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MAIDUGURI: JTC Youth Vigilante Group member during a patrol through the deserted outskirts of Maiduguri. The civilian civil defence group are armed with old hunting rifles and homemade weapons to try and defend themselves against attacks by Boko Haram. Credit: Sven Torfinn / Panos
MAIDUGURI: JTC Youth Vigilante Group member during a patrol through the deserted outskirts of Maiduguri. The civilian civil defence group are armed with old hunting rifles and homemade weapons to try and defend themselves against attacks by Boko Haram. Credit: Sven Torfinn / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Accusations that a former state governor and army chief have been sponsoring the Islamist insurgents have fired up the election campaign

Almost in concert with the political parties' calendar for choosing their presidential candidates, the Jama'atu Ahlus Sunnah Lidda'awati wal Jihad, wi...

CAMEROON

Bickering over Boko Haram

GHANA

Popping the gas balloon

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

If there are any positive side-effects from the Ebola outbreak that has already cost more than 2,300 lives in West Africa, it may be to highlight the short-sightedness of funding cuts to international health agencies. Margaret Chan, the Director General of the United Nations' World Health Organisation, says the ability of the agency to respond to health emergencies has been badly undermined. After its total budget was cut by US$500 million to $4 billion, the WHO reduced allocations for responding to health crises by over 50% to about $115 mn. a year.

The WHO reckons it will cost at least $600 mn. to deal with the Ebola outbreak, although the financial losses caused by the disease may run into several billion dollars. But the race to raise emergency funds is proving a great distraction from galvanising action for a regional plan to stop the outbreak.

This comes as United States officials have assessed the Ebola outbreak to be out of control in Liberia and Sierra Leone and estimate that as many as 20,000 could die before its spread is stopped. Concerned by the withdrawal of several voluntary agencies from the Ebola-hit countries, the US is sending in new teams of specialists from the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. But Washington has its own economic hurdles, and President Barack Obama has had to urge Congress to fast-track an appropriation of $58 mn. to speed up production of Zmapp, a drug that could help people infected with Ebola.

SOUTH SUDAN

A deadline for the deadline

This time the deadline for a peace and power-sharing agreement is serious, runs the message from regional and international officials. On 25 August, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating between government and rebels, gave the warring parties 45 days to settle before imposing sanctions.

LESOTHO

Trouble in the neighbourhood

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has returned to Maseru after fleeing the country after a claimed attempt by Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, the army chief he had just sacked, to take power on 30 August. South African President Jacob Zuma escorted Thabane to Maseru under South African Police Service guard. SAPS has stayed on to protect him. Zuma’s forces, however, have no mandate to intervene. Members of the Southern African Development Community, which met in Pretoria on 1 September, want Lesotho’s Parliament, suspended since June, reconvened.

GABON

Electioneering begins

The 2016 presidential election campaign has already begun in Libreville. President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba is trying to explain away his government's glacial progress in fighting corruption and raising the living standards of the average citizen. Meanwhile, the oppositionist and former African Union Commission Chairman, Jean Ping, faces criticism that he does not offer a real alternative to the ruling Parti démocratique gabonais (PDG) because he was a top political baron under the four-decade 'big man' rule by the late President Omar Bongo Ondimba .

SUDAN

More calls for Nuba talks

The failure of its last dry season offensive in the Nuba Mountains has left the Sudanese regime with little room to manoeuvre against more effective and united opposition groups. Combined with economic and foreign pressure on Khartoum, this has breathed new life into the National Dialogue process. The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) started the process but the opposition, armed and unarmed, has now managed to seize some of the initiative. In turn, oppositionists have won more credibility, at home and abroad.

SUDAN

Opposition beams, Khartoum glowers

The photographs show a beaming Malik Agar Eyre, head of the Sudan Revolutionary Front, and a grim-faced Ghazi Salah el Din el Atabani, veteran Islamist former minister, sitting with their colleagues and, in the middle, South Africa's ubiquitous ex-President, Thabo Mbeki. The signing in Addis Ababa on 4 September of a declaration of principles between the SRF and National Umma Party on one hand and on the other, representatives from Khartoum, is an important step in the long dialogue backed by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel.

SOUTH AFRICA

Dividing the spoils

Bridgette Radebe, Chairperson of Mmakau Mining, President of the South African Mining Development Association which represents black-owned mining companies and self-styled 'Mining Queen' is using the transfer-pricing issue to try to force a major shift in mine ownership. She is working all her political connections in the African National Congress (ANC) and Parliament to push for legislation, warning that the country risks 'another Marikana massacre' unless urgent action is taken.

LIBERIA

Oil blocks and shocks

As bidding opens on four offshore oil exploration blocks and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf signals that long-awaited petroleum legislation is imminent, the National Oil Company of Liberia again comes under unwelcome scrutiny. State-owned Nocal stands accused of poor accounting, internal corruption and failing to track down revenue from key partners.

UGANDA

President versus PM

President Yoweri Museveni has sparked a bitter war in the ruling National Resistance Movement over his decision to stand in the 2016 election. He appears to have abandoned plans for his son, Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to succeed him after they got a hostile reception. And the breaking of a gentlemen's agreement between Museveni and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi that he would receive the NRM presidential nomination in 2016 has put the two old friends at loggerheads. Mbabazi is one of the longest-standing members of the presidential inner circle and his departure from it is one of the biggest political upheavals in recent years.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Disagreements over dialogue

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo announced on 29 August his plans to hold a dialogue with members of the opposition but they are highly sceptical that it will lead to any progress. Obiang calls himself 'the referee and moderator' of the democratisation process and the government has long forbidden the opposition to hold meetings and protests. It has also refused to legalise new parties. Obiang said that opposition members with legal concerns could ask for a presidential pardon and encouraged them to join parties that had already been legalised if they were unable to legalise their own. The reactions of the opposition ranged from derision to cautious acceptance.

ZIMBABWE

Rescue for bigwig debts

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has bought non-performing loans (NPLs) from two collapsed banking institutions and housed them in the new Zimbabwe Asset Management Corporation (Zamco). Although the RBZ, the central bank, set up Zamco to restore financial confidence and refused to identify the institutions concerned, Africa Confidential has uncovered their identities. Many of the worst-performing loans which brought these banks to the brink were to high officials in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and their friends and relations. Some also went to a third bank to which the former RBZ Governor, Gideon Gono, was heavily exposed.

ZIMBABWE

Mice at play

President Robert Mugabe's movements are always top secret and the first indication of his four-day trip to Beijing was a picture of himself and Grace Mugabe being seen off at Harare Airport on 31 August. The presidential couple seemed typically aloof as Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her ally Didymus Mutasa bade farewell. Once they were in the air, officials in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front began manoeuvring around the clock. On the happy couple's return, police had to keep rival factions of the Harare Youth League, who had been bussed to the airport, away from each other and from the presidential party. There were several arrests. At issue was a demand for the Youth Congress elections to be re-held. The faction of Mujuru's chief rival in the presidential succession struggle, Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, had lost.

SOMALIA

Reports of his death… the UPDATE

The killing of Harakat al Shabaab al Mujahideen leader Ahmed Abdi Godane by the United States on 1 September is unlikely to leave a vacancy for long. The Pentagon announced on 2 September that US Special Forces, 'acting on actionable intelligence', tried to kill the Al Shabaab leader using manned and unmanned aircraft to launch Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs. The target was a camp and vehicles near Barawe, in south-central Somalia. On 5 September the Pentagon provided confirmation that Godane had died in the strike.

MALAWI

‘Cashgate’ crisis continues

The first conviction of a defendant in the Cashgate trial has set the tone for the rest of the trial; senior politicians on all sides may find themselves implicated. On 28 August former Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Treazer Namathanga Senzani pleaded guilty to theft of public funds and agreed to return K63 mn. ($160,000) to the exchequer.

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

If there are any positive side-effects from the Ebola outbreak that has already cost more than 2,300 lives in West Africa, it may be to highlight the short-sightedness of funding cuts to international health agencies. Margaret Chan, the Director General of the United Nations' World Health Organisation, says the ability of the agency to respond to health emergencies has been badly undermined. After its total budget was cut by US$500 million to $4...

CAMEROON

Ransom claims dog Biya

The government sent a ruling party MP, Abba Boukar Malla, to negotiate with the jihadist militia Boko Haram for ransoms for the hostages they seized in a raid on Kolofata village on 27 July, Africa Confidential has learned. But all contact with Boukar Malla, who has acted as an intermediary with the militants before, was lost until he was 'released' by Boko Haram on 26 August. He brought 'good news', he told the press, that Françoise-Agnès Ali, wife of the top minister and confidant of President Paul Biya, Ahmadou Ali, and other hostages were safe and well. The government denies negotiating with Boko Haram or paying ransoms.

Pointers  

FRANCOPHONIE

Turbo-charged competition

Five Africans are in the starting block to succeed Senegalese former President Abdou Diouf as Secretary General of the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF). The only candidate from elsewhere is a Canadian Governor General, Haitian-born jou...

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