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Published 29th April 2011

Vol 52 No 9


Nigeria

Better elections, dangerous politics

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Fairer voting helps but fundamental reforms are needed to tackle the crisis in the impoverished north

The bloody aftermath of Goodluck Jonathan’s victory in the 16 April presidential election will require decisive action from his new government to prevent a dangerous and widening gulf between north and south. Although Jonathan, on the ticket of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), won most of his 22.5 million votes in the south, he scored enough in the north to claim a respectable national mandate, according to the results from the Independent National Electoral Commission.


Governors, godfathers and guts

For ambitious politicians, the exalted office of state governor is worth fighting for, sometimes literally. That made the 26 April gubernatorial elections in 24 of Nigeria’s 36...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Britain’s and Malawi’s reciprocal ambassadorial expulsions this week could prove an expensive diplomatic spat. President Bingu wa Mutharika declared British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet persona non grata after the Blantyre weekly The Nation printed what it claimed were extracts from a cable accusing Mutharika of getting ‘ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism’, an assertion apparently supported by subsequent events. Mutharika’s decision triggered the expulsio...

Britain’s and Malawi’s reciprocal ambassadorial expulsions this week could prove an expensive diplomatic spat. President Bingu wa Mutharika declared British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet persona non grata after the Blantyre weekly The Nation printed what it claimed were extracts from a cable accusing Mutharika of getting ‘ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism’, an assertion apparently supported by subsequent events. Mutharika’s decision triggered the expulsion of his High Commissioner in London, Flossie Gomile-Chidyaonga.

It also threatens UK aid: the current four-year programme, worth about US$112 million, expires this year. Whitehall’s Department for International Development under Andrew Mitchell is cutting aid deemed ‘non-productive’ and may see the row as a reason for jettisoning the programme.

Cochrane-Dyet’s cable discussed Malawi’s eligibility for future support if the government were to physically harm the activists and dissenters it has threatened. It said any withdrawal of UK aid could prompt other Western countries to follow, devastating the Malawian economy. ‘The President’s brother looked thoughtful when I spelled this out to him’, Cochrane-Dyet said. We hear Mutharika was vacillating about whether to expel Cochrane-Dyet. Director of State Residences Edward Sawerengera argued for the move saying China would replace any loss from UK cuts. Given Malawi’s lack of substantial mineral riches, that may prove problematic.

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Bluff and bluster

Pirates in the Horn are stepping up operations and threatening more ships but the international response looks weak and divided

At huge expense, the United Arab Emirates brought scores of countries to Dubai on 18-19 April to craft new policies and raise finance to fight the growing threat from pirates b...


Taxation without legal representation

The disputes over the Lake Albert oil licences and taxes which oil companies owe the government show no sign of ending. Heritage Oil should have paid tax to the government when...


Sinking the pirates

Signs that piracy is getting worse are numerous and stark. They include higher ransoms, longer detentions of vessels and crews, and the use of more and often larger mother ship...


New brooms, old handles

The President’s purge on grand corruption has not yet touched many of the suspect associates

President Jakaya Kikwete has reshuffled the top levels of the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi, in power now for 50 years, to forestall faction-fighting and prevent the party spli...


Getting (not too) tough on corruption

British companies fear that more rigorous laws on bribery could undermine their efforts to compete with Asian and European rivals

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development had criticised the delays in implementing the new Act but stayed silent when the guidance came out at the end of March...


Local elections threaten the ANC's national grip

Municipal elections do not always stir passions but those on 18 May hold great significance for an African National Congress beset by infighting and disunity. They promise to be the most competitive polls since majority rule began in 1994 and will affect the ANC’s National Congress next year, signpost 2014’s presidential and parliamentary elections and test the Tripartite Alliance of ANC, Confederation of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and SA Communist Party (SACP), which is split several ways on economic policy.

President Jacob Zuma’s political position has become precarious and a poor show at the municipal polls will hurt him as much as his governing party (AC Vol 52 No 8). He is suff...


Opposition works the walk

Following Museveni’s easy re-election, the security forces are making mass arrests and Kampala’s streets resound with gunfire and tear gas

A series of ‘Walk to Work’ protests against escalating food and fuel prices has caught the public’s imagination and the government is cracking down. Opposition leaders are unde...



Pointers

Campaign timetable

King Mohammed VI (‘M6’) seems in little danger of losing his throne. However, the mainly peaceful protests for political change and social justice inspired by the Arab Spring u...


Déby on top

President Idriss Déby Itno has been winning presidential elections since December 1990 and the 25 April poll is likely to prove no exception. With the opposition boycott, turno...


Politics of prices

Civic activists and trades unionists are mobilising in Nairobi and Mombasa against skyrocketing food and fuel prices. The Central Organisation for Trades Unions demands a 60% i...