Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
from Global News Journal:
Kenya's power-sharing government was only born after weeks of election violence that killed 1,300 people. Zimbabwe's power sharing agreement is yet to bear fruit as southern Africa's former breadbasket crumbles into economic ruin.
So will power sharing in Central African Republic, where one of Africa's most forgotten conflicts has been simmering for more than half a decade, fare any better?
After 10 days of United Nations-backed talks, President Francois Bozize, a former army chief who seized power in a 2003 coup, has agreed with rebel and opposition leaders, including the man he deposed, to form a consensus government to rule until the next scheduled presidential elections in 2010.
The stakes are high. Despite its mineral riches, which include diamonds and uranium, Central African Republic remains prostrated by poverty and languishes near the bottom of the U.N. human development index. The country and its people are scarred by fighting before, during and after the 2003 coup that included mass rapes -- used as a weapon of war -- torture and killings now being investigated by the International Criminal Court. Low-intensity northern insurgencies since then have driven tens of thousands of civilians into the bush as they flee rebel and bandit raids, and government army counter-attacks.
Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was in a jubilant mood when he announced to crowds of supporters that he was declaring a ceasefire in Darfur.
From his body language, you might have thought he had already ended the crisis and achieved his goal of avoiding a possible indictment by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
Driving from Gulu town in northern Uganda to Kitgum, you’re struck by how normal it all seems now. People are walking up and down the main dirt road that connects the two towns, bicycles dodge potholes and passing cars with precision, and the occasional bus plows through, leaving billows of dust in tow. But before Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) signed a ceasefire in August 2006, the high bush grass and sparsely populated villages made good cover for ambushes, and easy access for rebels abducting new recruits. This road, now full of life, used to be almost empty, people had moved furtively and quickly from one place to another, always watchful, fearful of running into rebels, in a war that has claimed thousands of lives.
But more than twenty years since LRA leader Joseph Kony began his rebellion, northern Uganda is seeing the first effects of peace; both good and bad. Agriculture output is rising as people return to the fields — the north could become Uganda’s bread basket. At the height of the war, some 2 million people were forced from their homes. Now, the majority have returned to their villages or to transition areas. But, it hasn’t all been easy. In fact, many new problems are emerging. An outbreak of highly-infectious Hepatitis E has killed more than 100 people so far. Many northerners are returning to villages, which have rotted during the long course of the war. Aid groups say conditions were often better in camps than in home villages. Many residents are returning to areas with little access to clean water or good sanitation. And this breeds more disease and more suffering.
By reaching the gates of Khartoum, Darfur rebels have dealt one of the heaviest blows to Sudan’s traditionally Arab ruling elite since independence in 1956.
Early on Sunday, it looked as though government assertions that the army had beaten back the initial assault were true, but what is the attack going to mean for Africa’s biggest country and the way it is run?