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Africa press review 14 February 2017

Text by: Brian Eads
3 min

The top story in Kenya this morning is the strike by the country's doctors which has entered its 72nd day. The Daily Nation ledes with a story headlined "Man behind the doctors strike mess." In truth, it is not entirely clear in the story that follows who that man is. 

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Two principal players are cited by the paper - Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri, who skipped negotiations with striking doctors and held private talks with union leaders, and Francis Atwoli, secretary general of Kenya's Central Organisation of Trades Unions, who was last week tasked by the Labour court to mediate talks between striking doctors and the government.

The Nation says Atwoli "threw in the towel last weekend saying the infighting among top officials at the Ministry of Health made it difficult to bring sense to the negotiation table."

Yesterday, a court jailed seven union officials for a month for contempt of court - prompting the doctors union to say it was calling off talks with the government.

Jailing the union leaders means the strike will continue, says the paper.

"It has created prisoners of conscience and inadvertently made them heroes.

The members have been emboldened and are ready for a prolonged face-off."

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The Star reports that the doctors’ union will tomorrow appeal the jailing of its seven national leaders.

It reminds readers that the 3,000 doctors from public hospitals went on strike in December last year demanding implementation of an agreement signed in 2013 offering them a salary increase of nearly 300 per cent, giving an intern a Sh325,000 per month, that's almost 3000 euro.

Since then the affair has become so convoluted that it's difficult to understand what's preventing an amicable settlement.

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The top headline in the Standard provides a clue : "Sabotage, internal wars and rigidity land doctors in jail."

"Lack of commitment by Ministry of Health officials and a rigid position by the doctor's union sabotaged pay talks that led to the jailing of union officials yesterday," the paper says.

Accusations of a rift between Cabinet Health Secretary Cleopa Mailu and his Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri in particular have been blamed for stalling the final leg of talks brokered by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), says the Standard.

The paper says "Dr Muraguri did not respond to our inquirers."

If the squabbling is within government as well as with striking doctors, it's hard to see a way out of the impasses.

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Elsewhere, three Anglophone activists in Cameroon have pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism, accused of organising protests in the country's English speaking regions over perceived marginalisation.

I wondered how the local press was covering this.

There's not much to go at for Anglophones.

I found nothing in the state-owned Tribune.

Though there was an amusing story headlined "Douala: Thieves Raid Taxation Centre."

"Huge amount of money, laptops, decoder, coffee pot, Women’s Day fabric are some of the items stolen from the Taxation Centre during the finals of the African Cup of Nations between Cameroon and Egypt," reports the Trib.

Police said the night watchman was elsewhere watching the match.

The Herald, alas, isn't available on-line.

The Post gives pride of place to remarks by President Paul Biya saying "the Government will continue to dialogue with the various stakeholders in a bid to end the crisis currently rocking the Northwest and Southwest Regions."

The paper reports also that "The wave of Internet blackout in the Southwest and Northwest Region has reportedly been extended to neighbouring French speaking towns."

The Post say the extension of the blackout is to forestall some groups who still post inciting messages on social media.

Some dialogue, eh?

 

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