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Published 18th February 2011

Vol 52 No 4


Activists versus authoritarians

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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After two months of courageous campaigning by determined young Africans, the region’s autocrats are preparing their counter-offensive

After two months of courageous campaigning by determined young Africans, the region’s autocrats are preparing their counter-offensive


Winners of the wave

With two autocrats felled in less than a month, the big winner in North Africa’s democracy wave is clearly people power, previously a rarity on the streets of Tunis and Cairo, and ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Two improbable cheers for Nigerian democracy. The loudest one should be for Attahiru Jega’s efforts as Chairman of the Independent National Election Commission to ensure the registration of more than 60 million electors in a month. Despite widespread scepticism that Nigeria could accurately register so many people so fast on data storage systems – it took Bangladesh a year to register a similar number – Jega appears to have hit his target.

INEC reported 54.9 million registration...

Two improbable cheers for Nigerian democracy. The loudest one should be for Attahiru Jega’s efforts as Chairman of the Independent National Election Commission to ensure the registration of more than 60 million electors in a month. Despite widespread scepticism that Nigeria could accurately register so many people so fast on data storage systems – it took Bangladesh a year to register a similar number – Jega appears to have hit his target.

INEC reported 54.9 million registrations by 31 January before announcing a week’s extension. Officials reckon some 62 million electors will be registered when the lists are distributed for checking in a month’s time. For a population of some 160 million, over half of whom are under 18, those numbers look credible but they will need to be tested for duplication and fraud.

INEC reported 54.9 million registrations by 31 January before announcing a week’s extension. Officials reckon some 62 million electors will be registered when the lists are distributed for checking in a month’s time. For a population of some 160 million, over half of whom are under 18, those numbers look credible but they will need to be tested for duplication and fraud. Jega told politicians and their thuggish aides in the northern Sokoto State to stop intimidating INEC officials to get them to accept multiple and underage registrations. There are also worries that violence in Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri has disrupted registration there, which could reinforce local tensions unless special provisions are made. The long, generally patient queues waiting to register suggest more enthusiasm than in previous polls and reflect all the parties’ efforts to get younger Nigerians to vote. Now it is up to the people to protect their votes and up to civic groups to ensure effective monitoring of the registration checks, election campaign etiquette and, above all, the voting and counting in April.

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Mubarak’s friends sanctioned

Civilians who benefitted from the ancien régime may fare less well than their military counterparts. Hosni Mubarak’s younger son, Gamal Mubarak, is believed to have made a fortune ...


Cooking up those raw materials

European companies want cheaper raw materials and propose ways of getting them from Africa

European policy-makers are anxious to safeguard the supply of raw materials to their industries and the European Union has just presented guidelines for a ‘raw materials diplomacy’...


First pick your judge

President Kibaki is undermining efforts to reform the judiciary as he protects his allies from prosecution

The latest dispute between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga began in late January, when Odinga accused Kibaki of failing to consult him about nominations to th...


A fight for the President’s base

After a period of calm, political battles have resumed in Ogoniland as the ruling party tries to ensure its dominance ahead of the coming elections

Political violence in the Niger Delta is escalating in the run-up to the April elections, threatening to plunge President Goodluck Jonathan’s power base into chaos again and compro...


Uneasy lies the head

The WikiLeaks cables reveal much about the Gadaffi family and show that no one expects real change or reform until after the Colonel’s departure

The secret world of Libya’s oil industry, as well as its palace politics, has been laid bare by the publication of hundreds of United States cables by WikiLeaks over the past three...


Split the nation

Katanga’s separatists are on the march again. Fifty years ago, they threatened the unity of the new-born Congo state at Independence. On 4 February, at around 3 a.m., a score of ar...


Dropping the pilot

Under pressure from revolutionary youth, the army has pushed out Mubarak but its commitment to reform is highly questionable

As everyone – save fearful tyrants – salutes the spectacular courage of Egypt’s young people in driving out President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, the military has emerged as the dominan...


Obame: no, he can’t

An oppositionist enjoys his moment in Libreville’s limelight but has no options once the curtain falls

André Mba Obame is in no hurry to leave the small offices of the United Nations Development Programme in Libreville, where he has been holed up since 29 January, having declared hi...


Zumanomics sound better

There is little new in Zuma’s new economic strategy but his growing confidence is pulling in more support

President Jacob Zuma’s third State of the Nation address to Parliament, on 10 February, was more like a bid for a second term at the elections in 2012. He repeated his New Year ple...



Pointers

Cairo tactics

The biggest excitement in the 18 February presidential and parliamentary elections is the electoral arithmetic (AC Vol 51 No 1). Presidential challenger Kizza Besigye will never ha...


No uranium for Tehran

United States’ worries over possible uranium sales to Iran from the planned Valencia mine in west-central Namibia may have blocked its sale to George Forrest International (GFI), a...


Pre-emptive policing

Police swooped on organisers of the ‘Big Bicycle March on the Chronic Fuel Crisis’ just before it set off in Lilongwe on 14 February. The Human Rights Consultative Committee, Malaw...


Militia massacres

The death of perhaps 200 people this month, mainly civilian returnees, in attacks in Jonglei State, Southern Sudan, show the havoc that one militia can wreak. This militia is led b...