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from Africa News blog:

Is Africa Union justified in moving its summit to Ethiopia

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.

As an ICC member state, Malawi would be obliged to arrest Bashir if he enters its territory. Bashir is accused of masterminding genocide and other atrocities in Darfur. The ICC's chief prosecutor has called for aid cuts to countries that fail to detain him.

African heads of state voted in 2009 not to cooperate with the ICC indictments, saying they would hamper efforts to end Sudan's multiple conflicts, and criticised the court for unfairly targeting African countries.

from Africa News blog:

Has Kenya learned from the 2007/2008 post-election violence?

By Isaac Esipisu

Kenya is set to hold in December of this year its first elections since the 2007 vote that was marred by deadly violence. The east African country's election will come under intense scrutiny because it will be the first under a new constitution and the first since the 2007 poll in which more than 1,220 people were killed, mostly in post-election violence.

The bloodshed and property destruction were unprecedented. Many Kenyans were rendered homeless as well; many as I write are still leaving as internally displaced persons (IDPs)

from Left field:

Wanderers test will not match Newlands. But for better or worse?

Last week's crazy Cape Town test match between South Africa and Australia, where 23 wickets fell in a day and the visitors narrowly avoided the lowest ever test score, will go down in cricket's esteemed annals.

They meet again at the Wanderers from Thursday. But would test cricket fans want to see a repeat?

from India Insight:

Doesn’t anyone love the underdog anymore?

It is said that everyone loves the underdog. You can't fault Ireland if they disagree.

Days after cricket's showpiece event ended, the game's governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced its decision to trim the next two World Cups to just 10 teams and throw out the associate nations from the 2015 edition, featuring only its 10 full members. The 10 spots for the 2019 edition will be determined through qualification.

from Photographers' Blog:

Cricket snippets

We're into March, and the ICC Cricket World Cup is well under way. Just 32 more days to go (yes, thirty-two!) until the tournament comes to a close with a final showdown in Mumbai on April 2.

Reuters' lean mean team of photographers have fanned out across three countries in the subcontinent - India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - as we get stuck into covering the first round of the tournament. Photographers Adnan Abidi, Andrew Biraj, Amit Dave, Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, Dinuka Liyanawatte, Rupak De Chowdhury, Danish Siddiqui and myself have started crisscrossing our territories. Philip Brown, who is on an "embed" with the English cricket team, has already covered two cities. Altaf Bhat in New Delhi is anchoring the operation as the main editor for the tournament with me lending a hand on days when I'm not on the move, shooting training or covering a match.

from India Insight:

Cricket going global? Think again

As the cricket World Cup gets under way, the jury is out on the relevance of such a tournament in a developing region, and for a sport played seriously in only a dozen countries.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has worked hard to expand the game's reach across the globe, but that attempt is yet to show substantial results. The popularity of the game is so limited globally that the word still means a bug to the non-cricketing world.

from Africa News blog:

Damned if they do, damned if they don’t

UNAMIDincampDarfur's joint U.N.-African Union peacekeepers face a dilemma in Darfur which could shape the future of the world's largest U.N.-funded force.

After violence left five people dead in the highly volatile Kalma Camp, six refugees sought sanctuary in the UNAMID force's police base there. They are thought to be rebel sympathisers and the government accuses them of instigating the camp clashes, demanding that UNAMID hand them over.

from Africa News blog:

Britain on Sudan: Selling out or cashing in?

Britain's new coalition government made its priorities on Sudan very clear as Henry Bellingham, the minister for Africa, used 90 percent of his opening remarks at his first press conference in Khartoum to outline how Britain could increase trade with Sudan. The other 10 percent dealing with the run-up to the south's referendum on secession which is likely to create Africa's newest nation state and the International Criminal Court arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide all seemed like just an after thought. On first glance many would say Britain was selling out -- engaging economically with a government whose head is a wanted man would destroy the global divestment campaign's years of efforts to make investing in Sudan a poisoned chalice no one wants to touch in the hope of isolating Khartoum to pressure it to stop rights abuses and allow democratic freedoms. Many Darfuris and rights activists who have been victims of torture and harassment will be dismayed by the move which clearly extends a hand of friendship to Khartoum who had until now been reduced to almost pariah status since the ICC warrant for Bashir last year which propelled him to international fame -- for all the wrong reasons. Is Britain selling out? In fact many ordinary Sudanese say no. They say U.S. sanctions, imposed since 1997 has had little effect on the government who took control in a 1989 bloodless coup and was elected in expensive and heavily disputed April elections. The economy has grown on average eight percent a year, Khartoum extracted the oil pretty much without Western companies, built hundreds of miles of tarmac roads, and erected high-rise government buildings which sparkle so much in the sun the rays mock the Americans even far out of town in their heavily secured embassy compound. But sanctions have made life almost impossible for any normal Sudanese to do business abroad or at home. It's those struggling to become an emerging middle class who welcome initiatives Bellingham suggested to use the 35,000 Sudanese living in the UK to facilitate small and medium sized businesses investments in Sudan bringing much-desired jobs and training with them. Britain is the former coloniser of Sudan and many families have close links with the country often visiting to shop and visit family there. They would welcome British products instead of the often cheap and poorer quality Chinese goods flooding the market here in Khartoum. It would certainly lessen their excess baggage bills. But Bellingham went one step further saying British companies were lagging behind Chinese companies and missing out on great investment returns in Sudan, emerging from decades of civil war. He also mentioned the unmentionable. Oil. Most Western oil companies pulled out of Sudan citing rights abuses during the north-south civil war which ended in 2005 with a shaky peace deal which has just about held if only partially and reluctantly implemented. Some firms were even implicated by rights activists in those rights abuses. But for example a battered British Petroleum, a move into an oil industry in a country whose government has historically shown scant regard for its population or the environmental effects of exploration might be a silver lining to the clouds gathered over its HQ of late. So is Britain cashing in? Only if they can make it happen. Western oil companies have been reluctant to enter to a post-war Sudan. Oil exploration is a long-term and costly venture and the stability of the country is far from guaranteed. Many are waiting to see what will happen after the southern referendum on independence in five months because the oil lies mainly in the south. They worry contracts signed with a united Sudan may not be honoured post secession by a new nation fighting to survive as a country in its own right. British banks in the past five years all but stopped transactions to/from or those with any mention of Sudan, no matter what the currency and no matter who the recipient. Sudanese abroad had their bank accounts closed down regardless of who they were, foreigners working in Sudan received similar treatment and mortgage companies turned down anyone whose work brought them to the war-torn nation. Lloyds TSB, which also owns Halifax and Bank of Scotland, last year paid a massive $350 million fine to the United States for fraudulent transactions to U.S.-sanctioned Sudan, Libya and Iran. So how will Whitehall convince them it's a good idea to facilitate investment in an opaque Sudanese economy dominated by companies many of which have been hijacked by government organs or ruling party officials? They will need considerable help from Sudan's government to increase transparency and allow private businesses to flourish free from government interference. The jury is not only out on the moral implications of Britain's new policy but also on whether London can convince UK businesses and banks to invest in a country which regularly ranks in the top five of failed states indices.

Britain's new coabellinghamlition government made its priorities on Sudan very clear as Henry Bellingham, the minister for Africa, used 90 percent of his opening remarks at his first press conference in Khartoum to outline how Britain could increase trade with Sudan.

The other 10 percent dealing with the run-up to the south's referendum on secession, which is likely to create Africa's newest nation state, and the International Criminal Court arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide all seemed like just an afterthought.

from Left field:

Don’t blame the maths for T20 farces

CRICKET-TWENTY/Paul Collingwood’s call for change to the Duckworth-Lewis system used to determine a target in rain-hit games was understandable, coming as it did after his England team lost  a match despite scoring three times as many runs as their opponent.

It is not the calculation system that needs revisiting, however, but the broader set-up of Twenty20 tournaments.

from Africa News blog:

Will Bashir warrant worsen war?

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has seen off other challenges in almost 20 years in power and there is no sign that he is going to give in to the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Some supporters of the court's move hope it will eventually persuade Sudan's politicians to hand over their leader in a palace coup, end the festering conflict in Darfur and do more to repair relations with the West.

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