Last June, as jihadists consolidated their grip on northern Mali, Alghabass ag Intallah joined Ansar Eddine, to the surprise of many in the region. His father, Intallah ag Attaher, the Amenokal (clan chief), had earlier insisted that any of his followers who had joined the jihadist group should leave it.
Vice-President John Landa Nkomo died after a long illness on 17 January, aged 79. His death set in motion yet another tortuous competition for the vacant post among factions of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and others. Normally, President Robert Mugabe shies away from these struggles but he may not be able to, depending on the provisions of the new constitution. It is becoming ever more likely that under the new constitution, the gift of the vice-presidency will stay with the political party of the incumbent President, in this case, ZANU-PF. Meanwhile, aspirants are beavering away.
On 4 March, Kenyans will vote for six different offices: president, senators, county governors, members of parliament, civic councillors and women’s county representatives. Under the new constitution, the winning presidential candidate must secure over 50% of the vote. For the first time in Kenya, a presidential election may go to a run-off. Yet many people do not understand the new posts and rules, including some politicians, election observers and officials.
Existing tensions and struggles over resources are likely to lead to localised conflict in several areas. In Tana River, the fusion of political competition and land disputes has already resulted in ethnic clashes and hundreds of deaths.
When attempts to reform the way political parties nominate their candidates failed, the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission refused to intervene. The IEBC seemed afraid to damage its credibility further than treat the party nominations as a vital preliminary to the 4 March elections.