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Published 7th January 2005

Vol 46 No 1

Pan-Africanism meets market economics

Incessant diplomatic shuffling and economic muscle will make South Africa the continent's capital this year

South Africa's omnipresence in the continent's diplomatic and economic initiatives in 2005 will be paralleled by the African National Congress's dominance of national politics. This year President Thabo Mbeki will be involved in critical negotiations in conflicts in Côte d'Ivoire, Sudan, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa and Rwanda, and Comoros. That is apart from his mediating role in Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Mbeki will face growing criticism that his staggering diplomatic air miles (the substantive negotiations are rarely delegated to Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or officials) and his New Partnership for Africa's Development are little more than political cover for South Africa's commercial ambitions. That view was reinforced during Mbeki's 31 December visit to Sudan when he omitted to make any reference to Khartoum's mass murder in Darfur (AC Vol 45 No 24) and left clutching a batch of oil concessions. Similar realpolitik would seem to govern warming relations with President Teodoro Obiang's oil-rich dictatorship in Equatorial Guinea. It is also difficult to square with South Africa's sponsorship of NePAD's peer review process, under which African states judge each other's standard of governance.

Peace, or else

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If peace can be kept on track, six West African countries will be preparing for elections in 2005. Côte d'Ivoire may have to be dragged to the polls under threat of United Na...

Too many troops

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If peace is to come to the region, the weak government in Kinshasa must deal with the eastern Congo crisis, then organise elections due in June but likely to be delayed for at leas...

Time to deliver

Despite the usual political pressures, North Africa's oil and gas producers, led by Algeria, Libya and Egypt, had a prosperous year. Their foreign reserves built up on the back of ...

Diplomatic hubbub

Kenya will star again as the regional diplomatic centre this year, mediating in two sets of peace talks - Sudan and Somalia - as well as hosting hundreds of thousands of people fle...