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Published 14th March 2008

Vol 49 No 6


Zimbabwe

Elections within elections

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The presidential contest attracts most attention but the battle for Parliament may decide the outcome

There are four elections in Zimbabwe on 29 March and none of them are going according to plan for President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. The old mixture of coercion and patronage used by the enforcers of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front is not working. Above all, Zimbabwe's disappearing economy and currency make it impossible for even the most credible ZANU-PF candidate to appeal to voters on the strength of the party's record. Although ZANU-PF has tried to keep control of food distribution and other forms of patronage in the rural areas, the economic crisis has gone way beyond that. ZANU-PF cannot find enough food to win over the voters.


On the brink of a deal

A faction of the LRA is ready to come to terms with Museveni; the rest will move on to cause mayhem elsewhere

Suddenly optimism has broken out about the outcome of the long, drawn- out talks between the government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. The mediators are so confident ...


The people versus Biya

The President wants to go on for ever but recent protests show the people may not let him

Having ruled for 25 years, President Paul Biya wants to go on ruling until 2018, when he will be 85. The constitution decrees that he cannot stand for a further seven-year term in ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Viktor Bout, detained on charges of abetting terrorist groups, was an equal opportunity arms dealer. He sold and transported arms to Angola’s MPLA government and its UNITA opponents; likewise, he supplied arms to Congo’s Mobutu Sese Seko and his Nemesis Laurent- Désiré Kabila. It was his ability to be useful to all sides that accounts for Bout’s ability to escape arrest. A polyglot former KGB agent, Bout armed some of the most appalling organisations: Foday Sankoh’s Revolutionary United Fron...
Viktor Bout, detained on charges of abetting terrorist groups, was an equal opportunity arms dealer. He sold and transported arms to Angola’s MPLA government and its UNITA opponents; likewise, he supplied arms to Congo’s Mobutu Sese Seko and his Nemesis Laurent- Désiré Kabila. It was his ability to be useful to all sides that accounts for Bout’s ability to escape arrest. A polyglot former KGB agent, Bout armed some of the most appalling organisations: Foday Sankoh’s Revolutionary United Front, Charles Taylor’s army and the Taliban in Afghanistan. It says much for the ambivalent attitude of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council towards Bout that he was able to evade an Interpol arrest warrant for the past five years. Latterly based in Moscow, he was protected by Vladimir Putin’s government and some US officials claim he enjoyed similar immunity with Western intelligence agencies. That perhaps is why officials from the US Drug Enforcement Agency set out to entrap Bout without informing the CIA or FBI. Bout operated with ease in Africa, and companies established in South Africa and Uganda with government compliance. He relocated to Sharjah in 2002, again with local compliance. Africans may celebrate the capture but Bout’s career reveals a harsh reality: that few governments, rich or poor, are interested in shutting down or even limiting the trade that earned Bout his sobriquet – the Merchant of Death.
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The road to ruin

President Paul Biya's 25 years in power have been disastrous for what was once a rather prosperous state. His critics blame its decline on the excessive powers he wields and his bu...


Trans-Century and transcendental

Formed a decade ago, Trans-Century Limited has grown over the past five years to become the biggest private equity firm in East Africa, with a multimillion dollar portfolio. It has...


Moses on the mountain

Parliament is prorogued, politicians are on trial - and bad-tempered elections are due next year

Tempers are fraying as Malawi approaches next year's parliamentary and presidential elections. The all-important Malawi Electoral Commission, which will supervise the polls, has at...


Missing the target

The US bombs Al Qaida targets and misses while the TFG holds secret negotiations with elders and the Islamist opposition

On 3 March, a United States' cruise missile hit a home on the outskirts of Dobley, a small crossing point on the Somalia-Kenya border. Dobley is in an area of significant Islamic p...


Stash the cash

Angola's decision to set up its own sovereign wealth fund, as Africa Confidential recently reported (AC Vol 49 No 3), is only part of the picture. Fernando Ulrich, Chief Executive ...


Second honeymoon for the money men

Following the political deal this month, Kenyans are hoping for another deal to restart the economy. Conservative estimates put the cost of the post-election crisis at around US$1.5 billion and the loss of more than 1,000 lives. Yet the effects of more than 300,000 people chased from their homes and the disruptions to subsistence and export crop farming will hit the economy for months to come

This month, Kenya's economy faces it first big post-election test when the successful mobile telephone operator Safaricom lists on the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE). According to th...


Down the mines

The government wants to sort out its mining concessions and the investors are nervous

At last, the bargaining can begin. The government has given the private mining companies details of the terms of the new and renewed contracts that they will be offered. The 61 fir...


First clean up, then list

Sonangol intends to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange by 2010, according to Chief Executive Manuel Vicente. In February 2006, he mentioned this intention, adding that...



Pointers

King Bauxite

Known as the Bauxite King, Victor Dahdaleh is at the centre of a US case in which the Gulf State of Bahrain accuses him and the US company Alcoa of running a conspiracy involving...


Goma's ghosts

Peace has not broken out in the Kivus yet. In Goma diplomats are trying to organise follow-up meetings to the accord signed last month between the Congolese government, dissident G...


Cocaine coast

Ghana, Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania were singled out as key locations for drugs transhipments by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) report for 2008. Diplomatic ...