African press review 13 July 2012
A scene from hell in Nigeria. A graft-buster may be busted. Who's behind M23 in DRC?
Nigeria's papers all report Thursday’s tanker fire that killed 200 people in southern River State.
The Nigerian Tribune says most of the tragedy occurred as a crowd gathered to scoop fuel from the fallen tanker at Okogbe on the major east-west highway.
The victims included pregnant women and children, with close to 100 bodies charred beyond recognition, according to Vanguard.
“It was like a scene from hell,” explains The Nation, “piles of burnt bodies, smoldering vehicles and all-green plants darkened by fire”.
One survivor told Punch that “the explosion sounded like an earthquake”.
According to the newspaper the man’s car was one of the vehicles involved in the crash with the tanker and he only lived to tell his story by jumping out seconds before the fuel tanker exploded.
Vanguard notes that the explosion comes barely two months after a similar blaze in the same Rivers State which “consumed an entire family and burnt down 50 houses”.
Also in Nigeria the man behind a major graft-busting report has turned from accuser to accused. Farouk Lawan could land in jail after chairing a commission that unveiled staggering graft in the oil industry.
South Africa’s Mail and Guardian reports that Lawan found out that fuel importers illegally drained 5.6 billion euros in subsidies from the nation's coffers over the past three years alone. In one case, payments of 5.2 million euros flowed from the state treasury 128 times within 24 hours to "unknown entities".
According to the paper barely after the release of the report, a “fuel importer whose fortune has frequently bankrolled the ruling party”, alleged that Lawan demanded hundreds of thousands of euros “to remove collaborating companies from the list of wrongdoers”.
The whistleblower claims he gave Lawan over 500,000 euros as part of a” secretly filmed sting operation”. Farouk Lawan has admitted accepting the money but claims it was intended as evidence of bribery attempts, according to Mail and Guardian.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo the papers are reacting to the worsening security situation in the eastern Nord-Kivu province where mutinying soldiers have seized a number of towns along the Ugandan border, their eyes set on the regional capital Goma.
Le Potentiel welcomes an appeal launched at the 11-nation international conference on the Great Lakes region at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa Thursday. The forum urged all "negative forces" operating in Nord-Kivu province to stop armed activities.
The paper also highlights a UN report accusing Rwanda of backing the M23 mutineers after the world body branded the rebels well-trained Rwandan proxies.
L’Observateur explains that the M23 movement is named after a failed 2009 peace deal signed on 23 March, are led by Bosco Ntaganda, nicknamed "The Terminator", who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for recruiting child soldiers a decade ago.
According to the paper, the fighters loyal to rebel Tutsi leader Laurent Nkunda, are not “shedding Congolese blood over pay”, as they claim but because they are”seeking to clinch further rights over the Nord-Kivu’s lucrative mines”.
Digitalcongo.net says Kinshasa is rife with rumours about top government officials who are part of the alleged “Rwandan-backed plot” to destabilise the country.
The online publication says the alleged suspects include dignitaries of President Laurent Kabila’s party, such as the ex-rebel leader Mbusa Nyamwisi, “waiting in the shadows to uncover their faces when the moment is right”.
South Africa's Mail and Guardian is monitoring developments in the DRC very closely as UN and the DRC army used helicopter gunships on Thursday to attack the army mutineers thought to be threatening Goma.
According to the Johannesburg newspaper, the rebels deny having any plans to seize the regional capital, and have expressed their readiness to “negotiate” with Kinshasa. However the Mail and Guardian says Kabila's government has given “no indication that it is ready for talks, even as its soldiers flee before the rebels”.