African press review 7 July 2011

No more colonial-style wigs and robes for judges in Kenya, and high marks for the number of female politicians in Rwanda, are just two of the topics which feature on the pages of some of Africa's newspapers today...

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The African Union must be given “political space” to deal with the instability in Libya, according to South African International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, quoted in this morning's Star.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

The International Criminal Court recently issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, a move which some commentators have seen as undermining AU efforts to end the country's civil war.

Nkoana-Mashabane yesterday told journalists that the AU is central to any solution in Libya and should not be sidelined or undermined in any way.

Nkoana-Mashabane reiterated South Africa's stance, already voiced at the United Nations Security Council, that a political, and not a military solution, was the only way out of the Libyan crisis.

The Minister said South Africa believed the UN should take the lead in peace efforts in Libya. She said the most important thing was to stop hostilities. Only then could the drafting of a constitution begin.

She also rejected all calls for Kadhafi to leave the country.

Meanwhile, our old friend Julius Malema yesterday called the United States “bloodthirsty imperialists” for their part in the bombing of Libya. The ANC Youth League president was speaking at a protest outside the US embassy in Pretoria.

The Daily Nation reports that police in Kenya will no longer be allowed to prosecute court cases. The move is intended to make the justice system more efficient.

Under the current arrangement, police officers from the rank of inspector have been prosecuting cases in the magistrates’ courts.

Yesterday, the Director of Public Prosecutions said only lawyers will be allowed to present cases in the lower courts. The DPP said police prosecutors were not effective as they were not well acquainted with the law.

However, as the Nation reminds readers, this is not the first time the government has made such an announcement.

In 2003 when the then National Rainbow Coalition came to power, the same promise was made, but nothing happened.

Lawyers are free to appear in the Supreme Court wearing studs or dreadlocks, says the new Kenyan Chief Justice, Willy Mutunga.

And judges will not wear “colonial wigs and robes”. Suggestions will be sought from the public on the style of a simple robe that could be worn over a suit.

In a further break with tradition, Mutunga made his dress code announcement on the social network site, Facebook.

In Uganda, The Daily Monitor reports that Forum for Democratic Change president, Dr Kizza Besigye, is gathering fresh support from the public to reactivate peaceful anti-government demonstrations seeking to bring about political reforms and address high inflation.

Speaking during a meeting with a delegation from Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Parliament yesterday, Dr Besigye asked donors to push for meaningful dialogue between the government and the opposition, to address what the opposition leader called the sham national elections last February.

The traders' strike in Kampala is set to continue today. City traders on Wednesday rejected a request by the government for a one-month period in which it promised to consider their grievances, as they began a strike that brought business to a standstill.

The Trade and Industry Minister, Ms Amelia Kyambadde, told traders who gathered at Nakivubo Stadium that the government would deal with their grievances, but the traders said they would continue with the strike today.

A number of factors, including a slow-down in business, inflation rates of 16 percent, and high fuel prices partly driven by spikes in the dollar exchange rate, have contributed to the frustration within the traders’ community culminating in the ongoing strike, according to The Daily Monitor.

And that's not the end of the bad news on the economic front. Ugandans should prepare to pay even higher prices for goods and services following an increase in the cost of fuel by petroleum companies.

Fuel dealers such as Total, Shell, Kobil and MoOil have increased prices of diesel and petroleum products by between 0.38 euros and 1.17 euros according to a mini-survey carried out by the Daily Monitor in Kampala yesterday.

Ivan Kyayonka, the country manager of Shell Uganda, attributed the surge in fuel prices to the rising value of the dollar and international oil prices.

The New Times in Kigali proudly announces that the UN Report on the Status of Women, released yesterday in New York, positions Rwanda as the country with the highest representation of women in politics and participation in the development of their country.

In Rwanda, 51 per cent of parliamentarians are women – the highest level of women’s representation in the world, the report points out.

According to the report, women parliamentarians have spearheaded legal reforms to improve women’s prosperity and inheritance rights as well as protecting women from domestic violence and marital rape.

Though the new report recognizes positive progress made in 139 countries in guaranteeing gender equality in national constitutions, it also shows that too often, women continue to experience injustice, violence and inequality in their homes and working lives.

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