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Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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After the Abuja bombings, the political process turns back to the Niger Delta, where militants are frustrated by the aftermath of the amnesty deal

Bomb blasts in Abuja on 1 October killed twelve people. They could foretell more trouble to come and it is still not clear who was responsible, despit...

NIGERIA

Ready for change in the Niger Delta

ZIMBABWE

Everyone wants a vote

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

It has been a bad week for Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo: the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation has politely turned down his offer of a US$300,000 prize for research scientists whose work improves the quality of life. Wide-ranging protests that Obiang had improved the quality of his own life by stealing his country’s oil money and gaoling opponents prompted UNESCO’s refusal, it seems. However, at least one former inmate of Obiang’s gaols is standing by his captor. Enter Simon Mann: released from detention in Equatorial Guinea last November, just 18 months into a 34-year sentence for plotting a coup, he reported that he had been treated more like a guest than a prisoner in Malabo’s notorious Black Beach gaol. Mann’s flame-haired wife Amanda declared that President Obiang was a ‘lovely, lovely man.’ But how far has the love between these former foes developed? Mann was seen back in Malabo a few weeks ago. According to one official, he has been acting as a special advisor to Obiang. A business source in Johannesburg said he was helping to resolve a longstanding contractual dispute with South African creditors.So, how to explain this tropical Stockholm syndrome? Could it be that Black Beach has rehabilitated a repeat offender? That is harder to judge since Obiang will take no credit for Mann’s change of heart and his officials are unwilling to make further comments about any formal appointments.

SOUTH AFRICA

Battle of the plans

Jacob Zuma notched up a success when the Hawks, the special crime investigation unit, abandoned its inquiries into the arms deal in which it had been alleged that he was corruptly involved. The President’s next task may prove even harder. It is to get his allies in the governing African National Congress (ANC) to agree on a ‘new growth path’ for the country. With the cabinet divided, his advisors fear he may not come up with a comprehensive economic growth strategy before the end of his first term in 2012.

SUDAN

Northern opposition faces increasing duress

The prospect of independence for Southern Sudan after the referenda due in January is sharpening the cleavages in the Northern opposition. Many Northern oppositionists say their movement would be weakened by the secession of the South, which would allow the ruling National Congress Party (the rebranded National Islamic Front) regime to step up attacks on critics in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, and beyond. The NCP is also using the crisis over the referenda to pose as the party of national unity, a tactic to which Northern oppositionists have failed to respond effectively.

WORLD BANK | INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND | AFRICA

As power shifts eastwards, Africa boosts its stake

Africa has won its first big victory in the ongoing reform of the international financial institutions in Washington by securing a third seat on the Executive Board of the World Bank. Both the Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been under intense pressure since the West's financial crisis of 2008 to cede more shareholdings and votes to developing economies, especially those in Asia. However, Africa's 53 states remain the least well represented on the boards of both Bank and IMF.

WORLD BANK | INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND | AFRICA

Caught in the currency battles

The main protagonists in the current currency skirmishes are the United States and China but developing economies are caught in the crossfire as governments talk of competitive devaluation and more controls on capital. A bid for a multilateral deal on currency rates will dominate the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in South Korea on 11-12 November, at which South Africa and the African Union will be represented.

ETHIOPIA

Counting on growth

Just before May’s general elections, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi attributed his expected victory to seven years of double-digit growth. Yet the figures are controversial and pose questions about the country’s economic direction. The latest furore broke out on 19 October, when Human Rights Watch published a scathing report, ‘Development without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia’. Wrote HRW, ‘The Ethiopian government is routinely using access to aid as a weapon to control people and crush dissent. If you don’t play the ruling party’s game, you get shut out. Yet foreign donors are rewarding this behavior with ever-larger sums of development aid.’

TANZANIA

Challenging the CCM

The majority of the governing party, Chama cha Mapinduzi, is unlikely to be overturned at the 31 October election. There are nevertheless widespread expectations of good results for the opposition. The Parliament which was dissolved in July had a CCM majority over all the opposition seats combined – 277 of 322 – but this time around, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) looks set for a strong showing.

TANZANIA

Kikwete marshals his troops

The political parties expected to do best in the 31 October general elections are the governing Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), with Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) probably pushing the previous number two party, the Civic United Front (CUF), into third place except in Zanzibar, where its position remains the same. It is clear that President Jakaya Kikwete and the CCM see Chadema as the main threat and local observers believe that is the real reason for all the current publicity and litigation over the marital affairs of its presidential candidate, Wilbrod Slaa (AC Vol 49 No 2).

CONGO-KINSHASA

Murder again

The official story is that Armand Tungulu Mudiandambu killed himself on 1 October with a cloth he was using as a pillow. He had been detained by President Joseph Kabila’s National Guard. This was the second such recent death. Four months ago, Floribert Chebeya, Chairman of the human rights group La Voix des Sans-Voix (Voice of the Voiceless), was found dead after giving himself up to the Inspector General of Police, John Numbi. The security services seem to be immune from responsibility. Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi wa Malumba accuses Kabila of treating his countrymen like animals.

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

It has been a bad week for Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo: the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation has politely turned down his offer of a US$300,000 prize for research scientists whose work improves the quality of life. Wide-ranging protests that Obiang had improved the quality of his own life by stealing his country’s oil money and gaoling opponents prompted UNESCO’s refusal, it seems. However, at least one former inmate of Obiang’s ga...

EGYPT

El Baradei’s boycott falters

The campaign by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed el Baradei for a mass boycott of the general elections on 29 November is in disarray after several opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), decided to stand. The only sure beneficiary will be the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

Pointers  

NIGER

Coup-makers fall out

Having seized power in a relatively popular coup, vowed to hold elections and tackled a food crisis, Niger’s military junta, headed by Major Salou Djibo, looked to be sitting pretty (AC Vol 51 No 19). It was attracting foreign support for its plans for e...

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