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Published 17th January 1997

Vol 38 No 2


Booming and bombing

The coming oil boom has upped the stakes in the escalating confrontation between the government and its opponents

There is no grand design to the violence that is wracking the country. Government supporters and oppositionists are pursuing vendettas against each other and a shadowy third force is emerging with a lethal capacity to attack military and civilian targets. There seems to be no one set of culprits behind the dozen or so bombings of the past year: some devices are crude 'chemistry lab' jobs but others are professional, remote-controlled and strategically placed. The bombers are confusing and worrying almost everyone, especially Lagosians and foreign diplomats. For those who believe that General Sani Abacha wants to shore up his popularity before standing for the presidency in October 1998, this is a critical year: the start of his transition from remote military strongman to civilianised leader. Most concerned is his military constituency, which fears it will be left behind if its chief goes in search of civilian votes. The government's myriad security networks will be busy.

The Sodere spirit

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Politicians have begun the year with a peace accord – but Hussein Aydeed stays outside

A new year, a new faction agreement. On 3 January, after six weeks of pool-side discussions at the Ethiopian hot-spring resort of Sodere (AC Vol 37 No 25), leaders of 26 Somali fac...

Itahad international

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Al Itahad al Islami, Somalia's main Islamist organisation, says that it intends to become a political party, to the unease of the National Executive Council. NEC members have said ...

Generation game

Cautious moves towards more openness are part of King Hassan's plans for his heir

This year's elections, probably in May or June, may bring opposition parties into government but the political opening will be limited. Much of the power will stay with the Palace ...

Tough Tinyefuza

A popular general is saying things the government would prefer to keep quiet

The army is struggling with rebels in the north and west and faces escalating hostilities on the Sudan border yet within its own ranks, a war of words rumbles on. Uganda's most pop...

High rollers roll low

A foreign capital free-for-all won't be enough to rescue the economy

President Albert René's government seems to have run out of steam. The money-men expect a devaluation of the Rupee Seychellois, followed, they hope, by a loan from the Inter...


The oil front

Sudan's National Islamic Front government (AC Vol 37 No 25) faces a military onslaught by opposition forces in Blue Nile province but Arakis is still negotiating to bring China and...

Shoot on sight

Chad's policy of summarily shooting presumed criminals 'is working', Foreign Affairs Minister Saleh Kebzabo declared on 11 January. Since President Idriss Déby's November or...

Biligual diplomacy

General Sani Abacha's 31 December announcement that by stepping up French teaching, Nigeria will in 'a very short time' become bilingual is a shrewd diplomatic move, however unreal...

French Fire

Reports differ about how many people were killed when French soldiers launched a furious retaliatory attack on rebel positions in Bangui on 5 January but it raises more questions a...