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Published 3rd August 2012

Vol 53 No 16


Ghana

Politicking after the mourning

John Evans Atta Mills
John Evans Atta Mills

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

A wave of national sympathy for the late President Mills is forcing politicians to reassess their election strategies

For Ghanaians, funerals assume a special role in the social order. Multiply that a hundredfold for the funeral of a sitting head of state. While their compatriots were still stunned by the news of the death of President John Evans Atta Mills on 24 July, the elders of the governing National Democratic Congress orchestrated an impressively smooth transition.


Obsequies and summitry

With Accra shrouded in funereal red and black cloth and world leaders sending their condolences, Ghana's old political guard has been busy.


The officers’ mess

After his own bitter experience, Ouattara wants stern action against coups in the region

After seven regional summits on the Mali and Guinea-Bissau crises in just five months, President Alassane Dramane Ouattara is determined to reinforce West Africa's defences against...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Security and democracy dominated United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s valedictory tour of Africa this week. ‘Partnership, not patronage’ is the offer from Barack Obama’s administration, which raised high hopes in Africa in 2008. Reality – weakening western economies, a booming China and the growth of jihadist move...

Security and democracy dominated United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s valedictory tour of Africa this week. ‘Partnership, not patronage’ is the offer from Barack Obama’s administration, which raised high hopes in Africa in 2008. Reality – weakening western economies, a booming China and the growth of jihadist movements – turned out differently.

Clinton began in Senegal, where new President Macky Sall has cut his term from seven to five years and agreed to try former Chadian leader Hissène Habré for war crimes. But Senegal sits dangerously near a narco-state and another state threatened by determined jihadists and junior officers turned putschists.

Though Clinton promotes political pluralism, the bulk of the USA’s resources in Africa are being directed to trade and security – that is, the Commerce Department and the Pentagon. The US military has more than 65 officers and contractors in Burkina Faso building a special air base. In nearby Mauritania, the US has spent $22.6 million to buy surveillance aircraft for the local armed forces. The combination of drones and special-force deployment across Africa points to the growing security threats and militarist response.

Leaders such as South Africa’s Jacob Zuma blame the current crisis in Mali on the Western-led intervention in Libya last year. Certainly the crisis obeys the laws of unintended consequences. Sadly, few of the intended solutions look credible or sustainable.

Read more

Ivorian justice questioned

Crimes committed before the civil war of 2011 should be treated differently from those committed by both sides during the conflict, Côte d'Ivoire's President Alassane Dramane Ouatt...


Biya swings the axe

The President was enraged by a massive fraud at the national airline but has been biding his time before taking his revenge

In February 2010, Marafa Hamidou Yaya, then Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, confessed to the United States Ambassador, Janet E. Garvey, that he was wor...


Souvenir of Matebeleland

So far, Matebeleland's special concerns have not been fully addressed by the political reform process. The Human Rights Commission will deal only with matters since 2008, leaving t...


Sudan under protest

The killing of several student demonstrators in Nyala, the South Darfur capital, on 31 July has given Sudan's opposition its martyrs. That was what Khartoum had wanted to avoid. Re...


Vice-President in loan row

An American businessman has accused the Vice-President of not repaying a loan but President Koroma remains untouched, so far

Freetown's pre-election politics have been so fractious that diplomats, including United Nations representatives in the country, fear that it would take a miracle for the country t...


Severely turbulent airline

In 2001, President Paul Biya said he wanted a new presidential aircraft to replace his predecessor's ageing machine. However, since Cameroon was then applying for inclusion in the...


August will be hot

The elders are warming to their constitutional role, while Kenya weighs up the taking of Kismayo

The 135 Somali elders whose role is to appoint a Constituent Assembly have responded to the warm international welcome they have received by showing they want to take at least one ...


Threats to Khama fade

Opposition parties are unable to form an alliance capable of ousting the governing Botswana Democratic Party

In spite of the serious split in the Botswana Democratic Party in 2010, opposition parties cannot form a broad electoral alliance, the only way to end the BDP’s long reign at the g...


It’s time for a vote

The courts say there must be bye-elections and that will impose change on all the political parties

The Supreme Court has finally forced President Robert Mugabe to hold long-outstanding bye-elections in three Matebeleland parliamentary seats. He had argued that the polls would be...


The anti-sanctions race

Negotiations are likely to drag on, despite UN efforts to pressure both Juba and Khartoum and the threat of a return to all-out war

As the 2 August deadline imposed by the United Nations Security Council loomed, Khartoum and Juba vied to be seen as the least obstructive government at their talks in Ethiopia. T...


Secrets are not forever

The Gaydamak case exposed details of profit-taking in the diamond business that the government might have preferred to remain unseen

Russian-Israeli billionaire Arkady Gaydamak failed to convince the London High Court he had a case against diamond-dealer Lev Leviev in mid-June. Ever since, analysts have been por...



Pointers

M23 moves up

The rebels of the Mouvement du 23 mars in North Kivu Province were only 20 kilometres north of Goma and looked likely to attack the town, sources there told Africa Confidential as ...


Three million euros in the fountain

The trial for theft of Tanzania's former Ambassador in Rome, Costa Ricky Mahalu, has been postponed to 9 August. The alleged offence was committed in 2002 and charges were first b...


Clashes at mosques

Those attending the African Union summit in Addis Ababa on 14-16 July had their own theories for the riot police surrounding them and the generally heavy security. In fact, as th...