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Published 7th January 2011

Vol 52 No 1


Elections on trial

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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In a crowded year of elections, the standoff in Abidjan offers a serious challenge to democracy promoters

At the start of one of Africa’s busiest political seasons – more than 17 elections are due this year – the deepening crisis in Côte d’Ivoire sends a brutal reminder of the limits of electoral politics. The idea that free-ish multiparty elections supervised by the United Nations were going to resolve the fissures between the north and south of the country owed more to hope than to reality on the ground. Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos is one of the staunchest supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo, along with sundry Israeli and Russian officials. His election-winning rival, Alassane Dramane Ouattara, has corralled a wide range of support, discreetly helped by French and United States’ diplomats, along with the good offices of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.


Electric elections

The accidental President Goodluck Jonathan takes on the northern establishment, with unpredictable results

All the ingredients in the presidential and parliamentary elections due in April make for a fierce political battle. The dominant national party for over a decade is losing its gri...


Freedom – North and South

As Southerners vote to secede from the North, some Northern politicians see a chance to undermine the NCP regime in Khartoum

As Southern Sudanese prepare to celebrate independence after the 9-15 January referendum, Northern oppositionists talk of overthrowing the ruling National Congress Party. They have...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

At first glance, the disjuncture between politics and economics seems to be growing in Africa. International financial institutions forecast a return to average economic growth across the continent of over 5% a year; some predict that five of the world’s twelve fastest-growing economies this year will be in Africa. Ghana, which some reckon will be the world’s fastest growing economy in 2011 with its newly launched oil and gas industry, may be one country where political and economic de...

At first glance, the disjuncture between politics and economics seems to be growing in Africa. International financial institutions forecast a return to average economic growth across the continent of over 5% a year; some predict that five of the world’s twelve fastest-growing economies this year will be in Africa. Ghana, which some reckon will be the world’s fastest growing economy in 2011 with its newly launched oil and gas industry, may be one country where political and economic developments are almost in synch.

Elsewhere, the political prospects look gloomy, prompted partly by the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire but also by predictions of stasis in the coming elections in Cameroon, Congo-Kinshasa and Zimbabwe. Yet the picture is more diverse. The political pressure is mounting as economic growth and information technology outside state control unleash new political forces.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s contention that multiparty politics works only in societies with substantial urban middle classes was dismissed as an excuse to obstruct pluralism in the 1990s. Now the middle classes are growing and Africa is the world’s fastest-urbanising continent, a reality Museveni will face at next month’s elections. In this edition of Africa Confidential, we assess the key presidential and parliamentary elections across Africa. Pointers on Benin, Kenya, Gabon and Zambia are available only to subscribers at www.africa-confidential.com. Happy New Year!

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He’s back on top again

President Museveni seems set for another win but with a stronger, more fractious parliament and the usual oil problems

The opposition parties have neither the will nor the capacity seriously to challenge President Yoweri Museveni’s government in the elections due in mid-February. Yet the opposition...


Even ZANU can change

As the junta got ready to step up its harassment and violence against the opponents of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, ZANU-PF’s rivals for the succession were...


A permanent putsch

Foreigners disapprove but Andry TGV Rajoelina wants to be president and the voters may agree

He has not announced that he is standing but transitional leader Andry Rajoelina is on the campaign trail for the presidential and legislative polls that are due by midyear. He kee...


Mubarak and son limited

This year’s presidential election is unlikely to bring much change but the real challenge to the ruling party will come from the streets

The likeliest choice of official candidate for the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) in September’s presidential election is between the 82-year-old and ailing incumbent, Moha...


To Biya or not to Biya

The President could easily rig his way back to power but may prefer to spring a surprise and quit

In power for the last 28 years, President Paul Biya, 77, will face his old rival in the presidential election scheduled for October. This is John Fru Ndi, 69, of the Social Democra...


Kabila again

If, despite some legal hurdles, the elections are held, President Joseph Kabila is likely to win another five years in power

Congo’s approaching elections are already entangled by lawyers. The main opposition party, Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Mouvement de libération du Congo (MLC), supported by several local no...


Getting ready to vote

But when? President Mugabe wants a delay, his opponents want a road map and SADC does very little about it

Zimbabweans will have a chance to vote at least once this year. First will come a constitutional referendum, then – if President Robert Mugabe and his allies have their way – gener...


Johnson Sirleaf stands on her record

Voters are likely to favour the President but ex-football star George Weah could push the election to a second round

Strategy for the presidential and parliamentary elections on 11 October will dominate political life, with incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf tipped to win. Yet a strong pus...


The TFG’s August deadline

Outsiders prop up a regime which moves slowly, if at all, towards a constitution and legitimate rule

Next August, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government is due to wind up, to be replaced by a new government under a new constitution. Last July, the TFG received a draft from a 29...



Pointers

Careful what you wear

After a film of a woman screaming in pain as Khartoum policemen whipped her for wearing trousers had gone around the world on the internet, the Government of Southern Sudan was qui...


ICC has Kenyan politicians on the run

The Kenyan Parliament has been tying itself in constitutional knots after passing a motion – which risks being in conflict with the new constitution – to repeal the International C...


Banker for Benin

Abdoulaye Bio Tchané, the Governor of the regional Banque ouest-africaine de développement, this week officially launched his bid for April’s presidential election in Benin. This h...


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