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Published 16th November 2007

Vol 48 No 23


Uganda

Problematic peace as the Commonwealth meets

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The government wants a peace deal to show its guests but the rebels do not want to go to gaol

One billboard proclaimed: '1.6 billion eyes on Uganda'. As the country rushes around making last-minute preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on 23-25 November, officials extended an olive branch to the northern rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army. It invited them home for their first visit since peace talks started in Southern Sudan in July 2006. After 20 years of fruitless war, diplomatic pressure had helped to convince President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to swallow his pride and talk peace. That the LRA delegates met Museveni and his negotiators without fear of arrest is a sign of fresh confidence. The government's peace negotiatons leader, Internal Affairs Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, warmly welcomed the rebels at the airport, exchanging handshakes, jokes and hugs with the delegation leader, Martin Ojul. Much credit for this progress goes to the affable Rugunda's patience. In the words of a colleague: 'God forbid, if you've managed to upset Rugunda, you've done something very wrong'. His easy-going number two, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem, is from the LRA's northern stamping-ground, an Acholi, the people who once ran the country and who now feel marginalised.


Two hotels go missing

Uganda is ready for CHOGM!', shout the billboards. Traffic lights are being erected, crater-like potholes filled in, police trained - all for this month's Commonwealth Heads of Gov...


This time I'm going. No, really

President Mugabe has assured some of his henchmen that he will go next year, but don’t hold your breath

At a sombre gathering before his party's Central Committee meeting on 26 October, President Robert Mugabe solemnly assured some long-time comrades that he would retire from politic...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Next week’s Commonwealth summit in Kampala will hear talk about sanctions and possible targets in Pakistan, Gambia, and Zimbabwe. Apart from the notable exception of apartheid South Africa, sanctions have proved a blunt instrument in promoting political change. In Zimbabwe, it is Western financial institutions that have offered a lifeline to President Mugabe’s regime, despite sanctions. Wider financial restrictions on Zimbabwe have compounded the government’s gross economic mismanagement. Unt...
Next week’s Commonwealth summit in Kampala will hear talk about sanctions and possible targets in Pakistan, Gambia, and Zimbabwe. Apart from the notable exception of apartheid South Africa, sanctions have proved a blunt instrument in promoting political change. In Zimbabwe, it is Western financial institutions that have offered a lifeline to President Mugabe’s regime, despite sanctions. Wider financial restrictions on Zimbabwe have compounded the government’s gross economic mismanagement. Until recently, sanctions on Sudan have equally targeted the northern government in Khartoum and the southern government in Juba. Now the US wants to exempt the Juba government from all sanctions save those on oil production – the one source of revenue that could finance the rapid development of the wastelands of Southern Sudan. And sanctions did not prevent the Khartoum regime from developing a multibillion dollar oil industry. Mini-dictatorships such as President Yahya Jammeh’s in Gambia should be easiest to pressurise. After the Commonwealth lifted its mild sanctions on Jammeh, the regime continued to loot, brutalise the opposition and steal elections. If sanctions cannot promote change in Gambia, what hope is there in the bigger tyrannies?
Read more

The compromise candidates

The selection of the next president is getting messier as the ruling party’s branches have their say

President Thabo Mbeki and his sacked deputy Jacob Zuma dominate the contest to elect the President of the African National Congress at next month's party congress. Neither has a cl...


Wading in

President Abdoulaye Wade is grooming his son as his successor – and the rivals are getting jealous

The octogenarian President has just begun his second five-year term and ambitious politicians in Dakar are already worrying about the succession, due in 2012. They have two main re...


Less blood on the stones

Blood diamonds are no longer a main concern for Africa's diamond industry. A reputation for fuelling conflict is no longer a big obstacle to sales, according to the 47 delegates, r...


The tail wags the dog

The Kinshasa government is rocked by its failures to resolve the conflict in the eastern Kivu provinces

The crisis in North Kivu is worsening sharply, with over 500,000 people displaced in the past year, and is one of the key factors holding back Congo-Kinshasa's attempts at post-war...


Judges misjudged

A close-run election and corruption allegations will give judicial appointments extra significance

As Kenya's presidential race speeds up, the contenders have their eyes on the legal system. For incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, this may be an additional insurance policy in a slo...


Conflict diamonds change shape

After the diamond-financed horror stories in Angola and Sierra Leone wound down, the conflict diamond story changed shape and fell out of the headlines. There still worries about c...


All come to the aid of the party – and fight it out

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Power-brokers on all sides in Abuja seem encouraged by the surprise announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission on 8 November that the People's Democratic Party c...


Promises and lies

This week, parties contesting the 27 December election are holding primary elections to choose their candidates. Next week, campaigning officially starts. President Mwai Kibaki is ...



Pointers

Animated suspension

With the Sudan People's Liberation Movement still suspending its participation in the Government of National Unity in Khartoum, the semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan is ...


Mining undermined

Mining companies were dismayed and share prices wobbled after draft copies of Congo's mining contracts review started circulating in Kinshasa last week. The leaked document is a da...


Guerre du lac

Commercial rivalries and contractual disputes over oil reserves in Lake Albert, which runs along the Congo-Kinshasa/ Uganda border, are heating up. Tensions between their two armie...


Sanctions sense

Western sanctions on Zimbabwe appear to be unravelling ahead of the European Union/African Union summit in Lisbon on 8-9 December. The Harare delegation is to push for the EU to en...