African press review 13 February 2016


Rwanda is to relocate refugees from Burundi to other countries. Who will take them in is the big question. South Sudan's president Salva Kiir has given his reappointed deputy Riek Machar seven days to report for duty. And William Ruto's struggle with the International Criminal Court may soon be over.


Regional paper The East African has been looking into the background to the news, announced yesterday, that Rwanda is to relocate refugees from Burundi to other countries.

Kigali has recently been accused of meddling in the affairs of its troubled neighbour.

Last week UN experts told the Security Council that Rwanda has recruited and trained refugees from Burundi who wanted to remove Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza from power.

Burundi has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing rebels intent on overthrowing the government in Bujumbura. Kigali has denied the accusations.

Neighbouring nations already host thousands of Burundian refugees in overcrowded camps, with Tanzania hosting some 130,000. The Democratic Republic of Congo has over 18,000. Uganda, which borders Rwanda to the north, has 21,000.

There's also a report that the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic is repatriating three Burundian military officers on suspicion they committed human rights violations during political unrest in their home country, according to an internal United Nations' document.

"The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has raised serious concerns about alleged human rights violations committed by the officers during the violent demonstrations in Burundi," the document says.

Officials in Burundi, which contributes more than 1,200 soldiers and police to UN peacekeeping missions, did not respond to a request for comment on the repatriations.

The East African also notes that South Sudan President Salva Kiir has reappointed Riek Machar as vice-president as part of a peace deal aimed at ending more than two years of war.

The conflict erupted in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of plotting to overthrow him.

Thousands of people died and more than two million have been displaced in fighting.

Machar, who is not currently in South Sudan, has welcomed the move, saying he could return within three weeks if security arrangements are implemented.

"I'm eager to ensure that peace returns to the country, political stability is maintained, the permanent peace is respected - I'm confident we can do this," he said.

The Sudan Tribune reports that President Kiir has given Machar seven days from yesterday to report for duty in Juba.

The president said he was ready to form a transitional government as an urgent matter, adding that he had already consulted with the other parties to the peace agreement.

The South African government stuck to its position that it did not have a duty to arrest Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, in the Supreme Court of Appeal yesterday, maintaining that Bashir had immunity because he was a sitting head of state. This story appears in BusinessDay.

Last June Bashir, who came to Johannesburg to attend an African Union summit, left the country despite a court order forbidding his departure.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The case before the appeal court will ultimately determine whether he, and other sitting heads of state accused of international crimes, will be able to visit South Africa in the future.

One of the judges yesterday asked if it was reasonable for a head of state accused of international crimes to benefit from immunity.

A lawyer for the Pretoria government said immunity meant a temporary delay to prosecution but it did not mean impunity.

The court is considering its judgement.

The main story in the Kenyan Standard announces a big victory for vice-president William Ruto is his struggle with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

According to the Nairobi-based paper, the appeals chamber of the court, the highest authority in the hierarchy of the ICC, yesterday overturned an earlier decision allowing use of prior-recorded testimony in the case.

Ruto is on trial for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Kenya during the 2007/2008 post-election.

Five witnesses testified against Ruto, but have since withdrawn their evidence. Yesterday's decision will make it impossible for the prosecution to use any of the recordings of the original testimonies in the case against Ruto.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Keep up to date with international news by downloading the RFI app