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Published 21st January 2011

Vol 52 No 2


Sudan

Birth of a nation

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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After the jubilation of the referendum vote, six months of tough negotiation and rough politics will lead up to the birth of independent Southern Sudan

Joy reigned from Australia to North America and all over Sudan, especially in the 2,600 polling stations where over 3.9 million people voted in the South, as the independence referendum ended on 15 January and counting began. ‘Today we can be happy for the first time!’ one joyful voter shouted to Africa Confidential at the London polling station.


The Tunis effect

‘Tunus, Tunus fis Sudan!’ (‘Tunis, Tunis in Sudan!’) shouted demonstrators outside Sudan’s London Embassy on 16 January. They were few but the protest is still a landmark. Several ...


The Abyei crucible

As Southern Sudan celebrates, neighbouring Abyei is a war zone. Clashes began on 7 January between a Northern Missiriya militia and well trained Southern commandos wearing police u...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Switzerland’s 19 January decision to freeze the assets of ousted Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Côte d’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo (still involved in a continuing post-election stand-off with Alassane Dramane Ouattara) raises more questions about the West’s selective indignation about political corruption. Other European governments announced that they might also freeze Tunisian assets after Switzerland said that it had identified suspect assets worth at least US$650 millio...

Switzerland’s 19 January decision to freeze the assets of ousted Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Côte d’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo (still involved in a continuing post-election stand-off with Alassane Dramane Ouattara) raises more questions about the West’s selective indignation about political corruption. Other European governments announced that they might also freeze Tunisian assets after Switzerland said that it had identified suspect assets worth at least US$650 million and would give Premier Mohamed el Ghannouchi’s new government the chance to claim them back. Europe’s financial authorities have yet to explain why they failed to act previously, despite the fact that they had monitored the Ben Ali clan’s transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to their jurisdictions for some 23 years.

In their defence, those authorities might cite the World Bank’s 2010 report which described the Tunis regime as far ahead of its neighbours in government effectiveness, the rule of law and the ‘control of corruption and regulatory quality’. Similarly, when asked why they raised no questions about the overseas financial assets of Gbagbo and his entourage, the authorities might cite World Bank and IMF recommendations that his regime’s high governance standards qualified it for billions of dollars in debt relief. In the light of growing regional discontent, Europe will presumably start to look more closely at transfers from Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Nigeria – to name just a few.

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The jasmine and khaki revolution

Protests after a desperate unemployed graduate’s suicide ousted the Ben Ali regime and may change regional politics

The arrest of 33 members of the former ruling family less than a week after the overthrow of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali on 13 January consolidates the change of regime. It s...


Brazil’s natural allies

Brazil’s political involvement in Portuguese-speaking Africa goes back to the independence struggles of the 1960s and 1970s. In July 1974, the military junta which then ruled Brazi...


Banda on the backfoot

Despite a faster-growing economy, opposition parties are winning support by pushing nationalism

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A family legacy

Ali Ben Bongo, who took over the presidency from his father in August 2009, is struggling on both the political and economic fronts

After more than a year in power, President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba faces rising popular discontent. Spending more time abroad than at home hardly gives the impression of a man bent o...


Jonathan’s primary colours

Winning the PDP’s presidential nomination looks easier for Goodluck Jonathan than establishing himself as a truly national politician

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Battle of the bankers

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The two main contenders in April’s presidential election – both regional bankers – are evenly matched but for now the balance of support favours the incumbent, President Thomas Yay...


Rumbas in the jungle

Brazil’s new President, Dilma Rousseff, does not have the enthusiasm for Africa of her predecessor, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, but the ties will remain

President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, who worked closely with successive South African Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma on diplomatic issues, also presided over a sharp boost i...


Subsidising politics

Maize subsidies win votes but the impact on the economy – and on agriculture – is not so healthy

Having bucked conventional wisdom on government subsidies to small farmers, President Bingu wa Mutharika staked his election chances on his Farm Input Subsidy Programme in the 2005...



Pointers

The junta gets ready

Didymus Mutasa, Administration Secretary of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, may have a reputation as a bumbler but he does voice thoughts others would p...


Abine quits RDPC

Ayah Paul Abine, the Rassemblement démocratique du peuple camerounais member of parliament for Akaya, Manyu Division of South West Region, has quit the ruling RDPC, claiming he fea...


Propaganda war

Many in the Francophone African exile community have been unusually supportive of Laurent Gbagbo, in spite of his sanguinary reputation and with few doubts about the fairness of th...


Telling the story

As the 13 May deadline for the Nile Basin Initiative Cooperative Framework looms, Egyptian efforts to stop the deal have become more apparent. The stances taken by Burundi and Cong...