Basket 0 Items

View basket | Checkout

Mali: Minaret of a mud mosque. Each year the mosque is given a new layer of clay to replace what the rains have washed away. Dieter Telemans / Panos
Mali: Minaret of a mud mosque. Each year the mosque is given a new layer of clay to replace what the rains have washed away. Dieter Telemans / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

For now, the region is cheering France’s launching of a war on many fronts against the jihadists although it is likely to drag on for many more months

As France pours men and money into the battle against jihadists, the contours of Mali’s crisis are rapidly changing. Bombing raids may have ended the ...

MAURITANIA

Nouakchott on the spot

NIGERIA

Abuja’s foreign legion

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The growing resistance by Mali’s musicians against attempts by jihadist militias to suppress their art and divide the country could launch a wider regional campaign against religious intolerance and political oppression. The singer Fatoumata Diawara has brought together 45 musicians and singers from West Africa to record a song and video, in Bamako to promote peace and national unity.

The cast for the Bamako recording includes some of the region’s finest musicians and singers such as kora player Toumani Diabaté, ace guitarist Djelimady Tounkara, singer and social critic Oumou Sangaré, Amadou and Mariam and Côte d’Ivoire’s Tiken Jah Fakoly. A group of Tuaregs, who now face discrimination in both northern and southern Mali, also appear on the record to call for national unity and tolerance. Tuareg musicians such as the band Tinariwen, who have supported the Rolling Stones, have been forced underground and now can play only outside the country.

The three main jhadist groups occupying northern Mali – Ansar Eddine, Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and the Mouvement pour l’unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l’ouest – have banned the playing of musical instruments as un-Islamic. Last June, Ansar Eddine destroyed the mausoleum of Sidi Mohammed, a 15th century Muslim scholar, in Timbuktu and threatened shrines that they condemned as idolatrous. One of the most important historic centres of learning, Timbuktu has 700,000 ancient manuscripts in 60 private libraries.

Voices United for Mali - 'Mali-ko' (Peace / La Paix) on YouTube

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Bozizé back from the brink

Peace, however fragile, reigned in Central African Republic as Africa Confidential went to press. The government and the Séléka rebels signed a peace agreement in Libreville, Gabon, on 11 January. President François Bozizé Yangouvonda will serve out the rest of his term until 2016, while a government of national unity will implement reforms and oversee parliamentary elections.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

With Zuma to Bangui

The presence of 400 South African soldiers in Bangui, backed by a group of mercenaries, does not mean that President Jacob Zuma is trying to take over France’s historic strategic role in the region, as many in the media have assumed.

SOUTH AFRICA

Ramaphosa’s price

President Jacob Zuma is to be the face of the African National Congress in the 2014 elections and after winning them will gradually transfer power to Cyril Ramaphosa. Before December’s ANC conference, Zuma struck one of the biggest deals of his career with Ramaphosa. The broad aim is to give business tycoon Ramaphosa the national presidency, while Zuma stays on as ANC President.

SOUTH AFRICA

Purges and placements

The pro-Kgalema Motlanthe African National Congress leaders have been purged from the National Executive Committee. That includes Tokyo Sexwale, Mathews Phosa, Fikile Mbalula and leaders from provinces or factions that backed him: Limpopo, North-West, Western Cape, Gauteng and Northern Cape. Provinces opposing President Jacob Zuma will not be represented in the ANC’s highest echelons, creating resentment and opposition to the new party President. Purges in government may come next.

LIBYA

Not so open for business

Although the Libyan economy is returning to life – with the oil sector in the lead – planning is not. Despite the pressing need to rebuild, little is going on. The International Monetary Fund says gross domestic product grew by 122% in 2012 after dropping 60% in 2011 but nearly all that is because oil exports have resumed. Other sectors and all-important public expenditure are in the doldrums.

LIBYA

Thawing the assets

According to a leaked management report from September 2010, some 75% of the Libyan Investment Authority’s assets were in Europe, 14% in North America and the remaining 11% in emerging markets. It is not clear how much was invested in Africa, although the Libyan African Investment Portfolio (LAIP), an LIA subsidiary, had assets of US$5.2 billion at that time.

CAMEROON

Après Biya fears

In November, President Paul Biya was conspicuous by his absence from any of his supporters’ nationwide celebrations of his 30 years in power. In this way, he kept intact his reputation for inscrutability. And he isn’t, we hear, likely to be at home when he celebrates his 80th birthday on 13 February. Yet the low profile and advanced age do not signify retirement. Biya has been telling French politicians that if he is still alive in 2018, when his current term ends, he intends to stand again. By then he would be 85. Meanwhile, his iron grip on government and his refusal to allow any successor to emerge is increasing the potential for social and political crisis, according to local analysts.

CAMEROON

Family bonds

One person who is never spoken of as a successor to President Paul Biya is his son Franck Biya, who is not a member of the ruling party and has never held political office or been in the army. Yet his father’s advisors and officials are attempting to limit any political damage from a controversy that has erupted over Biya Junior’s business deals.

SENEGAL

Wade’s barons under scrutiny

The novelty of being invited at all times of the day and night to turn up at the Gendarmerie in Colobane wore off long ago for former ministers and other senior figures from the Parti démocratique sénégalais (PDS). The investigations are authorised by the court in charge of preventing ill-gotten gains, the Cour de répression de l’enrichissement illicite (CREI).The PDS barons and other allies of former President Abdoulaye Wade can hardly say they weren’t warned.

SOMALIA

Regional alliances shifting

For weeks, diplomats in Kenya have fretted about the brewing discord between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia and Mwai Kibaki of Kenya. They finally met in Nairobi just before Christmas to try to iron out differences over how the southern Somali region of Jubaland should be governed.

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The growing resistance by Mali’s musicians against attempts by jihadist militias to suppress their art and divide the country could launch a wider regional campaign against religious intolerance and political oppression. The singer Fatoumata Diawara has brought together 45 musicians and singers from West Africa to record a song and video, in Bamako to promote peace and national unity.

The cast for t...

SOMALIA | FRANCE

French Somalia raid ‘was a trap’

The raid by French Special Forces on 11 January on the place where Al Haraka al Shabaab al Mujahideen was believed to be holding a French intelligence officer may have been a trap, according both to sources familiar with the history of his abduction in 2009 and Somali security forces. French commandos helicoptered into the small town of Bulomarer, about 100 kilometres south of Mogadishu at night, and lost two men, who were killed, according to news reports. The captive, named officially as Denis Allex, was presumed killed, said Paris, though Al Shabaab claimed he was still alive. His death had not been confirmed as Africa Confidential went to press. France said its troops killed 17 Shabaab fighters.

Pointers  

ZIMBABWE

ZANU-PF's loss

Professor Reg Austin, one of the staunchest comrades of the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), has resigned from the new Human Rights Commission. Austin had been nominated to head the new commission but fears that the Zimbabwe Huma...

Issue archive

Search our 15-year online archive

Archive Alternatively, contact us to find out about access to more than 50 years of the world's best fortnightly newsletter on African politics.

Looking for a specific issue of Africa Confidential?

confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential blog

Latest post

The big political fight in South Africa's mines

 

Patrick Smith Not yet ready to subscribe to Africa Confidential's complete information service? Then why not register for our free email alerts.

 Every two weeks you get a concise snapshot of the latest issue - courtesy of our editor, Patrick Smith - so you're made aware of which issues we cover each fortnight.

Sign up right away and you also get a free copy of 'The Editor's Choice' – 66 pages of some of the very best previous Africa Confidential articles.

'The Editor's Choice' is in PDF format. So you can download it in an instant – just as soon as you have registered with us.

Payment cards