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Published 10th August 2001

Vol 42 No 16


Delusions of peace

Egypt and Libya intervene to block southern and northern opposition hopes while the NIF plays off everyone against each other

'Egypt possesses cards it has not yet used for preventing the separation of southern Sudan'. Thus spake Cairo's Ambassador to Khartoum, Mohamed Asim Ibrahim, in June 2000. Egypt was 'determined to prevent such separation by all means' (AC Vol 41 No 13). A year later, the 'Egyptian-Libyan Initiative' (ELI) took off. And Egypt played some of those cards. As United States President George W. Bush's administration searched for a policy and the National Islamic Front (aka 'National Congress') government in Khartoum used its new oil wealth to stave off the renewal of United Nations' sanctions, Cairo slid into the gap. Fearing democracy in Khartoum almost as much as Islamism, it devised the Initiative. It began timidly as the 'Libyan-Egyptian Initiative' in Tripoli in mid-1999 and was striking by its lack of content ­ one member of Sudan's opposition umbrella, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which was invited to Libya for the launch, complained that there was 'not even a piece of paper on the table'. It looked like another of Colonel Moammar el Gadaffi's grandiose projects.

Keeping them talking

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Ever since it seized power on 30 June 1989, the National Islamic Front has been declaring its desire for peace while accelerating the war. The first speech by Brigadier General Ome...

Possession in nine points

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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On 26 June, the international Arab press began speculating about a new Egyptian-Libyan Initiative. Ten days later, the nine points emerged and became headline news. Some are remini...

Hanging in there

The ruling party is stronger at home than it looks from abroad

The strategy to win President Robert Mugabe six more years in power claimed victory at Bindura, a mining town 60 kilometres north of the capital, in a by-election on 29 July. The r...

Après Moi, maybe

The President is on his way out – in his own time and on his own terms

The fin de siècle has been delayed. Among party hacks, journalists, and commission agents, the gossip is dominated by Daniel arap Moi's exit from the all-powerful presidency...

Sell if you can

Privatisation is obstructed by unions, communists and world stock markets

The first few days of August dealt a double blow to South Africa's privatisation programme, a central part of the government's economic strategy. The plan to sell the state telepho...


Hey big spender

The fuss over how President El Hadj Omar Bongo came to deposit over US$180 million in three private Citibank accounts in New York won't go away.

Ben Ali for a fourth

Africa's 'change the constitution' movement has now crept north to Tunisia, where the ruling Rassemblement Constitutionnel Démocratique wants to persuade' President Zine el ...