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WARRI: A militant fighter. George Osodi / Panos
WARRI: A militant fighter. George Osodi / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

A new political alliance to confront President Jonathan is gathering pace as security conditions – north and south – deteriorate

The newly united opposition parties – the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) – have joined forces to conde...

GHANA

A tough one hundred days

GHANA

On live TV, a swarm of lawyers

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The alacrity with which the United Nations Security Council approved the financing of a 12,600-strong peacekeeping force for Mali on 26 April shows France’s residual diplomatic clout. In mid-December, the UNSC turned down a similar request for money from the African Union. A month later, France sent some 4,000 troops to drive out jihadists from northern Mali in response to a request from Bamako. The AU raised nearly US$500 million for some 8,000 African soldiers to fight alongside the French.

Now Paris wants an exit strategy and the UN has provided one, with no serious opposition from the Permanent Five or the three African members, Morocco, Rwanda and Togo. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin cautioned the UN about taking more combative stances and foregoing attempts at neutrality.

The Mission intégrée des Nations unies pour la stabilisation au Mali is to start operations on 1 July: with a budget of $800 million it will be the UN’s third biggest peacekeeping force after Congo-Kinshasa and Sudan’s Darfur. However, in deference to Russia and China, the UNSC stipulated that the force should have a peacekeeping not peace enforcement or counter-terrorism role. In much of Mali’s north, there is no peace to keep. Although the jihadists have been chased out of the main towns, they have launched an insurgency against French and the African troops. That will not change soon, certainly not by July, when President Dioncounda Traoré’s government is due to hold elections.

KENYA

Rise of the professionals

After a circus of postponements, excuses and secrecy, the protracted announcement of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s cabinet ministers over the week-ending 27 April was received with some indifference. Yet the longer-term implications of how his executive wields power, secures and consolidates its business interests and strengthens its political hold over Parliament and the country are substantial.

ANGOLA

Debt deal scandal revives

A group of Angolan anti-corruption campaigners and other civil society activists is trying to get Angola and Switzerland to reopen an investigation into a notorious mid-1990s debt deal with Russia. On 15 April, Manuel David Mendes, Ernesto Guilherme, Francisco Tunga Alberto and Adriano Alfredo Teixeira Parreira submitted a Dénonciation Pénale to the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Berne.

ANGOLA

The Abalone list

Elísio de Figueiredo has for some years been Angola’s Ambassador ‘Without Portfolio’ to France and is widely regarded as a key presidential ally and dealmaker.

SUDAN

Tactics but no strategy

Everyone welcomed the opening of the regime’s talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North in Ethiopia on 23 April. The ruling National Congress Party presents the talks as proof of its legitimacy and hopes it can buy time. The SPLM-N, which is fighting government forces in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, wants the talks to end the NCP’s blockade on relief aid for hundreds of thousand of displaced civilians before the rainy season. It also thinks the negotiations will boost its political standing at home and abroad and further weaken the regime. Diplomats see the meetings as vindicating their pragmatic stance towards the government.

SUDAN

Rifts in the regime

The coalition of army and security bodies controls the levers of power, with President Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir at the top beside the Defence Minister, General Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein (wanted, like Field Marshal Omer, by the International Criminal Court) and Gen. Bakri Hassan Salih. Omer el Beshir is unpopular in the Islamist movement and needs the blessing of one faction or the other to rule.

GUINEA

The fight for Mount Simandou

The latest round of courtroom battles in the West and arrests in Conakry have one certain result: that the plans to invest US$10 billion to produce iron ore from the giant Simandou reserves will be delayed indefinitely. At the heart of the fight for Simandou are President Alpha Condé’s government and three international mining houses: Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto, which has a controlling stake in Simandou Blocks 3 and 4, and Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) which, together with Brazil’s Vale, control Simandou Blocks 1 and 2. The Conakry government took that lease from Rio Tinto in 2008 because of the company’s delays in starting in the project.

SENEGAL

Clean sweep slows down

The 65% of the vote which carried President Macky Sall to victory over Abdoulaye Wade in March last year was always about who he wasn’t, not who he was. Sall made many election promises and is now under attack for not delivering. He replies that the state coffers were empty when he took over, which obliged him to go after stolen funds and the assets of the corrupt.

SENEGAL

Ex-Dauphin in the dock

Late in the evening of 17 April, Karim Wade, son of former President Abdoulaye Wade and ex-Minister for International Cooperation, Infrastructure, Air Transport and Energy, was taken to Dakar’s main Rebeuss prison on a charge of illicit enrichment.

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

The alacrity with which the United Nations Security Council approved the financing of a 12,600-strong peacekeeping force for Mali on 26 April shows France’s residual diplomatic clout. In mid-December, the UNSC turned down a similar request for money from the African Union. A month later, France sent some 4,000 troops to drive out jihadists from northern Mali in response to a request from Bamako. The AU rais...

EGYPT

Patience snaps over IMF

Talks with the International Monetary Fund and other financiers over a US$15 billion package of assistance and structural reform continue but the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government keeps erecting obstacles. Observers worry that the MB and President Mohamed Mursi are chiefly concerned with consolidating their positions in power, whatever the cost to the economy.

Pointers  

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC | SOUTH AFRICA

Pleas to go

President Jacob Zuma puzzled his central African interlocutors and CAR politicians by claiming they had made a ‘passionate plea’ for South African troops to return to the troubled country on 18 April. No one else at the summit of the Communauté économique...

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