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Friday, October 20th, 2017

 

IEBC should consider seeking more time to conduct credible poll

By GABRIELLE LYNCH
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On Tuesday, Dr Roselyn Akombe resigned as a commissioner of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) stating that: “The commission has become a party to the current crisis” and could “not guarantee a credible election on October 26”.

In response, the IEBC Chairman, Mr Wafula Chebukati, cast further doubt on the process by stating that he “can’t move forward with a divided commission … (or) when presidential candidates refuse to put their personal interests aside”. Akombe’s letter of resignation — together with the various interviews that she and others have since made — raise many issues, only some of which can be discussed here.

First, Akombe underscored the level of political polarisation that has come to divide the country, a reality that was only further evidenced by public responses to her resignation – from allegations that she is a ‘Nasa mole’ to declarations that she is a national heroine. More importantly, this polarisation is reflected in Jubilee and Nasa’s rejection of political dialogue in favour of national prayers and further protest, respectively; and by the suggestion by some of their supporters that they are willing to resort to violence if need be.   

POLARISATION

Akombe also highlighted how political polarisation has exacerbated internal divisions within the commission. Her statements also provide further evidence of the same — from her fairly positive comments about Chebukati to strong criticism of the CEO, Mr Ezra Chiloba. Such infighting is critical as it further undermines the commission’s preparations by feeding into a reinforcing mix of questionable decisions, poor communication and a crisis of public confidence.

We then have the problems witnessed during the transmission and tallying of votes in August. In short, the Supreme Court annulled the presidential election of August 8 because the majority of judges concluded that the IEBC had failed to conduct the election in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws.

Problems included a failure to transmit presidential results (or Forms 34A) from polling stations; to provide all forms 34As as a means to verify constituency level results (Forms 34B); to explain a large number of anomalies (including the lack of security features on some Forms 34B); and to comply with the court’s ruling to provide access to the commission’s server and access logs.

UNCERTAINTY

The IEBC also has less time to prepare and has faced much uncertainty about who will vie. Taken together, these issues — of political polarisation and uncertainty, internal wrangling, previous shortcomings and security concerns (discussed below) — all raise serious doubts about whether, if an election is held next Thursday, the process can be any better in procedural terms. The danger is that it will be worse, which raises the possibility that the Supreme Court will annul the election once again.

This is then compounded by the fact that elections are not simply technocratic processes. In turn, Nasa’s demand that no elections be held without electoral reform, and Raila Odinga’s decision not to vie, call the legitimacy of the entire process into question. 

This then links to another problem: Whether IEBC staff will actually be able to conduct elections across the country. As Akombe noted, most field staff are committed to doing “the right thing”, but many are beset by “safety and security concerns”.

The question is thus whether polling stations will be able to function across the country. And, if so, whether those who want to vote will be able to do so.

In this context, it is perhaps not surprising that Akombe urged the IEBC to recognise that it “cannot proceed with the election on October 26”. For many, this is not an option, since the Constitution states that, in the instance of a successful petition, a fresh election should be held within 60 days of the Supreme Court ruling. However, the two-thirds gender rule provides a possible legal precedent for constitutional provisions being put into temporary abeyance.

CONSTITUTION

It might, therefore, be possible for the IEBC to seek a court ruling for more time on the basis that this is needed to ensure that the election is conducted in accordance with the Constitution.

This would be dependent on judicial interpretation and, if successful, would be unpopular with many. However, the alternatives include the possibility of another problematic election that is annulled; further uncertainty, political unrest, economic stagnation; and potentially much worse.

Gabrielle Lynch is a Professor of Comparative Politics, University of Warwick, UK. [email protected]; @GabrielleLynch6


Why politicians are never polite and polished

By PHILIP OCHIENG
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As I have often pointed out here before, objectively representative politics requires policy, polish and politeness. Even the most casual look at those words should reveal that they come from the same etymological root.  Etymology, we recall, is the science that deals with the history of words. It is apparent to those with ears for language that even the word police belongs to that etymological family.

 The question thus stares at you as hideously as Medusa’s face. Why are Kenya’s politicians always so rude to one another and to their other critics? Why is it that, whenever a Member of Parliament — for example — is publicly censored, he or she must rush, in “reply”, to the crudest and most impolite words?

The most probable answer, it seems to me, is that most of our  politicians — especially in Kenya  and other Third World countries — are in the wrong  “profession”.

To convince his or her listeners, a true politician must use words that can immediately convince the audience.

UNPOLISHED WORDS

Linguistically alert readers can already recognise that the words police, policy, polish, polite and politics spring from the same etymological root. 

Etymology, to remind you, is the name of the linguistic science that deals with the history of words.  By their very name, the politicians should be among our most effective national teachers on these things. Yet all over the world — particularly in Kenya and other Third World countries — politicians thoughtlessly hurl the stinkiest and most unpolished words at one another.

 The question is: Why do we — particularly in East Africa — apparently find it impossible to conduct what pass as political dialogues in polite and polished language? It is because most of us have never heard of the saying by Robert Frost — the great American poet — that anything more than the truth must seem “too weak”. 

In other words, why do you, as a political chooser, allow your so called political representative to embarrass you constantly by regularly throwing untruths and other kinds of stinking cow dung at his or her opponents and critics?

The most probable answer is that you — the voter — have never given it too much thought.

Yet, at least to me, one answer sticks out like Kilindini. It is that our politicians and other social leaders know that the Kenyan voter is equally deficient of the official language and cannot be expected to feel compelled to utter aloud any complaint about the grammar of his or her so-called political representative.

In every human language, words arranged in a certain way are the medium of representation, including in the political arena. A society must, therefore, work out a system by which to force its politicians to behave in a manner representing the real and objective needs of their constituents much more effectively than in the narrow field of law-making.

The whole society must force the politician to be seen to represent his or her constituents in all set behavioral ways, including even in the propriety both of dress and of language.


Akombe should be extradited and poll officials monitored

By KWAMCHETSI MAKOKHA
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Some hell or high water, the presidential election of October 26, will go ahead — even if everyone at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission resigns or jumps ship.

Dr Roselyn Akombe, member of the commission, was sent to Dubai to perform a simple task – check that the names of Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and Raila Amolo Odinga were properly spelt next to their mugshots on the presidential ballots at Al-Ghurair Printing and Publishing Inc godown.

Instead, she got onto a flight at taxpayer expense and switched aeroplanes midair, abandoning the untravelled sector of her ticket to Nairobi and hightailing it to New York.

Once she had collected her travel imprest and was airborne, she felt safe enough to type her resignation statement on IEBC stationery.

Her resignation is the kind of behaviour that should impel Kenya’s diplomatic mission in Washington DC as well as the permanent representative to the United Nations to seek her immediate extradition to face charges of treason.

WINNING ELECTION

Dr Akombe’s actions and words are calculated to restrain the President from winning the election and can therefore be classified as treason. Anyone who encompasses to the establishment of a caretaker government outside what is provided for in the Constitution by, for example, deposing the president from his position by unlawful means, or detracting from the style, honour and name of the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, commits a high crime.

Only recently, Dr Akombe spirited her brother and his family out of Kenya through the border with Tanzania before penning a four-page memorandum to Mr Chebukati to undermine confidence in the election.

Anyone who accepts a 70 per cent pay cut to take a job at Anniversary Towers should be watched carefully, and the country’s intelligence services have not slept a wink.

The moment Dr Akombe left her well-paying job at the UN to run elections, the government was onto her.

The last time Dr Akombe was caught trying to sneak out of the country to New York after the petition challenging the August 8, 2017 presidential election had been filed in an attempt to disown results that had been announced with her beaming like the cat that ate the canary, it was IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati who cleared her to leave.

All along, she knew that Mr Chebukati had signed a fake Form 34C, containing the results of the presidential election, at the Bomas of Kenya.

Hours after Dr Akombe’s defection to the United States this week, where she has always owed her allegiance through dual citizenship, Mr Chebukati publicly confessed that he had failed to sack anybody at the commission and was therefore unable to resign his position.

This is no coincidence. Mr Chebukati, who has isolated himself into a minority, looks like Dr Akombe’s likely accomplice.

PRESIDING OFFICERS

At a time like this, it is prudent to suspect everybody and place all commission staff and commissioners under close watch in order to monitor individuals appointed as presiding officers and returning officers lest they consider absconding from duty.

Yet, even if all the commissioners — led by the chairman — resigned, Kenya will still have an election on October 26. God is in control at the IEBC, so elections will happen.

The top-notch technology supplied by OT-Morpho is capable of delivering a free, fair and credible presidential election without the help of a human hand.

Already, the National Assembly has approved the release of Sh10 billion to be splashed on necessities to make this the freest and fairest repeat election on the continent.

The writer is a Programme Advisor, Journalists for Justice. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of JFJ. [email protected]


Time for Kenyans to reclaim their country

By GABRIEL DOLAN
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Will we or won’t we have an election on October 26? That is the question on everyone’s lips. Yet despite the changes that each day brings, we are not any nearer to getting an answer or resolution.

Matters are certainly not helped by Wafula Chebukati’s doublespeak and ambiguous statements. One day we are assured that all the complaints of Nasa have been addressed and we are ready to roll.

The next day the chair states openly that he cannot guarantee a credible poll. His ambiguity is putting the security of the country at risk. This is hardly good at all.

The choices facing Mr Chebukati are few and none of them is easy. He can go back to the Supreme Court seeking advice if he is unprepared due to the many obstacles that he claims his secretariat and other commissioners have put in the way of the reform process.

SUPREME COURT

Alternatively, he may proceed and oversee an election that he is not sure will pass the Supreme Court standard of free, fair and legal. Finally, if his claims of interference and intimidation are genuine then he may still do the honourable thing and resign.

Yes, the future of this great country is very much in his hands even if we know that the best of ballots will not be able to address the political crisis and ethnic divisions that need a wholly different solution.

At the grassroots level, then what advice does one give to the hundreds of observers who have volunteered to oversee Thursday’s scheduled ballot? Provide them with helmets and running shoes in the event of chaos in the polling stations?

There is little doubt that in areas where Nasa is the dominant party, there would appear a strong likelihood of violence both from protesters and State agents; those who want to prevent the ballot and those who want to secure it. With the combative Dr Fred Matiang’i warning of his own militia supporting the State forces then expect violence.

Nasa rarely supervises its forces either and so expect mayhem, loss of property and life.

Mr Raila Odinga and Mr Uhuru Kenyatta appear determined to use the threat of force to get their way. Not enough Kenyans have died for them to be forced to sit at the same table.

Mr Kenyatta asked all Kenyans to pray for reconciliation and peace this Sunday. But after exchanging his suit for the Jubilee uniform he announced that there is nothing to debate with Mr Odinga save for his retirement dues.

The country needs reconciliation but it begins with the two protagonists as they alone have pushed the country to the precipice.

This is not to let a compromised electoral commission off the hook. As 26th draws near be assured that elections will not solve the crisis! But another flawed ballot will precipitate the inevitable collapse of the nation.

This country needs prayers. Prayers may not always change God but they can change us. Whatever happens this week, Kenyans must reclaim the nation and put the warlords in their place.

Think, talk, pray and act like a Kenyan so that next week we see some hope and light emerging from the tunnel. God help Kenya. 


Holding an election without obeying court orders is futile

By MAINA KIAI
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The dramatic resignation of Dr Roselyn Akombe from the IEBC, and chairman Wafula Chebukati’s statement expressing doubt that he can deliver a credible, free and fair election, are monumental.

Anyone who seriously believes that any “election” conducted on October 26 will be more than a selection exercise must be living on Mars! And yet again, Dr Akombe’s resignation and the chairman’s statement have exposed the folly of international election observers who had endorsed the selection preparations as adequate.

How they could do this, without even questioning why the IEBC has still not opened up the servers from the August election, and while maintaining the same staff and structures for October as in August — as Dr Akombe’s eloquent internal memo to her chair states — is a mystery.

But it is decisions like these that weaken international election observation and degrade their potential impact.

We are at a crucial juncture in Kenyan history and it is a time when reason should prevail. Some have been stressing that holding the election on October 26 is a constitutional imperative ordered by the Supreme Court, but they conveniently ignore the Court’s demand that the elections be held “in conformity with the Constitution and the laws.” That rider is huge, for laws are made for humans, not humans for laws.

Let us not forget that in 2012, the High Court ruled that rather than holding the elections on the second Tuesday of August 2012 as mandated by the Constitution, they would be held in March 2013, which we all accepted. 

It is clear that holding elections with the anger, hatred, divisions, and threats — for the Jubilee supporters clad in military fatigues are a clear threat meant to intimidate non-Jubilee supporters — currently engulfing us will only make things worse.

This is similar to Yoweri Museveni’s elections in Uganda, when tanks, armoured personnel carriers and heavy weapons are brought out of the barracks on the eve of elections.

And it is reminiscent of Charles Taylor’s campaign slogan in Liberia in 1997 of “He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him.”

This is the time to step back and think about Kenya and Kenyans. Our primary goal surely has to be reducing human suffering as the Catholic Bishops have been asserting.

And it must be to take actions that are the least harmful to Kenya and Kenyans. And that means that we do not do anything that ends up with the blood of even more Kenyans spilt, after the 67 who have already been killed.

As it stands, any exercise on October 26 will not have credibility and will be challenged in the Supreme Court which assured us that it would not hesitate to annul elections that do not meet the constitutional threshold.

We already have statements from Dr Akombe and chairman Chebukati confirming that meeting the constitutional threshold will not be possible.

And we know that the Court order to open up the servers has not been complied with, making that an ongoing violation of the law.

VIOLATION OF LAW

As we are still in the ongoing electoral process, the continuing violation of the law and the Court order must negatively affect the IEBC’s claims to being ready, even if it does open up the servers in October.

And if the IEBC and Jubilee — who never seem to disagree on anything — insist on holding the selection while Nasa supporters exercise their legitimate right to protest, then the result will surely be tens if not hundreds killed by the police. Is this something chairman Chebukati wants on his head?

It is simple really and a matter of common sense and patriotism. Any exercise carried out on October 26 will bring neither legality nor legitimacy. Nor will it bring certainty or predictability.

Instead, it will be the benchmark for a country that will be unstable, economically fragile and increase the divisions and hatred. If Jubilee’s calculation is to offer talks after a swearing in — so as to preserve some power — that will be too little too late. Much like it would be futile for credibility — even if morally the right thing — were Ezra Chiloba and his accomplices in the secretariat and Commission to leave now.

 Maina Kiai is a human rights activist and co-director at InformAction. [email protected]


Social media can be used to champion good causes instead of spreading hate

By BURINI GLADYS
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What would you do if you woke up tomorrow to find that all social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and WhatsApp — have been deleted, never to return?

Social media is currently in open season, spewing venom at any opinion you give. But aren’t we entitled to object? After all, this is a public platform where one are free to share his or her thoughts.

However, regardless of your views, you have a personal and public duty to use your social media account responsibly. Public etiquette does not allow us to walk around calling each other names and telling each other where to go. It is objectionable for you to walk right up to strangers and start telling them your thoughts on their outfits.

Yes, social media is there for you to share your opinion, but you must not emotionally or verbally attack others.

If you are going to perpetuate anything, at the very least let it be the truth. This is not the truth as you know it, but the absolute truth that is beyond question.

Your social media page is a megaphone, and the more you shout the more we are likely to hear you. Social media is a powerful and delicate tool that can cause damage of great proportions when mishandled by sharing information that is inaccurate. Most of us are blasé and do not verify the source or the information we are receiving. The sheer visible chain of forwards, retweets and shares give this bogus information legitimacy, making it seem like the undeniable truth.

It is quite easy for us to identify with and share information that aligns with our interests. However, sometimes, much as it hits home, it is fake.

Take a few minutes to distinguish the fake from the real. If it is true, by all means shout it through your megaphone to your followers.

If it is untrue, do not knowingly and wilfully undermine the truth to make others riled up. ‘Fake news,’ as we now call it, is creating a negative online ecosystem that is dysfunctional and socially destructive.

Furthermore, do not read the truth and create your own version of the truth through selective snippets to commodify content because it sells or gains you followers. It is known that social media is supposedly an objective source of wisdom and insight for quite a number; do not mislead them. Even a thief has 40 days.

In all this, social media is a privilege. Growing up in the era of President Moi, for most, the closest they got to His Excellency was by the roadside, waving the Kenyan flag and dancing as he took a brief stop to say hello to the wananchi while on his way to a public function. Now, you can tweet President Uhuru Kenyatta or even interact with him directly through Facebook Live. If we did not know what devolution is, having first hand direct access to the President is the epitome. Let us pause on that for a minute.

If we reassigned just an eighth of the time we spend hurling insults at each other to raise objective public concerns over our healthcare, security, economy, and sports with the President, we would be a few hundred kilometres ahead.

It is futile for you to tweet or Facebook us when we lack the practical capabilities of changing things. Take meaningful action by communicating your aggravations to the one person who can do something about it. Use your social media page wisely, and we will get a lot done as a country.

On this point, perhaps President Kenyatta should have a segment of ‘The President’s Question Time’ every week.

Finally, let us strive to make social media enjoyable. King Solomon said there is a time for everything, including a time for banter.

In this political season and beyond, we could use a good laugh, albeit not at the expense of others. After all, laughter is the best medicine, and God knows we need to heal as a country. Let us not always be so political and hot headed that we miss out on making human connections through social media. Be a socially aware, image and content conscious social media user.

The writer works with international businesses on commercial litigation. [email protected]


Politicians must find way out of stalemate

By EDITORIAL
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Friday’s Mashujaa Day was a rank different from all others. The mood was apprehensive because of the uncertainty over the elections scheduled for next week.

It is unfortunate that the spirit of such a solemn occasion should be subdued with tension brought about by political acrimony. That while our forefathers struggled to liberate the country from the shackles of colonial subjugation, the present crop of leaders have divided the people and are actively pushing the country to the precipice.

While the celebrations were marked in many parts of the country, in several other places, opposition leaders organised parallel rallies to campaign against the elections.

In his address to the nation, President Kenyatta declared war on those who may attempt to disrupt the elections.

This is critical because peace must be maintained. But that should not mean victimisation, vengeance and misuse of state powers against innocent people.

His main opponent, Raila Odinga, while rooting for peace and cautioning his supporters against violence, stated he will make a major announcement on the eve of the elections — October 25 — to “give direction out of the current impasse.” That is not clear but it is not edifying.

Generally, the positions by the protagonists remain antagonistic and this has given wrong cues to their supporters who have resorted to making reckless and provocative statements that only worsen the situation. We are appalled by insults hurled by some opposition politicians at President Kenyatta, indicating extreme carelessness and ignominy.

Equally, we are dismayed by some claims made on Mr Odinga by some Jubilee politicians that amount to character assassination and extreme contempt.

We are calling for caution and dignified political discourse. Differences in opinions should not be translated into personal hatred.

The next few days will be crucial for the stability and continued prosperity of the country. President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga must weigh their words and actions. Let them not enter history books as the leaders whose statements and actions led the country to anarchy. We need our country after October 26.


Kudos AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia

By EDITORIAL
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Winners of Kenya’s top flight football competitions are being crowned this weekend with AFC Leopards clinching the GOtv Shield on Friday to earn a ticket to next year’s continental CAF Confederation Cup, their first appearance on the African stage since 2010.

Gor Mahia, meanwhile, are on the verge of clinching their 16th Premier League title, only chasing a draw against Ulinzi Stars in Kericho on Saturday to be crowned SportPesa Premier League champions and a ticket to represent Kenya, once again, at the prestigious CAF Champions League next year.

Kenyan clubs have perennially failed miserably on the continental stage since 1987 when Gor won the country’s only African club title, the Africa Cup Winners’ Cup (now the CAF Confederation Cup).

This calls for more serious preparations by Gor and Leopards. Clubs form the basis of national team football, and as long as our clubs struggle, performances of our national team, Harambee Stars, will equally remain mediocre.


Zlatan could be back this year, says Mourinho

By AFP
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MANCHESTER

Jose Mourinho said on Friday that he expects Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to be ready to return to action from his career-threatening knee ligament injury before the end of the year.

The Manchester United manager has stubbornly refused to put a timeline on the absences of long-term injury victims Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba, who suffered a hamstring tear in mid-September.

He has said he does not even know when the pair will be back although while Pogba remains in Florida for rehabilitation, veteran Ibrahimovic is now back with United’s medical staff in Manchester and has posted social media pictures of his recovery.

That has led Mourinho to predict a return for the cult hero striker some time in December after what will be eight months out with knee ligament injury that was sustained in April and required surgery.

“Paul is not here. I don’t know when he comes back, when he’s available, I’ve no idea,” said Mourinho.

“Zlatan is here, he’s working here, under our control, he’s working so, so, so, so hard but he’s not to be back in the next week or couple of weeks. Let him take his time and be back when everyone feels is the right moment.

“Do I think he will be back in 2017? Yes I do. But it is just a feeling.”

Mourinho’s position on injuries has been at the centre of attention this week after he insisted that he does not “cry” over absent players while accusing rival managers of doing precisely that.

That was interpreted as a thinly veiled criticism of rival Antonio Conte, at his former club Chelsea, and provoked an angry response from the Italian.

By the end of the week, however, Mourinho was more conciliatory in explaining his position at his weekly press conference at United’s training ground.

“Everybody knows every manager wants to have all the players available, it’s just then a question of the way you position yourself in relation to that, the best way you think is to do it,” he said.

“The way we try to do it is always to speak about opportunities for others,” he added. “Doesn’t mean I don’t miss the players. I would like them to be here for us.”

This season Mourinho has also been without defender Marcos Rojo, while midfielders Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick are currently out injured.

But Mourinho refused to reveal whether the fitness problems will prompt him Into dramatic action in the January transfer window.

“Yes, is true I wanted four players in the summer and I think clearly everybody knows the position, maybe you know the player, didn’t happen but we adapt to it and try the best we can,” he said.

“But what I expect from a normal season is Zlatan will be back and Marcos will be back, and Pogba and Fellaini will be back and someone will get injured,” he added.

“I don’t want to speak about signings yet, or the market or January. We are in October, we have November, December and half of October to play, so why should I speak about the market?”


Lafarge Africa seeks approval to launch 132 bln naira rights issue

LAGOS, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Cement maker Lafarge Africa is expecting regulatory approval from Nigerian authorities for a 131.65 billion naira ($431.43 million) rights issue as it focuses on Nigeria for growth and expands into Ghana, its chief financial officer said on Friday.

As part of its plan to refinance its debt, the subsidiary of Franco-Swiss group LafargeHolcim said it would also issue a 25 billion naira of commercial paper on Monday under a 60 billion naira programme.

Lafarge announced a loss of 40.37 billion naira last year, weighed down by foreign currency debt in a market in recession.

But it has swung into profit this year and announced a pretax profit of 1.09 billion naira in the first nine months of 2017 on lower volumes, Bruno Bayet told Reuters.

Those profits were lower than the half-year and first-quarter performance.

“We have returned to profits and … now we are investing in energy for next year that would further improve the performance,” he said.

The company is invested mainly in Nigeria where it has around 11 million tonnes capacity with another 4 million tonnes in South Africa. It started exports to Ghana in the third quarter.

Bayet said the company had gained market share in Nigeria though volumes fell 18.6 percent. Nigeria exited recession in the second quarter but growth remains fragile.

He said the short-term focus is on Nigeria and growth in South Africa was disappointing, leading to a management change.

Parent firm LafargeHolcim is backing the cash call and would subscribe to its shares including converting its quasi-equity in the company to ordinary shares.

Bayet said the company was looking at a debt position of below 200 billion naira after the restructuring compared with around 225 billion naira now.

Arch rival, Dangote Cement, majority owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, is bidding to acquire South African rival PPC.

The move aims to consolidate the continental cement market after it announced a 48.1 percent rise in pretax profit to 220.18 billion naira for nine months.

Shares in Lafarge Africa, which rose 37 percent this year, were unchanged on Friday at 56 naira, valuing the cement company at 307.47 billion naira.

$1 = 305.15 naira Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg