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Published 2nd March 2012

Vol 53 No 5


Uganda

Rebels with a cause

Oppostion leader Kizza Besigye stands in the roof of a car. His arm is in plaster as he received wounds to his hand from rubber bullets. Sven Torfinn / Panos
Oppostion leader Kizza Besigye stands in the roof of a car. His arm is in plaster as he received wounds to his hand from rubber bullets. Sven Torfinn / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

The latest intake of MPs from Museveni’s party is causing ructions over oil and corruption as jockeying starts for the presidential succession

A group of truculent members of parliament in the governing National Resistance Movement has forced ministers to resign and is obliging President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to contemplate sacking most of his cabinet. This is unlikely to include his near untouchable comrade-in-arms, Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi. In the absence of effective constitutional opposition, the NRM has become the most important check on President Museveni’s government. The young MPs are joining forces with some senior party members to challenge Museveni’s policies and his appointments.


All go for Tullow

After over a year of political and commercial disputes, Ireland’s Tullow Oil has signed for its production licence in Uganda, which means mid-2013 is now a realistic date for oil t...


Cashing in on chaos

The work of a former government accountant again exposes financial confusion and crime on a grand scale

While February’s London Conference on Somalia sought ways out of the military and political quagmire, a former civil servant in the Transitional Federal Government was documenting ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The sentencing this week of three former employees of the United States oil company Halliburton marks an end to attempts to prosecute the organisers of a bribery scheme to sell overpriced contracts on Nigeria’s US$6 billion gas export scheme.

The most senior of the three, Albert Jack Stanley, was sentenced to 30 months in prison. It was when

The sentencing this week of three former employees of the United States oil company Halliburton marks an end to attempts to prosecute the organisers of a bribery scheme to sell overpriced contracts on Nigeria’s US$6 billion gas export scheme.

The most senior of the three, Albert Jack Stanley, was sentenced to 30 months in prison. It was when Dick Cheney was Chairman and Chief Executive of Halliburton in 1997-1999 that he appointed Stanley as head of the Kellogg, Brown and Root unit, the third most important position in the company. Cheney left to become US Vice-President in late 1999 but remains active in Halliburton’s African business.

Vital questions remain about how the bribery scheme was run and how much the top management of all the companies implicated knew about the conspiracy. By negotiating plea bargain deals, the individuals who ran the conspiracy and the companies they represented have avoided having to disclose many embarrassing details about their crimes.

Such details are vital for investigators, especially in Nigeria where no senior politicians or businesspeople have been convicted in connection with the scandal. Officials there believe the bribery fund was much bigger than the $180 million admitted. They say that linked to the bribery scheme was a mechanism to sell Nigeria’s gas for well under the international market price and divert the proceeds to accounts controlled by Western and Nigerian company officials.

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Board to probe finances

Privately, diplomats in Mogadishu agree that the reports by Abdirizak Jama ‘Fartaag’ are the best source of financial information about the Mogadishu government.


John Michuki (1932-2012): A life

John Stanley Njoroge Michuki had a hero’s send-off in his native Kangema constituency on 28 February, testimony that the idea of the Big Man is alive and well in Kenya.


Companies fight regulation

New US laws and planned European regulations are coming under fire from well-organised oil and mining lobbyists

Extractive industries don’t always like compulsory disclosure requirements. Companies are now fighting a rearguard action against recent United States and European Union legislatio...


Martial music plays in London

Whispers of possible negotiations with Al Shabaab were drowned out by the drums of war

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) may have been hosting the London Conference on Somalia but there was no doubting that Downing Street was in the driving seat.


Kabila targets the land

Agricultural investors will lose out due to new rules on land ownership while presidential associates stand to benefit

The new law on ‘Fundamental Principles of Agriculture’ removes the right of foreigners to own farmland in Congo-Kinshasa and seems certain to discourage external investment in the ...


Lusaka restarts the anti-corruption campaign

President Sata starts to deliver on promises of cleaner government

President Michael Sata is cheering donors and his supporters by relaunching the fight against corruption begun under the late President Levy Mwanawasa but curtailed under President...


Unity on cash crisis

The IMF offers concessions to the Islamist-dominated parliament

The Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Freedom and Justice Party, the largest in the new Parliament, is now on a neo-liberal economic course as it supports government proposals to borrow...


Kibaki loses his peers

Standing alone as the last of the Kikuyu Big Men, Kibaki has to reassess his plans for succession

It was a tough week for President Mwai Kibaki, 80. While he was attending the Somalia Conference in London, two of his closest friends died.


The Glencore-Xstrata merger

Two of the world’s biggest mining and trading companies are joining forces to launch new ventures in West and South Africa

A new African empire stretching from the Sahara to South Africa is in the making as Glencore and Xstrata, two giant mining and trading companies, finalise their plans to merge into...


Pressure mounts on Mutharika

The IMF still wants devaluation, while a former Attorney General claims the governing party is hiring thugs to silence critics

Ralph Kasambara is voicing the concern of many when he warns of a campaign of intimidation against civil society activists by criminals hired by the party in power.



Pointers

Wade poll shock

President Abdoulaye Wade’s failed to clear the 50% hurdle in the first round of the presidential election on 26 February and must slug it out again on 18 March.


Timis drills deep

Controversial British-based mining entrepreneur Frank Timis’s African Petroleum Corporation announced a ‘significant’ oil find off the Liberian coast on 21 February.