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Published 4th February 2011

Vol 52 No 3


Rewards and realpolitik

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Kenyan and Sudanese officials are claiming victory in their battle against the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

France and the United States are seriously considering the African Union (AU)'s requests to defer the International Criminal Court's prosecution of six Kenyan officials and Sudan's President Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir, senior African and Western officials have told Africa Confidential. Support from those two Western states would almost certainly guarantee a vote in favour of deferrals at the United Nations Security Council; France and the USA have permanent seats and vetoes on the UNSC. Portugal, currently a non-permanent member, has diplomats now scrutinising the ICC dossier on Sudan.


Summitry in a time of revolution

Journalists at the African Union conference centre in Addis Ababa determinedly intruded on private grief as they quizzed the Egyptian Foreign Minister's press officer about just ...


Mubarak stumbles to the exit

As protestors and Mubarak supporters clash in Al Tahrir Square, the organised political parties are positioning themselves for negotiations

The fast-growing power of Egypt's democracy movement seems set to force President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak from power sooner rather than later, following the military's promise not ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Twice in the past month, African armies have announced that they will defend the right of civilian activists to take to the streets with their calls for democracy and for an end to corruption and nepotism. And twice it seems the soldiers - in Tunisia and in Egypt - are positioning themselves as catalysts in the downfall of tyrannies. It would be wrong to put much faith in the military's powers of social transformation: a succession of self-proclaimed corrective juntas have failed woefully to ma...
Twice in the past month, African armies have announced that they will defend the right of civilian activists to take to the streets with their calls for democracy and for an end to corruption and nepotism. And twice it seems the soldiers - in Tunisia and in Egypt - are positioning themselves as catalysts in the downfall of tyrannies. It would be wrong to put much faith in the military's powers of social transformation: a succession of self-proclaimed corrective juntas have failed woefully to make the promised political or economic reforms. The combination of military-backed reform, new constitutions and political parties, new electoral commissions and then monitored elections can produce stability and coherence if the political activists stand firm enough. If they fail, a new generation of political soldiers takes over and entrenches a type of militarised rule with decorative elections. That danger now confronts Tunisia's and Egypt's democracy movements. Will the brave oppositionists who have confronted the old militarised dictatorship be able to work with the soldiers to establish a new political order or in the end will the military find the prospect of real change unpalatable? Both Tunisia and Egypt are on the brink of change in which the military can play a positive constitutional role, but both societies still run the risk of a rapid reversion to autocracy if that fragile trust between activist and soldier breaks down.  
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The major opposition

New Wafd Party: nationalist and liberal with free-market values; founded in 1983, reviving the aristocratic and traditional Wafd, abolished after Gamal Abdel Nasser's 1952 'revol...


Militia attacks on the border

Brutal attacks last month by armed militias on convoys of Southern Sudanese returning from the North show the security crisis in the borderlands and the danger of war over Abyei ...


Squeezing Gbagbo's budget

African and European sanctions could take months to bite while the political and security crisis grows daily in Abidjan

Europe is adding its own sanctions to the pressure on President Laurent Gbagbo from Africa's regional organisations to force him to stand down in the post-election stand off. At ...


Playing dominoes

The autocratic regimes in Algeria and Libya are making concessions in the hope of resisting the democracy movement that started in Tunisia

For now, Algiers is what locals call 'normal', a condition in which roadblocks and tight security prevail, mixed with spiralling living costs, massive overcrowding and poor publi...


A five-year exit plan

As democracy activists pressure entrenched regimes across Africa, Premier Meles's government sets out its plans for controlled change

From a position of strength - there is just one opposition member of parliament - the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front has been setting out its plans to r...


Through the looking glass

There are growing concerns about the two million Southerners living in the north after last month's vote for separation

Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of Africa's newest state in July, was in demand at the 24-31 January African Union summit in Addis Ababa. In the AU conference centre, he was court...


The political fallout

Opposition forces, some armed and some civilian, intensify their campaigns against the regime in Kigali

Yet another former government figure has set up a political movement in opposition to Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Faustin Twagiramungu, who was Prime Minister in the first po...


Bad omens

The clean sweep by President Pierre Nkurunziza and his Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) at the 2010 elections has failed to dispel fears that violence will increase further. The opposition claims there was massive fraud behind the ruling party’s triumph and since May, dozens of murders and over 100 grenade attacks have taken place (AC Vol 51 No 13).



Pointers

Bayelsa's fighting chance

Rivalry between two former loyalists of President Goodluck Jonathan and his People's Democratic Party in his home state of Bayelsa presages fierce confrontations before April's e...


Less bashing for bribers

UK businesses lobbying against the new Bribery Act seem to be having some success (see Confidential Agenda, week ending 28 January). The government has postponed implementation o...