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Published 7th July 2006

Vol 47 No 14

Posturing outweighs the policy

The Banjul summit failed to make progress on the main security and economic issues facing Africa

A week of African Union meetings in Banjul helps to explain why energetic Chairman Alpha Oumar Konaré is telling friends that he won't seek a second term next year. He says the organisation remains hidebound by bureaucracy and is failing in its biggest challenge - to protect civilians from being massacred by the Sudanese regime and its allied militias in Darfur. Konaré speaks emotionally of the privations endured by the more than two million Sudanese displaced by their own government. Against advice from his minders, he insisted on staying the night at Kalma camp near Southern Darfur capital Nyala in May: he saw the appalling conditions at first hand and heard accounts of ground force attacks and bombardment by Khartoum's airforce against defenceless villagers.

Pomp and patronage

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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For host President Yahya Jammeh, the Banjul summit was the most successful African Union meeting ever. With 33 heads of state in Banjul, it was one of the best attended. However, f...

Beijing's touring team

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Trade and investment not ideology dominate the Beijing axis these days

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's Africa tour last month was the latest of an unprecedented series of diplomatic trips to the region by the most senior officials of the Beijing governme...

Beijing's embrace

Luanda finds Beijing's courtship flattering, strengthening and, above all, lucrative

Angola has become China's biggest oil supplier and its closest African ally. The 24-hour visit of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to Luanda last month cemented the special relationship a...

Zanzibar: the islands are quiet for now

Zanzibar has been tranquil since the fiercely fought elections of October 2005 and many find that surprising. After the 2000 polls, some 30 people were killed in widespread riots. ...

New Luanda's gleaming towers

Angola is planning the biggest urban project ever attempted in Africa. A mega-city south of Luanda, even larger than Brazil's inland capital of Brasilia, is to house four million p...

Time's up

The oil is running out and the ruling family is split, after Omar Bongo's forty years in power

Mastery of the political chessboard and lashings of oil revenue have kept President Omar Bongo Ondimba in power for almost four decades and earned him re-election last December. He...

Zero tolerance, so far

The new President is pleasing the people with a crackdown on crime and corruption

A barnstorming campaign last December and victory with 80 per cent of the national vote left President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete with much to live up to. So far, he has kept the public...

Unhappy returns

President Mutharika is set for more opposition confrontation as two leaders come home

Last month, Chakufwa Chihana, leader of the Alliance for Democracy (Aford), arrived from South Africa in a coffin. He had struggled with a brain tumour. His state funeral recognise...


Charles Janson

Charles Janson, who died on 15 June aged 88, was the founding Editor of Africa Confidential. His early inspiration, flair, integrity and courage established the newsletter as an au...