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African press review 5 August 2013

Text by: Pierre Delrieu
6 min

South Africa's president congratulates Robert Mugabe for election win; fears the United States are pulling back from hunding down a militant group in Uganda; and an embarrasing diplomatic incident for Sudan's president, Omar al-Sashir.


The Zimbabwean Herald leads with South African President Jacob Zuma congratulating President Mugabe and his party - Zanu-PF - on their landslide victory in the country’s elections.


South Africa, Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner in Africa, is one of many African countries to hail the elections a success, reports the daily.

In a public statement issued yesterday, President Zuma described the election as a complete success, says the Herald, and asked that the result be respected as an expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people, while many Western countries expressed doubts on the results.

The United Nations, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and other observer groups in Africa have endorsed the elections while the United States, Britain and Australia   who were not invited to observe the elections  condemned them, the daily adds.

As a result, explains the Herald, this has effectively put the Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Western allies on one side, and Africa and Mugabe’s party Zanu-PF on the other side, each defending their own interests.

Fears are mounting in Uganda that the United States government could pull out of operations to crack down on the Lord’s Resistance Army, reports the Nairobi based Eastern African.

According to the daily, some US politicians are demanding that the US government stop its intervention against the LRA – listed by the US as a terrorist organisation – saying that they are committing valuable resources on a mission that yields no results.

Meetings held in the US Congress last month to “re-evaluate counter-LRA operations,” have analysts in Uganda worried, says the paper, as Ugandan authorities crucially need the US support in their fight against the rebels.

But anti-LRA pressure groups, led by the American NGO Invisible Children, are already working with insiders in Washington to keep up the momentum against the weakening terrorist group, adds the Eastern African.

And staying in Uganda, the national Daily Monitor reports on the disbanding of a department of the Ministry of Finance responsible for assigning electronic funds transfer numbers for salary payments.

The computer services unit primarily prepared payment files for pensioners, explains the paper, and awarded an electronic fund transfer number to every beneficiary, allowing them to receive payments from the Bank of Uganda.

But the Daily Monitor reports that Uganda Computer Services was closed following a police investigation, and the disclosure of an important pension scam that is said to have so far cost the Ugandan government an estimated 360 billion Ugandan shillings, or about 105 million euros.

According to the Finance ministry, employees at the Uganda Computer Services helped to create ghost pensioners and embezzled billions, says the paper.
Detectives found that thousands of pensioner’s names on the list simply didn’t exist, and investigations are still underway to find out where the money went.

The Sudan Tribune reports on a diplomatic incident this weekend as Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s plane was forced to turn around and return to Khartoum after Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authorities denied it access to its airspace.

The daily explains that President Bashir was headed to Iran’s capital Tehran to take part in President Hassan Rohani’s swearing-in ceremony.

President Bashir was on a chartered Saudi flight, says the paper, and had reportedly obtained prior clearance for the trip.

But, the Tribune writes, the plane had to circle inside Saudi airspace for an hour while negotiating approval with Saudi aviation authorities after it was refused access to Saudi airspace. It eventually had to turn around.

The move by Riyadh represents the most recent embarrassment to President Bashir, explains the daily.

The leader has seen his travel difficulties multiply following the issue of the two warrants by the International Criminal Court - in 2009 and 2010 - for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide over the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Khartoum announced it was still waiting for an official clarification from Riyadh and a presidential official in Khartoum, speaking to the paper, refused to speculate on the causes behind the Saudi move.


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