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Published 4th December 2009

Vol 50 No 24


Nigeria

Rogues and rackets on trial

Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2018
Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2018

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A corruption case in Geneva snares some of Nigeria’s political elite, and judges order the return of stolen state assets

The conviction in a Swiss Court on 19 November of Abba Abacha, son of former military leader General Sani Abacha, for participating in a criminal organisation together with the confiscation of US$350 million in assets stolen from Nigeria provide important clues to the corruption linked to the $6 billion Bonny Island gas scheme, according to legal experts in Geneva.


Progress in Port of Spain

Rwanda and India emerged as the winners from an unexpectedly productive Commonwealth summit in Trinidad on 27-29 November

The Secretary General, Indian veteran diplomat Kamalesh Sharma, skillfully orchestrated the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting into a cheerleading conference for the climate ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The furore around President Umaru Yar’Adua’s evacuation to Saudi Arabia for treatment of acute pericarditis reminds Nigerians of the close links between political and medical health. Politicians across the world raise questions about their opponents’ health to undermine them. British Premier Tony Blair’s heart problems and French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s post-jogging collapse were exposed to the full glare of media publicity. In Asia, Indian journalists lead the way with public disclosure of...
The furore around President Umaru Yar’Adua’s evacuation to Saudi Arabia for treatment of acute pericarditis reminds Nigerians of the close links between political and medical health. Politicians across the world raise questions about their opponents’ health to undermine them. British Premier Tony Blair’s heart problems and French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s post-jogging collapse were exposed to the full glare of media publicity. In Asia, Indian journalists lead the way with public disclosure of 78-year-old Premier Manmohan Singh’s diabetes and heart bypass surgery. Although China has brought in a younger generation of leaders, the official obsession with secrecy on health continues. Africa’s politicians struggle to stop the fiery local media discussing their health. North African leaders look particularly shaky: Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 72, suffers from chronic stomach ailments; Tunisia’s President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, 76, was recently prescribed bed rest; there have been several scares for Egypt’s 81-year-old President Hosni Mubarak; and at 67, Libyan leader Moammar el Gadaffi is a comparative stripling but his rambling oratorical style prompts claims of drug abuse. A picture of health at 85, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe confounds his opponents’ hopes for his retirement, and along with the equally robust Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, flies the flag for octogenarian leaders in Africa.
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Africa dons its Commonwealth cap

Africa has played a critical role in the Commonwealth since its Secretariat was launched in 1965 at Marlborough House, a royal palace provided rent-free by Britain's Queen Elizabet...


Ailing president, procrastinating politics

The latest illness of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua adds urgency to calls for far-reaching electoral and political reforms ahead of national elections due by early 2011. Despite mounting calls for Yar’Adua to step down on health grounds after he was spirited off to Saudi Arabia for treatment of acute pericarditis, his cabinet ministers insist he must remain in charge. Meanwhile, activists and opposition politicians are reorganising to challenge the incumbent People’s Democratic Party’s overwhelming grip on power.

With national elections due by early 2011. The financial stakes are huge - control of some US$100 billion of annual oil and gas revenue. The last elections in 2007 plumbed new dept...


Many rivers to cross

President Bozizé is tipped to win the coming election, but much of the territory is beyond the control of his army

Cheered to the rafters at his Kwa Na Kwa (KNK) party congress at Mbaiki on 13 November, President François Bozizé, 63, declined to confirm that he would stand in next year's presid...


The other power struggle

Efforts to raise electricity tariffs and tackle underinvestment in the energy industry prompt rows with government and the trades unions

A financing crisis in the state-owned power company, Eskom, threatens the government's hopes of more investment in manufacturing and services. On 30 November, Eskom applied to the ...


Faint heart never beat stout lady in the ruling party

Joice Mujuru’s victory in ZANU-PF’s leadership election could encourage more pragmatism as pressure mounts for Mugabe’s exit

Emmerson Mnangagwa is nicknamed 'the Crocodile' partly for his ability to snap after long periods of log-like but watchful inertia. In November's election for the Praesidium of the...


The Experts win support

Resisting pressure to overlook those breaking the arms embargo, the UNSC’s reaction to a hard-hitting investigation is suprisingly robust

The United Nations Security Council has resisted heavy pressure to reject the hard-hitting UN Panel of Experts' Report(i) on violations, by African and Western states, of the embar...


Recycled activists, new tactics

On 24 November, the Mega Summit Movement (MSM) disclosed plans to launch a Mega Party in 2010. Its three component groups had hitherto looked more like siblings squabbling over a t...


The East takes on the South

The new team of Eurocrats has little experience of Africa and may be surprised by what it finds

A new European Commission was named on 17 November and most of its members who will deal with African affairs are from countries with no ties to the continent. The Commission Presi...


Didymus Mutasa dithers

Joice Mujuru's victory in ZANU-PF's leadership election could encourage more pragmatism as pressure mounts for Mugabe's exit

In the hierarchy of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, the Politburo Secretary for Administration ranks fifth, running the Secretariat that sets dates and agendas...



Pointers

Football fuss

Algeria and Egypt stopped just short of war over qualification for the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa. We hear that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had considered a special...


A botched prosecution

Protais Zigiranyirazo, brother-in-law of late Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, was acquitted on appeal by the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on 17 No...


Drugs and thugs

Interpol is investigating the fate of a Boeing jet carrying some 10 tonnes of cocaine which landed in Mali on 2 November and may have been deliberately destroyed. The Boeing had ta...