15 January 2018

African Press Review 15 January 2018

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The inauguration of Liberian President-elect George Weah at risk. Is the Zimbabwean Army meddling in politics? And, Muhammadu Buhari, a changed man or more of the same?

Liberia first, where, you may have heard, with barely a week to the end of her two six years term in office, outgoing President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been expelled from the Unity Party.

The Daily Observer reports on this and another related story headlined "Inauguration Threatened."

Officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia and their wives are demanding millions of dollars deducted from their wages allegedly with the provision that the money will be refunded before President Sirleaf leaves office, although the Minister of Defence Brownie Samukai denies this.

The compulsory savings scheme began in 2009 - with deductions ranging between 20 to 30 U.S. dollars according to rank.

The women, reportedly backed by their husbands, threatened that next week's inauguration of President elect George Weah, if it is actually held, will not be done in a peaceful atmosphere.

"If we don't get our money there will be no inauguration in this town. So the best Weah can do for himself is to prevail upon this government to settle with us before they leave office,' an officer told the paper.

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The Herald in Zimbabwe has an intriguing story headlined "Don't smear military - Charamba tells MDC-T."

"The military has no role to play in MDC-T succession politics and the opposition party should not seek to delegitimise the country's armed forces by making such unfounded claims," the paper quotes Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Secretary George Charamba as saying.

This followed a claim in the private media, the paper says, trying to smear the military by insinuating its involvement in the fights over who should succeed MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai who is battling colon cancer.

Reports in the private media, quoting faceless sources, alleged Tsvangirai's wife Elizabeth Macheka hid the opposition leader's passport pressuring him to sign a document that ensured the party's deputy Nelson Chamisa, was his successor.

The reports claimed Chamisa had the backing of the military and the armed forces guaranteed the former Prime Minister's pension once he passed on the baton to Chamisa.

Lest we forget, it was the Zimbabwean military which engineered the resignation of President Robert Mugabe in November. Or is that a smear?

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Staying with matters military, the Guardian in Nigeria reflects on the record of President Muhamadu Buhari who, as many readers will know, is a retired Major General who previously served as the nation's head of state in the 1980s after seizing power in a coup d'état.

"Buhari's anti-corruption record appears to be rising, but his human rights record is sinking," says the Guardian.

The paper reminds readers that "As a military head of state between 1983 and 1985 Buhari's human rights record was dismal and shocking."

In a recent speech at Chatham House in London, Buhari assured his audience he is a changed man, not the same person who supervised the violation of human rights of Nigerians 30 years ago.

"In fact, his human rights record in the last two years is rather looking more like the record he denounced at Chatham House."

The paper cites the illegal detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria Sheik Ibraheem El-zakzaky and his wife Zainab who were arrested in December 2015 after supporters of his Shi'ite movement clashed with the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff.

"El-Zakzaky and his wife remain in custody despite the court ruling against their detention," says the Guardian.

"El-Zakzaky is not the only prisoner of President Buhari," the paper says - offering several more examples - and quoting human rights lawyers and activists who said "We have never had it so bad under a civilian government." and "His second reign as civilian President is the continuation of his 1984 regime."

One wonders how many African leaders are or were members of the military? Answers on a postcard please to RFI English, 80 rue Camille Desmoulins 92130 Issy les Moulineaux.

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