African press review 18 December 2012
Discord in Kenya's Jubilee alliance. Who's backing Mudavadi? Will the electoral register be on target? Will Kenyan nurses be paid their allowances ... or be sacked? Why have DRC peace talks been put off? And is Rwanda lying about its role in North Kivu?
The situation in Kenya is not getting any clearer.
According to the main story in this morning's Nairobi-based Standard, Jubilee alliance leaders worked overtime yesterday in an effort to forestall a split, following failure to resolve the standoff between deputy prime ministers Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi.
The problem is that Mudavadi and Uhuru continue to disagree on whether to pick the Jubilee presidential candidate through consensus or by a delegate system.
On Monday Mudavadi, who lost the battle to force the picking of presidential candidate through consensus the previous day, succeeded in forcing the postponement of the National Delegates Conference, which was scheduled for today.
A Jubilee alliance rally scheduled for Sunday at Murang has been cancelled over the standoff.
The main headline in sister paper the Daily Nation reads "Jubilee coalition calls off nominations", with the small print explaining that the alliance on Monday postponed its conference to nominate a presidential candidate, amid differences that threatened to kill the union of three parties.
Coalition leaders Uhuru Kenyatta (The National Alliance), Musalia Mudavadi (United Democratic Forum) and William Ruto (United Republican Party) met for more than 12 hours — nine hours on Sunday night and three hours on Monday morning — trying to find common ground on the presidential nominations.
But the three were not helped by TNA and UDF hardliners, with the former pushing for a delegates' conference and the latter insisting on consensus.
In a separate article, the Nation claims that top civil servants, keen to secure their jobs in the next government, are the key forces pushing for the election of Musalia Mudavadi as president.
The Nation claims that the bureaucrats who have been pulling the strings behind the curtains see Mudavadi as “safe” and have mobilised resources to support his campaign.
The civil servants fear that Kenyatta or Odinga might reorganise the public service in a way that would render them jobless.
Kenyans have a final chance to register as voters today — the last day of registration — as reports indicate that the electoral body had registered 12.7 million people by Sunday.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has warned that it will not extend the deadline for registration.
All indications, however, are that IEBC is unlikely to hit the projected target of 18 million voters by midnight tonight.
The nurses' strike in Kenya enters its 16th day today. Ailing and frustrated Kenyans seeking treatment in public hospitals have made an urgent appeal to the government to speedily resolve the matter. According to the Standard, they say the nurses’ strike is putting their lives in "grave danger".
By yesterday there seemed to be no progress in resolving the strike with Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o insisting that nurses who had not returned to work by yesterday would be sacked.
Officials of the Kenya National Union of Nurses said they would not end the strike until their union is registered and the allowances the government agreed to last year are implemented.
The Daily Nation says nurses who have defied the government’s order to return to work will begin receiving their sacking letters today, according to the Chief Nursing Officer.
In Kampala the Daily Monitor reports that Uganda's Defence Minister, Crispus Kiyonga, yesterday postponed the talks between the M23 rebels and the Congolese Government after the two sides failed to agree on one of the rules of procedure.
Sources told the Monitor that the government delegation had proposed that the talks be based on the existing constitution of the DRC but M23 representatives refused, saying they did not want any conditions.
“M23 have already violated the constitution by fighting the government. Therefore, they would put themselves in a tricky position if they agree to use the Congolese constitution to guide the process,” a source said.
Kiyonga also denied reports that Kinshasa has deployed extra troops in Goma in preparation for an offensive.
Meanwhile, regional paper the East African prints the testimony of Steve Hege, the former coordinator of the Group of Experts on the DRC, to the US House of Representatives House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Since the outset of the M23 rebellion, the government of Rwanda has provided direct military support to the rebels, facilitated recruitment, encouraged desertions from the Congolese army and delivered ammunition, intelligence and political advice to them, says Hege.
Rwanda continues to deny any involvement and has repeatedly claimed it was not consulted or given a right of reply to our investigations.
This is not true, according to Hege's testimony.