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Published 23rd January 2009

Vol 50 No 2


Ghana

Back to the battleground

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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After a celebrated election, President John Atta Mills takes on a fractious parliament

There was little time for Ghanaians to luxuriate in the praises heaped on them for another peaceful transfer of power on 7 January before having to confront some harsh political and economic facts. The National Democratic Congress' John Evans Atta Mills won the second round of the presidential elections on 28 December with less than 50,000 votes. He has pledged to unify Ghana after the knife-edge election.


Economic facts and fantasies

Loyalists of the outgoing National Patriotic Party (NPP) government reacted angrily to World Bank Country Director Ishac Diwan's dire warnings about Ghana's economy. Estimating the...


A gathering storm

Plummeting oil prices, rising inflation and a chaotic foreign exchange market challenge the new economic team

Oil Minister Rilwanu Lukman and Finance Minister Mansur Mukhtar are leading Nigeria's management of its worse economic crisis for two decades. The steep fall in world oil prices, f...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Africa has been celebrating the inauguration of President Barack Obama in the USA this week with pride and realism. Obama’s African ancestry lent added weight to his inaugural speech. His reproach to autocrats, ‘To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history,’ will be thrown at Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Sudan’s Omer el Beshir, both of whom will struggle to respond to a US President who enjoys such internat...
Africa has been celebrating the inauguration of President Barack Obama in the USA this week with pride and realism. Obama’s African ancestry lent added weight to his inaugural speech. His reproach to autocrats, ‘To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history,’ will be thrown at Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Sudan’s Omer el Beshir, both of whom will struggle to respond to a US President who enjoys such international support. Finance officials across Africa know that after the US Treasury has spent almost a trillion dollars on propping up its banks and corporations, and another trillion on the Iraq war, the US Congress will be reluctant to increase foreign aid programmes. Obama started the debate this week: ‘To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow.’ That may translate into an unravelling of the scandalous system of farm subsidies in the USA, Europe and Japan, which undermines agriculture in Africa. Obama’s Africa advisors promise more effective diplomacy and support for the UN and the African Union to deal with crises in Congo-Kinshasa, Somalia and Sudan. As the winds of change blow through Washington, the new Assistant Secretary of State for Africa will enjoy much higher-level backing but will also be held to higher standards than previous occupants of the post.
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New politics, new threats

Three new developments will shape Sudan's politics this year: the International Criminal Court's (ICC) issue of an arrest warrant for President Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir; the planned elections under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement; and the inauguration of President Barack Obama's government in the United States with a clear commitment to act against Khartoum's mass murder in Darfur.

New politics, new threats The ruling National Congress (NC, aka National Islamic Front) is struggling to adapt to new realities. A dozen years of meticulous planning and patient en...


A rift among rebels

Some want a ceasefire, others insist on a solution, with personalities as divisive as policies

The main rebel movement in eastern Congo has split, with one faction seeking a ceasefire with the government, the other promising to fight on. The more militant rebel, General Laur...


A popular putsch, so far

The junta is purging the army, reviewing mining contracts and has been given just six months to organise elections

Guinea's new leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, faces formidable difficulties in holding together the junta as rival military factions circle in search of largesse and political ...


No longer at ease

In the last months of President George Walker Bush's reign, US officials pressed the Khartoum regime over Darfur and Abyei by telling leaders, 'If you think we're tough, wait till ...


Zuma versus the law

Assured of nomination as the ANC's presidential candidate, Jacob Zuma plans to block the prosecutors

On 25 January, Jacob Zuma will be nominated by all provincial branches of the African National Congress as the party's preferred presidential candidate and the leadership will endo...


The new men under fire

Some of the Comité National pour le Développement et la Démocratie junta's appointments have been heavily criticised. Chief among these is military leader Moussa Dadis Camara's old...


Bargaining with warlords

Southern Sudan is still run like a feudal state, with President Salva Kiir Mayardit appointing people from among competing factions and ethnic interest groups in a complex balancin...


Biya rejects the Ghana model

An independent commission to oversee elections turns out not to be independent after all

Ghana's Electoral Commission organised an election in December that made Ghanaians proud. A similar commission for Cameroon has been resisted every step of the way by President Pau...



Pointers

Khartoum's bankers

Lloyds TSB, recently bailed out by the British government, has had to pay fines of US$350 million for breaking United States' sanctions on Sudan, Libya and Iran, following an inves...


Guards for sale

Young Tanzanians conscripted for their military National Service may find themselves doing commercial security work. The government says it wants to reduce youth unemployment and i...


Yom Ashura

Forgiveness and tolerance are key to Gambia and Senegal's celebration of the Islamic holy day of Yom Ashura (the tenth day of the Islamic New Year), this year on 8 January. In cont...


Credits crunched

Africa advisor at the Elysée Bruno Joubert will be awaiting a ruling by Paris's parquet on the admissibility of a civil case against Gabon's President Omar Bongo Ondimba, Co...