Call Us Now: (240) 429 2177


Museveni’s speedy promotion of son and a new African trend
August 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Godfrey Madanga and Prince Ofori-Atta*



Ugandan President Yoweri Musevei’s son has suddenly been promoted in the army raising speculation that he is being groomed to take over from his father, as the question of succession continues to haunt a number of African states.

Museveni promoted his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba from the rank of Colonel to Brigadier, triggering speculation that this was in response to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The Ethiopian leader will be succeeded by his deputy, but Ugandan political analysts think Museveni would prefer a situation where his son will take over.

It still remains a mystery who President Yoweri Museveni wants to succeed him, as the succession issue is considered a taboo topic.

Analysts have expressed fears that Kainerugaba’s promotion was the beginning of a chain of events that could lead to an undemocratic succession. They argue that the speed at which Museveni is promoting his son in the army is tantamount to grooming him to take over the helm of affairs in the country.

“There is speculation in the country that he (Museveni) is grooming Muhoozi to take over the leadership of the country after his retirement. But we are going to resist such a move,” roared Michael Ochan, an opposition politician.

The opposition’s shadow minister for information, Ssemujju Nganda questioned why the president, after saying that his son was only a “village guard” in 1997 when Kainerugaba first entered the military, had promoted him to “the rank of brigadier in only 10 years.”

Medard Ssegona, the opposition’s shadow minister for justice, questioned how a person who had never involved in any war could be promoted so rapidly.

As the subject of Kainerugaba’s unlikely promotion rocks the East African country, questions over efforts made by some African leaders to impose their sons as heir apparent have also been raised.

Before the Egyptian Spring that saw another long time African leader, Hosni Mubarak’s ouster speculation that his son, Gamal Mubarak was being groomed as a successor, was a cause of political agitation in the North African country.

Former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade’s regime crashed heavily to defeat at the polls when dissatisfied Senegalese protested against his decision to run for another term, with speculation that he intended to hand over to his son once elected, especially after he instrumented the creation of a vice-presidential office. The fast rise of his son in the Senegalese political sphere culminated when Karim Wade became a “super minister”, holding a number of strategic offices.

In recent months, another issue that has hit the media spotlight is the promotion of Equatorial-Guinea’s president’s son, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mangue as vice president of the oil-rich central African nation. French authorities recently issued an arrest warrant for the 43 year old son of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, over accusations made by Transparency International about the misappropriation of funds to acquire assets in the European country.

With the exception of royal monarchies, serving African presidents who succeeded their fathers include, Joseph Kabila of The Democratic Republic of Congo, Faure Gnassinbé of Togo and Ali Bongo of Gabon.

Libya’s Gaddafi’s unsuccessful attempt to groom his sons to take over ended in shambles, with him being killed and his sons running for dear life.

But as parallels continue to be drawn by many, Uganda’s acting army spokesperson, Colonel Chris Magezi has defended the army’s decision to promote Muhoozi, arguing that he was rightfully promoted by his father, Uganda’s president and commander in chief of the country’s armed forces.

“The young man has been undergoing several military training programmes. His promotion has been based on the numerous trainings he has undertaken.”

Muhoozi, who is in his early 30’s trained in some of the big names in army colleges in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. He is currently in charge of the special force that guards his father, the president.


Read More
An analysis of the security situation in Cote d’Ivoire and proposals for the peaceful resolution of the crisis
August 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

Deadly Violence in Cote d’Ivoire

By Pr. Mamadou Koulibaly*,

And yet the culprits are known, the reasons too. An analysis of the security situation in Cote d’Ivoire and proposals for the peaceful resolution of the crisis. “In so doing, people work thus to their own confusion.” (Franz Kafka’s in The Castle,1926)

THE WEEK OF THE CELEBRATION of the 52nd Independence of Cote d’Ivoire was marred by deadly violent attacks this time not targeting civilian population or the UN forces based in Cote d’Ivoire but the armed forces of Cote d’Ivoire (FRCI). Military barracks, police stations and checkpoints were attacked by armed gangs who were able to kill and immediately vanish after their heinous crimes. Both the ruling and opposition parties mutually accused each other of being the instigators behind these deadly attacks. As usual, the partisans of President Ouattara firmly believe these criminal attacks are being perpetrated by partisans of the former president Laurent Gbagbo. On the other hand, the partisans of the latter are in return accusing the pro-Ouattara of being notorious killers. However, the underlying fact is that whenever such attacks take place, precious human lives are lost. Investigations are underway and while awaiting the findings, if only there will be findings one day, the fact remains that both sides are involved in atrocities with the civilian population seeing their rights to live in freedom and safety in the pursuit of their individual and collective livelihood violated. In any case, civilians are the victims of the two opposing sides that continue to hate each other and obstinately cling to the tactics of mutual intimidation, blackmailing, belligerence, repression, retaliation and revenge.

A commission of inquiry to establish responsibility for the crimes of the period after the 2010 presidential elections was set up a few months ago by the government. Its findings show that both the pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara committed atrocities. They were guilty of killing men, women and children based on political and religious affiliations, and ethnic and regional backgrounds. Of the 3,248 cases that were subject to investigations, it was established that the pro- Gbagbo, identified under the name “former Defense & Security Forces” (FDS), were accused of killing 1,452 people whereas the pro-Ouattara, identified under the names “Republican Forces of Cote d’Ivoire” (FRCI) and “Dozo”, arrive in second place with 927 crimes committed (727 for FRCI and 200 for the traditional hunters called Dozo). Let’s assume these crimes were committed in a time of war. Who committed the most crimes? Those who killed the most or those who simply killed? In sum, whoever committed the most crimes, in view of the inquiry, 3,248 lives were cut short due to mutual hatred.

Apart from this figure, a question remains unanswered: why were there so many crimes committed with known victims but unknown culprits? Simply saying the crimes were committed by the pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara does not provide any answer to the question but hints as to what happened. Who actually did the killings? It is evident that not all pro-Gbagbo or pro-Ouattara are criminals. We must be more objective getting to the truth, truth that will liberate and console grief-stricken hearts. Assessment of the armed and security forces First, it should be stated from the onset that the people, despite the huge number of uniformed armed men you see in the street, are not secured. From the traditional meaning of the word, no force is guaranteeing the security of civilians. Today, the Ivorian infantry, marine and air forces account, inter alia, for about 14,000 unreformed and unequipped men. They constitute the remnants of the former FANCI (National Armed Forces of Cote d’Ivoire). These men are demoralized, disarmed, paid to do nothing, frustrated by a programmed and unexpected defeat, and despised by the country’s current political authorities simply because they belonged to the army under the old regime. They were called loyalist forces of Laurent Gbagbo’s regime, situation which is prejudicial to them today.

The current regime does not trust them. In addition to that group, we have about 17,000 gendarmes. This elite force which has built a reputation in Cote d’Ivoire for being republican is not being used in anyway for the maintenance of public order in the new gendarmerie. Many of its members are not included in the traditional role of the gendarmerie. They are paid to do nothing, live in fear and suspicion lest they can destabilize the regime at any time. They are bored, frustrated and demoralized. They were also part of the loyalist forces of the former regime and so it is prejudicial to them today for the regime does not trust them. We must also take into account the 18,000 unreformed police, meaning they are not reorganized and reused in the habitual and normal functions of the new police. They are always suspected of being close to the old regime and it is prejudicial to them today for the regime does not trust them. They work under the watchful eyes, control and suspicion of the forces set up by the current regime. They are bored, frustrated and demoralized.

These three groups of men and women of about 49,000, trained to protect lives and properties and maintain public peace, are living a situation of non-employed or disguised unemployed. They are always seen with suspicion and somehow frustrated for not being able to practice their profession under the normal rule of law. These men and women, harassed from time to time, constitute a dangerous cocktail for the stability of the regime. The regime is aware of it and so it tries to contain them by deploying enormous efforts to monitor, control, arrest and harass them. All these things are not reassuring but instead stressing and creating intense psychological tensions.

Evidently, keeping a watchful eye on the military, police and gendarmes of the former FDS does not leave room to ensure the safety of the people and guarantee public order in both the cities and rural areas. Insecurity usually starts when a regime develops the idea that someone has evil intention towards it. And in wanting to be too watchful on that person, it may not see where the other dangers will come from. What can be done in such a case? Reintegrate these servicemen in the regular forces that provide security, civil protection and public order in Cote d’Ivoire. This would mean providing the means again to the police and gendarmes to carry out their mission.

Only the police and gendarmes can ensure public order and reassure the population. If things are to become normal, it should be the regular forces and not the exceptional forces that must deal with public service mission to provide security and protection of rights and freedom. The normal functioning condition of a state requires normal institutions. The army, gendarmerie and the police are institutions that must resume their normal course of service if we seek normalcy imposed by the rule of law, and of course if we want to end this state of emergency. But today, what can we do with an army of 11,000 loyalists FRCI in addition to the 14,000 loyalists of the former regime? It means there 25,000 servicemen being paid. With the present budget of the Ministry of Defense estimated at CFAF 188 billion, if it properly dispensed, CFAF 131 billion should be spent on salaries alone. It means this army will have nothing left to purchase hardware and ensure training. And if it should possess the financial means to procure hardware, it means salaries would not be paid.

If the Government gets military hardware and at the same time ensures the payment of these men, military spending alone would be explosive whereas it is presently struggling to cope, among others, with obligations of debts owed to pension funds (CGRAE, CNPS) and government functionaries. It could also entail the closure of hospitals or schools due to lack of funds. Thus, we are living in constant and total insecurity with an oversized army which is poorly equipped, poorly contained, poorly paid, and highly frustrated. These are good reasons to make it default on its mission of securing the civilian population throughout the country and in the barracks, gendarmeries and police stations.

Meanwhile, the security of government officials, institutions and the defense of Abidjan in case of any eventuality are assumed by 3,000 men carefully selected from among the FRCI. These men, who have the full confidence of the government, were selected from among former rebel factions namely MPCI, MPIGO, MJP and FN. Commanded by former warlords, these trusted strongmen of the regime also ensure the President’s security. Note that while some of the leaders of this privileged group were being promoted to higher ranks, some soldiers were being killed by unknown gunmen from nowhere at the beginning of August 2012. But should we believe the idea of men coming from nowhere to perpetrate these attacks? Not really because if you take a closer look at the situation, there are very risky people in our country who may have good reasons to foment this type of guerrilla warfare. Who could be these guerrillas?

Instead of blaming each other, the political class could do some introspection and analyze the situation coldly. The very risky people capable of fomenting guerrilla activities can be distinctly categorized. The first group consists of frustrated and disappointed FRCI who were promised secure military careers. Within the framework of the Ouagadougou Peace Agreement (APO), the military aspect negotiated at that time covered 32,000 FN who ever since have been dreaming to obtaining official status. But upon the completion of the recruitment of FRCI, only 9,000 of these fighters were retained. It means there are still 23,000 men in possession of their arms and ammunition that were turned away, striped off their ranks or thrown out of the FRCI. These abandoned former FN combatants expelled from the FRCI live in resentment and frustration and are waiting for any good opportunities that could allow them to express their anger to those who have lied, used and rejected them at the time of dividing the spoils.

These 23,000 people are potential dangers to consider in case of any attacks like those perpetrated against the FRCI in early August 2012. The second group could comprise the auxiliary 36,000 young combatants recruited when the FN was preparing the battle of Abidjan during the post-election crisis. Many combatants were encouraged to enroll for the “cause.” Of the 38,000 enrolled, only 2,000 were selected for possible inclusion in the regular FRCI. What about the remaining 36,000? They were simply forgotten. They too are fulminating anger and desire for revenge against those who manipulated them. For obvious reasons, they are major risk and capable of attacking their former comrades who betrayed and abandoned in case fighting breaks out in Abidjan. Do not forget them whenever the question of who is attacking the FRCI and why is raised? The third group could comprise the 38,000 men from other vigilante groups and militias of the former regime.

In the framework of the civic service proposed by the APO, it was agreed that these auxiliaries to the FDS at the time be absorbed by structures of reintegration and employment in the public service. But nothing has been done and many of them believed to still be in arms are frustrated that their prime age is over and if things return to normal, they too will end up with nothing, empty-handed. They find it difficult to accept this perspective. This group is just as dangerous as the first two and do not forget them when the question of who is attacking the FRCI is raised. For this group for which the advent of the FRCI has terminated the privileges they enjoyed, it is unfeasible to let go of things so easily and give their enemies of yesterday easy triumph. In total, there are at least 97,000 potential guerrillas, not forgetting the usual opportunists and bandits, the frustrated people living with hatred for minor reasons who may want to settle scores with old friends who are now members of the new nomenklatura, the new combattants, and those of the 25th hour who only got out when the battlefields were empty. If we take into account all this beautiful world of “super villains” or “superhero”, it can be estimated that we have about 100,000 potentially risky people, disappointed by broken promises, tossed between conflicting decisions, indoctrinated by two political wings with mutual hatred for each other, confined to the barracks for some with their arms in unacceptable conditions, such as the 1,500 detained in the infamous camp Gesco in Yopougon.

All these people are real dangers for the safety of civilians, for the FRCI themselves and equally for the impartial forces, and we can not say they are wrong to be angry. Suppose their case was dealt with more seriously? These 100,000 young men who see the future with uncertainty will surely end up taking it out on the Authorities who gave them the weapons. Many of them are unemployed; many are not even educated or know any trade. They dread unemployment and see their lives in total disillusionment characterized by betrayals and manipulations. Hatred towards their former and current mentors haunts them daily. They believe that they have lost everything except their weapons with which they can be heard, be respected and even make money or just get something to eat. Do not forget them when the question of who hold is organizing the guerrilla activities is raised.

Solutions to get out of the quagmire of insecurity

First, the government must cease practicing the policy of the ostrich and finally look the problem in the face. The communication of Mr. Bruno Koné, Minister and government spokesman, after the cabinet meeting on February 15, 2012 following the post-election violent atrocities and since the inception of the FRCI, demonstrates, if possible, the misdirection and analytical unraveling of the situation: “The FRCI is the regular army of Cote d’Ivoire. It is important that our army be respected. The army represents the sovereignty of the Ivorian people. There should be no reason for people deciding whether or not the army should be on a territory. We are all of age to have seen the FANCI and FDS. I think we need to return to the basic principle of civism, that is to say the respect for our institutions. In the respect of our institutions, the army has to be respected. The Ivorian army had to embark on public safety operations simply because the police and the gendarmerie were no longer operational. It took several months before the police stations were refurbished and it also took several months before the police was given arms and ammunition. During the lapse of this time, the military had to replace them. From the time things started to get normal gradually, they were asked to back out from these missions for the police and gendarmerie to take over.

But this is not done everywhere, on the one hand. On the other hand, even if the police and the gendarmerie are back, nothing prohibits the military to come and reinforce in this place or that place. It is a decision of the military command.

(…) When we talk about billeting, I have the impression that for the Ivorians, it means that the military should disappear from the landscape. (…)

The FRCI comprises several thousands of people. So it may happen that a serviceman of the FRCI get into conflict with a civilian, it can happen anywhere, there may be cases of indiscipline, there may be attacks of FRCI against civilians, a civilian against another civilian or FRCI. But please, do not transform this into an inter-ethnic or inter-community conflict. If there were errors committed by servicemen within the FRCI, let him or her be punished by their superiors.” Also, the political class, spearheaded by the government, must stop diverting attention from the main problem through nonsensical mutual accusations. It must accept its failure in the way of doing politics and recognize that it is through it declarations, ambitions, and inconsistency that have led many young people to a deadlock, thus the entire country.

Finally, it must immediately engage in discussions on political reconciliation and consider a program to end the crisis in accordance with Resolution 2062 of the United Nations Security Council and make it operational. It means it should: – Prioritize the issue of disarmament and the reform of the security sector on the agenda of the President – Defense Minister and supreme commander of the armed forces; – Get the FRCI off the streets and reinstate the gendarmerie and the national police in their official roles; – Organize a retirement plan of combatants and other militia not included in the standing Armed Forces;

– Find and set aside a budget to fund this additional pension by reducing government spending;
– Redeploy local governments and State authority across the country;
– Resume and strengthen dialogue between the opposition and the government within the framework defined by the conclave of Bassam; and
– Not precipitate to organize local elections in the given context of insecurity.

We have a population of about 20 million inhabitants living without protection whatsoever, with 100,000 ex-combatants armed and frustrated feeling betrayed by those who, on both sides, made them heroes through false promises of integration in the public service, an army rabble of 25,000 men with neither training nor hardware incapable of performing its duties due to lack of cohesion; 35,000 gendarmes and police that should be maintaining public order and protecting civilians but who are neither being organized nor used for this purpose due to distrust which pushed the government to disarm them, and 3,000 FRCI commanded by former Commanders of warlords chosen to ensure the safety of the President of the Republic and state institutions in Abidjan. The civilian population, left entirely to itself, has become the target of each of these dangerous opposing groups. Whenever acts of cruelties are carried out on either group, the civilian population becomes the scapegoat.

To date, Cote d’Ivoire does not have an army – neither former nor new. The country is being controlled by several armed gangs that target each other and take civilians captives. The illegal ordinance signed by the President of the Republic on March 17, 2011 bearing the creation of the Republican Forces of Cote d’Ivoire (FRCI) provides for the fusion of the National Armed Forces of Cote d’Ivoire (FANCI) and the Armed Forces of the New Forces (FAFN). According to Mr. Ouattara, the objective of “protecting civilians, pacifying the country and restoring law and order”, is far from being efficient. Rather, this ordinance is the basis for the disorganization of security and republican order. This issue should have been dealt with in accordance to law, which means a public debate should have been initiated to that effect. The signing of a mere ordinance is not sufficient to provide for the creation of an army (Article 71 of the Constitution of August 2000).

We are now living the consequences of his decision: upsurge in armed robberies in all districts of Abidjan, highway bandits across the country. These are direct manifestations of the mismanagement of military and security issues by the government, which has too often used illegal ordinances and unnecessary decrees to resolve a sensitive issue that requires common sense, wisdom and courage. Today we are paying the price. And yet, the culprits are known, the reasons too.

*Prof Koulibaly is a former Speaker of the Ivory Coast Parliament and was an influential member of Former President Laurent Gbagbo’s FPI.He now heads the opposition party LIDER

Read More
Ethiopians Grieve PM Meles Zenawi’s Death
August 22, 2012 | 0 Comments

Marthe Van Der Wolf*

ADDIS ABABA –  Ethiopia is grieving the loss of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.  The passing of Ethiopia’s leader saddens the country’s citizens.Everybody in Ethiopia was talking about Tuesday.

Many people in the capital, Addis Ababa, had kind words to say about Meles, who led the country for more than two decades.

A woman in her 20s, who declined to give her name, said his death is a sad event for Ethiopia.

“We are in a time of great grief and the loss of Meles Zenawi is very sad for our country because he was a great leader and my thought and prayers are with his family,” she said. “And may God give them relief in this sad time.“

A middle-aged man, who also declined to give his name, said he hoped Ethiopia’s new leaders will continue with Meles’ policies.

“In the future, I have faith and hope that we will continue on the path that he has set out for us,” he said. “Meles passed away too soon, without finishing all the work he was working on.  And I really believe that the future leaders of this country will continue on this path towards development for Ethiopia.”

A woman named Biseat said Meles did much to improve the country’s economy, while giving an Ethiopia a prominent role in East African affairs.

“I think that the passing of our prime minister, his Excellency Meles Zenawi is going to have long lasting implications for peace and security in the region,” said Biseat. “He also was a torchbearer for publicizing Ethiopian development and economic stability.  Under his rule we have had enormous amounts of progress and also enormous amounts of foreign direct investments.“

But there are also some Ethiopians that believe that the death of Prime Minister Meles may be an opportunity for more democracy in the country.

By the time of his death, Meles’s party and its allies controlled all but one seat in the Ethiopian parliament.

A man identified himself as Endalk, a university teacher said, “We expect people to be well aware of this situation and take the opportunity to liberate themselves from worshipping dictators and other.  So I honestly this is a truly good opportunity for Ethiopians to start true democratic transition.”

The body of Meles is expected to arrive in Ethiopia on Tuesday night.  No details have been announced on the funeral.

*Source VOA

Meles Zenawi

Born May 8, 1955 in Adwa, northern Ethiopia

Suspended studies in 1974 to join Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front, TPLF

Chairman of TPLF and Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front since 1989

Led EPRDF rebels to seize power in 1991 and became president

Prime minister since being elected in 1995

Serves as African Union spokesperson on climate change

Praised for helping lift Ethiopia out of poverty after civil war

Criticized for silencing all forms of dissent

Known as ally with U.S. against terrorism


Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister Takes Over After Meles’ Death

Posted Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegne, has become the country’s acting leader after the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

He is the first Protestant Christian head of government in the history of Ethiopia, and one of few southern region politicians in the Cabinet.

The 47-year-old politician was appointed deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in September 2010, after the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front won a fourth consecutive election.

The party’s congress promoted Mr. Hailemariam to deputy chair of the party a few weeks later.

Mr. Hailemariam became seriously involved in politics in the late 1990s as a member of Ethiopia’s ruling party. He also became the deputy president of Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region , replacing Abate Kisho who was removed on corruption charges.

The acting prime minister’s education is in civil engineering.

He is expected to take the oath as prime minister in the coming days. It is not clear if he will remain in power until the next elections in 2015.


Read More
Egypt’s Christians Form Their Own Brotherhood
August 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Merrit Kennedy*

Then-President-elect Mohammed Morsi greets Coptic Bishop Bishoy (left) as Bishop Bakhomious looks on, at the presidential palace in Cairo in June, in this photo released by Egypt's official news agency. The election of Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, has unnerved many Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population

Then-President-elect Mohammed Morsi greets Coptic Bishop Bishoy (left) as Bishop Bakhomious looks on, at the presidential palace in Cairo in June, in this photo released by Egypt's official news agency. The election of Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, has unnerved many Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population

A former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood occupies Egypt’s presidential palace, leaving many of the country’s Coptic Christians deeply anxious about their future.

Now, a new group calling itself the Christian Brotherhood has emerged, vowing to stand up for the rights of Copts.

On a Cairo rooftop recently, members of the new Christian Brotherhood are debating how to respond to the first major outbreak of Muslim-Christian violence since President Mohammed Morsi came into office in June.

The incident in the village of Dahshour, south of Cairo, began as a personal spat between a Christian and a Muslim in a local laundry. It quickly escalated into communal violence, and eventually the entire Christian community — about 100 families — fled the village.

Hossam Bahgat, the head of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, closely follows Christian-Muslim tensions.

“This is the first time that we see this incident where the entire community fled for their life for fear of serious retribution,” he says.

A few families have since returned to the village, only to find their homes in ruins.

The 73-year-old spiritual father of the Christian Brotherhood, Michel Fahmy, occasionally dabs his eyes with a handkerchief as he speaks about the Dahshour events.

“To leave your houses, your properties, and forcing you to vacate your city, your village — it’s a drama,” he says.

Worries Over Heightened Tensions

Bahgat says that the number of interreligious incidents has decreased this year compared with last year, when several churches were destroyed and 27 Copts were killed by the military at a protest in Cairo. And yet, with the rise of Islamist political power, Bahgat says, there is a noticeable rise in fears and tensions.

“And there’s a general sense of anxiety among the Christian community, and that is something that the government needs to address,” he says.

But the Christian Brotherhood isn’t counting on the government, or their own church, to address discrimination and violence.

The Christian Brotherhood’s Fahmy says the Copts don’t need anyone to stand by their side. They will stand with each other first, he says, and then find others standing with them.

The Christian Brotherhood says that it has some Muslim members, including a retired major general, who support its efforts — including its intention to become a full-fledged political party.

The group has already stirred controversy. Naguib Gobrail is the lawyer for the Coptic Church.

“In general, I don’t approve this, because it divides society [into] two sections — a Muslim section and a Christian section,” he says.

Gobrail worries that a group like the Christian Brotherhood could heighten existing tensions between Muslims and Christians.

Who Will Speak For Egypt’s Christians?

The group is also challenging the political authority of the Coptic Church, an institution at a crossroads since the death last March of Pope Shenouda III, who led the church for 40 years. Beloved by much of the Coptic community, the pope was also controversial.

Amir Ayyad, a member of the Christian Brotherhood, says Shenouda was making political decisions for the entire community.

“He prevented the Copts from being involved in politics, and because of this, after his death, he left behind an army of Copts with no background in politics, or very little background,” Ayyad says.

But this may be changing. The Christian Brotherhood is one of several new, independent Coptic movements that hope to weigh in on politics. Bahgat, the human rights activist, says these groups emerged as a reaction among younger Copts to what they saw as the failure of their own church leadership to take a firm position against discrimination and violence.

“Ultimately, this is going to come with a lot of tension, because the church is going to want to maintain control, but also because ultimately it’s much easier for the state to deal with the church than an unorganized, huge Coptic population of 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people,” Bahgat says.

As the Coptic community prepares for the selection of a new pope later this year, the debate about who speaks for them will continue.



Read More
Political pieces in the East and Horn of African jigsaw
August 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Anansi, *

Oil, electricity and agriculture are set to transform East Africa over the next decade. And in the regional jigsaw, politics, economics and security will fit together more tightly.

 If all goes according to plan, East Africa will be uniquely positioned to supply the economies of the Gulf and South Asia with food and energy. The resources and the labour supply are assured, but the most critical piece is the politics.

Can the relative success of the East African Community (EAC) in moving towards a single market and political cooperation survive a radical expansion? South Sudan will be the next member, and Ethiopia is not far behind.

Given Ethiopia’s position as the fastest-growing state in the region, with the biggest army, diplomats say a face-saving formula will be found to invite it to join the community this year.

Somalia, whose civil war has drawn in armies from four East African states, also wants to join the EAC – partly because it doesn’t trust the Ethiopian-dominated Intergovernmental Authority for Development.

Almost every state in East Africa has announced that it has substantial oil and gas re- serves. To Uganda’s more than 2bn barrels of reserves have been added oil finds in Ethiopia’s south Omo region, oil in Kenya’s Turkana basin and Tanzania’s spectacular gas finds in Lindi and Mtwara.

Sudan and South Sudan are established – if antagonistic – oil producers and exporters, and the more adventurous exploration companies report finding substantial deposits along Somalia’s coastline.

Key to the new East African project are the region’s two biggest economies: Kenya and Ethiopia. The political differences between Nairobi’s competitive party system and Addis Ababa’s developmental authoritarianism are not insurmountable.

Going back to the Cold War, pro-US Kenya cooperated with pro-Soviet Ethiopia.

This time the imperative for political and economic cooperation is far stronger. After initial scepticism about Kenya’s invasion of Somalia, Ethiopia now sees it as giving an important boost to the African Union (AU) force there.

Kenya’s troops, unlike Ethiopia’s, are coming under the AU command. And Kenya’s plan to take Kismayo port, the main supply point for the Al-Shabaab insurrectionists, will change the dynamics. To prevent a nationalist backlash, the AU forces will have to secure a new accord with the differing clans to keep out Al-Shabaab.

After the bloody aftermath of its 2006 invasion, Ethiopia has been more willing to accept Kenya’s idea of a negotiated security pact across Somalia’s complex clan structure.

Incremental successes in Somalia this year are encouraging both sides, while American and European security experts watch closely but sceptically.

Policy makers in Nairobi and Addis Ababa say they accept they are in Somalia for the long haul – even if that message is difficult to sell to their people.

Another difficult message is for Addis Ababa and Nairobi to persuade Uganda and Tanzania to stay in the party. Prospects of rapid development of oil production in Kenya may obviate Uganda’s plans for a refinery supplying the region from its production centre in Bunyoro.

President Yoweri Museveni, who wants to be an executive president of the EAC, has little enthusiasm for Kenya’s Lamu project and did not attend the commissioning ceremony with other regional leaders in April.

Tanzania, a member of the Southern African Development Community, is pulled in another direction. South African companies are playing a leading role in the development of its gas and mining industries. But the East African project needs full backing from Kampala and Dar es Salaam.

In all of this, Kenya’s role – as a central point between Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda – will be critical. But first it has to hold a credible national election and appoint a foreign-policy team to shape a strategy that can win support across the region●

*Source The Africa Report


Read More
Africa’s Forever Wars
August 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Why the continent’s conflicts never end.


There is a very simple reason why some of Africa’s bloodiest, most brutal wars never seem to end: They are not really wars. Not in the traditional sense, at least. The combatants don’t have much of an ideology; they don’t have clear goals. They couldn’t care less about taking over capitals or major cities — in fact, they prefer the deep bush, where it is far easier to commit crimes. Today’s rebels seem especially uninterested in winning converts, content instead to steal other people’s children, stick Kalashnikovs or axes in their hands, and make them do the killing. Look closely at some of the continent’s most intractable conflicts, from the rebel-laden creeks of the Niger Delta to the inferno in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and this is what you will find.

What we are seeing is the decline of the classic African liberation movement and the proliferation of something else — something wilder, messier, more violent, and harder to wrap our heads around. If you’d like to call this war, fine. But what is spreading across Africa like a viral pandemic is actually just opportunistic, heavily armed banditry. My job as the New York Times‘ East Africa bureau chief is to cover news and feature stories in 12 countries. But most of my time is spent immersed in these un-wars.

I’ve witnessed up close — often way too close — how combat has morphed from soldier vs. soldier (now a rarity in Africa) to soldier vs. civilian. Most of today’s African fighters are not rebels with a cause; they’re predators. That’s why we see stunning atrocities like eastern Congo’s rape epidemic, where armed groups in recent years have sexually assaulted hundreds of thousands of women, often so sadistically that the victims are left incontinent for life. What is the military or political objective of ramming an assault rifle inside a woman and pulling the trigger? Terror has become an end, not just a means.

This is the story across much of Africa, where nearly half of the continent’s 53 countries are home to an active conflict or a recently ended one. Quiet places such as Tanzania are the lonely exceptions; even user-friendly, tourist-filled Kenya blew up in 2008. Add together the casualties in just the dozen countries that I cover, and you have a death toll of tens of thousands of civilians each year. More than 5 million have died in Congo alone since 1998, the International Rescue Committee has estimated.

Of course, many of the last generation’s independence struggles were bloody, too. South Sudan’s decades-long rebellion is thought to have cost more than 2 million lives. But this is not about numbers. This is about methods and objectives, and the leaders driving them. Uganda’s top guerrilla of the 1980s, Yoweri Museveni, used to fire up his rebels by telling them they were on the ground floor of a national people’s army. Museveni became president in 1986, and he’s still in office (another problem, another story). But his words seem downright noble compared with the best-known rebel leader from his country today, Joseph Kony, who just gives orders to burn.

Even if you could coax these men out of their jungle lairs and get them to the negotiating table, there is very little to offer them. They don’t want ministries or tracts of land to govern. Their armies are often traumatized children, with experience and skills (if you can call them that) totally unsuited for civilian life. All they want is cash, guns, and a license to rampage. And they’ve already got all three. How do you negotiate with that?

The short answer is you don’t. The only way to stop today’s rebels for real is to capture or kill their leaders. Many are uniquely devious characters whose organizations would likely disappear as soon as they do. That’s what happened in Angola when the diamond-smuggling rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was shot, bringing a sudden end to one of the Cold War’s most intense conflicts. In Liberia, the moment that warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor was arrested in 2006 was the same moment that the curtain dropped on the gruesome circus of 10-year-old killers wearing Halloween masks. Countless dollars, hours, and lives have been wasted on fruitless rounds of talks that will never culminate in such clear-cut results. The same could be said of indictments of rebel leaders for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. With the prospect of prosecution looming, those fighting are sure never to give up.

How did we get here? Maybe it’s pure nostalgia, but it seems that yesteryear’s African rebels had a bit more class. They were fighting against colonialism, tyranny, or apartheid. The winning insurgencies often came with a charming, intelligent leader wielding persuasive rhetoric. These were men like John Garang, who led the rebellion in southern Sudan with his Sudan People’s Liberation Army. He pulled off what few guerrilla leaders anywhere have done: winning his people their own country. Thanks in part to his tenacity, South Sudan will hold a referendum next year to secede from the North. Garang died in a 2005 helicopter crash, but people still talk about him like a god. Unfortunately, the region without him looks pretty godforsaken. I traveled to southern Sudan in November to report on how ethnic militias, formed in the new power vacuum, have taken to mowing down civilians by the thousands.

Even Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s dictator, was once a guerrilla with a plan. After transforming minority white-run Rhodesia into majority black-run Zimbabwe, he turned his country into one of the fastest-growing and most diversified economies south of the Sahara — for the first decade and a half of his rule. His status as a true war hero, and the aid he lent other African liberation movements in the 1980s, account for many African leaders’ reluctance to criticize him today, even as he has led Zimbabwe down a path straight to hell.

These men are living relics of a past that has been essentially obliterated. Put the well-educated Garang and the old Mugabe in a room with today’s visionless rebel leaders, and they would have just about nothing in common. What changed in one generation was in part the world itself. The Cold War’s end bred state collapse and chaos. Where meddling great powers once found dominoes that needed to be kept from falling, they suddenly saw no national interest at all. (The exceptions, of course, were natural resources, which could be bought just as easily — and often at a nice discount — from various armed groups.) Suddenly, all you needed to be powerful was a gun, and as it turned out, there were plenty to go around. AK-47s and cheap ammunition bled out of the collapsed Eastern Bloc and into the farthest corners of Africa. It was the perfect opportunity for the charismatic and morally challenged.

In Congo, there have been dozens of such men since 1996, when rebels rose up against the leopard skin-capped dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, probably the most corrupt man in the history of this most corrupt continent. After Mobutu’s state collapsed, no one really rebuilt it. In the anarchy that flourished, rebel leaders carved out fiefdoms ludicrously rich in gold, diamonds, copper, tin, and other minerals. Among them were Laurent Nkunda, Bosco Ntaganda, Thomas Lubanga, a toxic hodgepodge of Mai Mai commanders, Rwandan genocidaires, and the madman leaders of a flamboyantly cruel group called the Rastas.

I met Nkunda in his mountain hideout in late 2008 after slogging hours up a muddy road lined with baby-faced soldiers. The chopstick-thin general waxed eloquent about the oppression of the minority Tutsi people he claimed to represent, but he bristled when I asked him about the warlord-like taxes he was imposing and all the women his soldiers have raped. The questions didn’t seem to trouble him too much, though, and he cheered up soon. His farmhouse had plenty of space for guests, so why didn’t I spend the night?

Nkunda is not totally wrong about Congo’s mess. Ethnic tensions are a real piece of the conflict, together with disputes over land, refugees, and meddling neighbor countries. But what I’ve come to understand is how quickly legitimate grievances in these failed or failing African states deteriorate into rapacious, profit-oriented bloodshed. Congo today is home to a resource rebellion in which vague anti-government feelings become an excuse to steal public property. Congo’s embarrassment of riches belongs to the 70 million Congolese, but in the past 10 to 15 years, that treasure has been hijacked by a couple dozen rebel commanders who use it to buy even more guns and wreak more havoc.

Probably the most disturbing example of an African un-war comes from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), begun as a rebel movement in northern Uganda during the lawless 1980s. Like the gangs in the oil-polluted Niger Delta, the LRA at first had some legitimate grievances — namely, the poverty and marginalization of the country’s ethnic Acholi areas. The movement’s leader, Joseph Kony, was a young, wig-wearing, gibberish-speaking, so-called prophet who espoused the Ten Commandments. Soon, he broke every one. He used his supposed magic powers (and drugs) to whip his followers into a frenzy and unleashed them on the very Acholi people he was supposed to be protecting.

The LRA literally carved their way across the region, leaving a trail of hacked-off limbs and sawed-off ears. They don’t talk about the Ten Commandments anymore, and some of those left in their wake can barely talk at all. I’ll never forget visiting northern Uganda a few years ago and meeting a whole group of women whose lips were sheared off by Kony’s maniacs. Their mouths were always open, and you could always see their teeth. When Uganda finally got its act together in the late 1990s and cracked down, Kony and his men simply marched on. Today, their scourge has spread to one of the world’s most lawless regions: the borderland where Sudan, Congo, and the Central African Republic meet.

Child soldiers are an inextricable part of these movements. The LRA, for example, never seized territory; it seized children. Its ranks are filled with brainwashed boys and girls who ransack villages and pound newborn babies to death in wooden mortars. In Congo, as many as one-third of all combatants are under 18. Since the new predatory style of African warfare is motivated and financed by crime, popular support is irrelevant to these rebels. The downside to not caring about winning hearts and minds, though, is that you don’t win many recruits. So abducting and manipulating children becomes the only way to sustain the organized banditry. And children have turned out to be ideal weapons: easily brainwashed, intensely loyal, fearless, and, most importantly, in endless supply.

In this new age of forever wars, even Somalia looks different. That country certainly evokes the image of Africa’s most chaotic state — exceptional even in its neighborhood for unending conflict. But what if Somalia is less of an outlier than a terrifying forecast of what war in Africa is moving toward? On the surface, Somalia seems wracked by a religiously themed civil conflict between the internationally backed but feckless transitional government and the Islamist militia al-Shabab. Yet the fighting is being nourished by the same old Somali problem that has dogged this desperately poor country since 1991: warlordism. Many of the men who command or fund militias in Somalia today are the same ones who tore the place apart over the past 20 years in a scramble for the few resources left — the port, airport, telephone poles, and grazing pastures.

Somalis are getting sick of the Shabab and its draconian rules — no music, no gold teeth, even no bras. But what has kept locals in Somalia from rising up against foreign terrorists is Somalia’s deeply ingrained culture of war profiteering. The world has let Somalia fester too long without a permanent government. Now, many powerful Somalis have a vested interest in the status quo chaos. One olive oil exporter in Mogadishu told me that he and some trader friends bought a crate of missiles to shoot at government soldiers because “taxes are annoying.”

Most frightening is how many sick states like Congo are now showing Somalia-like symptoms. Whenever a potential leader emerges to reimpose order in Mogadishu, criminal networks rise up to finance his opponent, no matter who that may be. The longer these areas are stateless, the harder it is to go back to the necessary evil of government.

All this might seem a gross simplification, and indeed, not all of Africa’s conflicts fit this new paradigm. The old steady — the military coup — is still a common form of political upheaval, as Guinea found out in 2008 and Madagascar not too long thereafter. I have also come across a few non-hoodlum rebels who seem legitimately motivated, like some of the Darfurian commanders in Sudan. But though their political grievances are well defined, the organizations they “lead” are not. Old-style African rebels spent years in the bush honing their leadership skills, polishing their ideology, and learning to deliver services before they ever met a Western diplomat or sat for a television interview. Now rebels are hoisted out of obscurity after they have little more than a website and a “press office” (read: a satellite telephone). When I went to a Darfur peace conference in Sirte, Libya, in 2007, I quickly realized that the main draw for many of these rebel “leaders” was not the negotiating sessions, but the all-you-can-eat buffet.

For the rest, there are the un-wars, these ceaseless conflicts I spend my days cataloging as they grind on, mincing lives and spitting out bodies. Recently, I was in southern Sudan working on a piece about the Ugandan Army’s hunt for Kony, and I met a young woman named Flo. She had been a slave in the LRA for 15 years and had recently escaped. She had scarred shins and stony eyes, and often there were long pauses after my questions, when Flo would stare at the horizon. “I am just thinking of the road home,” she said. It was never clear to her why the LRA was fighting. To her, it seemed like they had been aimlessly tramping through the jungle, marching in circles.

This is what many conflicts in Africa have become — circles of violence in the bush, with no end in sight.

*Source Jeffrey Gettleman is East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times.



Read More
South Africa’s Retail Politician
August 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Jacob Zuma has charm, but is anyone still buying what he’s selling?



CAPE TOWN, South Africa — In 1994, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton attended the inauguration of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president, and called the event a “milestone of the 20th century.” The Mandela years, with their optimism, pluralism, and sense of possibility, signalled South Africa’s rebirth as a democratic nation. This week, Secretary of State Clinton returned to the country for a four-day visit, part of an extensive African trip, to discuss trade, security, and increased investment in the continent. If the conciliatory, magnanimous Mandela engaged in a Long Walk to Freedom, South Africa, under its current president, Jacob Zuma, is slowly but steadily stumbling backward.

Mandela elected to serve a single term as president; Thabo Mbeki succeeded him in 1999 and presided over a period of impressive economic growth and the emergence of a black middle class. But Mbeki’s aloof, autocratic leadership alienated many, and delegates at the 2007 African National Congress (ANC) party conference ousted him in favor of his former deputy, Zuma.

Unlike Mbeki, a university graduate who was criticized by many in his party for being intellectual and elitist, Zuma has no formal education. As a young man, he became active in Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC. He was later jailed on Robben Island, alongside Mandela and many other anti-apartheid activists.

Zuma is the country’s first Zulu president (Mandela and Mbeki were Xhosa). Zulus are the country’s biggest ethnic group and a politically powerful faction when mobilized. Thus Zuma’s election as deputy president was a concession to a large portion of black South Africans. Some feared Zuma’s presidency would revive the country’s historical tribalism, but instead it revived a hollow populism — Zuma promised a great deal and delivered very little.

On July 10, President Zuma delivered the Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture in a church in Thohoyandou, a town in the country’s impoverished Limpopo Province. Never a skilled public speaker, Zuma appeared acutely out of place. He recounted Mandela’s many triumphs: his rural-yet-regal upbringing, his history with — and, later, leadership of — the ANC, his 27-year imprisonment, and how he had been instrumental in delivering democracy to South Africa. “He attracted people like a magnet through persuasion,” Zuma said unpersuasively.

Zuma was speaking about the most influential figure in the country’s history, and yet both his words and his delivery felt flat. He hurried through his prepared text. There was an air of impatience, rather than anticipation, in the crowded hall. He was trying too hard to seem relaxed.

Though Zuma made no mention of it, outside of the church a small battle was being fought. Three hundred members of the ANC Youth League, which is hostile to Zuma and wants to see him unseated, had arrived in Thohoyandou to disrupt the lecture. Some protestors brought along Zuma T-shirts, which they shredded on the street. Others sang a Zulu song entitled “Shoot Zuma.” Expecting trouble, soldiers, police, and various security forces lined the streets outside the church. There was barbed wire and barricades, tear gas and handcuffs, water cannons and Casspirs (a South African armored vehicle, the scourge of the ANC during apartheid).

The scene was familiar from the iconography of apartheid, only now the police and army were black. In a country that has been struggling for years with wide-scale electrical outages, a very different kind of power struggle was occurring: The conflict between those with too much power and those with none at all. This, and not the story of Mandela, is the original South African narrative.

The contrast between the scene in the church hall and that on the street perfectly parallels the contradictions of contemporary South Africa: between the government’s grand talk of infrastructure development and its failure to provide basic services; between the illusion of progressivism and the insistent poverty and depressing prejudice that dominates the daily news. At the ANC’s policy conference in late June, Zuma bemoaned  the “plight of the poor.” But that same week, his defense minister, Sam Makhudu Guluybe, was in the United States, negotiating for Zuma the purchase of a luxury, 300-seater Boeing for Zuma at the cost of $235 million.

Zuma’s first term as president has seen an increase in the centralization and consolidation of state power, and what appears to be an increase in factionalism, cronyism, and corruption. Zuma himself remains tainted by allegations of impropriety — in 2007, he was charged with 783 counts of fraud, racketeering, and corruption; a judge cleared him in 2008 on procedural grounds – a ruling that remains highly controversial.

Zuma works best as a retail politician, a phrase that does not exist in South Africa but probably should. He has immense charm but narrow ability. His governing style veers uneasily between overreach and lack of ambition. And he is now less popular than ever — according to a poll released in July, a majority of the country’s youth have no faith in his leadership and consider him incompetent. They see his policy proposals as lacking in substance and question his contribution to the country over the past three years.

For a man who admitted during his 2006 trial for rape (of which he was acquitted) to having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman, his government’s AIDS policy has been surprisingly more forthright and responsible than Mbeki, who vacillated between pretending AIDS did not exist and trying to wish it away by magical means. According to a 2008 Harvard study, Mbeki’s resistance to making anti-retrovirals widely available caused the premature deaths of 365,000 South Africans.

Zuma does not have such tragedy on his hands, but he has nothing to be proud of, either. South Africa’s first-quarter GDP was 2.1 percent, down from 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. More than half the country’s youth is unemployed. (The country’s overall unemployment rate is 24 percent.) Trevor Manuel, the minister of national planning, said that the unemployment rate for black youth is 65 percent.

Youth unemployment may be, as Manuel concedes, South Africa’s “single greatest risk to social stability,” but others loom. The ANC has called the poor state of the country’s education system a “crisis.” Of the 142 countries listed in the World Economic Forum’s 2011-2012 Global Competitiveness Report, which rates the overall quality of a nation’s tertiary and secondary education system, South Africa ranked 133rd.

The Department of Basic Education’s failure to deliver textbooks to students in Limpopo Province has received more national attention than almost any other story this year — and yet, after more than 6 months, thousands of students still do not have books.  According to a 2011 Transparency International Report, 60 percent of South Africans said corruption had increased in the country during the last three years. And a report released in February by the think tank the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) registered a decrease in civil liberties, government effectiveness, and accountability from the previous 2008 review.

Like much of the public sector, Zuma is widely perceived as being inefficient, unfocused, and compromised. To survive politically, he has aligned himself with the South African Communist Party (SACP), which is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Yet South Africa’s significant leftist and labor factions are angry with an ANC government that “talks left and walks right”: promising socialist policies while acceding to big business and fiscal conservatism.The government will have to make some concessions to the Communists. To ignore them would be to make the same mistake Mbeki made; the SACP helped oust him in 2007.

The threat of Soviet Russia sustained President Reagan’s increasingly unwieldy support for apartheid South Africa. Reagan regarded the country as a strong ally combating communism in Sub-Saharan Africa,  while the South African government used the communist threat as an excuse to enforce apartheid policies and sidestep U.S. sanctions. When communism ended, so did American support for the apartheid government. As the influential newspaper Business Day reported in mid-July: “The Reds the apartheid government so feared are no longer hiding under the bed – they occupy powerful positions in the Cabinet, have been deployed to key state posts, and have the ear of President Jacob Zuma.” The ANC government is built on what is known as the Tripartite Alliance — a union between the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). And yet these bodies are currently colliding — there is friction between COSATU and the SACP, between COSATU and the ANC, and between factions within the ANC itself, such as the ANC Youth League and its parent body. The ANC has been losing support since the Mandela years; in 1994, 54 percent of eligible voters cast their ballot for the ANC.  By 2009, the ANC received only 39 percent of the vote. A viable opposition party — one with wide appeal to black South Africans does not yet exist, but could emerge.

Former ANC Youth League president Malusi Gigaba says that the ANC has become “so inwardly focused that the majority of South African citizens must wonder if they matter at all.” The response to this is simple: They do wonder — and they don’t matter.

President Zuma is neither a selfless visionary like Mandela, nor a sophisticated strategist like Mbeki. President Zuma, as many South Africans see it, cares only about the advancement of President Zuma. But what today’s South Africa requires is responsible leadership and a pragmatic, progressive, engaged, and accountable government to begin to repair a nation that is, once again, at odds with itself.



Read More
Can Ghana’s Economy Prosper Against the Odds?
August 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

By George B.N. Ayittey*

Accra, — The sudden death of Ghana’s president, John Atta Mills, on July 24 did not come as a rude surprise. Most Ghanaians already knew his health was failing; he was losing his eyesight and voice.

For the seven months that I was in Ghana (Dec 2011-July 2012), he rarely made a public appearance — and despite official assertions to the contrary, most people did not believe he had the will nor the capacity to campaign for re-election in this year’s elections in December.

What was remarkable, however, was that within hours of his death, the Vice-President, John Mahama, had been sworn in as the new president. The smoothness of the transition was exactly how Atta Mills would have wanted it. He was a man of peace and ardent believer in the rule of law.

The smooth transfer of power not only attested to the strength and stability of Ghana’s democracy but also stood in sharp contrast to the rocky and chaotic transitions that followed the deaths of presidents Felix Houphouet-Boigny of Ivory Coast in 1993; Musa Yar’Ardua of Nigeria in 2010 and Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi in 2012.

Also standing in sharp contrast to the smooth political transition process is the performance of Ghana’s economy. After a stellar performance the past few years, the economy has hit some road bumps.

At a time when Europe has been in deep crisis, Ghana’s economy galloped at a dizzying 14.5% rate of growth in 2011. In the fourth quarter, the rate was an astonishing 16%. The country achieved a single digit inflation rate of 8.6% and the lowest fiscal deficit to GDP ratio of 4.8% in decades, according to figures from the Minister of Finance.

Moreover, Ghana attracted $7 billion in foreign investment — the highest amount recorded in its history. This economic boom has been sparked by recent discovery and production of oil.

However, prospects for 2012 have dimmed. The projected growth rate has been scaled back to 10%, although still impressive. An IMF team which visited the country in June described the economy as “sick” — perhaps, an unintended allusion to the condition of the president.

The external value of the local currency, the cedi, has dropped precipitously from 1.4 cedis to the dollar in January 2.2 cedis to the dollar in July — a drop of 57% in terms of the local currency. That drop has made imports more expensive and pushed the rate of inflation up above 10%. There is widespread grumbling about the rising cost of living.

It may seem skeptics, who questioned the sustainability of Ghana’s economic success, are being proven right. They point to Ghana’s neighbor, Ivory Coast, which was once declared an “economic miracle” back in the late 1990s but then convulsed into civil war and economic ruination in 2005 and 2010. They ask further: Hasn’t oil been a curse to such countries as Angola, Cameroon and Nigeria, among others? Is Ghana not destined to follow the same path?

To some extent, the skeptics have a point but that is not the whole picture. To be sure, Ivory Coast was declared an “economic miracle” in the late 1980s and in 1994, the World Bank declared Ghana to be an economic success story.

However, received wisdom and accumulated evidence suggest that doing well economically is not enough. Intellectual freedom (freedom of expression, of the media, etc.) and political reform (establishment of democratic pluralism) are also needed to sustain economic prosperity. Countries that resist them eventually implode, unraveling all the economic gains made. This was what happened in Ivory Coast in 2005 and also in Yugoslavia (1995), Indonesia (1998), Madagascar (2001), Tunisia (2011) and Egypt (2011).

In other words, democracy is not necessary to engineer an economic success story but vital to sustain it.

In Ghana’s case, incomplete political liberalization and fitful intellectual reform clipped its economic success in the 1990s.

However, things are much different today. The intellectual environment is much freer now. There are more than 100 private radio stations and over 20 privately-owned newspapers in Ghana. There is a vibrant and vigilant media that sparks intense intellectual debates. Call-in radio programs hold the feet of politicians to the fire and expose their shenanigans. Now and then, the country’s Supreme Court rules against the government. Freedom of information bill is wending its way through Parliament, although it has been dragging its feet.

Media’s role in Ghanaian politics

Politically, democracy is also being entrenched. Since 2000, there have been two successful transfers of power without violence or bloodshed. And the smooth transfer of power after the president passed away is another feather in the Ghana’s democracy cap.

All these bode well for the sustainability of the current economic prosperity. But still, some serious hurdles lie ahead for Ghana’s economic prosperity.

First, the non-oil sector of the economy is performing poorly. Agriculture, which employs over 60% of the population, grew marginally at 2.8% in 2011. With food production per capita declining, the country has to rely on food imports to feed itself. The performance of the manufacturing sector has also been weak. It is hard to find a manufactured good with the label, “Made in Ghana.” As Ghanaians often lament, “We don’t produce anything; we import everything from tooth-picks to toilet paper.” As a result, imports are surging dangerously out of control.

Ghana farmers lose out in gold mining boom

The situation is eerily reminiscent of Nigeria in the 1980s when the country neglected its agriculture and manufacturing base and splurged on luxury imports. Army chiefs parked Maseratis and even Lamborghinis outside plush government villas, while their children attended expensive schools in Britain. One even had his Rolls Royce flown from Britain to Nigeria. Nigeria, which used to export food in the 1960s, now spends over $120 billion [latest figure I found] on food imports while 61% of Nigerians now live in poverty.

There are other bumps as well on Ghana’s road to economic prosperity. The bloated size of the government suffocates the economy. In 1997, there were 88 cabinet and regional ministers plus their deputy ministers in a country with a population of 25 million. By 2004, the number had reached 92 but now down to 84. [The U.S., with a population of 300 million, has 40 secretaries and assistant secretaries.]

Too many ministries means overlapping jurisdiction and functions and a bloated bureaucracy. Indeed, the Vice President, John Mahama, has been complaining persistently about “excessive bureaucracy and red-tapeism in the public sector” in the state-owned Daily Graphic.

The public sector is riddled with overspending, wasteful practices and financial irregularities and profligacy. The situation has become so dire that the government consumes all it collects in revenue, leaving it with little or no savings to finance investments. For example, in 2011, total revenue stood at GH¢12 billion (or $7.5 billion) but general government expenditures added up to GH¢13 billion, leaving the government with negative savings.

Can Africa break its ‘resource curse’?

However, the biggest hurdle when I was in the country was the high level of anxiety, tension and uncertainty about the December poll. In times of uncertainty, investors hold on to their wallets and the rich park their wealth outside the country. Capital flight and surging imports have evidently contributed to the sharp drop in the external value of the local currency.

I left Ghana for the U.S. on July 21 and President Atta Mills passed away on July 24. Most likely, political tension in the country will abate somewhat as Ghanaians put away their differences to mourn their departed president. However, the uncertainty will resurface after the burial. While the new president, John Mahama, is respected and level-headed, he is unlikely to accomplish much before December.

One wag has urged Ghanaians to vote for a “Non-John” in December. Since 1981, Ghana has had the following presidents: Jerry John Rawlings, John Kufuor, John Atta Mills, and now John Mahama. “Enough JOHNS. Haba! This is the worst form of name tribalism. Time for a revolution,” the wag exclaims.

Well, Ghanaians will decide in December.

*George Ayittey is a Ghanaian economist, author and president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington DC. He is a professor at American University,[1] and an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Piece originally published in CNN.Com

Read More
African Union: Power shifts south
August 10, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Patrick Smith in Addis Ababa *

By Patrick Smith in Addis Ababa *

A South African takes the helm at the continental organisation amidst at least four African crises that will test new chair 
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s diplomatic and political skills.

Woman leads the way: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma leaves handover meeting with Jean Ping/Photo/Simon Maina/AFP

Woman leads the way: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma leaves handover meeting with Jean Ping/Photo/Simon Maina/AFP

It was 1am on 17 July when a respectful hush fell over the silvery spaceship-­shaped conference centre in Addis Ababa. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, resplendent in a green and purple boubou, swore her loyalty to the African Union (AU) as the first woman to lead the continent’s top organisation. “I pledge not to seek instructions,” she intoned, “from any member state nor from any authority external to the African Union.”

It is one of those diplomatic fictions that when candidates for top international positions are elected, they instantly forget their nationalist aspirations. It was a fiction most energetically pushed by the South African government. Its lobbyists had worked hard to distance Dlamini-Zuma from her country’s diplomatic record. “I’m not here to represent South African policy,” she told journalists shortly before voting started for the AU job on 15 July.

Until then, five states – Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and South Africa – had respected the unwritten rule that they would not run for the AU’s top position. But after a year of growing South African frustration with its handling of international interventions in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya, President Jacob Zuma’s allies launched a bid for the top job late last year. The campaign stuttered and faltered. Government insiders feared a resounding diplomatic rebuff.

At the January summit, AU chairman Jean Ping won each of three rounds of voting but failed to win the two-thirds of member states’ votes necessary for victory. A stalemate ensued as criticism of South Africa’s grandiose ambitions grew. Big countries such as Nigeria, Egypt and Libya objected to South Africa’s pretensions of continental leadership. 
They may be too late. South Africa is already Africa’s representative in the emerging economies club known as BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It is the only African member of the G-20 grouping of major world economies. It hosts the Pan-African Parliament, which is taken seriously as representing the continent’s political zeitgeist. Just as South Africa’s seat on the United Nations (UN) Security Council expires at the end of this year, its former foreign minister takes over as head of the AU.

Dlamini-Zuma quoted Marcus Garvey. Ping quoted Shakespeare

South Africa has become the key point of diplomatic and economic contact in Africa for other emerging regions, as well as for the United States and the European Union. Should the efforts to reform the outdated power structures of the UN ever succeed, then South Africa is in pole position for the long-requested permanent African seat on the Security Council.

There are plenty of clichés about an Anglophone-Francophone split in the AU, but they do not stack up. In the final round of voting, Dlamini-Zuma won the votes of 37 out of 51 voting states. Several Francophone states including Senegal, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo were among them. A frustrated Ivorian diplomat explained how the “fickleness” of his counterparts in Central Africa was responsible for Ping’s defeat.

Some of Dlamini-Zuma’s staunchest opponents – Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon – are Francophone. But they worked with large non-Francophone countries: Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya. Most of the Arabic-speaking states of North Africa also backed Ping, at least initially. 
Voting split in different ways: regionally, linguistically, ideologically and on gender. A diplomat contrasted the speeches of Ping and Zuma at the closing ceremony.

Dlamini-Zuma quoted Marcus Garvey: “The history of a movement, of a nation, of a race, is a guide-post of that movement’s destiny, that nation’s destiny, that race’s destiny. What you do today that is worthwhile, inspires others to act.”

Ping quoted Shakespeare: “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances…” With a rueful smile, Ping …

*Source  www.panafricareport



Read More
Is democracy under threat in West Africa?
August 3, 2012 | 0 Comments

Coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, democratic defence in Senegal

By Lansana Gberie

In May, Said Djinnit, head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), briefed Security Council members on what he saw as a disquieting trend in West Africa. During the

Skyline of Luanda, Angola: Will Africa be “the next global economic frontier”?  Photograph: Reuters / Mike Hutchings

"No more coups in Africa," declare demonstrators in Bamako, Mali, during a visit by a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States.Photograph: Reuters / Luc Gnago

preceding two months, Mr. Djinnit told council members, military coups had aborted preparations for democratic elections in Mali and Guinea-Bissau. Senegal, where his office is based, just managed to escape a violent turn. Electoral violence in Nigeria in April 2011 caused the deaths of more than a thousand people, while terrorist violence — led by an Islamist group called Boko Haram — has since escalated, leading to many more deaths and destruction in the country.

Also last year, a simmering civil war in Côte d’Ivoire was reignited after the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to honour an electoral verdict against him. In fact, over the past year, Africa has experienced eight such unconstitutional or extra-constitutional attempts to change governments or to hold on to power, and some have been successful. Something must be done to tamp down this trend, Mr. Djinnit told council members.

Democracy more the norm

Because of West Africa’s past experience with coups and civil wars, it was inevitable that the latest developments would induce strong anxieties. Yet for the past 10 years, elections and peaceful changes of government were becoming more the norm. Some of the region’s long-lasting wars, like those in Sierra Leone and Liberia, were ended, and democratic elections brought in more capable governments.

That Africa as a whole is becoming more democratic, stable and prosperous as a result of frequent elections was celebrated even by the mildly “Afro-pessimist” London magazine The Economist. In July 2010 it commented, “Only a decade ago countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia were bywords for anarchy and bloodshed. Now their people vote enthusiastically. It will be hard even for dictators to take that right away altogether, for the experience of elections, even flawed ones, seems to help embed democracy.”

In February 2009, following coups in Mauritania and Guinea and an attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau, the African Union (AU) enunciated a policy of zero tolerance for all coups. It condemned the “resurgence of the scourge of coups d’état in Africa” and declared that it will never recognize a government that comes to power unconstitutionally, a position later endorsed by the UN Security Council.

Mr. Djinnit’s alarm and the swift condemnation of the coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau — first by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), then by the AU and the Security Council — were therefore predictable. Yet the manner in which these developments have played out suggests a complicated picture.

Guinea-Bissau has been an exception to the overall trend of democratization in West Africa: the country has experienced five military coups in the past decade, and no elected president has served out his term. So when soldiers seized power on 12 April and imprisoned interim President Raimundo Pereira, Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior and several other senior officials, aborting preparations for a run-off presidential election, the move did not come as a particular shock.

Setback in Mali

Mali, however, was a celebrated case of democratic awakening in West Africa, so the events there did take many by surprise. On 22 March, soldiers led by a young officer named Amadou Sanogo abandoned a faltering campaign against Tuareg rebels in the north of the country and seized power from President Amadou Toumani Touré. ECOWAS promptly condemned the coup and imposed financial and other sanctions on Mali.

This was not simply a case of the military going awry: external factors clearly played a decisive role in the turn of events. The problem had to do with the resulting return to Mali

Rebels in northern Mali: After the fall of the Qaddafi regime in neighbouring Libya, thousands of ex-fighters from there have returned to their home countries with heavy armaments, spreading instability throughout the Sahel region.  Photograph: Reuters / Adama Diarra

Rebels in northern Mali: After the fall of the Qaddafi regime in neighbouring Libya, thousands of ex-fighters from there have returned to their home countries with heavy armaments, spreading instability throughout the Sahel region. Photograph: Reuters / Adama Diarra

of tens of thousands of migrants, including a few thousand heavily armed and battle-hardened Tuareg fighters who had fled Libya following the overthrow of the dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi. These fighters gave new potency to the few and largely contained Tuareg separatists in northern Mali, leading to the rebels’ capture of the three northern regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu and a proclamation of secession from southern Mali.

There are wider implications for the region, beyond Mali itself. A report by a UN inter-agency mission to the Sahel in January to assess the impact of the return of about 420,000 migrant workers to Mali, Niger and Mauritania predicted broader instability. The mission found that Libyan small arms, explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and small-calibre anti-aircraft cannons mounted on pick-ups were finding their way into the hands of diverse separatists and other rebels. Groups like Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Nigeria’s Boko Haram were already flocking to Mali in mid-2011. Many parts of Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad have been overwhelmed by the returnees from Libya, 95 per cent of whom are male, poorly educated, aged 20-40 and embittered. AQIM was providing relief for some of the returnees, facilitating potential recruitment and popular support, the mission was told.

According to the mission, the most advanced of the measures adopted to deal with these problems were probably those taken under Mali’s Special Programme for Peace, Security and Development in the North, a pet project of President Touré, although there were local concerns about poor management. Barely two months after the report was issued, the coup took place, and Mr. Touré later fled to Senegal.

Averting crisis in Senegal

When Mr. Touré arrived in Senegal in April as a refugee, the scene was steeped in pathos. Less than two months earlier, Mali, with the dignified Mr. Touré presiding over an electoral process in which he was not participating, seemed to stand taller than Senegal, which was then deep in a morass created by its fumbling president.

Residents of Dakar celebrate the election of a new president: Senegal has a long tradition of democratic institutions and its army has never tried to stage a coup.  Photograph: Reuters / Joe Penney

Residents of Dakar celebrate the election of a new president: Senegal has a long tradition of democratic institutions and its army has never tried to stage a coup. Photograph: Reuters / Joe Penney

Senegal has been a constitutional democracy since it gained independence from France in 1960, and has suffered no coup or serious political upheaval. This would suggest that elections had become routine. However, President Abdoulaye Wade, who came to power in 2000 and was already in his eighties, introduced a new constitution. The Constitutional Court issued a curious legal judgment permitting Mr. Wade to run for a third term, maintaining that since the constitution was new, his first term could not be counted. The argument had a narrowly legalistic logic that was lost on most Senegalese. All they knew was that the constitution said the president should not serve more than two terms, and Mr. Wade had already served two.

There were mass protests, leading to burned public buildings and several deaths. Senegalese — and the world — prepared for the worst. But when the elections finally came in February, Mr. Wade secured only 34.8 per cent in the first round. In the run-off the following month, he was crushed by 51-year old Macky Sall, who had previously served as his prime minister. Following his humiliating rebuff, Mr. Wade handed power over to Mr. Sall.

What accounted for the different outcomes in Mali and Senegal? First, of course, was the spreading rebellion in Mali, bolstered by Libyan arms. Also important is that the two countries have rather different historical experiences, with electoral institutions and a democratic culture much stronger in Senegal than in Mali. In fact, the four communes of the French colony of Senegal enjoyed a remarkable democratic franchise dating back to the 19th century. History does matter.

Election triggers

Yet Senegal’s democratic traditions did not prevent pre-election tensions and violence, suggesting that even reasonably strong democratic systems in the region are vulnerable. Vulnerable to what? In all the cases cited, elections were either taking place or approaching.

Are elections becoming, as the UK political scientist and Africa expert Dennis Austin suggests, a “spur to violence” in the fragile democracies of West Africa? Competitive politics, while attractive, clearly add depth to the sense of division in diverse societies, since there is a strong temptation for rogue leaders to exploit ethnic and other fault lines. The problem is that there seems to be no better alternative.

A June report by the New York–based International Peace Institute on “Elections and Stability in West Africa” recommends a creative approach to electoral assistance. It suggests that external electoral assistance be integrated within a broader conflict-prevention strategy that gives attention to the political aspects of the electoral process, as well as the technical ones.

Safeguarding elections, in other words, should be seen as just one component of a longer-term commitment to building democracy. Also important are the growing calls on the international community to stand firm in not recognizing any coup, as espoused by the African Union.

*Source Africa Renewal Online

Read More
SUDAN: Who’s who in the opposition
July 31, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Irin*

KHARTOUM, 26 July 2012 (IRIN) – Recent weeks have seen demonstrators, for the most part students, take to the streets of Khartoum – and to a lesser extent other Sudanese cities – to protest against the rising cost of living and call for an end to the 23-year rule of President Omar al-Bashir.

Meanwhile, armed rebellions have been active in the western region of Darfur for almost a decade and broke out in the southern border state of South Kordofan in June 2011 and later in nearby Blue Nile State.

Sudan is in the throes of an economic crisis sparked by the July 2011 secession of South Sudan, which, when it was part of Sudan, produced three-quarters of the oil that almost solely drove the country’s economy. In June 2012, inflation was running at 37 percent. The government is faced with a budget deficit of US$2.4 billion.

While backed by the International Monetary Fund, Khartoum’s austerity measures, such as cutting fuel subsidies and government jobs, devaluing the currency and raising taxes have sparked a series of modest yet growing protests (with their own Twitter hashtag, #sudanrevolts), which in turn have prompted a robust response from security services.

Bashir has derided the demonstrators as “elbow-lickers”, an allusion to the supposed futility of their protests.

“They talk of an Arab Spring – let me tell them that in Sudan we have a hot summer, a burning hot summer that burns its enemies,” the president declared in mid-July.

Here is a brief overview of anti-government forces which, despite some alliances, lack strong cohesion or coordination among their various elements:


Girifna Movement (GM) A popular resistance movement formed in October 2009 by university students, GM works for peaceful change in Sudan. Girifna means “we are fed up”.

GM asks questions like: “Aren’t you fed up with the monopoly over political power by them?” “Aren’t you fed up with the high cost of living?” “Aren’t you fed up with the electricity and water shortages?” “Aren’t you fed up with what’s happening in Darfur?” Girifna uses street demonstrations, Radio Girifna, an online magazine, public speeches and newsletters, etc. to get its message across.

Girifna says its members have been beaten, abducted, and imprisoned by state security forces.

Sudan Change Now (SCN) SCN was established in 2010 by young activists working for peaceful democratic change. It is a youth movement which gets its message across using internet-based social media.

SCN’s Facebook page says: “We believe that the current regime in Sudan is completely dysfunctional and it is our collective responsibility as Sudanese to put an end to it. Change is our way towards the better future that our nation deserves.”

“We are working on creating a common front of solidarity that brings together all those who are suffering from the actions of the current corrupt and evil regime. Together we work to ensure a unified and effective course of action to overthrow the regime and build a new brighter future for our coming generations.”


Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) alliance Led by SPLM-N (see below) chairman Malik Aggar, SRF is a coalition of rebel groups in Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile and eastern Sudan formed in November 2011. SRF leaders say they want to overthrow the NCP regime “using all available means” and establish a secular, liberal state.

In a press statement on 12 July 2012 SRF said it supported the urban protests against the government. It said support by the National Consensus Forces (see below) for the Sudanese people’s “revolt” was a step in the right direction. It called on all political opposition forces to hold an expanded meeting on how to create a joint work programme, agree on a national democratic programme, and work together to bring down the regime.

SRF includes SPMN-N, JEM, SLA-AW, SLA-MM and the Beja Congress.

Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – Northern Sector (SPLM-N) This was initially the northern wing of the politico-military group which led the southern rebellion during the 1983-2005 civil war and which is now in power in the newly independent state of South Sudan.

Khartoum has frequently dismissed the SPLM-N’s insistence that it has operated as an independent entity since secession in July 2011, saying that its armed rebellion in Blue Nile and South Kordofan is controlled from Juba.

Regime change is a key policy tenet of the SPLM-N, whose political activities the government has banned since late 2011.

Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) JEM is a rebel group involved in the Darfur conflict founded by Khalil Ibrahim, who was killed by the Sudanese Armed Forces in December 2011. Currently JEM is led by Khalil’s brother, Jibril Ibrahim, whose succession has agitated simmering fault lines, largely along ethnic lines involving non-Zaghawa, Missiriya Arabs, and some Zaghawa previously aligned with the Sudan Liberation Army – Minni Minnawi faction (SLA-MM).

The diaspora-based Democratic JEM (DJEM) is a splinter group launched by predominantly non-Zaghawa dissidents in April 2006, in rejection of JEM’s domination by the Kobe, a Zaghawa sub-group. JEM was established in early 2003 by a group of educated, politically experienced Darfuris, and drew most of its initial leadership and members from the Kobe, who are more numerous in Chad than in Darfur.

While JEM is considered the strongest armed rebel group in western Sudan it continues to lack a wider constituency among Darfuris.

The JEM Corrective Leadership (JEM CL) under Zakaria Musa, is a new breakaway movement that emerged in mid-January 2012 following Khalil Ibrahim’s death.

Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid faction (SLA-AW) SLA-AW is a Darfur rebel group emerged from the split of the Sudan Liberation Army into numerous factions.

The original SLA was formed in 2001 as an alliance between Fur and Zaghawa ethnic groups with differing goals: the Fur envisaged their rebellion as being essentially anti-government, in favour of a new, decentralized Sudan, while the Zaghawa’s focused more on Arab militias with whom they were in economic competition in North Darfur.

Abdul Wahid Mohammed al-Nur, SLA’s original chairman, has spent most of the period since the Darfur rebellion started in 2003 outside the region, first in Paris and more recently in Uganda. This absence has led to dissent and divisions within his movement.

SLA-AW, the Fur-led faction, has not signed the 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement and has not taken part in any peace talks.

Sudan Liberation Army – Minni Minnawi faction (SLA-MM) A former teacher with little prior military experience, Minawi led SLA’s main forces before the group split. In 2006 he signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) with Khartoum and gained the largely nominal positions of – until April 2010 – senior assistant to Bashir, and chairman of the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority.

In late 2010 Minawi moved to Juba, capital of what is now South Sudan, and disowned the DPA, leading the Sudanese army to declare his faction a legitimate target. This unleashed a new wave of violence in SLA-MM areas. Minawi’s move also divided the faction into: a group which continued discussions with Khartoum, another in North Darfur negotiating with JEM and a third which remained loyal to Minawi himself.

The formation of the SRF led to some rapprochement between the two SLA factions.


Several Sudanese opposition parties are grouped under the banner of the National Consensus Forces, originally formed to stand against the ruling National Congress Party in elections held in April 2010.

Some of these – the National Umma Party, the Communist Party and the Popular Congress Party – signed a Democratic Alternative Charter (DAC) on 4 July 2012, thereby committing themselves to remove the NCP from power through “peaceful means” and the creation of a “civil democratic state”.

The NCF includes:

The National Umma Party (NUP):
President: Al Saddig Al-Mahdi
Secretary-General: Ibrahim al-Amin
Prominent member: Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi
NUP’s origins go back to the 19th century. Its current president was the prime minister of Sudan on two occasions (1966-67), and (1986-89).

Popular Congress Party (PCP):
President: Hassan Al-Turabi
PCP split from the ruling National Congress Party in 2000. It describes itself as “a broad national democratic party” not based upon regionalism or sectarianism. PCP publishes its own newspaper, Rai al-Shaab, currently banned by the National Intelligence Security Services.
PCP website:

Sudanese Communist Party (SCP):
Secretary-general: Mohamed Mukhtar Al-Khateeb
SCP is one of the oldest parties in Sudan. It advocates socialism in a multi-party system.
SCP website:

Other DAC signatories:

Nasirist Democratic Unionist Party (NDUP): supports Arab nationalism; has a close affinity with Egypt; led by Gamal Abdunnasir Idris.
The Unified Democratic Unionist Party – led by Jala’a Ismail Al-azhari
New Forces Democratic Movement (HAG) – led by Halal Abdulhaleem
Sudan Ba’ath Party – led by Mohamed Ali Jadain
The Arabic Baath Social Party – Originally led by Ali Elraih El Sanhoory
Sudanese Congress Party – led by Ibrahim Elshiekh


Read More
Atta Mills death: Interesting days ahead for Ghana
July 31, 2012 | 0 Comments


The key players in Ghana over the next week: From left, New President John Drahmani Mahama, former President Jerry Rawlings and main opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo. PHOTO | AFRICA REVIEW

The key players in Ghana over the next week: From left, New President John Drahmani Mahama, former President Jerry Rawlings and main opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo. PHOTO | AFRICA REVIEW

The next few weeks promise to be interesting for Ghana as the country tries to come to terms with the sudden death of President John Atta Mills on July 24. Known for its strong democracy, the west African country will be keenly watched over how it handles its transitions.

Within hours of Mr Mills death, his deputy John Dramani Mahama was sworn in in line with Article 60 (6) of the country’s constitution, drawing praise from observers.

“I am pleased with the way things have gone. We did not have any of Africa’s problem with the death of a President,” said Mr Kojo Pumpuni Asante, an analyst with the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD).

Mr Asante said that Ghanaians would now be watching how the process is completed, especially with the appointment of a new Vice-President. “We have come to a point where it is clear that the state is seen as sacred and the people would want know how the whole process is conducted,” he said.

The key battleground looks to be within the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), on whose ticket Mr Mills was in December due to stand for re-election to a second term.

The NDC will have under five months to find a new presidential candidate to run against its main opponent, the New Patriotic Party, which is fronting Nana Akufo-Addo, who Mr Mills narrowly beat in 2008.

“…it is how this is conducted that should be of concern to every Ghanaian,” Mr Asante said.

Initial concerns would be how former President Jerry Rawlings, a key political figure in both the NDC and the country, reacts to the death and in addition, his relationship with the new President, thought to be cold.

Mr Rawlings did not have a good relationship with former President John Kufuor, who Mr Mills succeeded, and extended the same treatment to President Mills who he ha hand-picked as his Vice-President and was later instrumental in his election in the party of which he is the founder.

Some members of the NDC are worried about Mr Rawlings as he is known to have some dislike for President Mahama. “We are not sure what it is and we would be watching how he would react to his administration in the next few months,” said a party member who spoke on condition of anonymity.


There are also some party members who think that Mr Rawlings wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, is likely to become the party’s presidential candidate as she was the only one who stood against the President Mills at the NDC party primary last year.

This has however been dismissed by the NDC’s deputy general secretary, Mr George Lawson. “There is no truth in that,” he told the Africa Review. “The party’s constitution is clear that we have to go to Congress to elect a new candidate to lead us.”

Thus, instead of the party concentrating on its campaigns, it is now faced with lobbying and campaigning to elect a leader. If it is not properly managed, the process could implode as there already various opposing groups within the party.

Those close to President Mahama would want to fight for his election while other groups known to be supporters of President Mills may want to field their own candidate.

The NPP would be watching closely to see how the NDC camps slug it out among themselves. If Mr Rawlings turns against President Mahama, it would also mean that the NDC would be contesting the election against the opposition NPP and a new party that is yet to be registered and which claims to have the blessings of Mr Rawlings and his wife.

Change of guard

The change of guard at the presidency is also likely to affect some personalities. Chief among these would be President Mills’ director of communications, Mr Koku Anyidoho, who has over time incurred the wrath of many including party supporters. It is not known if he will have a place in the new scheme of things.

There are also other appointees who are referred to as the “Mills Boys” and they may have to negotiate their allegiance with the new man at the helm.

With the talk of a Congress to elect a new presidential candidate, intense lobbying is expected in coming weeks. President Mahama is known to have his eyes on the presidency and will most likely try his luck.

He is however known to have a frosty relationship with Mr Rawlings and is unlikely to have his support.

One scenario is that he may have to contest against someone that Mr Rawlings would support if he decides to stick with the NDC. Even though Nana Agyeman Rawlings has been associated with the new party that has announced itself, she has not formally resigned from the NDC and may want to contest for the leadership of the party.

If she does, given the bitter campaign that was run in the days to the last Congress last year, it is likely that the party faces bitter times ahead which might affect how the members unite to fight the election.



Read More
1 147 148 149 150 151