Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
The return of Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua three months after he left for a Saudi hospital might normally have beeen seen as a sign that a long spell of debilitating uncertainty was over.
But this was no ordinary return for a long absent president with an army band and a red carpet.
Yar’Adua was moved under cover of darkness from a plane to an ambulance and then driven to the Aso Rock presidential villa in Abuja. No pictures. No comment.
In fact, nobody outside his immediate circle has had a chance to see him and that apparently includes Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, who two weeks ago assumed executive powers with the support of parliament to end a power vacuum.
Only the most foolhardy commentator would dare to say anything optimistic about the coming year in Sudan, four months away from highly charged elections and 12 months from an explosive referendum on southern independence.
So here goes — five reasons why Africa’s largest country might just manage to reach January 2011 without a return to catastrophe and bloody civil war, despite the worst predictions of most pundits.
Guinea’s acting ruler has promised to restore civilian rule and made clear that military leader Moussa Dadis Camara will be out of action for some time after an assassination bid – raising questions over whether Camara will return from hospital in Morocco.
Although Sekouba Konate did not explicitly declare that he had taken over from Camara, his pledge to create a national unity government with opposition figures has effectively sidelined Camara and made him the key player in the junta for now.
It started with a small scuffle over a confiscated bag of protest banners outside Sudan’s parliament. And it ended in confrontations between baton-wielding police and protesters on the dusty streets of Omdurman.
At the finish, once the tear gas and protests leaflets had settled, just one victor emerged — in the propaganda stakes at least — the protesters from a loose alliance between south Sudan’s dominant Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and mostly northern opposition parties.
Poor South Africans have called upon newly elected president Jacob Zuma to keep his election promises on service delivery. The past week has seen a number of protests flaring up across South Africa against what protesters called poor service delivery.
In one township in the country’s Mpumalanga province residents barricaded the entire township, burning tyres, throwing stones at policemen and calling for the head of the local mayor, whom they described as “good for nothing”. “There is no development. You can see for yourself,” one resident told journalists. He spoke of alleged neglect and apparent self enrichment from local government officials.
Nigeria marks its first 10 years of unbroken civilian rule on Friday after emerging from nearly three decades of uninterrupted military dictatorship on May 29, 1999.
The political elite in Africa’s top oil producer are rolling out the drums to celebrate the milestone. And why not?
Can Nigeria, the so-called “giant of Africa”, live up to its claim of being the biggest democracy in the black world? Not if its latest state governorship election is anything to go by, argue some in Africa’s most populous nation.
The re-run of elections for the post of governor in southwest Ekiti state were seen as a test of whether Nigeria’s electoral system has improved since flawed federal and state polls in 2007.
Based on current information on Jacob Zuma’s beliefs, ideas and practices, what are the prospects for his soon-to-be installed administration in South Africa?
My overall thesis is that Zuma is no less enigmatic than former President Thabo Mbeki, his old rival.
South Africa votes on 22 April with not only its globally admired efforts to build democracy in tatters, but against the backdrop of many other promising attempts to build viable democracies across Africa now backsliding.
Manoah Esipisu is deputy spokesperson at the Commonwealth Secretariat. He is co-author of “Eyes of Democracy: Media in Elections”. He writes in his personal capacity.
Next week South Africa will hold its fourth elections since the extinction of apartheid and the rise to power of freedom icon Nelson Mandela. The election will come four months after the cliff-hanger 2008 election in Ghana, and ahead of potentially critical elections in Angola, Malawi and Mozambique.