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Published 9th May 2008

Vol 49 No 10


Nigeria

The gas ghost keeps haunting

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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US investigators say they have new evidence of corruption by international companies working on Nigeria's gas export plant

Criminal investigators in the United States and Europe are widening their probe into claims that the USA's oil service giant Halliburton and three other multinationals working on a gas export project conspired to establish a US$180 million slush fund to bribe Nigerian officials and reward Western contractors from 1994-2002. The US investigation now covers Halliburton's operations in Nigeria during the past 20 years and its relations with other multinational companies, including Royal Dutch Shell.


Wojciech Chodan, Pepys and Shell

The discovery by Halliburton's lawyers Baker Botts of more than 500 pages of notes penned by Wojciech Chodan (a Halliburton consultant and the Samuel Pepys of the energy business) ...


The departed return

Familiar faces are lining up again as the parties get ready for election time

With elections ahead on 7 December - and the prospect of prolonged powerlessness for the losers - prodigal sons and daughters are rushing to rejoin Ghana's two main political parti...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Offering immunity to leaders of countries or rebel movements was never a popular idea, but it has taken a battering this year. There are currently a handful of cases under review: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, the Lord’s Resistance Army’s leader Jospeh Kony and Tanzania’s ex-President Benjamin Mkapa. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor finds himself sitting in lock-up in the Hague as Special Court prosectors chase after his hundreds of millions of dollars previously held in foreign ba...
Offering immunity to leaders of countries or rebel movements was never a popular idea, but it has taken a battering this year. There are currently a handful of cases under review: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, the Lord’s Resistance Army’s leader Jospeh Kony and Tanzania’s ex-President Benjamin Mkapa. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor finds himself sitting in lock-up in the Hague as Special Court prosectors chase after his hundreds of millions of dollars previously held in foreign banks. It now seems that prosecutions will become the norm, even if promises of asylum are given. But not all cases can be treated in the same way. Taking a lesson from Taylor, leaders facing charges of corruption or extrajudicial killings may choose to hold on to power if they face prosecution. Few leaders give up power voluntarily in Central Africa. The MDC had offered to allow President Mugabe to retire in peace, but changed its tone as the situation deteriorated. Even if Mugabe were given immunity, it would raise questions about what would happen to the people who planned and carried out the Matabeleland killings in the early 1980s. Kony has been unwilling to sign the latest peace deal because there are few guarantees that President Museveni can offer when there are outstanding warrants for Kony at the International Criminal Court and Uganda’s High Court.
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Sick man, sick opposition

As corruption scandals rage on, politicians contest their parties' future leaderships

With his main rival, Michael Sata, in emergency care in South Africa, Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa is firmly in charge of his country. Sata suffered a heart attack on 25 April...


Dealing with a wounded tiger

Led by its Legal Affairs Secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa, hardliners in the governing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) cling to power in the face of internal dissent and the government's defeat at the 29 March polls. They insist that President Robert Mugabe will fight a presidential runoff vote against the Movement for Democratic Change's (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai, probably in June or July, and will win by all means necessary.

After almost a week of political paralysis in ZANU-PF following the 29 March elections, Emmerson Mnangagwa and his allies honed a fight-back strategy for the party that involves ch...


Drifting apart

The habitual politeness between Belgium and its former colony grew thinner still during a five-day visit to Kinshasa in late April by three ministers from Brussels, Karel De Gucht ...


The stand against Mugabe

Western dignitaries and intelligence operatives race in and out of Lusaka, pushing for a solution to the Zimbabwe stalemate. President Levy Mwanawasa chairs the 14-member Southern ...


Peace deal in shreds

The rebel attacks on Bujumbura last month threaten to unravel the regime and the tottering economy

The flurry of summitry in response to a series of mortar attacks on Bujumbura by the Hutu rebels of the Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL) in late April has yielded a pos...


Brand new Zuma washes whiter

A dash through Europe has helped the new ANC leader establish his pragmatic credentials with diplomats and businesses

With one bound Jacob Zuma was free. No longer was the new President of the African National Congress a dangerous populist in a threatening alliance with communists and trades union...


Hidden depths

Tensions between Kinshasa and Kampala are heating up again and oil fortunes are at stake

Talks to resolve the intermittent border disputes between Kampala and Kinshasa have been called off after Congolese troops seized a tract of disputed territory between Arua distric...


It's the price that counts

It is easy to find culprits for the food crisis in Africa, from the West's push for biofuels to China's newly well-fed middle class. The fact is that food supplies are short and prices therefore high in the short term - and probably in the long term too.

The 75% increase in food prices reported by the World Bank is pushing down nutrition standards in poor countries and wreaking havoc across developing economies. The big question i...



Pointers

Under cover

The halting of United Nations' investigations into allegations of abuses by Indian and Pakistani peacekeepers in Congo-Kinshasa raises new questions about UN accountability and th...


Oddly normal II

The rapprochement between Sudan and the United States continues apace but US Special Envoy Richard Williamson has warned that he does not foresee full 'normalisation' during his te...


Good COPS, bad COPS

'We will get it done,' Daniel H. Overmyer assured Africa Confidential, leaning in conspiratorially. Overmyer is the President of Castle, Overmyer, Poole & Schubert (COPS), a me...