Kenya’s first presidential debate, broadcast live on eight television and 34 radio stations on 11 February, was unlikely to sway an electorate deeply polarised by ethnic and regional interests. It did, though, subject the candidates’ often surreal policy promises to critical scrutiny and raise directly the charges against presidential aspirant Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto.
MALI | SUDAN
The Khartoum regime’s ties with Islamists in the region are under scrutiny again following the arrival in Darfur of jihadists retreating from the French military campaign in northern Mali. Figures for the new arrivals range from ‘dozens’ to, according to a national opposition leader, ‘over 1,000’ and they appear still to be arriving. French military officials in Paris told Africa Confidential that the jihadists made an organised tactical withdrawal when they knew they would be confronted with air power and ground forces.
SUDAN | BRITAIN
The latest round of British military cooperation with Sudan under the aegis of its Defence Minister, General Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes, is coming under fire from human rights activists.
News of mutiny filtered out of Eritrea in late January as it might out of a hermit kingdom. On 21 January, some 200 soldiers with at least two tanks had seized control of the Forto in Asmara, a massive building housing the Information Ministry on a hill overlooking the capital. The five officers in command ordered the Director of Eritrean Television, acting Information Minister Asmellash Abraha Woldu, to broadcast their demands.
ERITREA | QATAR
At least one of President Issayas Aferworki’s few allies shows concern about his survival. On 2 February, Sudan’s President Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir and his leading defence and intelligence officials flew to Asmara for a one-day ‘working visit’. It seems they wanted to assess the level of threat to Issayas. Field Marshal Omer is worried that a successor is likely to be hostile to Sudan.