African press review 6 September 2017

Power struggle in Lesotho's army plunges the tiny country into political crisis weeks after peaceful democratic elections, while Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga sets tough conditions to stand in rerun of Presidential election.


We begin with a murder in Lesotho that is reportedly pushed the country into the brink of a deep political crisis, the assassination of that country's defence force chief‚ Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motsomotso.

In Maseru, Lesotho Times is reporting that Motsomotso was in his office at the main barracks in Maseru when two senior officers - Lieutenant-Colonel Tefo Hashatsi and Lieutenant-Colonel Bulane Sechele - forced their way in.

In an ensuing gun fight, Motsomotso, Hashatsi and Sechele were all killed, according to the paper.

The Lesotho Post reports that Tuesday's attack happened a day after Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fired Kamoli as army commander and replaced him with Maaparankoe Mahao.

According to the publication the two Lesotho army officers suspected of storming Motsomotso's office at the military headquarters were gunned down during the shootout with Motsomotso's bodyguards and other soldiers.

In South Africa, Mail and Guardian says that despite the tragedy, no one is especially surprised that the army’s internal tensions have exploded into violence again. Motsomotso it notes would not even be the first Basotho army boss to be assassinated by his own soldiers.

According to the newspaper, in 2015, former commander Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao was killed by army elements adding that coincidentally, it was Motsomotso who authorized the operation that led to Mahao’s death; and Sechele who carried it out.

According to the publication SADC has also recommended a wholesale overhaul of the LDF, which Prime Minister Thabane has promised to implement.

This would leave the military severely weakened, and may even lead to criminal prosecution for LDF members - such as Sechele - who have been implicated in abuses. This may explain why Motsomotso was targeted by his fellow officers, holds the paper.

Meanwhile, Times reports that SADC is to send fact-finding mission to Lesotho after army chief’s slaying. The paper publishes a statement from the office of President Jacob Zuma‚ who is SADC's current chairman.

Zuma reportedly condemned the killing as a "dangerous pattern in the Kingdom", happening after peaceful and democratic elections, which SADC had thought were to bring political normalcy and stability in the country."

In Kenya, the Standard takes on the "onslaught launched against the country's electoral agency by opposition Chief Raila Odinga, following the nullification of the presidential election by the Supreme Court.

According to the newspaper, Raila declared that National Super Alliance (NASA) will not go to the polls with the current secretariat of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), while lambasting the international community for legitimizing an ‘electoral fraud’.

Meanwhile, Daily Nation says President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main rival Raila Odinga were on Tuesday locked in a fresh standoff over the date of the repeat presidential election.

The publication reports that the National Super Alliance (NASA), has not only rejected the October 17 date announced by the IEBC but spelt out seven conditions, which it wants met before the poll is held.

According to the Nation, the incumbent President Kenyatta has meanwhile warned Odinga against causing further uncertainty by rejecting the IEBC date, saying he was tired of the NASA leader’s determination to “deny the majority their right”.

Meanwhile, The Star claims that the IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati has appointed a fresh "project team" to handle the rerun which will be placed under his supervision. According to the paper, he has left out IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba and ICT director James Muhati people Raila wants out, according to the publication.

And in Nigeria, the news that the country has exited its worst recession in 25 years was received with cautious optimism by a cross section of Nigerians on Tuesday.

This was after the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced that Nigeria's GDP grew by 0.55 percent (year-on-year) in real terms in the second quarter of 2017, after five consecutive quarters of contraction.

Vanguard says, many economists and analysts attribute the facelift to rising oil price and improved production in the period, but warn that the outlook remained fragile and that the nation could slip back into recession if the price of crude suffered a dramatic decline.

The paper says that President Muhammadu Buhari is leading calls for caution with a warning that the development would not make any impact until it had effect on the lives of ordinary Nigerians.

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