3 December 2012

Egypt: African Press Review 3 December 2012

Egupt's proposed referendum on Morsi's constitution plan is under fire from Salafists and judges. A new African stocks index hopes to seduce foreign investors. SA farmworkers are set to resume their strike for 13 euros a day. How long will war drag on in eastern DRC? And who wants to be friends with Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga?

In Egypt The Independent reports that the Salafi Jihadi Movement announced yesterday that it will boycott the upcoming referendum on the constitution, calling on Egyptians to follow in its lead.

The movement said it would boycott the constitution because the proposed document "does not apply Islamic sharia" and places the state's sovereignty in the people, while the group believes "Sovereignty is for God alone."

Mohamed al-Zawahiri, leader of the movement and brother of Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri, said the draft constitution fails to apply Islamic sharia.

Senior members of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood held an urgent meeting on Sunday to consider ways to bolster popular support for President Mohamed Morsi's call for Egyptians to vote in a referendum on the constitution on 15 December.

The Independent also reports that an influential body representing Egyptian judges will urge its members not to supervise the December referendum.

The source said the decision over the referendum was made at a Judges' Club board meeting in Cairo on Sunday. Club decisions are not binding on members.

The club condemned Morsi's 22 November decree that extended the president's powers and shielded his decisions from judicial review.

Egypt's listed companies will join the new Pan-African Index when it goes live later this Monday. The new index will involve 19 stock exchanges from across the continent.

The goal of the new index is to encourage investors to recognise Africa as an attractive destination.

In South Africa, according to financial paper BusinessDay, Western Cape farmworkers say they are determined to continue striking to more than double their daily wage to R150 (13 euros) and improve their living conditions.

They have offered to negotiate an immediate intermediate settlement of about R130.

Western Cape agricultural workers started their demand for a higher wage about a month ago but suspended it until tomorrow to allow negotiations between organised farmers and their various representatives to take place.

The strike has already spread from De Doorns to about 18 other towns in the area with two deaths attributed to strike-related violence.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) Western Cape provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said Cosatu's role in the negotiations was helping the largely non-unionised farmworkers to negotiate better conditions. He accused organised agriculture, such as Agri Wes-Cape, of not taking the workers' demands seriously and of hiring "vigilantes" to take revenge on strikers.

On the opinion pages of BusinessDay, there's an article warning of the dangers posed by the ongoing war in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Tutsi-dominated M23, which recently took over Goma after chasing out the army and has since withdrawn, was formed earlier this year by breakaway soldiers. It is named after the 23 March 2009 ceasefire agreement between forces loyal to rebel leader Laurent Nkunda and the government, an agreement which the M23 says has not been honoured.

Ethnic tension spilling over from Rwanda is at the heart of recent conflict in the region. The Tutsi-led government in Kigali has strenuously denied persistent reports that it was backing first Nkunda and now the M23.

The politics of the region are highly complex and the geographical and political isolation of a huge swathe of the DRC has allowed regional actors into the vacuum. The high-stakes resources game in this part of the world means there is no shortage of groups willing to fight for economic and political control of the frontier region.

The article ends by saying that the 1.15-billion-euro annual budget for the large UN peacekeeping force could have been better spent on building infrastructure and opening up the area, something President Joseph Kabila has promised, but failed, to do.

The combination of intricate regional politics, poor leadership and entrenched dysfunction suggest that an ever-changing array of rebel groups will continue to harass the people of Goma for years to come.

The Uhuru-Ruto election alliance is all over the Kenyan front pages.

According to the Nairobi-based Daily Nation, The National Alliance and the United Republican Party on Sunday became the first political groups to publicly confirm their union as politicians raced against time to seal pre-election agreements ahead of Tuesday's deadline.

Both Uhuru Kenyata and William Ruto are to face trial at the International Criminal Court at The Hague over the violence that followed the last election, in 2007.

The two men promised to ensure that no more blood is shed in the Nakuru region which has witnessed ethnic violence in every election since the advent of multi-party politics in the 1990s.

As Kenyatta and Ruto were announcing their pact in Nakuru, their main foe, Prime Minister Raila Odinga of ODM, was holding his own rally at the Tononoka grounds in Mombasa.

The expected unveiling of an alliance with Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka's Wiper Democratic Movement did not materialise.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi said that his party, the UDF, will announce a pre-election alliance with other parties by tomorrow morning but Mudavadi ruled out a partnership with Musyoka's Wiper party.

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