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Five African economic snapshots
Five African economic snapshots

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Economic gloom in Europe and North America will slow African growth next year and may spark more challenges to incumbent regimes

For many African countries, the West’s economic travails will translate into spiralling food and fuel prices, higher unemployment and less state spend...

KENYA | SOMALIA

It rained on their invasion

ETHIOPIA | SOMALIA

What’s in Somalia for Ethiopia

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The International Criminal Court has been having a good week. News that Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda, a former justice minister and deputy to Luis Moreno Ocampo, will succeed him as ICC Chief Prosecutor next year may win back support from states who refer to it as the ‘African Criminal Court’.

The surprise rendition of Côte d’Ivoire’s former President Laurent Gbagbo to the Hague, charged with crimes against humanity, created little fuss in Abidjan; a successful prosecution could retrieve some of the court’s lost authority. A few of Ouattara’s more troublesome supporters are likely to follow Gbagbo. The ICC may also help the new regime in Tripoli to organise a trial of Seif el-Islam Gadaffi, son of Libya’s deposed leader.

Another boost to the ICC came from Nairobi, where the International Commission of Jurists had asked Judge Nicholas Ombija to rule on whether Kenya, a signatory of the Rome statutes, should arrest Sudan’s President Omer Hassan el Beshir if he visits again. Without hesitation, Judge Ombija said Kenya should arrest Omer on principle.

Not even abject apologies from Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetang’ula, an avowed opponent of the ICC, could placate the furious Omer. The 1 December decision of the East African Community to reject Sudan’s membership application may have reinforced the Islamist regime’s fear of a regional plot. With an African at the ICC’s helm, official efforts to protect Omer from trial for war crimes could rapidly diminish.

MALI

Presidential poll wide open

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.

MALI

Enemies in the north

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

A pipeline of votes

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.

GHANA

The IMF and the Chinese loan puzzle

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.

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

Gbagbo to the Hague, nation to the polls

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.

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

ICC bags Gbagbo first

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.

GUINEA

Condé talks to rivals

The parliamentary elections due on 29 December have been postponed until early next year following a meeting between President Alpha Condé and opposition leaders on 15 November under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States. It was the first meeting between Condé and his political opponents since the bitterly contested presidential elections a year ago.

GUINEA

Palace plotters

Since the assassination attempt in July, President Alpha Condé has shut himself up in the Sékoutouréyah palace behind a massive guard, some trained by his ally, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso (AC Vol 52 No 15, Presidential guard fall out). As in the old days of military rule, every presidential outing looks like a military parade. Some officers accused of involvement in the plot await trial, expected to start soon.

ANGOLA

MPLA curbs the media

The Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola may take its time over deciding who it wants as the next president and when elections will take place but it is taking no chances on ensuring positive media coverage (AC Vol 52 No 22). It is relying not only on state-owned but also on ostensibly independent media to create the best possible environment for MPLA success at the polls. That also means cracking down on free speech and intimidating journalists.

ANGOLA

Banks strike oil

On 29 November, Angola enacted a law forcing foreign oil companies to use the local banking system for their financial transactions, rather than hold their accounts offshore.

SOUTH AFRICA

Selling the state

As budgetary pressures and unemployment mount, the government faces a dilemma over how to reform its state-owned enterprises. Business interests and some cash-strapped ministries eagerly demand sweeping privatisation of state conglomerates such as South African Airways (SAA), the transport company Transnet, and the electricity utility Eskom. Other ministries, senior officials in the governing African National Congress and their trades union allies rail against such sacrilege and demand these ‘crown jewels’ be kept in public ownership, not least because privatisation would mean the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The International Criminal Court has been having a good week. News that Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda, a former justice minister and deputy to Luis Moreno Ocampo, will succeed him as ICC Chief Prosecutor next year may win back support from states who refer to it as the ‘African Criminal Court’.

The surprise rendition of Côte d’Ivoire’s former President Laurent Gbagbo to the Hague, charged with crimes against humanity, created little fuss in Abidjan; a successful prosecution could ret...

SOUTH AFRICA

The Gordhan knot

A mix of principled ideological differences, intra-party rivalries and commercial interests are stalling efforts by government and the African National Congress to reform state-owned companies.

Pointers  

CONGO-KINSHASA

Fraud and violence

Calls for the election results, due on 6 December, to be annulled have revived fears of violence. More than a score of people died on 26-28 November, five of them when the Republican Guard fired on demonstrators in Kinshasa’s Masina district on 27 Novembe...

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