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Vol 37 No 1

Published 5th January 1996

Strategic, and shaky

African leaders are openly pointing to Sudan as the main obstacle to stability in this troubled region

Geography makes them strategic, recent history has made them poor. Among the states around the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has had its revolution and is trying to make decentralisation work. The way ahead is less clear for its smaller neighbours. Warlords are still fighting in both parts of what was once Somalia. Civil war rages in Sudan, while Khartoum's Islamist-military regime is uniting most of its neighbours against it. Eritrea, leading battle calls against Khartoum, is desperately short of food and struggling to work out its constitutional future, borrowing ideas from Uganda. Kenya and tiny Djibouti are caught in political crises, with problems of succession. Of the three imperatives for the region - economic growth, human rights and democracy - aid donors say that growth comes first. It is only in Sudan, where dictatorship and militarism have caused economic stagnation, that Western diplomats and donors indulge in much strategic thinking.

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