9 March 2017

African Press Review 9 March 2017

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Why is South Africa called to appear before the International Criminal Court? Is South Sudan on the brink of genocide? Who really runs the DRC? Will the latest government move bring an end to the strike by hospital doctors in Kenya, now into its fourth month?

South Africa is to be hauled before the International Criminal Court . . .

Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay says the authorities in Pretoria have been asked to appear at the ICC early next month over their failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir during a visit two years ago.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir over alleged war crimes, but South African authorities refused to detain him, saying he had immunity as a head of state.

The country thus failed to comply with a cooperation request from the tribunal, contrary to the provisions of the treaty establishing the court and which came into force in 2002.

South Africa has formally revoked its controversial decision to leave the ICC following last month's High Court ruling that such a move would be unconstitutional because Parliament had not been consulted.

Who's in charge in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

The South African Mail & Guardian looks to the DRC in a story headlined "Congolese politicians scramble for control as violence ramps up again".

The report warns that the Democratic Republic of Congo cannot afford a power vacuum as these are seldom filled by anything good.

The article ends by saying that a viable and competent opposition wouldn't suddenly solve all the DRC's problems, but it could be the first step towards a secure peace. The international community must continue to show their support for the 2006 constitution and pressure President Joseph Kabila to step down, says the Mail & Guardian. His time in office needs to end - and as far as his country's people are concerned, the sooner the better.

Globe's youngest nation on verge of world's oldest crime

South Sudan is edging closer to genocide.

That's according to the United Nations, and the story is top of the front page of regional paper the East African.

A UN report says South Sudan is experiencing ethnic cleansing and is at risk of genocide.

Findings also included details of armed forces targeting civilians in deliberate attacks, and using starvation as a weapon.

The report, which is the result of a seven-month inquiry into human rights in South Sudan, found that since fighting broke out in July 2016 between forces loyal to the president, Salva Kiir and those supporting Riek Machar, human rights violations and abuses have been on the rise.

It says government forces and other armed groups have been using the conflict as a smokescreen to pursue ethnically-motivated attacks on civilians, deliberate starvation, forced displacement and hate speech.

While both the army and rebel forces were accused of abuses, the report places most of the blame on the governing SPLA, National Security Service, police and affiliated militia groups.

The UN recently said that parts of South Sudan are experiencing a man-made famine. Now it details the restrictions placed on aid agencies - saying the resulting starvation of civilians is being used as a method of warfare, in violation of international law.

Radical proposal to get Kenyan public hospitals working again

Kenya is to hire foreign doctors in an effort to break the three-month hospital strike

According to the East African, the authorities in Nairobi said yesterday they would hire foreign doctors to get public hospitals running again after talks failed to end a strike that has crippled healthcare for the past 94 days.

The government has repeatedly threatened to fire striking doctors and has jailed union officials in a bid to end the country's longest-ever medical strike, but the doctors are digging their heels in in a dispute over pay and conditions.

At the root of the strike is a Collective Bargaining Agreement accepted by the government and the unions in 2013.

The document promised to triple salaries and also to improve often dire conditions in public hospitals. The government has since refused to honour the deal.

The Daily Nation in Kenya says the doctors have been told to take the latest salary offer or resign.

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