12 January 2017

African Press Review 12 January 2017

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Kenyan police are still trying to arrest medical union officials behind the current strike by doctors. The Kenyan opposition has decided to fight changes to electoral law at the ballot box. And financial ratings agency Standard & Poor's warns that South Africa still risks a downgrade to junk status.

Police have still not managed to arrest Kenya Medical Practitioners', Pharmacists' and Dentists' Union officials as ordered by a court on Tuesday.

The arrest of seven union leaders was ordered after they skipped sentencing in a contempt of court case, for having called a strike, now in its 39th day, on 5 December, despite an order barring the industrial action.

The Standard says the union leaders are in hiding, are not answering phone calls and have vanished from social media.

The Nairobi-based Daily Nation says it was unable to contact the officers tasked with making the arrests by Justice Hellen Wasilwa of the Employment and Labour Relations Court.

Other media reports quote the police as saying they have formally received the court instructions and are looking for the officials.

The doctors are "in a secure place" and will appear in court on Thursday for the mention of the case, according to a source close to the officials.

In the meantime, the government has maintained that it is willing to continue dialogue with the striking doctors as the deadline to return to work lapsed on Wednesday.

The doctors have maintained they will not budge until their demands for pay increases, contained in the 2013 collective bargaining agreement, are upheld and implemented.

Kenya's united opposition fails to name candidate

The Kenyan opposition has shelved plans to call for street protests against the government-sponsored amendments of the electoral laws, according to regional paper the East African.

Instead, the opposition will encourage supporters to register as voters in an exercise that begins on 16 January with a view to kicking President Uhuru Kenyatta's government out of office through the ballot.

"Our mass action will now become mass voter registration. We ask our supporters to go out and register," Ford Kenya's Moses Wetang'ula said.

The opposition that is mobilising for a super-alliance ahead of the elections had raised expectations that it would name its joint candidate during talks held yesterday in Nairobi.

It did not do so, as it said discussions were ongoing.

However, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Wetang'ula of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, Musalia Mudavadi of the Amani National Congress, and Nick Salat of Kanu, have all signed the resolutions committing themselves to opposition unity.

Donald Trump fights his way onto South African front pages

Guess who makes the top of the front page of this morning's South African paper, BusinessDay?

It's that man Trump, and the report details the US president-elect's reaction yesterday to claims by several media outlets that the Russian secret services possess a file of embarrassing personal and financial information on the soon-to-be American leader.

Trump accused CNN of diffusing "fake news," describing the BuzzFeed website as "a failing pile of garbage". BuzzFeed carried the original story without being able to verify the information.

Standard & Poor's warns that South Africa risks a downgrade

BusinessDay's main story is much more serious, since it concerns the latest warning from the financial ratings agency, Standard & Poor's, that South Africa still risks a downgrade.

S&P Global Ratings yesterday warned South Africa that its sovereign credit rating hangs in the balance if the country enters recession or if wealth levels decline.

Standard & Poor's currently places South Africa on the lowest rung of investment status at BBB-. A downgrade would result in the country being reduced to subinvestment, or junk, status. Government borrowings on the international market would then automatically become more expensive.

Somalia reelects head of lower house

The East African reports that Somalia's parliament has reelected Professor Mohamed Osman Jawari to head the lower house of parliament in Mogadishu.

The law professor garnered the most votes during the Wednesday election, emerging ahead of Abdirashid Mohamed Hiddig, a former state minister, Abdifatah Ibrahim Geseey, a former regional governor, and Idris Abdi Daqtar.

Jawari secured 141 votes of the 259 cast in yesterday's ballot.

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