: African press review 19 February 2016

The presidential election in Uganda has made the headlines in many east African newspapers this morning, with many of them worried about the electoral process, as well as the shutdown of Uganda’s social networks.

As voting got underway yesterday, authorities announced that access to social media platforms such as WhatsApp or Facebook were temporarily blocked over national security concerns.

But the East African says its sources indicate that the shutdown was in fact ordered by officials in the ruling NRM party, to silence the avalanche of negative messages aimed at the incumbent president Yoweri Museveni, who is seeking a fifth term after 30 years in power.

In its editorial Kenya’s Daily Nation calls the switch-off “disturbing” and says that “open access to the media is a cardinal pillar in a democratic process”.

It adds that in the context of recent events, such as the detention of opposition candidate Kizza Besigye, the decision “feeds into a feeling that there could be a plot to manipulate the outcome of the election”.

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The Daily Nation also calls on Uganda’s Electoral Commission to ensure peaceful and fair elections.

The commission owes it not only to the people of Uganda, but to east Africa and the whole continent, its editor writes.

Uganda’s Daily Monitor says it is willing to give the Electoral Commission the benefit of the doubt, despite questions raised about its integrity, and asks that the EC grasp the opportunity to redeem its image in the public eye.

In a moving editorial, the paper also condemns the acts of violence perpetrated in recent weeks, by “those who prefer to stand still as the wheel of history revolves”.

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The paper implicitly blames the authorities for the violence, saying Ugandans had lost their lives at the hands of those who should instead have been protecting them.

As for the elections themselves, the editor prays that those who have planned to tamper with them fail in their endeavour, and says the country “has had enough of those who think it is theirs to do with as they please.”

“18 February,” the editorial reads, “may be recorded in history as the day when Ugandans were able to renew their faith in themselves.”

Business Daily reports that 40,000 tonnes of Pakistani rice are currently locked up in two container freight stations in Mombasa, which the Kenyan Revenue Authority has shut down over alleged dealing in contraband goods.

The Pakistan High Commission in Kenya has asked the country’s Ports Authority and Revenue Authority to release the rice, insisting the consignment was legally imported.

The stand-off is now threatening to affect bilateral relations between Pakistan and Kenya, and their leading exports of rice and tea, according to Business Daily.

Punch tells the story of a video trending in Nigeria that shows a man stripping to his boxers in a Guaranty Trust Bank to get his problem resolved.

Sat on the floor of the banking hall in a pair of underwear and a neck chain, the man tried to share his story with whoever cared to listen.

He said 150,000 Nigerian Naira (680 euros) had been illegally deducted from his account and that nothing had been done about it.

According to Punch, the trending video has elicited strong reactions from social network users, with some criticising the bank for failing to resolve the issue swiftly.

But if you get frustrated with customer service at your local bank you might want to consider other options, as in the course of the five-minute video, banking activities went on around our poor fellow without anyone paying a bit of notice. 

Source: rfi afrique