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Published 19th July 2013

Vol 54 No 15


Rushing and cheating

President Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

A tightened election timetable with almost a third of eligible voters missing from the register leaves plenty of space for a nationwide gerrymander

It was uncharacteristically foolish of President Robert Mugabe to fast-track the election date to 31 July, in the face of protests from some in his own party and the opposition, and pleas from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The folly became apparent in the first week of the campaign.

Dress rehearsal vote

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The prospects for free, fair and transparent elections on 31 July took another knock with the chaotic ‘special votes’ on 14-15 July. The problems were mainly logistical...

The vote on trial

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The Supreme Court’s hearings on last year’s polls have changed Ghana’s politics for good. Now the fractious parties face their own demons

After 43 days in session and an avalanche of technical delays, the 2012 election petition hearings are crawling towards a climax. A ruling is likely within a month. The leadership ...


There was talk of a set-up in Nigeria or even a conspiracy by some of his political rivals in Khartoum after it emerged that Sudan’s President Omer el Beshir was forced to flee ignominiously from a conference in Abuja after facing a threat of arrest on 15 July.

President Omer had flown to the Nigerian capital the previous day, having secured assurances from hi...

There was talk of a set-up in Nigeria or even a conspiracy by some of his political rivals in Khartoum after it emerged that Sudan’s President Omer el Beshir was forced to flee ignominiously from a conference in Abuja after facing a threat of arrest on 15 July.

President Omer had flown to the Nigerian capital the previous day, having secured assurances from his hosts that he would not be arrested and handed over to the International Criminal Court, as President Goodluck Jonathan’s government is required to do as a signatory to the ICC founding treaty. Omer faces charges of genocide and war crimes for the deaths of over 300,000 people in Darfur between 2003-2006. He was ostensibly in Abuja to attend an African Union conference on HIV/AIDS, not a subject to which he has devoted much attention in the past.

In fact, Omer’s visit lasted little over a day. Nigerian officials say he made a brief, nervous appearance at the conference opening and spent the next few hours surrounded by armed guards in a VIP room at the conference centre. After news reached the room that a coalition of local human rights groups was filing an emergency application with the Abuja High Court to have Omer arrested, he and his delegation hurriedly departed for the airport. They may have remembered the assurances of asylum given to Liberian warlord Charles Taylor by Nigeria, a year before President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered local police to hand him over to the Sierra Leone Special Court.

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How the parties judge the judges

Politicians from both the governing National Democratic Congress and the opposition New Patriotic Party have developed an obsessive interest in the nine judges sitting on the Supre...

Leadership in limbo

Policy and politics are at a standstill as Bouteflika lingers on as President, with no solution to the succession

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The Bodo spill hits companies and politicians

The aftermath of the fire could result in costly litigation for Shell and further erode President Goodluck Jonathan's presidency

The latest fire and pollution incident at Bodo may leave Royal Dutch Shell open to hugely costly damages. A landmark United Nations Environment Programme report in 2011 estimated a...

'Piracy' row with Sweden

The public cheered its coastguard’s seizure of two ships accused smuggling. Stena Oil calls it piracy

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Wanted: a winner for all

Old politicians woo southern electors to win the presidency but to win for posterity, they will have to speak for the north as well

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Rebels with many causes

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Finding the right term to describe what happened in Egypt between 30 June and 3 July is a politically-loaded challenge. The fact that the army decreed the end of the rule of Presid...

Ready or not, here they come

The President finally reveals the date of the delayed general and local elections that were supposed to take place in July 2012

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The Brazil effect

The mass protests in Brazil have rattled Luanda’s political elite as speculation grows about the successor to President Dos Santos

Angola and Brazil share close political and commercial ties so June's mass protests and clashes in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo resonated loudly in Luanda. On paper, Preside...

The succession question

Who takes over from President Dos Santos and how is a matter of political urgency for the governing party

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The Delta catches fire again

Rampant oil theft, spills and a pipeline shutdown focus attention on Shell’s operations as a political crisis looms

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A season in Elecam

The new voting system will not help electoral registration, which is now closed

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Wobbling and nobbling

The International Criminal Court judges on 15 July rejected an application by Kenyan Vice-President William Ruto to relocate his trial for crimes against humanity to East Africa. I...

Youth check Geingob

President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Prime Minister Hage Geingob have been trying to quell the rebellious SWAPO Party’s Youth League – but without much luck. In June, Prem...

Bah humbug

After Africa Confidential had revealed that Ibrahima Bah, a warlord in Sierra Leone’s civil war now under United Nations’ sanctions, was living unmolested in Freetown, ...

Zuma's axe falls

The pace of President Jacob Zuma’s cull of his opponents in the African National Congress is picking up as he lays the groundwork for next year’s general elections (AC ...