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In scenes more akin to a prelude to war than a soccer match, Algeria won Africa’s last place in next year’s World Cup finals in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Wednesday.
With 15,000 extra security men manning the stadium and heavily armed riot police on virtually every street corner for Algeria’s 1-0 win over Egypt, there was little opportunity for major violence.
Fears of riots in Khartoum spread as some Algerian fans said they were out for revenge after Egyptians stoned their team bus, injuring three players at their previous encounter in Cairo. Twenty Algerians were injured in clashes after that match on Saturday, and the next day Egyptian businesses were ransacked in Algiers.
But the riots never happened and Sudanese police in the stadium were left slightly bewildered by ecstatic Algerian fans blowing them kisses and chanting pro-Sudanese slogans.
Four months later the Briton was killed by al Qaeda’s North African wing, which had been demanding the release of Abu Qatada, a Jordanian Islamist being held in Britain.
Morocco serves as the backdrop for such Hollywood blockbusters as Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and Body of Lies. The country’s breathtaking landscapes and gritty urban neighbourhoods are the perfect setting for Hollywood’s imagination.
Unbeknown to most filmgoers, however, is that Morocco is embroiled in one of Africa’s oldest conflicts – the dispute over Western Sahara. This month the UN Security Council is expected to take up the dispute once more, providing US President Barack Obama with an opportunity to assert genuine leadership in resolving this conflict. But there’s no sign that the new administration is paying adequate attention.
For all their prowess at the last two continental championships, and their glittering array of successes at club level, Egyptian soccer is becoming increasingly haunted by the spectre of continued failure to make it to biggest footballing showpiece of them all.
from Global News Journal:
Reuters has interviewed Benjamin Stora, Professor of Maghreb history at Paris IX University and one of the world's leading authorities on Algeria. Stora predicts a hollow victory for Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April's presidential election and says it will take a new generation of leaders to bring change to a country where social problems are profound and there is 70 percent unemployment among young adults (according to official figures).
Below is a partial text of the interview.
Q - What is the significance of Algeria changing its constitution to allow Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for a third term?
A - Algeria is an Arab-Muslim country with a strong revolutionary tradition marked by abrupt changes, reversals, overthrows and coups. It's true there has never been a long continuity at presidential level. Presidents had been imprisoned (Ben Bella), or died (Boumediene), or been deposed (Chadli) or assassinated (Boudiaf), or given up politics (Zeroual). This is the first time we see this sort of continuity at the state level.
This is disorientating for many Algerians and has provoked a torrent of commentary in Algeria about a Tunisian-style continuity. The widespread suspicion is that the current president wants to be president-for-life. This comes not just from his political opponents but also from intellectuals inside Algeria and in exile and from journalists. Algerians reject this notion as counter to their revolutionary tradition.
from Global News Journal:
After the Algerian parliament changed the constitution to lift presidential term limits, north Africans are asking whether Algeria now has a president for life.
In making the change, Algeria has followed a route taken in recent years by other African countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Uganda, all of which removed the limit of two presidential terms.
Italy settled its colonial era dispute with Libya at the weekend with $5 billion in compensation for wrongs done during colonial rule. The money will be invested in a major new highway as well as used for clearing mines and other projects. Both sides say that will allow them to make a new start.
Relations between Libya and Italy had been especially difficult and this was a very specific dispute, but Italian colonialism did not last all that long in Africa – even if there were episodes of particular nastiness while it did.