African press review 1 February 2016


Newly free of US and European Union sanctions, Iran is attempting to carve out a niche in the east African petrol industry. Three leading candidates in the Ugandan presidential race have called for an end to vote rigging. Ethiopia faces its worst drought in three decades, with 10 million people in danger. 


The main story in regional newspaper The East African reports that Iran is looking to revive a stalled crude oil deal with Kenya. The report says Iran is courting other east African countries to import its refined petroleum products, plans that could cause discomfort in the West even though economic sanctions against the Middle Eastern country were lifted two weeks ago.

The Iranian ambassador to Kenya is quoted as saying exporting oil would be the first step towards Iran becoming a major player in east Africa’s oil and gas industry where recent discoveries in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique have whetted the appetite of Western multinationals.

The Iranian embassy in Nairobi has been seeking meetings with key government ministries since the US and European sanctions were lifted on 16 January.

In Uganda there have been calls against vote rigging on the presidential campaign trail, but the eagerness of the three major candidates   incumbent Yoweri Museveni, Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi   to protect their own votes appears to be the key factor, according to a study published in the East African Journal of Peace and Human Rights.

Vote protection has been drummed up especially by Besigye, the candidate for the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), who claims that he has been defeated by rigging in each of the past three elections.

His insistence is backed by two rulings from the Supreme Court on election fraud, a number of election observer reports and, more recently, utterances by a high-ranking army official who was involved in the 2006 elections.

Fear of instability has increased in Zanzibar following a decision by the main opposition party, the Civic United Front (CUF), to boycott a rerun of last October’s annulled election.

The CUF unilaterally declared victory in the 2015 general election, before the Zanzibar Electoral Commission annulled the results over alleged irregularities. Local and international observers had deemed the polls free and fair.

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The Civic United Front claim the rerun is a contradiction of the Zanzibar Elections Act and the Zanzibar Constitution.

The party rejected the results of elections in Zanzibar in 2000 and 2005 on claims of rigging.

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) will not summon Rwanda to answer allegations that Kigali is supporting insurgents against President Pierre Nkurunziza in neighbouring Burundi.

Rwanda has frequently denied that it provides arms and support to groups seeking to destabilise the government in Bujumbura.

East African Legislative Assembly Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Committee chairman Abdullah Mwinyi says the regional parliament has no intention of summoning Rwanda.

On the front page of South African financial paper BusinessDay is news that Ethiopia is struggling with its worst drought for 30 years. Millions of people are in dire need of life-saving aid, according to a warning issued yesterday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

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At least 10 million people need food aid in Ethiopia, a figure the UN has warned could double within months, exposing one fifth of the Ethiopian population to hunger.

Floods and failed rains caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon have sparked a dramatic rise in the number of people going hungry in large parts of Africa, with Ethiopia of special concern.

In southern Africa, around 14 million people face going hungry after a prolonged drought destroyed harvests, with Malawi among the worst hit countries.

"President Uhuru leads African Union onslaught against ICC," i's the main headline in this morning's Nairobi-based Standard.

The report says President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday led African leaders in passing a resolution that could result in African countries withdrawing from the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In the latest assault on the court, and just weeks after the no-case-to-answer motion submitted by Deputy President William Ruto and his coaccused Joshua Arap Sang, the African Union (AU) at its summit meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, adopted a decision to develop a strategy for the mass withdrawal of African countries from the global institution.

Speaking before the adoption of the resolution Kenyatta said that, in the face of a global terrorist threat that is costing lives and great economic loss, in the midst of mediating multiple peace processes in our region, African leaders should not have to contend with an ICC pursuing weak and politicised cases. He said the Hague-based tribunal has become a huge distraction for those whose duty it is to serve the people of Africa.

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