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Published 24th August 2007

Vol 48 No 17


Kenya

Politicians overboard

Two key players have jumped from the opposition coalition but that will not assure President Kibaki of victory

It was a bad month for Kenya's opposition, after personal rivalries came to a head and leading politicians split off to run their own campaigns. They will probably end up in the embrace of President Mwai Kibaki's political machine. Unseating Kibaki in December's elections was never going to be easy but is still feasible. Complex electoral arithmetic and the need to forge national coalitions from a patchwork of provincial politicians, ethnic groups and local interest lobbies, mean the outcome is far from sure.


Doing good, not doing well

Reforms and the inflow of money have helped the ruling party more than the people

A decade ago, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was driven from power and Sierra Leone was gripped by a military junta. The entire region faced destabilisation. Troops were sent by Nige...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Government troops man roadblocks and patrol the streets of Nigeria's oil capital Port Harcourt after the loss of more than 50 lives in militia fighting this month. The immediate cause is rivalry for criminal and political spoils between militia leaders such as Ateke Tom, Soboma George and Mujahid Dokobu Asari. But behind the militias are the political and business godfathers. The fighting goes back to the criminalisation of the oil business: the bunkering (theft) facilitated by military officer...
Government troops man roadblocks and patrol the streets of Nigeria's oil capital Port Harcourt after the loss of more than 50 lives in militia fighting this month. The immediate cause is rivalry for criminal and political spoils between militia leaders such as Ateke Tom, Soboma George and Mujahid Dokobu Asari. But behind the militias are the political and business godfathers. The fighting goes back to the criminalisation of the oil business: the bunkering (theft) facilitated by military officers and foreign criminal partners; the cost inflation, kickbacks and fraud on most of Nigeria's oil and gas contracts; and the diversion of state oil earnings by state governors, ministers and their surrogates. It is no coincidence that the fighting exploded just as Nigeria's investigators started probing oil and gas contracts, which have been off-limits until now. President Umaru Yar'Adua says he wants to make the oil business work efficiently and honestly. On the most modest estimates, the Nigerian state loses $5 billion of revenue a year and imports its petrol because all four refineries are out of commission. Reforming the oil business in Nigeria is undoubtedly perilous, leaving it to fester would be worse.
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Closer and more credible

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Half and half

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Non-Government Who's Who

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Who's Who in the war and peace talks

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Ottawa rewrites the diplomatic and commercial rules

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Mission improbable

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The race to win

Economy

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Pointers

Neighbours undercover

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Smokescreen

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Unhealthy (I)

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Unhealthy (II)

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