24 December 2012

Egypt: African Press Review 24 December 2012

Newspapers in Africa are reporting on the referendum on Egypt's proposed constitution; young girls in Nigeria forced to undergo virginity tests; and the latest on Nelson Mandela's health.

In South Africa, the Sowetan looks back at the year, saying 2012 will "undoubtedly go down as one of the most eventful years in our country". Despite predictions the world would end in 2012, the paper believes people will be telling, or making up, stories about how they made it through the year to impress their grand children. On a more serious note, though, some of the biggest events in South Africa include:

- In August, 36 Lonmin mine workers were killed in a deadly confrontation with police in Marikana, in the North West.

- A political clash between South African President Jacob Zuma and the head of the ANC's youth league, Julius Malema.

Strangely enough, the article also praises rappers in the United States for being good to their girlfriends, contrary to the common perceptions of hip hop as being misogynistic. The only exceptions to the good rapper report card are Chris Brown and producer Drak who caused a nightclub brawl during a fight over Brown's former flame, Rhianna.

Staying in South Africa, the Mail and Guardian is concerned by events in Egypt, carrying the headline: "Controversial charter passed in referendum, say Islamists". It also writes that Egypt's "official Al-Ahram newspaper reported that about 64% of votes cast were in favour of the new charter, after preliminary results", and that according to the Muslim Brotherhood, the " turnout over both rounds was around 32%."

Rights groups say the charter limits the freedoms of religious minorities and women, while the military will have considerable influence over politics to try civilians it believes "harm" the army.

Speaking of women's rights, or in this case, the rights of young girls, in Nigeria the Punch looks into the case of a school principal in Ogun state who carried out virginity tests on students.

The paper interviewed one of the pupils forced by her principal (who is female) to undergo the test or face the cane. This was done without the girl's parents' consent and the girl now feels embarrassed not only for being forced into this intrusive test but also because her fellow classmates are now asking whether the test took away her virginity. Some of students ended up bleeding following the test. Parents protested outside the school over this very uncomfortable situation. The police are currently carrying out an investigation.

Over in Kenya, the Standard has an article on "How petitions could alter current voting calendar": "The electoral body is considering new timelines in line with relevant constitutional requirements and in anticipation of possible petitions. The highlight is the provision for presidential election run-off on April 2 next year if it will be necessary." This, writes the paper, would however be applicable only if the commission adopts the recommendations of one of its internal committees and if no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of votes cast on March 4. An article that further highlights how complicated this election year will be for Kenya.

South Africa's Business Day is reporting that former President and apartheid hero Nelson Mandela remained in hospital last night. There are no new updates on his health. The 94 year old was diagnosed with a lung infection and underwent gallstone surgery.

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