Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
The French intervention in Mali this week raises the specter of another first-world nation’s rather recent mission to weed out Islamic militants. As France's jets pummel the desert and its troops face ground battles against al Qaeda-linked rebels, a troubling analogy has presented itself in media reports and analyses: Will Mali become France’s Afghanistan?
France's mission in Mali is to prevent the Sahel region from becoming a terrorist planning and training ground, particularly for al Qaeda’s North African wing, AQIM. The BBC’s security correspondent Gordon Corera explains the situation in terms of the conditions in Afghanistan before the U.S. intervention in 2001.
“No-one in Paris - or any other Western capital - wants parts of Mali to become like Afghanistan in the 1990s - a place where acts of terror further afield could be planned and where people would then ask why something was not done earlier."
By Aaron Maasho
Ethiopia and Eritrea are still at each others’ throats. The two neighbours fought hammer and tongs in sun-baked trenches during a two-year war over a decade ago, before a peace deal ended their World War I-style conflict in 2000. Furious veRed Sea, UNrbal battles, however, have continued to this day.
Yet, amid the blistering rhetoric and scares over a return to war, analysts say the feuding rivals are reluctant to lock horns once again. Neighbouring South Sudan and some Ethiopian politicians are working on plans to bring both sides to the negotiating table.
Many South Sudanese hoped the country’s emergence as the world’s newest nation would begin an era of prosperity, but the country has remained mired in disputes with its northern neighbour over oil, the border and a many other issues.
The landlocked South shut off its oil production in January, instantly erasing 98 percent of state revenues, as part of a dispute with Sudan over how much it should pay to export crude using pipelines and other infrastructure in the north.
The al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters who have used pick-axes, shovels and hammers to shatter earthen tombs and shrines of local saints in Mali’s fabled desert city of Timbuktu say they are defending the purity of their faith against idol worship.
But historians say their campaign of destruction in the UNESCO-listed city is pulverising part of the history of Islam in Africa, which includes a centuries-old message of tolerance.
South Africa’s economy is still largely under the control of whites who held power under apartheid, President Jacob Zuma has said calling for a “dramatic shift” to redress the wealth balance more evenly in favour of the black majority.
Zuma, speaking at the start of a major policy meeting of his ruling African National Congress, said the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality posed long-term risks for Africa’s richest country 18 years after the end of apartheid.
The African Union has moved its July summit to the Ethiopian capital after Malawi blocked the attendance of Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the bloc said
Malawi last month asked the African Union to prevent Bashir from taking part in the event, saying his visit would have “implications” for its aid-dependent economy.
Israel this week started deporting a planeload of migrants to South Sudan early on Monday, the first of a series of weekly repatriation flights intended as a stepping stone to dealing with much greater influxes of migrants from Sudan, Eritrea and Ivory Coast.
About 60,000 Africans have crossed into Israel across its porous border with Egypt in recent years. Israel says the vast majority are job seekers, disputing arguments by humanitarian agencies that they should be considered for asylum.
By Cosmas Butunyi
The dust is finally settling on the storm that was kicked off in South Africa by a controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed.
The country that boasts one of the most liberal constitutions in the world and the only one on the African continent with a constitutional provision that protects and defends the rights of gays and lesbians , had its values put up to the test after an artist ruffled feathers by a painting that questioned the moral values of the ruling African National Congress .
By Cosmas Butunyi
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress may have expelled the rubble-rousing youth league president, Julius Malema, but challenges still remain for President Jacob Zuma, who is seeking a second term in a race that he is considered the frontrunner.
Observers say that Malema, who is considered one of the most prominent members of the party to openly break from Zuma, still can be a thorn in his side even though he is permanently barred from party-related events. He may use his expulsion to sharpen his criticism against Zuma’s government.
By Isaac Esipisu
The continents’ newest and second Africa’s female president took over the reins of power in Malawi to offer a new and more responsive style of leadership that is expected to spur economic recovery of one of Africa’s poorest nation. Joyce Banda was sworn in as president two days after President Bingu wa Mutharika died of heart attack at 78.
The new president, Joyce Banda started her presidency in an enthusiastic and robust way; mending ties with foreign donors that could see Malawi pull out of an economic crisis. The new president of Zambia , Michael Sata, is making the transition easier, contributing 5 million litres of petrol that should help the economy. Banda, a 61-year-old policeman’s daughter who won recognition for championing the education of underprivileged girls, now enjoys widespread support among a population whose lives grew increasingly difficult under Mutharika