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Published 16th December 2011

Vol 52 No 25

Opposition picks its champions

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Isaías Samakuva looks certain to be re-elected head of UNITA while the other parties prepare for the polls

The leadership contest for the União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola is widely seen as an empty affair since the ambitious Abel Chivukuvuku decided not to stand. Chiv...

Kabila: from farce to tragedy

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Having stayed silent on corrupt mining deals, the United Nations and the West want the embarrassing election crisis to disappear

Millions of Congolese question the spending of more than US$300 million on national elections on 28 November – if the true results aren't released. There is a broad acceptance by t...


The conviction of French former President Jacques Chirac on 15 December on charges of breach of trust and embezzlement of party funds provides a neat symmetry in a year that started off with the overthrow of his North African friends, Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s

The conviction of French former President Jacques Chirac on 15 December on charges of breach of trust and embezzlement of party funds provides a neat symmetry in a year that started off with the overthrow of his North African friends, Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. All three tried to protect each other politically and financially.

Compared to cases of grand corruption and crimes against humanity against Ben Ali and Mubarak, Chirac’s charges were relatively minor. Former African advisor to the Elysée Robert Bourgi insists they are the tip of an iceberg. In September, Bourgi told the Paris weekly Journal du Dimanche that one of his roles as African advisor was to deliver state funds stolen from Africa to finance French election campaigns. He claimed that Chirac was a beneficiary of such African largesse when he was mayor of Paris in the 1980s.

Bourgi claimed that in 2002 several African leaders – including Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaoré, Côte d’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo, Congo-Brazzaville’s Denis Sassou Nguesso and Gabon’s Omar Bongo Ondimba visited Chirac’s Prime Minister Dominque de Villepin in his office to hand over US$10 million for the Chirac-De Villepin election campaign that year. Chirac’s conviction may worry De Villepin but it may also damage President Nicolas Sarkozy, once a protégé of Chirac’s who until recently was fulsome in his praise of the diplomatic skills of one Robert Bourgi.

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Timeline of a troubled vote

• September 2011: The International Crisis Group reported that the registration of electors by the Commission électorale nationale indépendante (CENI) showed 'surprising results', ...

Waiting for a breakthrough

Islamists are manoeuvring to take centre stage in Algeria, where efforts to create a national protest movement have been stifled.

N’Dour wades in

Against all the odds, the opposition is failing to challenge Wade seriously but the popular singer could make a difference

The entrance of international pop star, media mogul and child of the Dakar slums Youssou N'Dour on to the political stage has galvanised the race for the presidency and introduced ...

Donors challenge Bingu

Aid providers wring some concessions from an increasingly arbitrary president

President Bingu wa Mutharika has stood up to his opponents in civil society and shows no sign of meeting their demands or of loosening his grip on power. However, faced with the im...

Pachyderms in the parlour

The threat to the economy from the indigenisation policy is becoming a big issue but for Mugabe’s party it’s non-negotiable

The Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion laid it on the line: 'As long as the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act remains in its current form,' warned Tap...

The King’s own Islamists

Morocco's Parti de la justice et du développement (PJD) formed the main opposition in the previous National Assembly and took 107 of its 395 seats in the 25 November elections, the...

Return of the Chissanoistas

President Guebuza’s bid to stay on looks dead, which could mean a Chissano comeback

After seven years of consolidating his position, Armando Emílio Guebuza now faces the failure of his bid to change the constitution to permit him a third term as president. Faction...

Brothers unbound

From Cairo to Casablanca, the Muslim Brotherhood is giving shape to the Islamist parties that are profiting from the Arab Spring

In North Africa, only the rulers of Algeria and Morocco have survived the Arab Spring: in Morocco, because the King has now allowed Islamists to form a government and in Algeria, b...

Economy faces royal crisis

Social unrest has been strong but not revolutionary. Could the cash shortage achieve what campaigners could not?

Swaziland is resorting to desperate measures to meet its public sector payments amid fiscal problems that the International Monetary Fund warns have reached a 'critical stage'. Afr...

Comrades and compromisers

Eduardo Mulémbuè: Parliament's former, long-serving Speaker, is a low-key, neutral figure with support across the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo) factions and a good c...


High unit costs

The police Special Investigations Unit, which will gather evidence for President Jacob Zuma's new board of inquiry into the 1999 multibillion-rand arms deal, may now produce result...

Small coup in Quelimane

The victory of the Movimento Democrático de Moçambique in the mayoral by-election in Quelimane on 7 December was a humiliating – and unnecessary – defeat for the ruling Frente de L...

Explore Somaliland

Somaliland has launched an aggressive effort to attract oil companies. At the African Oil Week conference in Cape Town last month, the Minister of Mining, Energy and Water Resource...

Critics still not welcome

The Addis Ababa newspaper Awramba Times has all but closed following the late November flight abroad of Managing Editor Dawit Kebede. It is the latest manifestation of Prime Minist...