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Published 20th February 2015

Vol 56 No 4


Nigeria

Democracy delayed

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Even a six-week postponement of the elections looks unlikely to slow the momentum of opposition presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari

Such is the febrile mood in national politics that President Goodluck Jonathan felt compelled to tell delegations from the European Union and the Economic Community of West African States on 18 February that there were no plans to abandon the elections and form an Interim National Government. The idea of some form of backroom deal between selected members of the two leading political parties amid an engineered political stalemate brings back unhappy memories of the electoral crisis of 12 June 1993. That resulted in the eventual gaoling of election winner Moshood Abiola and ushered in a harsh and corrupt military regime led by General Sani Abacha.

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Policing the vote

There is another way to influence election results, without tampering with the actual vote: to encourage or discourage turnout by using the security organisations. Opposition parti...


Massacres in the mist

As June's presidential election approaches, the political atmosphere is deteriorating and political violence is on the increase

President Pierre Nkurunziza has yet to declare whether he will stand for another term in the 26 June presidential election. Increasing signs that he will stand include the growing ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The crisis that has Libya at its centre has been brewing since oppositionists – backed by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation airpower – overthrew Moammar el Gadaffi’s regime in 2011. Despite hopes for a transition to a stable and prosperous democracy underwritten by Africa’s biggest oil reserves, Libya has become an object lesson in the unintended consequences of armed intervention.

The crisis zone now stretches from the south – Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso – to Egypt, which this week...

The crisis that has Libya at its centre has been brewing since oppositionists – backed by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation airpower – overthrew Moammar el Gadaffi’s regime in 2011. Despite hopes for a transition to a stable and prosperous democracy underwritten by Africa’s biggest oil reserves, Libya has become an object lesson in the unintended consequences of armed intervention.

The crisis zone now stretches from the south – Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso – to Egypt, which this week publicly launched an air war on the Islamist militants fighting for control of Tripolitania (western Libya). To the north, the zone stretches to the Italian island of Lampedusa, to which thousands of refugees are fleeing, desperate to escape Libya’s inferno. The confrontation between Libya’s secularists and its Islamists has morphed into a regional war: this week Egypt called for a United Nations-backed force to fight Libya’s Islamists. Qatar and Sudan still back the Islamists.

Most scandalous, however, since the horrific deaths and drownings could be avoided, is European Union policy towards the desperate migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean. It seems some EU officials regard the casualty rates as a useful deterrent. For a while, Italy beefed up its coastguard and saved shipwrecked refugees but the EU cut funds for the programme. Now Italy’s offer to send 5,000 troops to an international force in Libya shows fresh thinking. Just how that force might work is another matter. The UN is making only halting progress in brokering negotiations between the two sides.

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Old faces, old problems

The horse-trading which led to a new government leaves many hostages to fortune. We detail the bargaining that led to the latest cabinet

On 9 February, after weeks of bickering among politicians, Somalis were given a new government. In some respects, it's not very different from the old one; some ministers from the ...


Between street and barracks

The country prepares for a democratic dawn at the October elections but stubborn soldiers want their privileges guaranteed

The mass movement that toppled President Blaise Compaoré last October is at increasing odds with the Régiment de sécurité présidentielle (RSP, AC...


Obiang’s own goal fest

Hosting the Africa Cup of Nations won some prestige for the regime but could not paper over the cracks

From the glass-fronted VIP section of the main stand, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo had a perfect view as crowd violence in the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo spiralled out of c...


A rowdy state of the nation

President Zuma's vision of the road ahead failed to ignite passion. Only the chaos that descended on Parliament stood out

Despite fist fights and forcible expulsions from the chamber of the National Assembly, African National Congress officials insisted President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Addre...


Out of Africa, taxes

A leak of secret documents from Luxembourg reveals corporations avoiding paying tax, which can also mean less revenue for African treasuries

Confidential documents from PricewaterhouseCoopers leaked late last year revealed how about 350 companies around the world negotiated advantageous tax deals with the Luxembourg au...



Pointers

Poll date set

The Commission électorale nationale indépendante (CENI, the electoral commission) has named 27 November as the date for the next parliamentary and presidential electi...


Air turns blue

The opposition Semayawi ('Blue') Party has fiercely attacked the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia for disallowing 24 of its South Omo candidates from standing in the 24 May gen...


The Ebola bonanza

Freetown's redoubtable Auditor General, Lara Taylor-Pearce, has struck again, publishing a damning report on the misuse of public funds between May, when the Ebola epidemic broke o...


After prayers, no miracles

Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Kurti must have prayed that his presence at the United States 'National Prayer Breakfast' on 5 February and talks with US officials would yield a miracle...