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NIGERIA: The green dome of the National Assembly in Abuja. George Osodi / Panos
NIGERIA: The green dome of the National Assembly in Abuja. George Osodi / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

When it comes to Africa’s leading economy, balance sheets not political histories dominate the reading lists

EGYPT | SUDAN

Saudi Arabia targets Khartoum

EGYPT

El Sisi's spring offensive

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

Governments, like clerics, balance good acts against bad ones in a moral balance sheet. This calculus governs international relations. The leaders of Kenya and Uganda, for example, know that participation in the bloody fight against the jihadists of Al Shabaab in Somalia wins indulgences from Western powers, the United States in particular, who are reluctant to send their own troops into battle in Africa. In President Yoweri Museveni’s case it buys near silence on his government's crackdown on the opposition and new homophobic laws. In Kenya's case, Western powers quickly shifted from a position of 'minimal contacts ' with President Uhuru Kenyatta because of the charges against him at the International Criminal Court to a level of security and intelligence cooperation in northern and coastal Kenya that reminds some of the trade-offs during the Cold War.

Rwanda is the country with the biggest deposit on the moral credit side of the balance sheet since the 1994 genocide after Britain, France and the USA on the United Nations Security Council drafted the resolution for the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers at the height of the killing. This has hitherto inoculated Kigali against public censure, let alone sanctions, for direct and indirect interventions in Congo-Kinshasa and a comprehensive and sometimes murderous clampdown on political dissidence at home and abroad. The approach that Rwanda’s leaders adopt is not to ease up on the debit side, but to add more moral credits to the other side. They are doing this by sending their highly trained troops as peacekeepers to Central African Republic, having won praise for their work in Darfur, Sudan: Mali is their next mission. When President Paul Kagame's second constitutional term expires in 2017, should he find it necessary to stay on for 'security reasons', he can expect a clear signal from the West: a deafening silence.

MALI

Keïta's six-month itch

Elected in triumph last August, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta faces growing criticism over failures to broker a settlement in the north and boost the national economy. The government's resignation on 5 April reflected deep differences over economic reforms between President Keïta and the departing Prime Minister and leading economist Oumar Tatam Ly. So far, little of the 3 billion euros (US$4 bn) in international aid, which was meant to be triggered by last year's elections, has been forthcoming, partly because of procedural and governance problems. Malians complain there has been far more money for the war against jihadists in the Sahel than for local reconstruction plans.

RWANDA

Kagame mourns – and warns

President Paul Kagame's keynote speech at the Amahoro Stadium on 7 April urged everyone to face up to their responsibilities, since 'the people who planned and carried out the genocide were Rwandans but the history and root causes go beyond this country'. The plea for reconciliation then switched to an attack on France: 'And no country is powerful enough, even when they think that they are, to change the facts. After all, les faits sont têtus (facts are stubborn)'.

RWANDA

Militant remembrance

Formally entitled 'Kwibuka 20' (we remember), with the motto 'Remember, Unite, Renew', the concerns of the present were never far away from the commemoration of the past. That genocide should happen 'never again' was a challenge to guests from countries where conflict with ethnic implications is currently under way. For others, the event affirmed and consolidated President Paul Kagame's rule. As he confirmed his determination to stay on his current course, the thoughts of some turned to 2017. By then, the constitution will have been changed to allow him to stand again for President or else he will step down, a prospect that at this point looks unlikely.

SOUTH AFRICA

Vavi and the unions fall out

The deal between rival factions of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, mediated by Cyril Ramaphosa on 8 April, is likely to prove temporary. Hostilities are set to resume after the general elections on 7 May, with the probable result that Cosatu – Africa’s largest union federation with 2.2 million members – will be split between one faction that supports President Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress and another that backs a radical alternative to the ANC.

BURUNDI | CONGO-KINSHASA

Terms of abuse

The Kinshasa press loudly celebrated the failure of President Pierre Nkurunziza to amend the Burundian constitution at the end of March, a move intended to permit him a third term of office. It was a clear hint to their own President Joseph Kabila not to try the same thing.Nkurunziza fell just one vote short of the 80% parliamentary majority needed to reform Article 302 of the constitution so that he could stand again next year.

GUINEA BISSAU

The civilians may be back

The positive verdict on the conduct of the elections and the high turnout are but the first steps on a tricky road back to the rule of law and democracy (AC Vol 55 No 5, Resuscitating democracy). The Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde, led by Domingos Simões Pereira, has the best chance of winning the parliamentary elections. Former Finance Minister José Mário Vaz of the PAIGC is expected to take the lead in the presidential contest, probably winning against Abel Incada, the candidate of the Partido da Renovação Social (PRS).

SENEGAL

Man with a plan

The latest development plan from President Macky Sall, the Plan Sénégal émergent (PSE), has won praise from leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and pledges worth US$4.5 billion from the donor Consultative Group, led by the World Bank and European Union (Vol 54 No 25, Sall struggles to stay on course). As with many of Sall’s problems, however, esteem from overseas does not translate into solutions at home. Additional pledges of support have come from China and Qatar but doubts remain about the success of a top-down, grand economic scheme and the methods the government will use to implement it.

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

Governments, like clerics, balance good acts against bad ones in a moral balance sheet. This calculus governs international relations. The leaders of Kenya and Uganda, for example, know that participation in the bloody fight against the jihadists of Al Shabaab in Somalia wins indulgences from Western powers, the United States in particular, who are reluctant to send their own troops into battle in Africa. In President Yoweri Museveni’s case it buys near silence on his government's crac...

ZIMBABWE

Another Diamond raises cash for Harare

After six months of unmitigated bad economic news, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has seized on the news that the Atlas Mara fund run by Bob Diamond, a former Chief Executive Officer of Barclays Bank, is investing heavily in regional banks. Diamond quit Barclays in July 2012 after the bank was fined for manipulating key interest rates. He went into partnership with Ugandan entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar and raised US$325 million in December for the Atlas Mara Fund, which will concentrate on investments in Africa.

Pointers  

MOZAMBIQUE

TV gold

The daughter of President Armando Guebuza, Valentina, has come under attack after a company in which she is a major shareholder was awarded a US$300 million contract without public tender. Chinese media corporation StarTimes Media (Mozambique) was confirm...

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