The agitation for Islamic law is as much political and ethnic
as it is religious; its proponents have weakened and divided the
The government appears to have negotiated a respite in its latest crisis. On 29 February the governors of five northern states said they would stop plans to enforce Sharia (Islamic law). Vice-President Atiku Abubakar
led negotiations with the governors and persuaded them to back down - at least for now. Among the political weapons at his disposal was cutting finance to those state governments which ignored central government on the issue. Yet the Northern establishment is split over Sharia. Many of the older more pragmatic generation of Northern leaders see it dividing and weakening the region and would welcome Abubakar's move to stop it. Yet a younger generation of Northern politicians, several of whom owe their rise to military rule over the past two decades, believe that Sharia is an important political and cultural tool for the North to fight against Southern domination. The Sharia crisis is much more than a quarrel between elites, though. The campaign for Sharia now enjoys mass support in the North. A demonstration in its favour in Zamfara State last October drew several hundred thousand supporters from other Northern states. Campaigners have again shown their ability to gets tens of thousands of supporters onto the street in recent weeks. Once Sharia is instituted, it is difficult for Muslims to suspend it without appearing to act against God.
Finance Minister Manuel wins praise for his business budget
but joblessness is growing
Income taxes and the budget deficit are down, defence spending is up. That conservative combination in Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's budget on 23 February won plaudits from busi...
New controls are meant to enrich the government and impoverish
Angola has transformed the market for its diamonds, cancelling or suspending all existing marketing contracts for the stones. The government claims that this radical shake-up, made...