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Published 15th April 2011

Vol 52 No 8


Nigeria

A trap for the juggernaut

Zuma Rock, Abuja, a huge monolith, the symbol of the Capital. Marcus Rose / Panos Pictures
Zuma Rock, Abuja, a huge monolith, the symbol of the Capital. Marcus Rose / Panos Pictures

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

The governing party has taken a hit in the National Assembly but Goodluck Jonathan remains favourite to win the presidential vote

Parliamentary elections on 9 April showed that Nigerians are no longer willing to be taken for granted by the People’s Democratic Party, which has towered over the political scene for twelve years. Indeed, the PDP’s dominance of the National Assembly was the main casualty. Most observers think this a good start in moving towards greater accountability. The PDP could well lose its overall majority in the Assembly but many results will be disputed. In the 2007 polls, the PDP had won 87 of the 109 Senate seats and 263 of 360 in the House of Representatives: that will be sharply cut. Logistical problems meant the polls had to move from 2 April; in 15 senatorial districts and 48 federal constituencies, the vote will be on 26 April. Yet the Independent National Electoral Commission emerged with credit. The European Union’s Chief Observer, Alojz Peterle, commended INEC for a job well done, as did Johnnie Carson, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.


A resolution in Abidjan

The military ousting of Gbagbo will have repercussions across Africa

The armed eviction of Laurent Gbagbo from the Ivorian presidency by a coalition of opposition, United Nations and French forces together with the organisation of national elections...


Tough questions for Condé

The suppression of an opposition rally and concerns about the anti-corruption team raise doubts about Condé’s commitment to reform

President Alpha Condé averted the risk of opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo receiving a massive welcome on his return to Conakry on 3 April by the simple expedient of banning ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Another official attempt at a cover-up has gone awry. Claims by Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office that it had misplaced hundreds of thousands of documents relating to the torture of Kenyans suspected of involvement in the Mau Mau rebellion have turned out to be false. The documents, covering about 110 feet of shelf space, were tracked down by a determined FCO official, Edward Inglett, who had been told by colleagues that the huge cache of files could not be found.

A ca...

Another official attempt at a cover-up has gone awry. Claims by Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office that it had misplaced hundreds of thousands of documents relating to the torture of Kenyans suspected of involvement in the Mau Mau rebellion have turned out to be false. The documents, covering about 110 feet of shelf space, were tracked down by a determined FCO official, Edward Inglett, who had been told by colleagues that the huge cache of files could not be found.

A case brought in the London High Court by four elderly Kenyans against the British government for torture during colonial rule precipitated the search. After Inglett’s discovery, the FCO apologised profusely to the Court and to the Kenyan claimants. The files include a letter from Police Commissioner Colonel Arthur Young, who was seconded from London, to Evelyn Baring, the Governor of Kenya, describing cases of prisoners dying due to deliberate ill-treatment. Baring ignored the letter and Young resigned four days later.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has pledged to open all the files and hire an independent expert to oversee the process. Sparking much diplomatic interest will be documents relating to the treatment of Hussein Onyango Obama, an anti-colonial activist who was gaoled in Kenya in 1949-51 and reportedly tortured. Now dead, he was the grandfather of United States President Barack Obama, and a staunch critic of colonial officials’ treatment of Africans.

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The candidates line up

An official probe into a corrupt oil deal with Nigerian companies is worrying the political class and could upset calculations in the coming elections

São Tomé e Príncipe holds its much delayed presidential election in July. Meanwhile, a parliamentary inquiry into claimed corruption over an oil project with Nigeria is upsetting t...


Zuma to the shores of Tripoli

The AU mission to Libya was an abject failure but the South African leader got a chance to catch up with an old pal

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma led an African Union peace mission to Libya on 11 April. The mission quickly fell apart, which did nothing for the AU’s poor reputation for conf...


Six in the dock

Suspects played the ethnic card during mass rallies at home before flying to the Netherlands to appear in court

Six leading Kenyans faced, on 7-8 April, a kind of justice they are not used to at home. At the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova presid...


Mutharika cracks down

The President has always rejected criticism but his reaction to recent dissent could prompt more unrest and damage national finances

Fearing a revolt along North African lines, President Bingu wa Mutharika has unleashed a wave of repression and intimidation, prompting further dissent as Western governments respo...


Through the Wikihole

The publication by WikiLeaks of the US Nairobi Embassy’s cables affords a unique and stark view of the country’s ruling figures

As the International Criminal Court (ICC) starts to hear accusations against six senior Kenyans accused of links to the violence after the 2007 elections, a set of United States di...


Boutef holds back the wave

Algiers calculates that astute state spending will counter growing political anger at unemployment, corruption and chronic housing shortages

The strikes and popular protests across Algeria point to economic and social pressures similar to those that toppled entrenched leaderships elsewhere in North Africa. However, Pres...



Pointers

Hosting Hamas

Khartoum’s hopes of removal from the United States’ state sponsors of terrorism list took a knock on 5 April when Israel bombed a vehicle near Port Sudan, killing two. Independent ...


Uprising put down

The 12 April ‘uprising’ was heavily advertised so it was no surprise that the security forces outnumbered any who dared to go out on to the streets to protest. Riot police used wat...


Fixing finances

A peaceful end to Luanda’s diplomatic dispute with the United States is in sight. US banks had closed Luanda’s bank accounts and Angola retaliated by detaining a ship from the USA ...