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Published 11th January 2019

Vol 60 No 1


Disputes, disruptions and a new diplomatic order

Pic: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga/PA Images
Pic: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga/PA Images

In the first of two special issues our correspondents look at the most critical political and economic developments in the year ahead

Campaigners, politicians and plotters have started the year with a flurry of activity: protests about electoral shenanigans in Congo-Kinshasa; demonstrations demanding the exit of Sudan's President Omer Hassan el Beshir; the governing Jubilee party in Kenya has started to splinter after top officials quit in protest at Vice-President William Ruto's plans to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta; and security forces killed two soldiers and arrested seven more after a failed putsch in Gabon.

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A poll without passion

Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019
Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019

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The party-political system is failing the country amid preparations for national elections in February and state elections in March

What should be an epic battle of ideas and policies in Africa's biggest democracy to address recurring economic and security crises is turning out to be one of the country's dulles...


The fight for the ANC’s soul

Ramaphosa must appeal to the left to win a mandate for liberal economic reforms. It’s not the only paradox here

The African National Congress's strategists do not doubt the ruling party will emerge from the May national and provincial parliamentary elections by far the largest party, but the...


Fighting fear with freedom

Abiy Ahmed calculates that a new era of democracy and respect for civil rights could counter any backlash to his reforms

It promises to be another tumultuous year for Ethiopia and its struggling ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front. After what amounted to an interna...


Sall safe for second term

The President is a shoo-in for re-election, but then he will have to make good on his grandiose promises

President Macky Sall is unlikely to need a second round to secure re-election in February. He has the advantage of incumbency in a much-reduced field of candidates, following the p...


A fragmentary future

Farmajo is becoming dictatorial as dissension grows in the international community and prospects for federal unity and isolating Shabaab recede

The last year was full of promise of greater change during this year. Regional relations were dominated by the sea-change in policy brought about by Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy ...


JH Mensah, 1928-2018

His formidable intellect and tough independence of spirit made Joseph Henry Mensah an improbable candidate for the hurly-burly of partisan politics. Yet it was those qualities, along with his personal integrity and sense of humour, that marked his contribution to public service and government in Ghana and several other African countries over six decades.

His formidable intellect and tough independence of spirit made Joseph Henry Mensah an improbable candidate for the hurly-burly of partisan politics. Yet it was those qualities, alo...

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Win first, then work

Ramaphosa is almost certain of victory in May, but then his challenges really begin

South Africa is facing an even tougher year economically in 2019. The disastrous legacy of former President Jacob Zuma may seem distant but its echoes will continue to sound and cl...

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Business thrives, society waits

Gas finds, steady oil prices and the recovery of tourism help a strengthening economy while rights take a back seat

The Egyptian economy is primed to show impressive results in 2019 on the basis of core indicators such as real GDP growth, the current account and foreign direct investment. Howeve...


The people's spring against Beshir

Long-standing opposition groups and former regime allies are demanding the President's exit in the biggest protests since he seized power 30 years ago

Three weeks of opposition demonstrations across the country have left President Omer Hassan el Beshir much weakened, and vulnerable to machinations in the National Congress Party r...


John Howe, 1938-2018

A long-standing friend of Africa Confidential, John William Alan Raymond Howe was a remarkable reporter, columnist, translator, poet and short story writer. Best known for his reporting on Chad, Algeria and the Western Sahara in the British and French press, John's first trip to Africa was to Nigeria where he was hosted by Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the Afrobeat music star, in 1973. That gives a measure of the man.

A long-standing friend of Africa Confidential, John William Alan Raymond Howe was a remarkable reporter, columnist, translator, poet and short story writer. Best known for his repo...

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Goodbye to all that

President Lourenço’s long honeymoon will come to an end as public focus shifts to the economy

João Lourenço will consolidate his power in 2019, cashing in on his popularity and position as President of both the country and the ruling Movimento Popular de Liber...


Peace maybe, prosperity no

Old adversaries finally appear ready to make a go of peace but the international community is reluctant to foot the bill

If everything goes to plan and on schedule, South Sudan should finally turn the corner in 2019 and take its rightful place among the community of African states that have recovered...


Church claims sweeping opposition win

Early results – which the regime is banning the media from reporting – indicate a win for the opposition after government plans to fix the poll went awry

A showdown is looming after the country’s Catholic bishops announced they knew who had won the presidential election on 30 December, as anger builds after delays in the release of ...

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Kofi Annan (1938-2018)

In an era when narrow nationalism and populism are taking on the international system, the career of Kofi Annan showed where the battle lines were drawn. Described by colleagues as a 'diplomat's diplomat', Annan spent his professional life in the United Nations, becoming one of its most powerful advocates, reshaping the organisation, pushing it to do more to fight poverty, injustice and oppression.

In an era when narrow nationalism and populism are taking on the international system, the career of Kofi Annan showed where the battle lines were drawn.

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