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MALI Bamako: Children playing on a wall. Pascal Deloche/Godong / Panos
MALI Bamako: Children playing on a wall. Pascal Deloche/Godong / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Secret deals between army putschists and the jihadists threaten the military campaign as Bamako politicians demand retribution

The strange pact under which President Dioncounda Traoré appointed the serial putschist Captain Amadou Sanogo as head of the military reform committee...

MALI

Rocky road in the north

KENYA

Nairobi’s governing passions

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The African conference season started early this year. First out of the blocks was the London-based Economist, which held its ‘Africa summit’ on 5 February: next comes the Times ‘Africa CEO summit’. Dubai hosts a Gulf States Invest in Africa conference just before the World Economic Forum on Africa meets in Cape Town in May.

At times, this first ‘Africa summit’ pulled in contrary directions. Young hedge-fund and private-equity analysts stood keenly by, ever alert for the 30% ‘absolute return’. The man from the Diageo drinks conglomerate could barely conceal his delight at supplanting the unlicensed and uncontrolled ‘concoction’ pedlars of Kenya with his competitively-priced Senator Keg beer. Dissenters at the back quietly pointed out that the grain that is fermented to befuddle the Kenyan poor is at least locally sourced. Might we see a multinational variant of changaa next? More substantial dissenters at the summit such as Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf questioned the distribution of the benefits of Africa’s much trumpeted growth. ‘We have to change the paradigm,’ she pleaded. ‘We have growth without development.’

The suits looked at the ceiling as she argued that perhaps protectionism and industrial policy could help Liberia break out of its economic cul de sac. Similarly, Oby Ezekwesili’s plea for foreign companies to be more socially responsible and accountable fell a little flat among some of the frontier market pioneers.

KENYA

By Skype from The Hague

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

Jihadists from Mali in Darfur

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

British military aid for Sudan

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.

ERITREA

Issayas staggers a little

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

Qatar's cold shoulder

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.

ZAMBIA

Kabimba looks ahead

Zambia’s next elections are not until 2016 but Wynter Kabimba, the Justice Minister and Secretary General of the governing Patriotic Front, is positioning himself to succeed President Michael Chilufya Sata.

ZAMBIA

Jobs on the roads

President Michael Sata’s promise to reduce mass employment is yet to be fulfilled. Although he has raised the necessary finance, public institutions are having trouble translating it into contracts and jobs.

MALAWI

Banda takes on her deputy

President Joyce Banda wants to build a parliamentary majority from defectors from the Democratic People’s Party to her own People’s Party. She founded the PP after the late President Bingu wa Mutharika expelled her from the DPP. Now she wants some former colleagues back. Members of parliament must face by-elections if they switch party but the relevant clause has been suspended by legal action. In the midst of this, Banda appears to be undermining her Vice-President, Khumbo Kachali.

UGANDA

Spring in opposition’s step

A tough police and military crackdown is stifling attempts to reproduce the success of the Walk to Work street protests led by Kizza Besigye, the then leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), in early 2011. Police units have the home of Besigye and his wife, Winnie Byanyima, under surveillance nearly round the clock. Last month Byanyima, a former member of parliament, became the local head of the international non-governmental organisation Oxfam. Police use preventive detention against opposition figures such as Besigye and the Kampala Metropolitan Mayor, Elias Lukwago, another former MP. Both were detained in late January and later released without charge in anticipation of a demonstration by a loose group of oppositionists called For God and My Country (4GC).

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The African conference season started early this year. First out of the blocks was the London-based Economist, which held its ‘Africa summit’ on 5 February: next comes the Times ‘Africa CEO summit’. Dubai hosts a Gulf States Invest in Africa conference just before the World Economic Forum on Africa meets in Cape Town in May.

At times, this first ‘Africa summit’ pulled in contrary directi...

EUROPEAN UNION

The new poor give less

The European Union’s austerity measures are taking an increasing toll on concessional development finance and grants to African and other developing countries. At their summit on 8 February, EU leaders agreed to a tentative deal for a 960 billion euro (US$1,288 bn.), seven-year budget – €13 bn. below the figure the EU Council President, Herman van Rompuy, had proposed in November.

Pointers  

SIERRA LEONE

Loyalty rewarded

Only several months after President Ernest Bai Koroma’s re-election are the winners and losers in the post-electoral division of spoils becoming clear. Most prominent among them is Usman Boie Kamara, the new Minister of Trade and Industry. He was Julius M...

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