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Published 12th January 2007

Vol 48 No 1


Annivesaries and elections

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Voters gather in Nigeria, Mali and Senegal while diplomats head to Accra for celebrations and summits

Nigeria’s national elections in April are the most critical event scheduled this year in Africa. If they go well, Nigeria may be able to consolidate civilian rule and make progress on a still lengthy economic and political reform agenda. It will also be the first time that one elected head of state will hand over to another. If the polls are seriously disputed, the ensuing chaos in Africa’s most populous state (140 million according to last year’s census) could reverberate across the continent. Attacks, assassinations and kidnappings in the oil and gas-producing Delta region are increasing sharply. By the end of 2006, the attacks had cut production by more than 25%; currently, as much as 100,000 barrels a day of the oil produced is being stolen.


On the brink

Congo-Kinshasa tries to consolidate after elections as Chad and Central African Republic face down Sudan-sponsored rebels

The big question for Congo-Kinshasa and the region this year is whether President Joseph Kabila can consolidate power after last year’s elections. Kabila started the year by appoi...


Generals and lawyers

In Burundi, Brigadier General Adolphe Nshimirimana, originally from the ruling Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie-Forces de Défense de la Démocratie, is now the Dire...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Africa’s year has started with the escalation of Somalia’s national conflict into a regional then an international one. The US attacks on suspected Al Qaida militants in southern Somalia follow Ethiopia’s ousting of the Islamic Courts regime in Mogadishu and Kismayo. Somalia’s latest chapter is just beginning: if Ethiopia’s occupying troops are not quickly replaced by a credible international peacekeeping force, a more deadly conflict could follow. Beyond this new frontline in the war on terror...
Africa’s year has started with the escalation of Somalia’s national conflict into a regional then an international one. The US attacks on suspected Al Qaida militants in southern Somalia follow Ethiopia’s ousting of the Islamic Courts regime in Mogadishu and Kismayo. Somalia’s latest chapter is just beginning: if Ethiopia’s occupying troops are not quickly replaced by a credible international peacekeeping force, a more deadly conflict could follow. Beyond this new frontline in the war on terror, 2007 will be a frenetic election season for Africa with polls due in Senegal, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Congo-Brazzaville and Gambia. Expect the closest of contests in Nigeria and Kenya. Ghana will celebrate both the 50th anniversary of its Independence from Britain and the 200th anniversary of the law barring British involvement in the slave trade. President John Kufuor will chair the African Union summit in Accra in July. As the African Development Bank prepares to hold its AGM in Shanghai in May, there is a reminder that Africa’s critical new economic axis with Asia is taking off just when African economies are growing at their fastest for three decades.
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Old soldiers never die

Intimations of mortality are becoming more evident but the region is dominated by septuagenarian zaims

While intimations of mortality grow ever greater for North Africa’s veteran political leaders, septuagenarian zaïms (big men) will continue to run much of the region. Age it seems...


Succession sagas

President Thabo Mbeki is trying to organise an orderly transfer of power unlike his counterparts in Angola and Zimbabwe

The ruling African National Congress’s choice of a successor to President Thabo Mbeki will dominate South African politics this year. In December 2007, the ANC holds its five-year...


The Pharoah's long adieu

President Hosni Mubarak, 78, promises far-reaching constitutional changes in 2007. He also pledges to serve Egypt as long as ‘there is breath in his body’. Obviously, he doesn’t ...


Waiting in line

The list of putative candidates for the presidency of South Africa’s African National Congress grows ever longer: Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; Foreign Minister Nkosazan...


The new frontlines

The regional powers are being drawn into the maelstrom in Somalia as United States' forces go hunting for Al Qaida

Direct military involvement by the United States, whose ships and aircraft bombarded troops of the Supreme Islamic Courts Council (SICC) in Hayo and Afmadow on 8 January, transform...


Candidates and rivals

One of the few genuinely popular public officials in Nigeria, Nuhu Ribadu, head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will be a key player in the electoral cycle. Fond of...



Pointers