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Published 29th August 2014

Vol 55 No 17


Egypt

High stakes in the Sinai fight

EGYPT: Aerial view of the Red Sea coastline. Here the Sinai desert meets the ocean, with a coral reef at the seam. Fredrik Naumann / Panos
EGYPT: Aerial view of the Red Sea coastline. Here the Sinai desert meets the ocean, with a coral reef at the seam. Fredrik Naumann / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

The Islamist revolt in the peninsula grew rapidly after Mubarak’s fall. Now, neither government forces nor their jihadist foes can control the area

Over the last ten years, radical Islamists have gained a foothold among the disaffected tribes of the Sinai peninsula and now a full-blown insurgency is in progress. The slow-burning conflict, marked by almost daily killings and occasional major violent convulsions, is likely to persist without either the state or the rebels tipping the balance decisively.Now, northern Sinai changes hands daily – the jihadists mounting checkpoints in order to uncover informers at night. When day breaks, the army emerges to erect its own checkpoints, sometimes launching raids backed by Apache attack helicopters and tanks on what it believes to be rebel safe-houses. This is the broad pattern of the government's conflict with Islamist militants in northern Sinai, the wilderness sandwiched between the Suez Canal and the Israeli border.

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Sata sacks Kabimba

Bitter feuding in the Patriotic Front has led to dismissal of the President's preferred successor – from both party and government

President Michael Sata's shock dismissal of Wynter Kabimba as Justice Minister and Secretary General of the governing Patriotic Front leaves the succession still unclear. After mou...


Oil, the political lubricant

A spate of oilfield sales ahead of next year’s elections is conveniently timed for some expensive campaigning

The news that Western oil companies have finally offloaded over US$6.5 billion of assets to a fast-growing coterie of Nigerian oil and gas companies only six months before the ele...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Asked about the qualities needed by a journalist, the late, great Nicholas Tomalin replied: ‘Rat-like cunning, a plausible manner and a little literary ability.’ The same could be said of many anti-corruption lawyers, judges and officials, such as Spain’s Baltasar Garzón and France’s Eva Joly and Renaud van Ruymbeke, and in Africa, Kenya’s John Githongo, Sierra Leone’s Abdul Tejan-Cole and Nigeria’s Nuhu Ribadu. All these African officials were put in charge of anti-corruption commissions. All t...
Asked about the qualities needed by a journalist, the late, great Nicholas Tomalin replied: ‘Rat-like cunning, a plausible manner and a little literary ability.’ The same could be said of many anti-corruption lawyers, judges and officials, such as Spain’s Baltasar Garzón and France’s Eva Joly and Renaud van Ruymbeke, and in Africa, Kenya’s John Githongo, Sierra Leone’s Abdul Tejan-Cole and Nigeria’s Nuhu Ribadu. All these African officials were put in charge of anti-corruption commissions. All three pursued major investigations into the theft of public money, clashed with the ruling party and state officials, and subsequently faced threats to their lives.

What then are the prospects for the latest anti-corruption star, South Africa’s Public Protector Thuli Madonsela? Angered by her determined efforts to investigate the state’s financing of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, the governing African National Congress accuses her of running a vendetta against the party and its leader and colluding with opposition politicians. Some have even questioned her patriotism.

So far she has shown herself equal to the pressure and has appealed to all sides to uphold the law. Unlike her counterparts in East and West Africa, Madonsela has an important privilege. Under the South African Constitution, the Public Protector has the status of a judge. That means that attempts to undermine the office and its holder constitute contempt of court and would amount to a criminal offence. For now at least, that would seem to shift the odds in her favour.

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Geingob goes for broke

The Premier rushes through laws to give SWAPO more seats in Parliament and allow more political appointments

Prime Minister Hage Geingob is pushing through wide-ranging constitutional changes which will increase his power when he becomes Namibia's next President. Geingob, who is also Vice...


Women and children first

As the party admits Grace Mugabe to its pantheon, the ZANU-PF Women’s and Youth Leagues have muddied the succession

The outcome of the governing party's all-important elective congress in December looks no clearer after the rival factions jostled for positions at the Youth and Women's Leagues co...


Brother with a difference

Nearly three months into his term of office, the new President promises a radical departure from the practice of his predecessors

President Peter Mutharika has held no mass rallies, travelled abroad just once and spoken in public only five times. Even his own Democratic People's Party (DPP) is perplexed by th...


Allies lose faith

Friends abroad worry increasingly about the probity and effectiveness of the interim government but wonder what to do

Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza's surprise choice of Mahamat Kamoun as the new Prime Minister, along with a cabinet of 31, has dismayed Central African Republic's internati...


Parliaments at sea

Egypt and its new ally the UAE join battle against jihadist fighters while two parliaments compete for power on the ground

After Tripoli International Airport fell to Islamist-led forces from Misurata on 23 August, the victors were quick to announce that they would resuscitate the country's former Parl...


Biya's answer to Boko Haram

The military's reorganisation to cope with the jihadist threat leaves unanswered the charge that the country is a soft touch for kidnappers

As further details emerge about Boko Haram's 27 July attempt to capture Amadou Ali, one of President Paul Biya's top ministers and confidants, questions remain about the adequacy o...


Crunch time for the unions

The ANC struggles to hold the union federation together as an anti-Zuma faction threatens to form a leftist splinter

Africa's largest trades union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, celebrates its 30th anniversary and its twelfth congress next year. Yet many believe Cosatu is...


Refinery deal struck

The agreement with the main oil companies gives investors 60% and paves the way for the export of crude oil

After nearly three years of back-and-forth negotiation with oil companies, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has finally caved in. He has agreed to a much smaller oil refinery than ...


Taking a chance on Casamance

Armed with a development plan and secretive mediators, the President thinks he can pacify the troubled region

The fractious politics of Casamance are holding up President Macky Sall's grand economic plans as he tries to relaunch his battered government. He believes that a breakthrough in t...



Pointers

Capital flight

A storm broke over President Alpha Condé's government after Senegalese customs seized US$8 million in US dollar and euro banknotes from a small aircraft that had flown from ...


Kagame's purge

The arrest of senior government and army members considered pillars of the regime has caused surprise

The former head of the Republican Guard, Colonel Tom Byabagamba, was arrested on suspicion of 'crimes against state security' on 23 August on his return from the United Nations Mis...


Inching towards peace

The latest ceasefire holds the best chance yet for a conflict-free election and perhaps lasting peace

In a deal that is widely expected to hold, the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique government and the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana formally sig...