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Published 14th May 2010

Vol 51 No 10


Liberia

A second term for Sirleaf

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Old alliances and enmities are re-emerging as the leading candidates launch their campaigns for next year’s national elections

Burnishing a stellar international reputation, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is steeling herself for a tough campaign for a second presidential term in elections next year. Since winning power in 2007, President Sirleaf has been held back by the weaknesses of her political support base at home. Successful at winning international financial support and investor interest, Sirleaf and her immediate circle of technocrats have never looked entirely comfortable amid the cut and thrust of Monrovia politics.


Boom-bust all over again

China is offering another mega-loan and oil prices are rising again but Luanda’s short-term finances are fraught

Market reports that negotiations have stalled between the government and Goldman Sachs over a complex, US$250 million, dual currency (United States dollar and Angolan kwanza) loan ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

In the heat of the deal-making after Britain’s general election stalemate, former Conservative Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind accused outgoing Prime Minister Gordon Brown of acting like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe – trying to stitch together a coalition of ‘the losers’ to block the Conservative Party from taking power. As political insults in Westminster go, it does not get much more serious than that. Immune to such sensitivities, President Mugabe told a journalist at the World Economic Forum i...
In the heat of the deal-making after Britain’s general election stalemate, former Conservative Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind accused outgoing Prime Minister Gordon Brown of acting like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe – trying to stitch together a coalition of ‘the losers’ to block the Conservative Party from taking power. As political insults in Westminster go, it does not get much more serious than that. Immune to such sensitivities, President Mugabe told a journalist at the World Economic Forum in Dar es Salaam on 7 May that he was rather cheered by the prospect of a Tory return to power in Britain. They were, he mused, a much more honourable group than Labour and Tony Blair. He seemed nostalgic about the role played in 1979 by Conservative Foreign Secretary Peter Carington, who had insisted on meeting Mugabe against PM Margaret Thatcher’s wishes. This week, Mugabe’s colleagues in Harare publicly shared his optimism about breaking the logjam in Anglo-Zimbabwean relations under a new Tory government. Zimbabwe policy may be a low priority for Britain’s new leaders, but African observers saw many parallels in the post-election horsetrading in Westminster. Other Commonwealth observers, such as Marie Marilyn Jalloh (Sierra Leone), Ababu Namwamba (Kenya) and Innocent Chukwuma (Nigeria), were surprised by the lack of security in British elections: voters were not required to show identification and the postal-vote systen was open to massive fraud.
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The IMF makes up with Luanda

Prior to the global financial crisis in 2008, many were questioning the International Monetary Fund’s relevance, especially in African countries which were increasingly turning to ...


Another corruption crisis

A journalist investigating a top politician dies in gaol and the ensuing scandal damages President Biya’s claims to be Monsieur Propre – Mr Clean

The death of journalist Germain Cyrille ‘Bibi’ Ngota Ngota in the notorious Kondengui maximum security prison has caused outrage in Cameroon and abroad and could prompt political c...


Diamond disputes

Quarrels over diamond concessions preoccupy politicians of all stripes and some adventurous foreign capitalists

There are not many ways to get rich in Zimbabwe just now and the best is diamond mining. The business is dominated by the ruling clique in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patri...


Blaming the USA

On 23 December 2009, the United Nations Security Council voted 13 to 1 (Libya) with one abstention (China) to impose sanctions on Eritrea because it supported extremist opposition ...


Zuma’s economic tightrope

The President has endorsed Trevor Manuel’s pro-market policy plans and is struggling to keep the left on side

More than a quarter of all South Africans seeking work in the formal economy cannot find it. The urgency to get the new National Planning Commission up and working was shown by fig...


Elections loom as Kabila comes under fire from all sides

Next month, Congolese will mark 50 troubled years of Independence from Belgium amid growing concern about security and development prospects under President Kabila’s government. Kabila and the ruling PPRD are feverishly preparing for elections next year and are ramping up the nationalist rhetoric. They want the UN peacekeepers out as soon as possible to reassert the country’s independence. They also want to pressure the foreign mining and oil companies to boost state revenue.

President Joseph Kabila and the ruling Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et le Développement (PPRD) have called for the United Nations’ peacekeepers to quit Congo-Kinshasa as ...


A food crisis foretold

The Niamey junta is tinkering with its transition programme but it is better at handling a food emergency than the previous regime Aid workers have been warning for some time now t...


The Patel alternative

The battle for control of economic development planning continues and the National Planning Commission’s mandate has not yet been agreed. President Jacob Zuma blundered when, in hi...


The UN packs its bags

The Mission des Nations Unies en République Démocratique du Congo (Monuc) believes it has made progress in its stabilisation strategy for eastern Congo. Since the beginning of 2009...


Opposing Issayas

Despite UN sanctions against Asmara and the support of Ethiopia, Eritrea’s fractious opposition is struggling to build a united front

Eritrea’s opposition is planning an all-inclusive National Conference for Democratic Change in July. The prime mover, the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA), has secured support fr...



Pointers

Too many cooks

With elections due on 23 May, Premier Meles Zenawi’s government is looking forward to another five years in office. Amid sporadic violence with several deaths, opposition and gover...


Books not bribes

The World Bank is looking for new printers following its decision to bar publishers Macmillan from all Bank contracts for six years. This follows the admission by a Macmillan subsi...


Witnesses under threat

The 8-13 May visit of International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo to Kenya allowed President Mwai Kibaki’s government to maintain the pretence that it is cooperating...


Anti-corruption chief quits

The resignation on 7 May of Abdul Tejan-Cole as Commissioner and Chief Prosecutor of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) signals a growing malaise in the government of ...