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African press review 30 September 2016

4 min

The International Criminal Court is to probe post-election violence in Gabon. What happened to Illuminée Iragena, the Rwandan opposition activist missing for the past six months? The World Bank becomes the latest institution to cut South Africa’s economic growth outlook for 2016. GDP is unlikely to grow by even half a percent. All this is in the African press today.

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The main story in regional newspaper the East African reports that the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court said yesterday she was opening an initial probe into the unrest in Gabon sparked by disputed elections.

The government of Gabon had asked the court to open an investigation "without delay", accusing supporters of opposition leader Jean Ping of incitement to genocide and crimes against humanity, according to prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. In what is expected to be a lengthy process, her office will conduct a preliminary examination to see if there is enough evidence to carry out a full investigation.

What happened to Illuminée Iragena?

Also in the East African, a suggestion that a Rwandan opposition activist missing for six months may have been "forcibly disappeared" and could have died in custody.

Illuminée Iragena was last seen on the evening of 26 March when she left her house on the outskirts of the capital Kigali, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement yesterday.

Rwanda, which is renowned for its stability and growth but criticised for lack of freedoms, is due to hold elections next year. HRW said there are increasing signs of repression with several disappearances, politically motivated arrests and unlawful detentions.

Iragena is a member of the opposition FDU-Inkingi party whose leader Victoire Ingabire is serving a 15 year prison sentence for crimes including "divisionism", an offence of stoking the ethnic tensions that led to the 1994 genocide.

Further pressure on Burundi's opposition

The leader of an opposition party in Burundi has been arrested and accused of "endangering state security", Burundian police announced yesterday.

Gervais Niyongabo, president of the opposition Fedes-Sangira party, was arrested in Makamba in southern Burundi.

Niyongabo is one of the last remaining opposition leaders in the country.

Most of the others have gone into exile since the government launched a crackdown on opponents after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to run for a controversial third term.

Ghana’s president cleared of corruption

Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama had been cleared of corruption over the gift of a car from a construction firm bidding for a lucrative government contract, a report concluded on Thursday.

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice in Accra said that a claim of conflict of interest against Mahama "has not been substantiated".

Mahama’s government has not denied receiving the four-wheel-drive vehicle from a contractor in Burkina Faso, who had previously built a wall on Ghanaian Embassy land in Ouagadougou.

But it dismissed opposition suggestions that the car was a bribe to get a road-building contract in Ghana’s Volta region that the same contractor later secured.

Mahama, of the ruling National Democratic Congress, is seeking a second term of office and yesterday submitted his candidacy forms to the country’s electoral commission.

He will again face Nana Akufo-Addo, the veteran leader of the main opposition New Patriotic Party, who lost out at the last election in 2012.

Nigerian minister named in huge scam allegation

Nigerian Industry, Trade and Investment Minister Okechukwu Enelamah has denied involvement in alleged illegal repatriation of 12 billion euros from his country by telecoms group MTN.

He said yesterday that the allegation was "without merit and baseless".

Nigeria’s parliament has agreed to investigate whether Africa’s biggest telecoms group illegally transferred the money.

The motion that prompted the investigation stated that Enelamah was involved.

MTN has denied the allegations, which were made earlier this week in a motion brought by a senator.

World Bank cuts South Africa’s economic growth outlook

The World Bank has become the latest institution to cut South Africa’s economic growth outlook for 2016 as Standard & Poor's Global warned of risks posed by political developments and slow reform at state-owned entities.

The World Bank halved its forecast for GDP growth for 2016, from 0.8 percent in April to 0.4 percent, in line with the Reserve Bank’s projection, according to the Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay.

The bank released its Africa’s Pulse report, which looks at growth prospects and developments in sub-Saharan Africa, yesterday.

Earlier, a Standard & Poor's Global executive said the slow reform of state-owned firms and the upheaval swirling around the finance minister posed risks to South Africa’s investment grade credit rating.

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