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Published 8th July 2005

Vol 46 No 14

Unkindest cuts

Whitehall promoted the big push for Africa but is now cutting back its diplomatic staff and budgets there

As British ministers congratulate themselves on hoisting Africa fleetingly to the top of the international agenda at the Group of Eight summit on 6-8 July, the British foreign service is cutting back its diplomatic operations in Africa. The government's capacity to monitor and guide African policy - on such delicate matters as the arms trade - will be constrained by sharp cuts in the two Africa directorates in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Their budget is frozen at the level of 2004 and the staff is being reduced. Since January 2004, six Africa desk jobs have been lost, a 25 per cent cut. Three top experts are going, two of them to retirement; one, Ann Grant, ex-head of Africa Command, was the FCO's most experienced Africa diplomat and now works for a bank.

Talking it over

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Against expectation, the national conference is becoming a force for change

Basking in the glory of securing a two-thirds cut in Nigeria's US$34 billion foreign debt and the more ambiguous achievement of being British Prime Minister Tony Blair's new best f...

Making up

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The governing Rainbow Coalition looks united for a change. Will it last?

After months of chaos and corruption charges, events are finally moving President Mwai Kibaki's way (AC Vol 46 Nos 10 and 13). The economy is growing faster, with tourism and trade...

Peace postponed

As the disarmament and election timetables slip, the country is crumbling

Another crisis, another timetable for peace. Disarmament must now get underway by the end of this month. The mediators are reluctant to admit that elections cannot be held on 30 Oc...

Legal losses

Constitutional wrangles worsen, the corruption trials falter but the economy picks up

The proposed new constitution would reduce presidential powers and entrench fundamental rights and freedoms (AC Vol 46 No 3). President Levy Mwanawasa doesn't like it - even though...


Personal rivalries, not political differences, have tied the government in knots

The late Rodwell Munyenyembe has been feted as a martyr of democracy since, as parliamentary Speaker, he collapsed on 23 June while trying to calm a row between ministers and oppos...


No sugar daddy

As European politicians hugged rock stars and European citizens glowed with good will for Africa, African sugar producers were glum. On 22 June, the European Commission proposed sl...

Torturers beware

Politicians and officials accused of human rights crimes may think twice about visiting France, after last week's conviction of Mauritanian Captain Ely Ould Dah for offences commit...