24 November 2012

African Press Review 24 November 2012

Yesterday's suicide bomb attack on a military church in Kaduna is, tragically if not surprisingly, the main story on Nigeria's front pages.

The Armed Forces Command and Staff College, according to the Lagos-based Guardian, was supposed to be a security hub that was immune to the recurrent violence outside it.

The college is where the nation's anti-terrorists squad is trained. Yesterday, however, two bombs were detonated outside the military church as worshippers dispersed after the main Sunday service. At least 11 people lost their lives, while 30 others are injured. Eye-witness accounts suggest that the final death toll will be higher, with some witnesses saying 30 or even 40 people had been killed.

The Guardian also reports that rescue services like the National Emergency Management Agency and the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency, which rushed to Jaji to assist victims, were turned back by the military authorities.

The Punch says that the military authorities barred both rescue agency officials and journalists from entering the college.

Even the police authorities could not provide information on the blasts. The state Police Command Commissioner referred journalists to the military authorities, whom he said were in a better position to give details of the incident.

In Egypt, the Cairo-based Independent mulls over President Morsi's options as street violence continues and US Senator John McCain warns that Egypt could become an Islamist state or face another military takeover if the president's judicial power grab is left unchecked.

In a front-page editorial, The Independent says that, as the rift deepens between Islamist and secular political elites, the debate flares up over the way out of a deadlock that portends civil strife and the potential re-entry of the military high command into politics.

McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, urged President Barack Obama to be prepared to use the billions of dollars of American aid as leverage to force Egypt's first Islamist leader to change course.

On Sunday, clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and opponents entered their third day. The violence came on the heels of President Mohamed Morsy's issuing of a constitutional decree that granted him sweeping powers and effectively tightened the Brotherhood's grip on Egyptian politics.

Meanwhile, The Egypt Independent reports that all television broadcasts on Nilesat, Egypt's state-owned satellite broadcasting company, went black on Sunday evening due to a service interruption.

The head of the Nile TV channel, told the website of state-run daily Al-Ahram in a telephone interview that the cause of the technical failure is unknown.

The main story in South Africa's business paper, BusinessDay, is headlined "Ramaphosa nominated as Zuma's ANC deputy".

The small print explains that the African National Congress in President Jacob Zuma's home province, KwaZulu-Natal, on Sunday night chose businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as its candidate for deputy president ahead of next month's Mangaung conference.

The decision, which will be widely seen as a snub to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, sets the stage for a showdown between Zuma and Motlanthe, who is being touted as a future ANC leader by those frustrated with the scandals dogging the president and the ANC.

As a prominent businessman and former trade union leader, Ramaphosa may boost the Zuma ticket's credibility, especially in attracting foreign investment and on developing economic policy.

Last week, Motlanthe won the endorsement of the ANC Youth League.

The Sowetan gives the voting breakdown for the position of deputy president, indicating that Cyril Ramaphosa got 841 votes, Kgalema Motlanthe 16 with Tokyo Sexwale getting a single vote.

BusinessDay also reports that South Africa faces "drift" with an "absent referee who is not in the field of play", according to the chancellor of University of Johannesburg, Njabulo Ndebele, speaking at the opposition Democratic Alliance's national congress on Sunday.

Professor Ndebele, a guest speaker at the congress at which party leader Helen Zille was elected unopposed, said the symptoms of this lack of leadership and "scant regard for the rules" were a busy but underfunded ombudsman, continuing stress in parastatal companies, problems with basic education, and instability in the labour sector.

Ndebele's address to the gathering may help deflect criticism that the DA remains a party of whites, a charge repeated at the weekend by South African Communist Party chief Blade Nzimande, who called the DA a party of "white madams and baases".

Regional paper The East African suggests that the capture of Goma, the capital of North Kivu in eastern DRC, by M23 rebels - and the continued rebel push northwards - has put President Kabila in a precarious situation and deepened the discontent that has dogged his presidency, especially since last November's deeply flawed elections.

Regional political leaders - especially in the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, the East Africa Community and the Southern African Development Community - also face a crisis of indecision as the situation in DRC deteriorates.

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