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Published 10th June 2016

Vol 57 No 12


Budget battles as election race heats up

Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2016
Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2016

The government says the hard times are a blip before the next boom. Its opponents accuse it of wrecking the economy

Jobs, prices, taxes and electricity are dominating political arguments in the lead up to presidential and parliamentary elections on 7 November. So, when the government said on 1 June that it was postponing announcements about next year's budget until after the polls, the opposition smelt a rat and the cedi fell 2% against the US dollar. At the heart of the fight are claims by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) that the governing National Democratic Congress is trying to rig the economy as well as the vote. Although disputes over the credibility – and access to – the electoral register rumble on, the main battleground between the parties is now the state of the economy after eight years of NDC rule. Some NPP activists suspect that the government wants to delay the budget so it can boost spending massively to win over voters. After the elections, the NPP argues, the victors will be faced with a financial meltdown, with the economy mired in unsustainable debt and the state owing billions on contracts made with NDC crony capitalists and their foreign associates.


Political football over the ref

Unrest and violence over reform of the electoral commission is keeping divisions deep and tensions high

Intense political manoeuvring and urban unrest are accelerating over whether and how the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should be reformed before the genera...

Hangover cures in Lusaka

As countries struggle with growing debt and vanishing credit lines, Africa's bankers call for bold new investments

Zambia's travails offered an emblematic backdrop for the annual meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Lusaka on 23-27 May. After a lengthy spending spree financed by re...


If he's looking for evocative literature as well as a break from Nigerian politics during his ten-day visit to London, President Muhammadu Buhari should read 'The General in His Labyrinth' by Gabriel Garcia Márquez. One of the late Colombian writer's most political novels, it tells the story of General

If he's looking for evocative literature as well as a break from Nigerian politics during his ten-day visit to London, President Muhammadu Buhari should read 'The General in His Labyrinth' by Gabriel Garcia Márquez. One of the late Colombian writer's most political novels, it tells the story of General Simón Bolívar's efforts to unite South America. Márquez retells how Bolívar gets trapped in the labyrinth of sectional and regional interests.

Almost two hundred years on, there are some important parallels with contemporary Nigeria. Many had hoped that Buhari's epic journey from stern general to born-again democrat and finally presidential election winner last year with a massive popular mandate would open a new chapter for Nigeria.

Goodluck Jonathan, the defeated incumbent, was also in London this week hosted by Bloomberg News, arguing for a Bill of Rights for all Nigerians. Yet when Africa Confidential asked him for his views on Buhari's anti-corruption campaign, he demurred and aides whisked him into another room. A few days earlier, Jonathan and another ex-President, Olusegun Obasanjo, had met Buhari in Abuja to discuss the increasingly fractious political climate.

Continuing clashes in the north-east and Middle Belt, and a determined campaign by militants known as the Niger Delta Avengers to close down the oil industry are undermining Buhari's mandate. Uniting the country again has become top priority if this general is to break out of his labyrinth.

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A 'presidential coup'

Despite a court ruling against him, the head of state has re-appointed a controversial Prime Minister

President José Mário Vaz's appointment of ruling party renegade Baciro Djá as Prime Minister on 27 May marks a tactical victory in the chronic conflict between the reform faction a...

Hacks off

Broadcasters are experiencing increasing pressure from the government to toe the line. Some are being banned from the air

The government is using its influence at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the public service broadcaster, to silence dissenting voices and quash news of protest in the l...

Memories of regimes past

Goodwill greets the new government but its roots are firmly in the Bozizé era and the demands of reconciliation will test it severely

The new CAR President, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, had an encouraging start to his term of office in March. The crowd at his investiture cheered him as heartily as they booed his pr...

Not the court of Africa

The President is proud of Senegal's role in hosting the Habré trial but does not want to set a precedent

Following the landmark trial in Dakar of Chadian former dictator Hissène Habré, President Macky Sall has played down suggestions that Senegal should now become the permanent home o...

The soul of transparency

A struggle over the future of the EITI is dividing NGOs and business as their visions of governance in the extractive sector compete

Since its creation in 2002, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has sought to shine a light on the oil and mining sectors in the developing world, albeit on a ...


Stand-off over Dadaab

Refugee experts and diplomats are divided on whether Kenya is serious about its stated intention to close down the huge Dadaab refugee camp in November, Africa Confidential is told...

Dam provocations

Egypt has reacted with annoyance to further undiplomatic remarks from Ethiopia about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) being a fait accompli that everyone else will have t...

Destabilising NGOs

President Jacob Zuma's office is drafting a bill to restrict foreign funding for local non-governmental organisations and to compel international NGOs (INGOs) operating in South Af...