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GHANA Obuasi: Gold pouring into moulds that form gold bars. Jacob Silberberg / Panos
GHANA Obuasi: Gold pouring into moulds that form gold bars. Jacob Silberberg / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Oil, gas, gold, education and health dominate a landmark election in which the main contenders may again be fewer than just 50,000 votes apart

It has been Ghana’s longest-ever campaign and electors are being offered a real choice of policies and people but still the two major parties are runn...

GHANA

Contributions gratefully received

SIERRA LEONE

Elections 2012: Koroma in front

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

No one could accuse West Africa of rushing into a war in northern Mali. It is eight months since the putsch by dissident soldiers in Bamako against President Amadou Toumani Touré and the subsequent takeover of the north by jihadist militias. It was not until 11 November that the Economic Community of West African States met in Abuja and finally agreed to send in troops: 3,300 from Nigeria, Niger, Senegal and Burkina Faso. They will fight beside the 5,000 Malian soldiers who will lead the campaign to reconquer the three northern provinces: Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. France, Britain and Germany are offering 200 military trainers and air support. Neighbouring Algeria and Mauritania won’t join the campaign but have promised not to obstruct it and may help with logistics.

The military plan has been accepted by Ecowas and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. This week, the Chairwoman of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is in Paris meeting top officials at the same time as Niger’s President, Mahamadou Issoufou, who has already toured Europe to alert governments to the growing security threats in the Sahel. Next stop is the United Nations Security Council, which asked to see the detailed plan by 26 November. It is also expected to back it unanimously and offer finance. France wants the soldiers to move as soon as possible, Britain and the United States argue for better if lengthier preparation. Military action is unlikely before January at the earliest.

SIERRA LEONE

Sesay and the city

The youth of Freetown helped to swing victory for Ernest Bai Koroma in 2007, runs the conventional wisdom. Overwhelming support in the capital was decisive in convincing even the defeated Sierra Leone People’s Party leadership that it was futile to protest at the result.

ALGERIA

No spring in the step

Many Algerians feel that 50 years of independence have left them with little worth celebrating. Yet while dozens of protests about housing, job shortages and other grievances take place every day, there is scant appetite for revolutionary change. Television images of chaos in Libya and Syria may discourage an ‘Arab Spring’.

SOUTH SUDAN

Juba runs out of patience

The prospect of oil exports resuming in the next few weeks and the economic boost that brings should have cheered President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s government. However, long-term improvements in security and the economy are being blocked by the Khartoum regime’s hard-line position. Attempts by Juba’s negotiators to resolve these issues are leading nowhere, reinforcing its frustration.

SOMALIA | ANALYSIS

Hassan Sheikh keeps it in the family

In the two months that it took President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to appoint the Premier and other ministers, he has attracted growing criticism for his aloof style. The diplomats and international organisations that greeted his election in August so enthusiastically now face a far more nationally assertive government. The message from the presidency, we are told, is that diplomats in Nairobi must understand that Hassan Sheikh’s team is in charge, is here to stay and will no longer compromise Somalia’s sovereignty by horse-trading with regional states and the United Nations.

SOMALIA

Breaking ranks in Kismayo

Kenya’s defiance of the Somali government on the ban on charcoal exports from Kismayo threatens the cohesion of the African Union Mission in Somalia. It will also test the mettle of the United Nations Monitoring Group, which has to decide if Kenya has defied the UN Security Council Resolutions and should be sanctioned.

SOUTH AFRICA

Zuma or else

The re-election of President Jacob Zuma as African National Congress (ANC) President is an ‘unstoppable tsunami’, say his backers, yet many members of his original coalition of trades unionists and radicals now vehemently oppose him. His opponents, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, have failed to build the necessary momentum.

SOUTH AFRICA

How the branches voted

Of the 4,500 voting delegates who will decide the African National Congress presidential election at the party conference, 4,103 (91.2%) will come from ANC branches, each of which has at least one vote (with two or three for large city branches). Branch delegates and provincial executive members vote as individuals, not in blocs. The ballot is secret, which encourages factions opposing President Jacob Zuma.

MALAWI | TANZANIA

Oil and gas prospects fuel lake row

Malawi and Tanzania will return to the negotiating table on 15-17 November to seek a diplomatic resolution to their dispute over the border in the lake that divides their two countries. In July, Malawi announced it was prospecting for oil and gas in Lake Malawi, which Tanzanians call Lake Nyasa, rekindling a decades-old dispute over its ownership.

AFRICA | UNITED STATES | MINING

Dodging Dodd-Frank

The American Petroleum Institute, a major oil industry association, and other pro-business groups are challenging the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Major oil companies continue to work to prevent similar rules in Europe.

AFRICA | UNITED STATES | MINING

Opacity for all

In August, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission published its 236-page guide to the operation of Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which governs transparency for extractive companies and other matters. The American Petroleum Institute (API) and other pro-business lobbies, including the National Foreign Trade Centre and the US Chamber of Commerce, launched a law suit against the SEC in mid-October.

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

No one could accuse West Africa of rushing into a war in northern Mali. It is eight months since the putsch by dissident soldiers in Bamako against President Amadou Toumani Touré and the subsequent takeover of the north by jihadist militias. It was not until 11 November that the Economic Community of West African States met in Abuja and finally agreed to send in troops: 3,300 from Read more

ZIMBABWE

ZANU-PF’s gem of a campaign

A spending splash by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front is attracting increasing suspicion that the funds come from illegally diverted diamond sales. ZANU-PF will hold its annual conference, the last before next year’s elections, on 4-9 December in Gweru, Midlands, in a just-completed, purpose-built conference centre costing US$6.5 million. Coupled with reports that President Robert Mugabe’s party was paying $15 mn. for 1,000 vehicles for electioneering, this provoked the other parties into questioning the source of the money.

Pointers  

SOUTH AFRICA

Undiplomatic corps

A furious row has erupted in cabinet between the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and her counterpart at National Planning, Trevor Manuel.

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