The Great Debate UK

from Africa News blog:

Niger following Mauritania’s blueprint for an African coup

“We didn’t launch a coup,” said Colonel Djibril Hamidou Hima, spokesman for the military group which had days earlier overthrown the president of Niger, “We just re-imposed legitimacy.”

The statement was almost a carbon copy of the one I heard in Mauritania in 2008, where the soldier who had hustled an elected head of state out of the presidential palace spent the first few days denying his actions amounted to a coup d’etat.

Far from it, General Abdel Aziz said. He had in fact restored democracy.

Niger is the second military takeover in West Africa since the Mauritania coup – Guinea followed less than six months later -- and the strongest indication yet that Abdel Aziz’ putsch is becoming the blueprint for aspiring presidents who don’t want to waste time standing in an election.

The Aziz model: For a start, you don’t shoot the man whose power you’re taking. That looks bad. Get him out of the palace and under house arrest, but keep bloodshed to an absolute minimum. The first pictures you want broadcast are of crowds cheering the coming of the liberator of the people, not of soldiers in shades firing machine guns.

from Commentaries:

Goodness, now Rio finds it can afford a dividend

Can it really be a mere six months since Rio Tinto agreed to sell its birthright to Chinalco, losing its chairman-designate in the process? Indeed it can, and it shows how fast things change in the whacky world of commodities. In February, the directors panicked that the business might run out of cash; now they are signalling that they should be able to find $1.75 billion, or around $1.15 a share, for a dividend next year.

In hindsight, it looks frightfully clever of them to use the balance sheet of China Inc. (for a mere $195 million break fee) to buy time to find a better way out of the financial hole they dug. After all, the Chinalco deal could not be consummated without shareholder approval, which could not be sought until various regulators round the world had agreed it, a process bound to take many months.