The Independent (Kampala)

Africa News Round Up

In Kenya the prime minister, a frontrunner in the 4 March presidential poll, accused on Thursday the head of the civil service of attempting to manipulate the vote to his rivals' advantage, News24 reports.

Raila Odinga accused Francis Kimemia, who holds the politically neutral post running the daily affairs of government, has been "approaching candidates and offering them money to ditch Cord," Odinga said, referring to his Coalition for Reform and Democracy party.

Kenya is gearing up for presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial elections on 4 March, the first since bloody post-poll violence five years ago in which more than 1 100 people died after contested results.

"This is a senior government official who should not be involving himself in such issues," Odinga told reporters, claiming that he had "become an activist of a political party and is now intimidating public officers."

imemia responded in a statement saying that police would investigate "allegations of involvement of senior government officers in partisan politics", but did not specifically respond to the allegations against himself.

Kimemia was appointed in 2012 by President Mwai Kibaki after his predecessor Francis Muthaura stepped down following indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.

The accusations come a day after Kenya's Chief Justice Willy Mutgaun accused Kimemia of trying to block him from leaving the country on a trip, saying it was part of "a pattern of emerging harassment" against him.

Mutunga, Kenya's top judge and head of the Supreme Court, said that the country must not "be held hostage by a cabal of retrogrades" and appealed for peaceful election to "silence these dark forces of retrogression".

He also said he had received a "poison-pen letter" - also sent to several foreign embassies - from a group calling themselves the Mungiki Veterans Group and Kenya Sovereignty Defence Squad.

The veracity of the letter could not be confirmed.

In the United States, a New Hampshire jury on Thursday convicted a Rwandan woman of lying about her role in a 1994 genocide in her home country to acquire U.S. citizenship, CNN reports.

Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43, had her citizenship revoked and will face sentencing in June for two counts of lying on U.S. government applications, authorities said.

She faces up to 10 years behind bars, a $250,000 fine on each count and possible deportation, according to the Justice Department.

Munyenyezi, who was not on trial for war crimes, was found guilty of intentionally lying on a refugee questionnaire and naturalization documents about her role in the infamous slaughter in which ethnic Hutu militants butchered their Tutsi counterparts over a three-month period.

Prosecutors argued that Munyenyezi, a Hutu, was a member of an extremist group associated with a paramilitary organization that set up roadblocks and targeted fleeing Tutsis and their sympathizers.

"Testimony during the 12-day trial revealed that Munyenyezi concealed her involvement in the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development, the political party in power before and during the Rwandan genocide," according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement press release provided by Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the agency. "Munyenyezi misrepresented this fact in order to obtain immigration and naturalization benefits."

One of the roadblocks was set up outside the Ihuriro Hotel, an establishment owned by her husband's family, according to the indictment.

In Rwanda the army has revealed it is holding more than 280 troops accused of desertion on an island in Lake Kivu, the BBC reports.

Brig Gen Joseph Nzabamwita told the BBC they were undergoing re-education.

An alleged deserter being held on the island had told the BBC the soldiers were transferred there a year ago from a military prison to prevent a planned visit by the Red Cross.

Denying the allegations, Gen Nzabamwita said the BBC was welcome to visit the island.

The Rwandan army is mainly run by former commanders of the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebel group which came to power after the 1994 genocide.

Correspondents say the RPF always expected loyalty and discipline from its fighters.

"We were first detained in the Mulindi military prison, we were transferred here to Iwawa Island [on Lake Kivu] in March 2012, when they were hiding us from the Red Cross officials," the alleged deserter told the BBC's Great Lakes Service.

He said many of them had been held for up to four years without trial and without visitors.

But Gen Nzabamwita told the BBC they were "not being detained, they are being re-educated".

"Those are our troops who deserted their jobs. We take these people there so that they can behave themselves again," he said.

"And I think this is something that is beneficial both for themselves and for Rwandan society."

In Egypt, News24 reports that parliamentary elections will be held in four rounds, with the first to start on April 27, according to a decree issued on Thursday night by President Mohammed Morsi.

The first stage will be held for two days in five of the country's 27 provinces, including Cairo.

The fourth and final round will be held on June 19-20, with a possible run-off vote due on June 26-27.

The decree said the maiden session of the new legislature, to be called the Council of Deputies, would be held on July 6.

"The elections will be held in phases to ensure they are fully supervised by the judges in line with the constitution," Bakinam al-Sharqawi, an aide to Morsi, told state television.

Egypt has been without a lower house of parliament since a ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court in June last year voided the chamber after deeming the electoral rules unconstitutional.

The Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, temporarily holds legislative authority until the legislature is elected.

The new seats mostly go to greater Cairo and Alexandria. Opponents of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood had charged that the initial districting favoured rural areas, especially in poorer southern Egypt, which are dominated by Islamists.

But there were warnings that by sending the revised law straight to the president and not back to the Constitutional Court the Shura Council risked a ruling against the next parliament similar to the one that struck down the previous assembly.

Cairo University politics professor Hassan Nafaa, writing in independent newspaper al-Masry al-Youm's Friday edition, which hit the news stands before Morsi signed off on the law, said that unless the court was given another opportunity to review the revised draft it could be struck down at a later stage.

Shura Council speaker Ahmed Fahmy said that the Council had complied with all the court's rulings, but during the session government representatives objected to the Council's interpretation of the court's decision on candidates who had been exempted from military service.

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