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Published 24th August 2012

Vol 53 No 17


Ethiopia

After Meles

Meles Zenawi
Meles Zenawi

The Premier’s death removes one of Africa’s most prominent leaders and will test the unity of the country and the ruling party

The death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on 20 August has triggered a constitutional succession mechanism which he personally designed, having led the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front for 21 years. His chosen successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, takes over in the first non-violent transition in Ethiopia’s modern history. Hailemariam was Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Deputy Chairman of the EPRDF.


The Marikana massacre

The ANC’s anti-Zuma faction tries to use the shootings to help depose the President

Senior politicians, not least of all President Jacob Zuma, are failing to deflect public anger about the massacre of 34 miners by police on 16 August at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in R...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The death of three incumbent African leaders in the last three months has shone a light on succession mechanisms and the adequacy of national medical services. Ghana’s John Atta Mills, Malawi’s Bingu wa Mutharika and Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi had vastly different political styles and ideologies and ran different political systems. Mild-mannered Mills was nicknamed ‘the Prof’. Mutharika was the International Monetary Fund official turned finance minister and then Machiavellian despot. Meles was the...
The death of three incumbent African leaders in the last three months has shone a light on succession mechanisms and the adequacy of national medical services. Ghana’s John Atta Mills, Malawi’s Bingu wa Mutharika and Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi had vastly different political styles and ideologies and ran different political systems. Mild-mannered Mills was nicknamed ‘the Prof’. Mutharika was the International Monetary Fund official turned finance minister and then Machiavellian despot. Meles was the Maoist guerrilla who overthrew a Marxist dictator before becoming a key Western ally. Both Meles and Mills had to seek medical treatment overseas because of deficiencies in local healthcare. All three countries, contrary to some foreign expectations, have engineered a constitutional succession. All three died in office but their entourages elaborately concealed the seriousness of their ailments. In Mutharika’s case, ministers insisted he was alive. Ministers assume that to admit the leader is ill is to confess to weakness, which will lead to instability. Yet when the end comes, the public suddenly learns it has been deceived. That further erodes confidence in government. Indeed, their subterfuge risks creating the very uncertainty they were trying to avoid. The taboos around sickness and death in many societies make it awkward for politicians and activists to demand more honesty about the health of their leaders – questions that are currently whispered in Algiers, Asmara, Harare and Yaoundé.
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Battle of the unions

The dispute at the Lonmin mine is as much about rivalry between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the National Union of Mineworkers as about wages. The AMCU...


President Mursi's soft coup

The Muslim Brothers consolidate power and find some military support, while the media suffers a crackdown

When President Mohamed Mursi retired the two most powerful military officers on 12 August, he strengthened the Muslim Brotherhood’s grip on power but the move also seems to have wo...


The first oil election

The long shadow of oil and gas revenues falls across what is set to be Ghana’s most expensive election campaign in history. International oil companies are under particular scrutin...


The MPLA plans a landslide

Amid private jitters at the top, the ruling party is pulling out all the stops to ensure an overwhelming election win

The Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) is pouring millions into a lavish campaign to ensure overwhelming victory in the general elections on 31 August. The team beh...


A rough, tough battle ahead

The hopes are high and the dangers are clear: Kenya’s politics fail to match its economic success

With eight months before President Mwai Kibaki retires, Kenya faces several major challenges, all of which it must meet in order to negotiate a peaceful and legitimate transition t...


Let them wear cotton

One of the first challenges for Egypt’s new Prime Minister, Hisham Kandil, was to explain the collapse of large swathes of the electricity grid in early August. In a late-night tel...


The case against Sam-Sumana

Claims of illegal foreign political donations could force president Ernest Koroma to drop his running mate in November's elections

United States businessmen are accusing Vice-President Samuel Sam-Sumana of diverting commercial investments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaign funds for the All...


The other contestants

After 2008’s electoral drubbing, the União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA) is now far better organised, winning respect for its sustained pressure on the el...


Intervention plan revealed

The UN and Ecowas are thinking about a military operation in the north: the question is how, rather than whether

Mali’s regional neighbours are planning a three-phase military intervention, according to a document from the Economic Community of West African States which Africa Confidential ...



Pointers

Blaming the outsiders

Economic crisis has fuelled anti-government protest in Sudan but in South Sudan, it has fuelled hostility to outsiders, real and imagined. Police in Jonglei State descend on aid ...