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Published 20th November 2009

Vol 50 No 23


Nigeria

The biggest reform of all

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s government is trying to win support for its new oil law by offering Delta communities a stake in the business

The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s supporters are trying to steer through the National Assembly, is meeting massive opposition from the major oil companies, their political lobbyists and the Niger Delta militants who resent the lack of concessions offered. Efforts to make the oil business more market-oriented and to free it from political manipulation have been going for more than a decade; they won’t end soon.


Big oil and small print

The differences seem to be narrowing between the presidency and the critical stakeholders: indigenous and international oil companies, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (...


China's new bid for Nigerian oil

China has expressed interest in buying 49% stakes in 23 soon-to-expire oil block licences. The London Financial Times reported in September that the China National Offshore Oil Cor...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

After the release of Simon Mann and four of his military friends from Blackbeach, another Equatorial Guinean controversy is emerging. Investigations by the United States Justice Department have revealed that Malabo’s Forestry Minister and presidential son Teodorin Nguema Obiang has channelled at least US$73 million in corrupt funds into the USA, using shell companies and offshore bank accounts. However, the Minister faces no threat of prosecution or indeed attempts to restrict his immigration st...
After the release of Simon Mann and four of his military friends from Blackbeach, another Equatorial Guinean controversy is emerging. Investigations by the United States Justice Department have revealed that Malabo’s Forestry Minister and presidential son Teodorin Nguema Obiang has channelled at least US$73 million in corrupt funds into the USA, using shell companies and offshore bank accounts. However, the Minister faces no threat of prosecution or indeed attempts to restrict his immigration status. US Executive Proclamation 7750 is meant to bar individuals and their families who have benefited from state or other corruption from obtaining a US visa. Yet this is not the first time that Western governments have chosen, in effect, to offer legal immunity to the ruling family of Equatorial Guinea, the third biggest oil producer in Africa but a brutal and corrupt regime. Attempts in France by Transparency International and anti-corruption groups to freeze the family’s assets in Paris are blocked by the courts. The US Congress in 2004 under the leadership of Senator Carl Levin found that the Obiang family had diverted some $700 mn. of funds into its personal accounts from Western oil companies through the Washington-based Riggs Bank. Despite the detailed evidence produced by Levin’s team, the US government allowed the Obiang family to transfer the laundered funds to a Cameroonian bank and the following year welcomed President Obiang as an important ally in the war on terror.
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In favour and out of cash

The ANC government’s left-wing supporters in Cosatu and the SACP want more of their comrades in the cabinet and more social spending

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the SA Communist Party (SACP) have gained strength since they helped President Jacob Zuma into power in April. Their left-wi...


The smugglers make their fortunes

The more embargoes and sanctions, the higher the rate of return for international arms dealers

Arms traders are getting around Europe's sanctions on Guinea and playing games with the embargo on Côte d'Ivoire, and Belgium sells weapons to Libya, hub of the arms business in Af...


The rise and rise of ethnic politics

The predominance of Lhomwe people in the government hierarchy raises doubts about Mutharika's nationalism

The star attraction of the Lhomwe cultural festival last month was President Bingu wa Mutharika: his presence reflects his growing use of his own ethnic identity to mobilise politi...


The race for second place

No change is expected for the governing party but the opposition may look different after this month's polls

President Hifikepunye Pohamba's governing South West Africa People's Organisation will almost certainly win again, and comfortably, at the elections on 27-28 November. The main opp...


President Koroma pledges 'We no go tire'

The country wants investment and, with a little help from his friend Tony Blair, President Koroma embarks upon a fund-raising mission in Britain

In the run-up to a fund-raising conference in London on 18 November, President Ernest Bai Koroma was pushing legal and business reforms, and making an example of corrupt officials....


Mr Moreno-Ocampo goes to Nairobi

The President and the Premier are ambivalent about the ICC's plan to prosecute some of the political violence cases

To the alarm of many in Nairobi's political elite, the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is determined to investigate and prosecute those involved in the...


UN investigators challenge Khartoum

A UN report says the Darfur war is far from over and Khartoum is the main protagonist and procurer of arms

The opening sentence of the 27 October Report by the United Nations Panel of Experts on Sudan, released last week, demolishes the notion that the Darfur war is over. 'Most of the m...


From cowboys to corporates

For years, cowboy outfits have churned through Sierra Leone's red dirt for diamonds and gold, but now the government is getting serious about extractive industries. Listed companie...



Pointers

Jackie Selebi on trial

Nothing is going according to plan with the prosecution for corruption of former police chief and former Interpol director Jackie Selebi (AC Vol 50 No 16). As he tries to exonerate...


Al Shabaab targets Eritrea

Al Shabaab, Somalia's main Islamist insurgent movement, has a new country in its sights. Its Spokesperson, Suldan Mohammed Aala Mohammed, has announced the addition of Eritrea to t...