African press review 19 April 2011

5 min

There's violence in Nigeria and Burkina Faso and tension in Uganda. An ANC youth leader faces trial for hate speech. And, surpise! surprise!, a Kenyan wins the Boston marathon.


It's hard to know where to start this morning, there's so much going on.

Post-election violence continues in northern Nigeria.

The army mutiny spreads in Burkina Faso, despite yesterday's reorganisation of the military by Blaise Campaoré.

There's tension in Uganda as well, as opposition leader Kizza Besigye gets himself arrested for the third time in two weeks.

Leaders of South Africa's governing ANC party are expected to testify in the hate speech trial of the party's youth leader, Julius Malelma.

And, on the sports pages, Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai wins the Boston Marathon in an unofficial world-best time of two hours, three minutes and two seconds.

Back home in Kenya, however, the news pages are dominated by food price increases.

The Daily Nation in Nairobi reports that the cost of maize meal has hit a new high, with a two-kilogramme packet going for between 86 and 133 Kenyan shillings [between 0.72 and 1.11 euro].

This indicates an average price increase of more than 30 shillings [0.25 euro] in the last three months.

According to the update, the maize crisis has been brought about by traders and farmers who are hoarding more than 20 million bags of the staple food, some produced with the benefit of public subsidies.

A glimpse of how the cases against the so-called Ocampo Six post-election violence suspects will be handled emerged on Monday during a session at the International Criminal Court to decide how the prosecutor will share evidence with the defence.

This is also covered in the Kenyan Daily Nation.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he will call a total of 20 witnesses.

He will also rely on 7,800 documents to build the cases against Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta, the Civil Service boss, the Postmaster-Genera, MPs William Ruto and Henry Kosgey, and radio presenter Joshua Sang.

Defence lawyers, on the other hand, said they will await the prosecutor’s evidence before deciding on the number of witnesses to call.

On the basis that you can't get enough of a good story, let me remind you that Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai yesterday ran the fastest marathon in history to win the 115th Boston Marathon men’s title on Monday, while compatriot Caroline Kilel took the women’s crown.

Mutai won in an official time of two hours, three minutes and two seconds to defeat countryman Moses Mosop by four seconds and beat the marathon world-record time of 2:03:59 run in 2008 in Berlin by Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia.

The new time won't count as a world record, simply because Boston is considered to be a downhill course.

The Guardian in Nigeria is dominated by election news and by the outbreaks of violence in Kano, Kaduna and Niger states.

The Lagos paper reports that business premises, private residences and places of worship have been attacked, leading to a number of deaths.

In Zaria, according to The Guardian, rampaging youths torched the family home of Vice-President Namadi Sambo.

At least 10 people are feared dead in Gombe State.

Amnesty International has appealed for calm in the seven northern states where violence erupted even before the final poll results were released.

A Johannesburg Regional Court in South Africa has been told that additional charges are being brought against former militant leader, Henry Okah, currently held in connection with an alleged terror attack in Abuja last year.

Okah, who was living in Johannesburg at the time, was arrested the day after the twin car bombing in Abuja last October, in which 12 people died and 36 were injured.

According to a report in The Guardian, the South African National Prosecuting Authority has obtained a certificate from the Nigerian Director of Public Prosecutions to file terrorism charges against Okah.

The front page of the Daily Monitor in Uganda carries a photo of a Red Cross worker running with a naked baby in his arms in Kasangati yesterday. The Red Cross volunteer is trying to get the baby out of the tear gas fired by security forces.

The Monitor says army and police units yesterday used tear gas, bullets and truncheons to break up protests against rising food and fuel prices around the country, leaving at least one person dead in Kampala, and bringing the death toll to four in three days.

Police said yesterday they arrested 104 people. Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change and Olara Otunnu of the Uganda Peoples Congress, were among opposition leaders charged with inciting violence and rioting.

They were later freed on bail. Democratic Party leader Norbert Mao was sent to Luzira prison until May 2 after he declined bail.

Several senior African National Congress figures were in the Equality Court on Monday to help defend ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema from a charge of hate speech.

Party secretary general Gwede Mantashe, the Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, poet and struggle veteran Mongane Wally Serote, ANC MP Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Deputy Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom sat through proceedings, which have entered their second week.

Mantashe, Chabane and Malema are expected to take the stand this week.

The Afrikaner group Afriforum took Malema to court, arguing that his singing of a struggle song containing the lyrics “shoot the boer” constitutes hate speech.

Back to sport finally, and the announcement in today's Daily Star in Johannesburg that Champions League quarter-finalists Tottenham Hotspur will visit South Africa in July for three fixtures against local crowd-pullers Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

Officials in Johannesburg said the London club, beaten five-nil on aggregate last week by Real Madrid, will face Chiefs on 16 July, Pirates three days later, and the winners of a play-off between the Soweto rivals in a 23 July tour finale.

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