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Muhammadu Buhari. Credit: Jacob Silberberg / Panos
Muhammadu Buhari. Credit: Jacob Silberberg / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

With three weeks to go until voting day, almost half the electorate still lack voters’ cards and could be disenfranchised

New doubts about the timing of the presidential and governorship elections, currently due on 14 and 21 February respectively, will complicate national...

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

Ouattara looks at second term

SOMALIA

The federation tango

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa came as a bolt from the blue, an apparently natural disaster. And yet, as we approach the anniversary of the first diagnoses deep in the bush of Guinea, new facts are emerging about how opportunistic politics and bad governance – locally and internationally – made the crisis far worse. This is particularly true in Sierra Leone.

The once narrow gap between Monrovia’s handling of the crisis and Freetown’s is now a chasm. Liberia’s new cases are dwindling into single figures, while Sierra Leone’s continue at an alarming rate. Many more now link the persistence of Ebola to Freetown’s disorganisation, lack of capacity and corruption. As our Feature,  The politics of Ebola, makes clear, the evidence cannot be ignored. The health ministry is one of the most corrupt: ghost-workers stalk its corridors and ambulance crews and nurses have to strike to get paid. More of Sierra Leone’s brave health-workers have died than in any other affected country.

The government presents statistics that underestimate the crisis. Public education about the disease, even in the worst affected areas, is appalling. But politicians have received millions to help them sensitise their constituents. When Liberia accepted that cremation of the dead was vital, Sierra Leone demurred. The main Freetown cemetery is now unable to cope and turning into a health hazard.

Both Liberia and Sierra Leone’s recent past has been marked by rebellions, civil war and chronic underdevelopment. So that does not explain why Sierra Leone’s situation is so dire.

SUDAN

More presidential powers

This year the National Congress Party (NCP) government faces a more united and effective opposition and a free-falling oil price which will more than halve export earnings. On top of that it will have to deal with growing hostility from Arab governments, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which object to its backing for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organisations.

AFRICA | ENERGY

Planning puts power first

Inreasing access to energy will 'turbo-charge' growth on the continent, the International Energy Agency says in its latest, long-range report, Africa Energy Outlook. It anticipates that by 2040, African electricity generation capacity will have quadrupled and that around two-thirds of Africans will have access to electricity, compared with less than one-third today. The IEA predicts strong growth amongst smaller oil producers, a further reorientation of exports from Europe towards Asia and a vast boom in natural gas production. Analysts told Africa Confidential that they expect the current global oil price trough to be temporary and that the report's analysis will hold. The implications of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in China, however, will be a concern for some countries.

MADAGASCAR

Hery hangs on

An alliance between former President Marc Ravalomanana and the current President, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, is gathering momentum as church leaders nudge Madagascar's political leaders down the path of national reconciliation. Despite a new mood of cautious consensus, factional tussles over control of the legislature and government remain intense.

UGANDA

Sejusa’s mystery return

The maverick former intelligence chief, General David Sejusa (aka Tinyefuza), found himself at the centre of a siege by armed police this month, despite having returned from exile less than three weeks previously. Before the set-to outside his home, it looked as though Sejusa had struck an amicable deal with his old comrade-in-arms, President Yoweri Museveni, to return to the fold.

SIERRA LEONE

The politics of Ebola

In its last report on Ebola, the United Nations World Health Organisation offered Sierra Leone some good news. The incidence of infection appeared to be decreasing, the WHO said, with 184 new confirmed cases reported in the week to 11 January, compared with 228 in the previous week. This still leaves Sierra Leone ahead of Liberia, with only seven new cases in the week to 11 January, and Guinea, which had 42. In fact, Freetown alone recorded more new cases, 59, than Guinea and Liberia combined.

SOUTH SUDAN

Long tunnel, glimmer of light

A tentative step forward has been made with a political reunification deal signed in Arusha on 21 January between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his sacked Deputy Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon, whose forces have been at war since December 2013, and Deng Alor Kuol for the former detainees. Presiding over the ceremony were Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete and Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta, two regional leaders seen as having stronger links with Riek than their regional counterparts, such a Uganda's Yoweri Museveni.

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa came as a bolt from the blue, an apparently natural disaster. And yet, as we approach the anniversary of the first diagnoses deep in the bush of Guinea, new facts are emerging about how opportunistic politics and bad governance – locally and internationally – made the crisis far worse. This is particularly true in Sierra Leone.

The once narrow gap between Monrovia’s handling of the crisis and Freetown’s is now a chasm. Liberia’s new cases are dwi...

ZAMBIA

PF set for victory

The presidential candidate of the governing Patriotic Front, Edgar Lungu, has surprised Zambians by joining forces with former President Rupiah Banda, whose Movement for Multiparty Democracy was defeated by the PF in the 2011 general elections. After unexpectedly being obliged to stand down as a candidate, Banda has put the MMD's massive store of campaign materials – including four helicopters chartered in South Africa and numerous vehicles – at Lungu's disposal in return for special considerations, according to Africa Confidential's sources in Lusaka. All expect Lungu to win the 20 January presidential by-election by a wide margin.

Pointers  

ANGOLA

New crisis, new banker

José de Lima Massano has unexpectedly resigned as Governor of the Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA, the central bank). The appointment of José Pedro de Morais, who was Finance Minister in 2002-2008, in his place has also surprised the financial...

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