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Published 21st December 2001

Vol 42 No 25


Everything is risky

President Kagame prepares for national elections while his exiled military opponents regroup in Congo-Kinshasa

In our situation everything we do is risky...' General Paul Kagame told Africa Confidential on 9 December in Kigali as he explained plans to open up the country's politics ahead of national multi-party elections due in 2003. 'We inherited a very complex situation, we cannot hope for soft solutions.' Kagame's hard solution is to pack dozens of political and social reforms into two hectic years. His proclaimed reforms point to a national unity approach of the kind adopted by South Africa's African National Congress and outgoing National Party in 1990: a power-sharing government liberalising Rwanda's authoritarian politics and writing a new constitution in the run-up to free elections. It is no coincidence that South Africa is the Kigali government's strongest African supporter. Reality on the ground is different. Political currents are now a mélange of the options suggested by the Ugandan political scientist Mahmood Mamdani.

Donor diplomacy

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Donors heaped praise on Finance Minister Donald Kaberuka's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper launched in Kigali late last month. The PRSP has to be designed and implemented before R...

No shine on gold

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Tough times and free markets are an uneasy match for Kufuor

On winning the election a year ago, President John Kufuor promised Ghana a 'golden age of business.' His commitment to market economics is being sorely tested. Jerry John Rawlings,...

Going private against the grain

Ghana's privatisation efforts have so far done little more than cut the public payroll. State assets were often sold at cut price to politically connected companies operating under...

Dicing with death

The prosecution has bungled the trial of a seedy medical spy

Wouter Basson, known as Dr. Death, was the former apartheid regime's leading chemical weapons specialist. He headed Project Coast, developing and testing chemical weapons, and is n...

Honeymoon over

The government isn't working: palace and parties will fight for the political initiative

Next year the King will marry an old friend, Salma Bennani, a commoner and an engineer in Guemassa, the mining arm of the conglomerate ONA. That should raise the ratings of Mohamme...

Helpless about AIDS

The High Court's AIDS judgment looks good for health, bad for the constitution

The Pretoria High Court ruled on 14 December that the government must supply nevirapine, an anti-retroviral drug, to mothers infected with the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV). ...


Oil slick

Legal sources in Paris say the long, venomous investigations into oil company Elf-Aquitaine will be buried before May's presidential election. Elf, merged in 1998-9 with Franco-Bel...

Octopus at work

Opus Dei, a secretive organisation favoured by Pope John-Paul II, hopes to sign up more followers in Africa, where only 1,500 of its 80,000 members are estimated to live. Its found...