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Published 5th July 2013

Vol 54 No 14


Nigeria

Inside the presidential fight

LAGOS, NIGERIA: A child wears a Barack Obama T-shirt. Jacob Silberberg / Panos
LAGOS, NIGERIA: A child wears a Barack Obama T-shirt. Jacob Silberberg / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Opponents – within and outside the ruling party – are undercutting President Jonathan’s authority as he prepares for the 2015 elections

Two factors – rampant factionalism in the governing People’s Democratic Party and a coherent opposition alliance are changing the calculus in Nigerian politics. For the first time in 14 years, the PDP could lose power at the centre in credible national elections. The PDP has never been a solid structure. Formed as an alliance of convenience by some leading politicians and their patronage networks in 1998, the party nearly broke apart in 2007 and was fractured badly before the 2003 and 2011 elections. However, on each occasion, party bosses corralled the squabbling politicians with a mixture of coercion and co-option – and delivered a victory, boosted by the party’s control of state security and attendant vote-rigging.

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The governors and the insurgency

Quieter streets along with fewer attacks and bombings suggest the declaration of emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states is holding back, for now, the momentum of the Boko...


Aweys at bay, Madobe on top

President Hassan Sheikh’s government woos Al Shabaab’s Sheikh Aweys but is openly defied by Ahmed Madobe in Kismayo

Whether Sheikh Hassan Dahir ‘Aweys’ last week defected or escaped from Al Harakat al Shabaab al Mujahideen was still unclear as Africa Confidential went to press but mo...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The primary rules for foreign dignitaries visiting Africa are stick to the upbeat, unveil credible plans to improve lives and don’t bang on about military aid. Although the United States is widely seen as eclipsed by China in Africa, President Barack Obama’s hop through Senegal, South Africa

The primary rules for foreign dignitaries visiting Africa are stick to the upbeat, unveil credible plans to improve lives and don’t bang on about military aid. Although the United States is widely seen as eclipsed by China in Africa, President Barack Obama’s hop through Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania this week stuck to the rules and won back a few votes.

President Xi Jinping can’t compete with Obama’s innate advantage in Africa – that his father was Kenyan. Obama also came with US$7 billion of state-backed loans and another $9 bn. of private-sector finance for his ‘Power Africa’ plan to generate over 10,000 megawatts of electricity. Newly appointed US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is due to improve the terms of the US free trade treaty with Africa.

More on the Obama’s new Africa policy may emerge after Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a former Ambassador to Liberia who succeeds the redoubtable Johnnie Carson as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, gets established. Obama’s appointment of Susan Rice as National Security Advisor and anti-genocide campaigner Samantha Power as new US Ambassador to the UN means more coldness between Washington and Kenya’s newly elected President Uhuru Kenyatta, facing charges of mass murder at the International Criminal Court. Despite Obama’s huge popularity in his father’s country, a stopover in Nairobi was ruled out of contention very early in the planning of the trip.

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Madobe consolidates in Kismayo

The fighting for strategic port threatens President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's efforts to build a federal government

After another week of fighting for control of Kismayo port, Ahmed Mohamed Islaan 'Madobe' and his Ras Kamboni militia have strengthened their grip over the region and its trade rou...


The gay elephant

Homosexuality is illegal and subject to aggressive public hostility in Senegal, and with the United States having so recently legally enabled gay marriage, it was an elephant in th...


Election fever and finance

Even if ZANU-PF loses the argument over the election date, its business and military backers put it ahead of the MDC

The Constitutional Court will soon announce its decision on granting an extension to the 31 July election date. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been pressing ...


Devolution blues

Challenges in the Supreme Court over devolution and rows about salaries for MPs and teachers give the new government plenty to think about

After only a few weeks in office the Jubilee government led by President Uhuru Kenyatta finds itself putting out a succession of domestic political fires, some of which will leave ...


Sheikh Hassan Dahir 'Aweys' breaks with Al Shabaab

Amid fresh fighting and political realignments, Aweys has escaped from his former allies in Al Shabaab and may now work with Mogadishu

Sheikh Hassan Dahir 'Aweys', the 78-year-old eminence grise of Somali Islamism, has broken with Harakat al Shabaab al Mujahideen (Al Shabaab) this week. Although Sheikh Aweys, who ...


L’etat, c’est nous

The President and his family do well out of – and squabble over – the tiny country’s massive oil riches

The elections on 26 May showed just how far President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo will go to stifle democratic opposition. The leading opposition party, the Convergencia para la ...


Dodgy dialogue

The UN-sponsored mediation between the bitterly opposed parties over elections proceeds in fits and starts, much like the mining situation

Saïd Djinnit, the Algerian United Nations Special Representative for West Africa, is just about keeping the political dialogue on track between the government, its supporters ...


Presidential wobbles

The Obama visit was a welcome distraction for an increasingly shaky President Macky Sall, who is finding political support hard to maintain

President Macky Sall needs money. On his recent travels to Qatar, Gabon and Northern Ireland, where he attended the Group of Eight Summit in June as head of the New Partnership for...


As the oil goes, the gas arrives

At international conferences on Equatorial Guinea, oilmen often praise its Mines Minister, Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima. However, his recent spate of contract-signing could be undone ...


Keeping Simandou on track

The key missing element in the Simandou project is not good will but a strong market for steel and finance to support the Trans-Guinea Railway

President Alpha Condé’s advisor and friend, the financier and philanthropist George Soros, hosted a meeting on 17 June to celebrate agreement that the development of t...



Pointers

The agony and the ecstasy

The military takeover in Egypt may eventually lead to fresh elections but it challenges the country's fledgling democracy. It will certainly strengthen the political roles of both ...


Diamond votes

The death in a car accident of Edward Chindori-Chininga, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Mining and Minerals, came within days of its damning report on revenue losse...


Digging in on the Lake

Malawi will not give up an inch of its lake, sources close to President Joyce Banda say. At issue in the row with Tanzania is where the frontier on Lake Malawi/Lake Nyasa should li...