African press review 19 July 2011

The Libyan conflict, Somali refugees crossing into Kenya and the West's economic sanctions against Zimbabwe are some of the stories making headlines in Africa's press this Tuesday.

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The African Interpress news agency gives pride of place to Libya. IPS reports that fighters loyal to the anti-Kadhafi Transitional National Council may have made a key advance on Monday by gaining control of most of the eastern oil port city of Brega.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

But whether that achievement, combined with the diplomatic gains made by the TNC in recent days, will be enough to decisively break the protracted deadlock in the civil war, now entering its sixth month, remains doubtful, according to both officials and independent analysts.

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, who has been personally rallying forces loyal to him in cities in and around Tripoli, appears well- entrenched in the capital, even as rebel forces in the east and western mountains seem to be advancing for the moment.

Monday's advance on Brega came three days after the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama joined 27 other governments in offering official recognition of the TNC as "the legitimate governing authority for Libya".

Washington's decision to recognise the TNC paves the way for the transfer of some of the 22 billion euros in Libyan assets that the US administration froze at the end of February in protest against Kadhafi's violent anti-rebel crackdown.

The other main African story on the IPS site this morning is from northern Kenya. Under the headline "Millions Stare Death in the Face" the report looks at the tragedy of the Somali refugees arriving at the refugee camp in Dadaab, many of them after walking nine days in 50-degree Celsius heat, only to find that the camp is far from the haven they hoped it would be.

The local Turkana community is facing starvation, just like the refugees at Dadaab.

Yesterday, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga called on aid agencies to establish refugee camps inside Somalia, to stem the tide of refugees flooding south.

Odinga said the Somalis currently crossing into Kenya are fleeing hunger, not insecurity.

The Herald in Harare reports that the Zimbabwe Immigration Department has instructed officers manning all the northern border posts not to accept illegal immigrants and refugees seeking to enter into the country. The headline to the story specifically mentions Somali refugees.

Most refugees from the north pass through Zimbabwe on their way to South Africa without waiting for a process granting them refugee status.

The Herald also says that President Robert Mugabe will table the issue of the West's economic sanctions against Zimbabwe at the Southern African Development Community Summit to be held mid-next month in Angola.

The president will have the backing of the 2,2 million Zimbabweans who recently signed the National Anti-Sanctions Petition.

Zimbabweans countrywide signed the petition following the launch of the campaign in March that drew tens of thousands of people from all walks of life, among them academics, political, business and religious leaders.

Dossier: Independence for South Sudan

The Daily Nation in Nairobi also has a front-page story on Somali refugees. According to the Kenyan daily, South Sudan has barred people of Somali origin from entering its territory by road, creating a potential diplomatic and trade crisis with its neighbours.

On Monday, traders of Somali origin asked Juba to relax new regulations that bar them from entering the newest African state.

The traders who have been camping at Nadapal border point, the gateway to South Sudan, termed the new rules as punitive as they subjected them to heavy losses.

A senior Kenya Revenue Authority official said that the rules were introduced two weeks ago for security reasons.

The Daily Monitor in Uganda reports that at least 100 Uganda students in Tanzania and Egypt on government scholarships are starving without food and accommodation.

Presenting the matter to Parliament yesterday, shadow minister of education, Judith Franca Akello, told the House that of the suffering students, 67 are in Dar es Salaam, while 33 are held up in Egypt.

Ms Akello said that when the students contacted an official at the Ministry of Education asking for help, they were told they are no longer a priority.

Responding to the matter, Third Deputy Pime Minister Moses Ali blamed Ms Akello for waiting for Parliament to sit in order to present the matter. He promised to provide a response at an appropriate time. Which probably means the students will have to wait a while longer before they start eating regular hot dinners again.

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