African press review 25 May 2015

Burundi, Nigeria and South Sudan are all making headlines this morning. South Africa is suffering from a shortage of medicines, including antiretrovirals, in state-run hospitals and clinics. And a former Kenyan prime minister says the current government is telling lies about the war against corruption.

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Nigeria’s biggest mobile phone operator MTN has warned that its network faces shutdown due to fuel shortages that have crippled the nation.

The company, the biggest subsidiary of the South Africa-based MTN Group, said it needed a significant quantity of diesel in the very near future to prevent a shutdown of services across Nigeria. The fuel is needed to power the generators which keep the relay stations and the rest of the phone network running.

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

The country has been increasingly hit by fuel shortages in recent weeks because of a long-running row over subsidy payments. Importers are afraid that the incoming government will do away with the subsidy which keeps the pump price of Nigerian fuel artificially low, with Abuja compensating the producers.

Virgin Atlantic flights from Lagos to London Heathrow have diverted to Ghana’s capital Accra, while Air France services from Paris are now avoiding Nigerian airports and landing in Dakar, Senegal.

The African Union has demanded the imposition of sanctions and an arms embargo on South Sudan’s warring leaders. This in an effort to stem an escalation in the country’s 17-month civil conflict.

President Salva Kiir and rival Riek Machar have come in for fierce international criticism for failing to end a civil war that has been seen accusations of gross human rights abuses.

The United Nations Security Council has repeatedly threatened sanctions.

Two-and-a-half-million South Sudanese are facing severe food insecurity, according to the UN.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Burundi’s government and its opponents not to let violence derail UN-sponsored talks. This follows the weekend killing of an opposition leader and a threat by some opponents of the current president that they would walk out of talks.

Dossier: Independence for South Sudan

Ban condemned the killing by unidentified gunmen late on Saturday of Zedi Feruzi, the head of the UPD party, which has opposed President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term.

Nkurunziza’s decision to run again has sparked the worst crisis in Burundi since the end of the civil war in 2005.

Drugs and drink make the front page of South African financial paper, BusinessDay.

Strictly speaking, the drugs are medicines and the problem is that state hospitals and clinics are reported to be suffering severe shortages of essential drugs, including antiretrovirals.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi cut short his trip to the World Health Organisation in Geneva to deal with the crisis. The minister has shifted the blame for the shortages to suppliers.

Public hospitals and clinics are reported to be short of antibiotics‚ tuberculosis medicine‚ antipsychotics and drugs for high blood pressure‚ anxiety and depression.

South Africa may raise the drinking age and hold beverage companies liable for unlicensed trade in their products, a step intended to reduce the cost and impact of alcohol abuse.

The government proposes increasing the minimum age for consuming alcohol to 21 from the current 18 years.

A third of all hospital admissions in South Africa are related to alcohol, and birth defects linked to drink are 141 times higher than in the United States, according to a government report. The World Health Organisation estimates the cost of harmful use of alcohol in South Africa may exceed 10 per cent of gross domestic product.

In Kenya, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has accused President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee government of not doing enough to fight corruption.

That's the main story in this morning's Nairobi-based Standard.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

Raila accused the government of paying lip service to reform even as the country reeled from corruption, ethnicity and insecurity.

The former PM said despite Kenyatta's 60-day directive to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to conclude investigations into corruption, graft goes on in the public sector unabated.

Uhuru's 60-day ultimatum ends today yet not one of the "big fish" on the EACC list has been charged.

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