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Published 5th December 2014

Vol 55 No 24


Libya

A tale of two cities

LIBYA: A crow flies above the road to Benghazi
LIBYA: A crow flies above the road to Benghazi. Samuel Aranda / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Although Islamist forces have the edge in Tripoli, Haftar’s forces are ahead in Benghazi as a new battle is joined over control of oil revenues

The two main political camps are fighting for power in two distinct conflicts, one centred on Tripoli, the other on Benghazi. General Khalifa Haftar's 'Operation Dignity' troops are at war with Islamist groups for the control of Cyrenaica in the east. Haftar's forces have the upper hand so far. They are loyal to a government in Tobruk under its Prime Minister, Abdullah al Thinni. The other conflict pits militias from the mountain town of Zintan and their allies from the Fezzan against the Islamist Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) alliance, which is supported by backers in the wealthy coastal town of Misurata and in the capital, Tripoli, itself. The Fajr Libya forces control Tripoli, supporting a government under Prime Minister Omer el Hassi, and have the upper hand in that theatre of war.

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Martyr or master-crook

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BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Those literary gannets and prize committees taken aback by the waves of brilliant African fiction and poetry landing on their desks should look at the raw material served up to writers every day on the continent. It takes nothing away from these writers’ creative genius to contrast the life and death importance of political struggles in Africa, as well as helter-skelter social change, with the bland canvas of much electoral politics and social discourse in the West.

Take Zimbabwe, whe...

Those literary gannets and prize committees taken aback by the waves of brilliant African fiction and poetry landing on their desks should look at the raw material served up to writers every day on the continent. It takes nothing away from these writers’ creative genius to contrast the life and death importance of political struggles in Africa, as well as helter-skelter social change, with the bland canvas of much electoral politics and social discourse in the West.

Take Zimbabwe, where the struggle to succeed nonagenarian President Robert Mugabe is worthy of a Shakespearian tragedy or history. Should Mugabe be cast as King Lear? He has the years but not the beard. Nor does he show any sign of recanting or remorse, or even of weakness in his old age. He has artfully procrastinated for a decade as he pretended to consider the claims to two rivals. In common with many First Ladies in Africa, Mugabe’s wife Grace is likened to Lady Macbeth.

Mugabe’s condemnation this week of Vice-President Joice Mujuru for treachery, without producing a scintilla of evidence, suggests another parallel – Prince Hal’s casting aside of his old friend Falstaff. In Harare, the governing party’s elective congress is well underway and pundits are already forecasting the outcome: it will be no Agincourt but the King will put down the rebels. That, however, will not clean out the stench of corruption and deadly rivalries in the court. As they seek a guide to the unfolding plots in the party, some politicians may reach for a copy of Hamlet and turn eagerly to the dénouement in the final act.

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The President returns to find Parliament and people alike outraged by the latest corruption scandal. The CCM is looking for a way out

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Pointers

Grim down south

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