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Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Even a six-week postponement of the elections looks unlikely to slow the momentum of opposition presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari

Such is the febrile mood in national politics that President Goodluck Jonathan felt compelled to tell delegations from the European Union and the Econ...

NIGERIA

Policing the vote

BURUNDI

Massacres in the mist

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The crisis that has Libya at its centre has been brewing since oppositionists – backed by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation airpower – overthrew Moammar el Gadaffi’s regime in 2011. Despite hopes for a transition to a stable and prosperous democracy underwritten by Africa’s biggest oil reserves, Libya has become an object lesson in the unintended consequences of armed intervention.

The crisis zone now stretches from the south – Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso – to Egypt, which this week publicly launched an air war on the Islamist militants fighting for control of Tripolitania (western Libya). To the north, the zone stretches to the Italian island of Lampedusa, to which thousands of refugees are fleeing, desperate to escape Libya’s inferno. The confrontation between Libya’s secularists and its Islamists has morphed into a regional war: this week Egypt called for a United Nations-backed force to fight Libya’s Islamists. Qatar and Sudan still back the Islamists.

Most scandalous, however, since the horrific deaths and drownings could be avoided, is European Union policy towards the desperate migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean. It seems some EU officials regard the casualty rates as a useful deterrent. For a while, Italy beefed up its coastguard and saved shipwrecked refugees but the EU cut funds for the programme. Now Italy’s offer to send 5,000 troops to an international force in Libya shows fresh thinking. Just how that force might work is another matter. The UN is making only halting progress in brokering negotiations between the two sides.

SOMALIA

Old faces, old problems

On 9 February, after weeks of bickering among politicians, Somalis were given a new government. In some respects, it's not very different from the old one; some ministers from the much criticised previous regime stay on, often with different portfolios. There are new faces too, many of them members of parliament. What is causing concern is that most of the new ministers got their jobs as repayments of political debts, not because of their competence.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC | CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE

The friendless mediator

It's been a bad year for Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. He is official mediator in the Central African Republic conflict for the Communauté économique des états de l'Afrique centrale. Sassou was already under fire for wanting a third term as elected President to add to his 13 years as unelected head of state (AC Vol 55 No 19). Now, he is shunned by former allies in the West and admonished by the United Nations for the failures of the CEEAC-sponsored peace talks in Nairobi between CAR's Séléka and Anti-Balaka militias.

SOUTH AFRICA

A rowdy state of the nation

Despite fist fights and forcible expulsions from the chamber of the National Assembly, African National Congress officials insisted President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address on 12 February was a triumph. Many others saw only a lacklustre collection of vague assurances but it was its reception that made the headlines. Democratic Alliance members of parliament, dressed in black, staged a walkout in a mock funeral of democracy during the speech. Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) barracked Zuma, shouting 'When is the President going to pay back the money?', a reference to the public funds used to upgrade Zuma's Nkandla homestead.

BURKINA FASO

Between street and barracks

The mass movement that toppled President Blaise Compaoré last October is at increasing odds with the Régiment de sécurité présidentielle (RSP, AC Vol 55 No 22). The elite army unit killed at least ten civilians in cold blood during the mass unrest, says Amnesty International. A large demonstration in central Ouagadougou on 8 February saw civil society leaders call for the RSP to be disbanded as a threat to Burkina Faso's democratic transition. It worries civilians by making demands of the transitional government and requiring guarantees of its status and its role in national defence.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Obiang’s own goal fest

From the glass-fronted VIP section of the main stand, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo had a perfect view as crowd violence in the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo spiralled out of control on 5 February. No pleas over the public address system that they were shaming their country could quell the rowdy crowd, which seemed unable to accept that Equatorial Guinea was losing badly, and fairly, to Ghana in that semi-final. If the regime drew some kudos from hosting the Africa Cup of Nations, it also exposed to wider view the volatility and frustration of local people (AC Vol 56 No 3). A police helicopter flew dangerously low over rioting stands, just one manifestation of the lack of preparedness of the security apparatus for AfCON 2015.

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The crisis that has Libya at its centre has been brewing since oppositionists – backed by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation airpower – overthrew Moammar el Gadaffi’s regime in 2011. Despite hopes for a transition to a stable and prosperous democracy underwritten by Africa’s biggest oil reserves, Libya has become an object lesson in the unintended consequences of armed intervention.

The crisis zone now stretches from the south – Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso – to Egypt, which this week...

CAPITAL FLIGHT

Out of Africa, taxes

Confidential documents from PricewaterhouseCoopers leaked late last year revealed how about 350 companies around the world negotiated advantageous tax deals with the Luxembourg authorities. Africa Confidential has mined the data for the deals to find places where African exchequers may find themselves losing revenue. The agreements are legal but have attracted widespread criticism in Europe.

Pointers  

CONGO-KINSHASA

Poll date set

The Commission électorale nationale indépendante (CENI, the electoral commission) has named 27 November as the date for the next parliamentary and presidential elections. The announcement came on 12 February, two days after Russ Feingold, Un...

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