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Published 7th January 2000

Vol 41 No 1


Brave new century

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Dealing with the conflicts from the Atlantic to the Red Sea will dominate this year's policy agenda

The tempo of political and economic change in Africa will speed up in 2000. In six elections, credible opposition parties will vie for power. Heavy pressure is building up on the continent's gerontocracies, especially in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Africa has the world's youngest voters but its rulers are still among the oldest and demands for a generational shift are growing. Few people harbour illusions about the merits of what Malawian political scientist Thandika Mkandawire calls 'choiceless democracies'. Like Mkandawire, many Africans lament the lack of real policy choices between ruling parties and their opponents but fully support the democratisation impetus and its halting progress of the last decade. However much they wriggle, governments are becoming more accountable and the kleptocrats' room for manoeuvre is diminishing. Foreign aid is falling rapidly and mainstream private capital is increasingly reluctant to deal with grossly corrupt regimes.


Less debt, more growth

World Bank President Jim Wolfensohn, together with internationalist anti-debt campaigners, will get joint credit if the Bank and the international Monetary Fund's Heavily Indebted ...


New brooms

In Algeria, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's honeymoon period won't survive the end of Ramadan this weekend. Expect a tough military-led Islamist campaign early in the year, then s...


More rumblings

In Congo-Kinshasa, there is a buzz about the plans of United States' diplomat Richard Holbrooke to hold a Congo summit in New York in late January. Holbrooke is US envoy to the Uni...


Cooperation again

Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda start the year having just revived the East African Community. It is one of Africa's most viable economic groupings. Its ambitious goals are a customs un...


Decision time

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki will press for the adoption of a defence pact by the 14-strong Southern African Development Community. It will be presented as a 'reform packag...


Reverse roles

West African politics wins again. Formerly coup-proof Côte d'Ivoire succumbs to a putsch de Noël and coup-prone Nigeria survives a military-orchestrated transition to ci...



Pointers

Manipulation

In their first joint mission, Egypt's and Libya's foreign ministers, Amr Moussa and Omer el Muntasser, were in Sudan on 4 January to boost President Omer el Beshir against Hassan e...


Putsch de Noël

General Robert Gueï is still far from consolidating his position as head of state following the 24 December Christmas coup that brought him to power. Too many civilians and so...


They're off - or not

Confusion mounts over Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections. Last month Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, 53, announced their postponement from March to June so that the poll could...


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