Mali is looking forward to perhaps the most competitive presidential election since the advent of multiparty democracy two decades ago. The first round of the poll on 29 April marks the departure of President Amadou Toumani Touré, the former paratroop officer who ousted the dictator Moussa Traoré in 1990, opening the way to reform.
The serenity of the elections contrasts starkly with deteriorating security in the north, with hundreds of well-armed Tuareg fighters and weapons streaming in from Libya, increased Tuareg banditry and more operations by Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
GHANA | OIL AND GAS
The promise that an offshore gas pipeline and processing plant – a cornerstone of Ghana’s new industrial plan – will be completed around the time of the presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2012 looks too convenient for the governing National Democratic Congress. The man making the promise on 25 November, the acting Chief Executive of the National Gas Company, George Sipa-Adjah Yankey, has been blamed for delays and mismanagement of the project.
The view of Ghana as an economic success, one held by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, comes with a price tag. Last year, the first recalculation of national income for 20 years increased the reported gross domestic product by US$500 to over $1,300 a head. That means Ghana becomes a lower-middle-income country and within three to five years will lose its access to cheap loans from the Bank and IMF. The principal repayments on its existing soft loans will immediately double.
The arrest of former President Laurent Gbagbo by the International Criminal Court and his rendition to the Hague on 30 November prompted surprisingly little protest, given that 46% of Ivorians had voted for him in elections almost exactly a year ago. The political careers of Gbagbo and his wife Simone Gbagbo (who remains under house arrest in Korhogo) are clearly over but there are also doubts about the future of their political party, the Front populaire ivoirien (FPI), which is boycotting parliamentary elections due on 11 December.
The International Criminal Court may have accelerated the arrest and rendition of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo to the Hague because of the discovery of an apparent plot to spring him from house arrest in the northern town of Korhogo, we hear.