African press review 18 April 2016

The famine in Malawi is proving to be a boon for maize farmers in east Africa.

That’s the main headline in regional paper the East African.

According to the report, Kenyan and Ugandan farmers have stopped selling their produce to the local market to cash in on Malawian demand. Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika last week declared a state of national emergency. The price of a 90-kilo bag of maize in neighbouring Tanzania is currently at an all-time high of 48 dollars. Inside Malawi maize is trading at 55 dollars per bag.

An official at the East African Grain Council says Tanzania is experiencing a shortage of maize and is looking to Kenya and other regional neighbours to make up the deficit.

Museveni blames Rwnenzori conflict on poverty

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said land issues and poverty are at the heart of the violence in Rwenzori region which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Museveni has just ended a week-long visit to the region to assess the security situation. The president blamed local leaders for failing to resolve a conflict based on limited productive land, a growing ethnic nationalism and slim economic opportunities in the face of a swelling population.

According to the president, the failure of the region’s leaders to tackle socio-economic challenges — especially poverty — has over time degenerated into a social crisis.

At least 50 people have been killed in clashes since February.

Jubliee leaders launch reelection bids

The International Criminal Court ruling that set free Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto has emboldened the ruling Jubilee coalition as internal dissent pushes opposition leader Raila Odinga to reach out to other potential alliance partners to consolidate his support.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto last week held a series of rallies to launch their reelection bids.

The opposition on the other hand is struggling to remain united after one of the parties in the coalition, Ford Kenya, expressed dissatisfaction over the manner in which the group’s presidential nomination was being handled.

Israel keeps Rwanda arms deals details secret

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The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that records documenting Israel’s arms dealings with Rwanda during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi will remain undisclosed.

The ruling, reported by the Times of Israel, notes that Supreme Court judges cited Section 9 of Israel’s Freedom of Information Act, saying that releasing the documents would “harm national security and foreign relations”.

Machar due back in Juba

The East African reminds us that this is the day when South Sudan’s First Vice-President Riek Machar is due to return to Juba.

Machar is due in the capital at 10 o’clock this morning.

The vice-president’s return will confirm that the August 2015 peace agreement, which was signed two years after fighting broke out, will hold. It will also signal the formation of the long-delayed Transitional Government of National Unity.

The British government has meanwhile advised its citizens against travelling to South Sudan because of security concerns.

Egypt sentences another journalist

As French President François Hollande continues his visit to Cairo, the Egypt Independent reports that a court in Giza yesterday sentenced journalist and press syndicate member Mohamed Ali Hassan in absentia to five years of prison and fined him 500 Egyptian pounds for “broadcasting false news and inciting protests”.

Security forces arrested Hassan in December 2014 and accused him of “broadcasting false news, joining the Muslim Brotherhood, inciting protests and receiving foreign funding”.

Investigations by Egypt’s National Security Agency showed that the journalist is running a page on Facebook by the name of “Egypt Now”. The page publishes news critical of the state.

Egypt ranked 158 out of 180 countries in the 2015 Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters Without Borders.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said in December that Egypt ranked second only to China in 2015 in terms of the number of journalists jailed.

Source: rfi afrique