holding meetings and rallies.

According to The Daily Nation in Kenya, an opinion poll shows that most Kenyans believe the International Criminal Court offers the best chance for justice for the so-called Ocampo Six.

The six, including deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyata, two cabinet ministers and the head of Kenya's Public Service, are accused of being the masterminds of post-election violence in 2008. One thousand, one hundred and thirteen people lost their lives in the aftermath of the disputed vote.

A poll in today's Nation shows 61 per cent of Kenyans believe the ICC is the best place to try the suspects.

The Nairobi newspaper also reports the discovery of a vast cache of documents relating to the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya.

The papers, documenting efforts to put down the insurgency, were spirited out of Kenya on the eve of independence and have been held in secret British government archives for half a century.

The files were unearthed earlier this year after four elderly Kenyans sued the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, claiming they were tortured during the rebellion against British rule in Kenya between 1952 and 1960.

Their case opens in the High Court in London on Thursday.

The Uganda Daily Monitor in Kampala tells us that cabinet will today meet to discuss the creation of six new ministerial portfolios. President Museveni had appointed current Presidency Minister Dr Beatrice Wabudeya, to the position of Minister for the Capital City.

Six other new positions will be included in President Museveni’s next cabinet, due to begin work in May.

They will include a ministry in charge of Kampala Affairs, a ministry in charge of Teso Affairs, a ministry in charge of Bunyoro Affairs, a ministry for Petroleum and Gas, a Tourism Ministry separate from the Trade and Industry ministry, and a Constitutional Affairs Ministry independent of the Justice Ministry.

The Kampala daily also reports that the American government did not attack Libya because of any covert interest in its oil wealth, a US government spokesperson said yesterday.

Responding directly for the first time to Museveni’s criticism of the decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, the acting Deputy Spokesperson in the US Department of State, Mark Toner, said his government and the international community acted only to avert a humanitarian crisis.

On the situation in Côte d'Ivoire, where Museveni criticised the UN position simplistic, Toner said the regional body, Ecowas, and the African Union had taken the lead in ensuring that the wish that the Ivorian people expressed in the presidential election is respected. The US official said he believed that in both crises, the Americans were working in line with appropriate international channels to achieve the democratic aspirations of the people in both countries.

The Rwandan New Times in Kigali reports from yesterday's meeting of the East Africa Legislative Assembly. Burundian President, Pierre Nkurunziza, addressed the regional legislators in his capacity as chairperson of the East African Community Heads of State Summit. The Burundian president said that transport infrastructure and the development of energy sources are crucial to enable true regional integration.

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