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African press review 10 March 2015

6 min

The wife of Côte d'Ivoire's former president Gbagbo is jailed, although you wouldn't guess it from the local press.  SA comes under pressure from a ratings agency. The ICC accuses Sudan of failing to cooperate. The Western Sahara conflict looks set to flare up again.


There's not a word in any paper in Côte d'Ivoire about this morning's court decision to imprison former first lady Simone Gbagbo for 20 years for "undermining state security" during post-election violence in 2010-2011. But that story is top of the front page of the Kenyan Daily Nation.

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The wife of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo was also accused of "disturbing public order" and "organising armed gangs" after her husband and his supporters rejected results of the December 2010 presidential elections showing rival Alassane Ouattara had won the contest.

The court "unanimously" condemned her to 20 years in jail.

The international ratings agency Standard & Poor's has given South Africa two years to fix its economy. In the meantime, according to the main story in this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay, the country's sovereign credit rating is unlikely to be downgraded. Standard & Poor's currently rates the South African economy as BBB-stable, just one notch above junk status.

The ratings agency said yesterday that South Africa needed to tackle anaemic economic growth, a large current-account deficit, high public-sector wages and the financing of improvements at electricity company Eskom and other state entities if the rating is to remain unchanged.

Also in BusinessDay, news that the International Criminal Court says Sudan failed to cooperate in the tribunal's war crimes investigation of President Omar al-Bashir. The UN-backed court plans to complain to the United Nations Security Council.

The ICC, which investigates war crimes and other violations of human rights, issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir in March 2009. He is suspected of crimes, including alleged genocide in the west-central province of Darfur, but rejects the court’s authority.

The ICC has no police force of its own and relies on member states to cooperate with its investigations. The international court has convicted two suspects since it was created in 2002.

On BusinessDay's opinion and analysis pages, a warning that one of the few remaining conflicts left over from the Cold War is in danger of heating up again.

There has been no fighting in the Western Sahara for 24 years, since a United Nations-monitored ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario Front, an anti-colonial resistance movement that continues to call for independence for the native Sahrawis. But there has been no peace, either, despite unfulfilled promises of a referendum to settle the status of the Western Sahara.

Today, as change and conflict encroach from the wider region, says the writer, the Sahrawis are once again agitating for a solution, warning of a resumption of war, as patience runs out.

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Patience Jonathan, the wife of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday told the presidential campaign organisation of the opposition All Progressives Congress that “she is a woman of peace".

She was reacting to the decision of the opposition party to report her to the International Criminal Court for allegedly asking supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party to stone anyone canvassing for the opposition during a weekend campaign rally in Calabar, Cross River State.

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