Jump to navigation

Published 17th October 2008

Vol 49 No 21


Obama rings the changes

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

View site

African citizens enthuse about the prospect of an Obama presidency, but their governments are much more cautious

A victory for Barack Obama in the United States Presidential elections on 4 November would be greeted with a roar of approval across Africa and the diaspora. For many, it would be seen as a hugely symbolic victory for Africa at a time when the continent’s economies are growing in the slipstream of the more dynamic Asian powers. It would strengthen Africa-US ties amidst a long-term geopolitical re-ordering in which African traders and policymakers have been turning to Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. <


Diplomats on the campaign trail

Barack Obama is taking no chances on foreign policy, seen as one of his weaknesses against Senator John McCain who has been in Congress since 1983.

There some 300 foreign policy advisors working on Barack Obama's campaign, about 50 on Africa alone; this compares to about 50 advisors on all foreign policy for McCain’s campaign....


Pre-presidential discord

Claims of vote-rigging sour the atmosphere for the poll that acting President Rupiah Banda looks likely to win

Zambia, like Kenya andZimbabwe faces the risk of a disputed presidential election. The vote to replace the late Levy Patrick Mwanawasa is set for 30 October and the top contender...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

With headlines announcing the spreading financial disaster, some delegates at the World Bank/IMF meetings last week were plotting to restructure the institutions. Ministers in the Group of 24 developing countries, chaired by Congo-Kinshasa’s Jean-Claude Masangu Mulongo, called for a big shift of voting power ‘towards the majority’ in the Bank and IMF. The Bank’s agreement to another executive board member for Africa, which will mean three directors for a continent of 54 states; Europe has ei...
With headlines announcing the spreading financial disaster, some delegates at the World Bank/IMF meetings last week were plotting to restructure the institutions. Ministers in the Group of 24 developing countries, chaired by Congo-Kinshasa’s Jean-Claude Masangu Mulongo, called for a big shift of voting power ‘towards the majority’ in the Bank and IMF. The Bank’s agreement to another executive board member for Africa, which will mean three directors for a continent of 54 states; Europe has eight directors on the executive board with permanent seats for the USA, Germany, Japan, France and Britain. The US is the only country with an effective veto on all important board decisions; it also benefits from an informal agreement that the President has always been an American while Europeans have led the IMF. Such arrangements face new pressures. Bank President Robert Zoellick has appointed a commission under Mexican ex-President Ernesto Zedillo to examine proposals to ‘modernise the Bank’s governance’. Zoellick, whose own job might be at risk under new rules, also called for the expansion of the Group of 7 countries to include Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. This new steering group should evolve to fit changing economic relations: ‘We need a Facebook for multilateral economic diplomacy,’ Zoellick concluded.
Read more

A diamond power play

Allegations of gem smuggling and hints of top-level trickery prompt a UN investigation

General Solomon Mujuru, former head of the army and politicalkingmaker, is caught up in a feud over the ownership of one of Zimbabwe’s biggest diamond mines. Mujuru’s company now f...


A one-sided election

The parliamentary elections were unconvincing but a bit better than the last ones

Facing no opposition, the Front Patriotique Rwandais (FPR) won an unsurprising landslide in the parliamentary elections on 15 September, the second since the 1994 genocide. The Eur...


Mugabe rearranges the deckchairs

Almost a month after the signing of the power-sharing agreement, Zimbabwe is no nearer to a new cabinet.

The ink was barely dry on the accord before President Robert Mugabe left for New York to address the United Nations General Assembly with a 60-strong entourage. Muddles with his wi...


All politics is provincial

All the African National Congress’s provincial branches are internally divided between Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma supporters.

The Western Cape and Eastern Cape branches are still reeling from the pro-Zuma leadership’s sacking this year of their pro-Mbeki Premiers, Ebrahim Rasool and Nosimo Balindlela. On ...


The Kivu impasse

Rwanda cannot escape the troubles across the border in North Kivu

The rebel Congolese Tutsi General, Laurent Nkunda, has called for an uprising against the Kinshasa government. The 3,000-6,000 men of his Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple...


Hunger stalks the land

Malnourished children are dying in the countryside and the next harvest is unlikely to be better.

Malnourished children are dying in the countryside and the next harvest is unlikely to be better. The combination of the worst drought for a decade and bad government policies, alo...


Africa and the credit crash

Africa’s economies growing faster on average than all other regions, except Asia, but how will they fare when the global slowdown bites?

Africa’s economies will lose momentum as the effects of the global credit crisis work through the international system – but the damage will be less severe than in other developing...



Pointers

Sweet FA

England’s Football Association (FA) may be interested in the links between Alexandre Gaydamak, the declared owner of Portsmouth Football Club, and arms-dealing companies that have ...


Spiralling serpents

President Omar Bongo Ondimba’s anti-corruption drive has produced unexpected results.As Harvard University and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced that Gabon was among the top ten ...