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Published 18th November 2011

Vol 52 No 23


Congo-Kinshasa

Bargain mine sales draw fire

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The government’s secretive, and cheap, sale of lucrative mining assets is fast becoming an election issue

Mining companies stripped of valuable concessions have been sounding out the opposition before the presidential election, which is expected to take place on 28 November. President Joseph Kabila’s main challenger, Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, went to Canada in September to meet the directors of First Quantum Minerals, one of the companies most affected by the forced asset sales or seizures. First Quantum is in litigation with the Kinshasa government over the loss of its concessions while the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are taking the state-owned company Gécamines to task over secret mining contracts.


Troubled waters, no oil yet

Potential investors in Congo-Kinshasa worry not only about opacity and corruption but also about the boundaries of concessions. Trinity Oil and Gas, of Houston, United States, want...


Polls, leaks and expropriations

The coalition parties have agreed on holding elections next year and campaigning is already in full swing

Rather than endure another year of the same political combat, both leaders of the main parties jointly announced on 10 November that they would press for early elections next year....



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Diplomats are steeling themselves for a battle for the soul of the African Union at Addis Ababa in January. South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is to challenge incumbent Jean Ping, Gabon’s former Foreign Minister, for the chair of the AU Commission. It is the most senior – and perhaps the most troubled – diplomatic post in Africa.

After a devastating year – the AU was comprehensively sidelined over Libya and Côte d’Ivoire – there is little to celebrate for the AU’s te...

Diplomats are steeling themselves for a battle for the soul of the African Union at Addis Ababa in January. South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is to challenge incumbent Jean Ping, Gabon’s former Foreign Minister, for the chair of the AU Commission. It is the most senior – and perhaps the most troubled – diplomatic post in Africa.

After a devastating year – the AU was comprehensively sidelined over Libya and Côte d’Ivoire – there is little to celebrate for the AU’s tenth birthday in 2012. This galls South Africa, whose then President, Thabo Mbeki, aided by Foreign Minister Dlamini-Zuma, did so much to establish institutions to monitor democracy and accountability.

The Southern African Development Community is likely to back Dlamini-Zuma, as is predominantly Anglophone East and North-East Africa. Central, West and North Africa are less certain; Ping’s own government failed to support him, though his dissolved marriage to presidential sister Pascaline Bongo makes him a member of the local elite. France, which had a good year in Africa and wants to be on the winning side, should favour Ping.

Obsessed by national affairs, Egypt still wants to fill the North African vacuum in continental matters left after Moammar el Gadaffi and is talking to South Africa. Nigeria has differed strongly with South Africa but has doubts about Ping. If South Africa can offer Nigeria strong incentives, it could win its vote and probably the AU Commission chair.

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Inflammatory subsidy

Jonathan says fuel subsidies will end on New Year’s Day but few people expect that he can pull off such a momentous change to Nigerian life

The federal government’s decision to remove fuel subsidies from 1 January 2012 is dividing the public and raising the spectre of unrest. The government insists that it cannot affor...


New challenges after messy elections

The President won easily but the damage to her authority and to political stability will need careful repair

The Congress for Democratic Change presidential candidate Wilson A. Tubman had already decided to boycott the presidential run-off when police shot dead four of his supporters on 7...


‘No monster’ Jammeh heads for victory

The President can rely on foreign friends and weak opponents to stay in power

Putschist President Yahya Jammeh will win re-election for the third time on 24 November at the head of his Alliance for Patriotic Reconciliation and Construction (APRC). He may wel...


Ferry fiasco dents Koroma’s standing

Anti-corruption momentum is slackening as the President gauges a growing political threat from the opposition

On taking office in 2007, President Ernest Bai Koroma vowed to run the country as a ‘business venture’. What he did not intend was the state social security and pension fund, the N...


Doubts about Sata’s zeal arise

Two dubious appointments raise questions about whether the new President will be as hard on corruption as he promised

President Michael Chilufya Sata won September’s election by making vigorous attacks on the corruption of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) government and promising one ba...


USA joins fight against LRA

In yet another bid to destroy Kony’s militia, President Obama sends in the Special Forces to help local armies

The Lord’s Resistance Army, based in Central African Republic since it was pushed out of Garamba, Congo-Kinshasa, faces a new threat with the arrival of 100 United States Special F...


Implausible denials

As the Sudan Revolutionary Front is launched, the regime tries to parry opposition in the North by bombing South Sudan

Khartoum’s bombing of a refugee camp in South Sudan on 10 November has drawn unprecedented condemnation and stirred fears of a return to full-scale war between North and South. The...



Pointers

The gloves are off

Julius Malema will fight his five-year suspension – under which he retains the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) Presidency – with an appeal which he plans to take to ...


Electoral alliances

Egyptians set off on their democratic electoral road using a system designed bythe army and with a confusing 42 or so parties to vote for, 31 formed since January’s revolution (AC ...


Perth pangs

The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Western Australia, at the end of October attracted 1,500 delegates, 80 of them from China. British Prime Minister Dav...