A Tunisian who works for the moderate Islamist channel Al Wihar met me yesterday and said: “Sudan is next, but not in the same manner.” Several Sudanese opposition writers and politicians have also predicted a Tunisian or Egyptian style uprising in Sudan. Let us consider the causes of unrest and see if they fit the situation in Sudan. British and U.S. responses to events in Egypt are wide of the mark. Two examples illustrate this. The highly respectable newspaper The Guardian enumerated in an editorial (27 January) the grievances of the protesters “ … sparked by self-immolation, unemployment and high food prices.” What the editorial leaves out is equally important: it is kowtowing to the West and Israel. It was most insensitive to force the Egyptians to engage in the siege of Gaza at a time in which US and British officials denounced the Israeli attack on the Flotilla carrying aid. The U.S. Huffington Post provides another example. Marcus Baram wrote (29 January) that People in Egypt were disappointed in President Obama, especially in the wake of his June 2009 Cairo speech. He cited very relevant U.S. controversial policies like cutting funding for democracy and governance as well as funding […]
Kenya PM Raila Odinga meets Laurent Gbagbo to discuss solutions to Cote d’Ivoire’s political paralysis In Tunisia, street protests; in Ivory Coast, a call for a general strike meets limited success. In one country, a long-time president leaves power, in the other he’s holding on…for now. Laurent Gbagbo became president in 2000 on the back of a popular street movement after disputed elections. At the moment it seems unlikely that he’ll leave in the same way. The lack of a popular outcry after his widely-recognised election defeat (by more than eight percentage points) to opposition politician Alassane Ouattara has certainly helped strengthen his hand and confounded those hoping for an Ivorian solution to an Ivorian crisis. It probably comes down to a number of factors; bloody crackdowns on what protests there have been, a widespread fatigue after ten years of crisis, the concentration of Gbagbo support in Abidjan – the country’s only major city – and the incumbent’s control of the state propaganda machine. So, what next? Gbagbo has publicly said that talk of a military intervention to oust him makes no sense when you study the African political map and ask how many decent elections actually take place. You’d […]
The civil war in CÃ´te d’Ivoire presents unique features with respect to the causes of civil wars and the nature of peace processes in West Africa. It is a conflict largely driven by concrete political and social grievances over citizenship. In addition, it is marked by a significant effort by the belligerents to take ownership of the peace process and negotiate directly. This article traces the civil war to the politicization of citizenship and ethnicity during the democratization process. It argues that the peace agreements engineered by the international community failed to end the conflict largely because they relied heavily on traditional peace formulas and paid insufficient attention to the underlying issue of citizenship. In contrast, the peace agreement forged by Ivorians has been relatively successful because it directly addressed the citizenship issue and restored domestic ownership of the peace process. This article focuses on the peace process and the intrinsic relation between citizenship and progress toward peace in CÃ´te d’Ivoire. In addition, it connects the discourse on democracy in Africa with the salient issue of citizenship and underscores the fluidity of citizenship and democracy in African politics.
Among the many issues which are being discussed in the aftermath of Southern Sudan’s self-determination referendum, the “domino effect” which could be triggered in Africa and the rest of the world is one of the most worrisome. Analysts and journalists have warned that from Western Sahara to Nepal, from Zanzibar to Mindanao, secessionist movements and guerrillas could draw further strength from the success of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). As a matter of fact, the eventuality of a secessionist wave seems unlikely if we consider the situation with a more balanced attitude: fears of a domino effect have been a constant during similar events in the past, but the independences of Eritrea, Timor-Leste and Kosovo have not shaken the world as they were expected to do. The simultaneous combination between a weak government(1) and a strong secessionist movement, which seems to be the condition for a successful struggle for self-determination, does not seem to be present in any of the hotspots mentioned above neither in other “secession-risk” areas. But even though the political developments currently taking place in Sudan will not replicate themselves per se in other situations, the political discourse which is arising at the élite as well […]
Why do so many individuals and organizations shy away from calling land grabbing what it is, and either put it in inverted commas or trot out such euphemisms as ‘responsible land-based investment’, ‘commercial pressures on land’ or ‘large-scale investment in land’?
Why are researchers who have worked on land grabbing so apparently timid and complacent in their conclusions, so desperately eager to seek magic, painless ‘win-win’ solutions, and so quick to retreat to ‘each case is different, the devil lies in the detail’ formulations. Could it be that they fear to antagonize their donors?
The indigenous people of the Nuba Mountains are extremely concerned that international concentration on South Sudan’s independence referendum has meant other crucial aspects of Sudan’s so-called Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) have been neglected. The CPA stopped the brutal civil war in the South, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, and as such was initially greatly welcomed by people of the Nuba Mountains, despite failing to recognise their claims and their aspirations. However, the CPA does not only apply to the South. Separate protocols call for a referendum in the disputed Abyei district and for “popular consultation” in the two contested areas, the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The Nuba had for long years been voicing their deep concern over their lack of collective rights, including the crucial right to self-determination. Despite repeated lobbying and advocacy with the key players in the international community, the Nuba’s claims were ignored by the negotiators who concentrated their efforts on resolving the south conflicts, leaving the Nuba and other related issues to be dealt with later. The fact that Nuba were not present at the peace talks meant their claims were brushed away and compromised. For example, the historical name on the world […]
Jerome Tubiana. Chroniques du Darfour. Grenoble: Editions Glénat, in partnership with Amnesty International, 2010. ISBN978-2-7234-7831-1. This is a unique contribution to the growing field of Dar Fur studies, which brings to bear on the war in Dar Fur the unique strengths and achievements of its author. Jerome Tubiana, the book’s back cover tells us, did a Ph.D. in African studies, trained as a journalist, and initially worked as a free-lance journalist and photographer. He then served as a consultant for organizations such as Action against Hunger, Doctors without Borders, USAID, and the AU-UN Joint Mediation Support Team for the Darfur Peace Process, and worked as a researcher for projects such as Small Arms Survey and Darfurian Voices. He is also the son of two well-known French anthropologists with a respected and extensive oeuvre on the people of northwest Dar Fur, especially (but not exclusively) the Zaghawa. All these legacies inform this insightful, artistically and journalistically superbly illustrated, and moving book. Tubiana has written many perceptive shorter essays and commentaries about the changing situations in Western Dar Fur and Eastern Chad, for example in Dispatches and the London Review of Books. He also contributed a chapter on the land issue in […]
I want you to leave tonight still confused! Why? Because I do not think there are yet strong enough grounds for a sure, caveat-free line on fair trade. It certainly often doesn’t do what it says on the label. It has created some benefits. There is a risk that fair trade diverts attention from prioritising what really reduces poverty, which is dramatic structural change.
Orla Ryan is a journalist and author of Chocolate Nations: living and dying for chocolate in West Africa Visit any sweets counter in a UK supermarket and you are quickly overwhelmed by choice. Organic chocolate from the Dominican Republic? Dark chocolate from Venuzuela? Or handmade Belgian confections? Chocoholics face a dizzying array of bars. Many want not just a tasty treat but reassurance that farmers are well looked after. They look for Fairtrade or other sustainable labels that promise to pay producers a decent wage. But does it make that much difference to farmers which bar of chocolate you buy? This is a subject I have given a lot of thought to. In 2005, I accepted a job with Reuters in West Africa. As part of my work, I wrote about the cocoa crop. It was a shock to realise that even though Ghana is the world’s second-biggest producer of these beans and Cote d’Ivoire the world’s biggest, farmers had little to show for their hard work. Many lived in simple mud dwellings without running water or electricity. Their villages lacked schools. Their holdings were small, often just a few acres. I wondered why farmers remained so poor and what […]
China’s relations with Africa hit the headlines again recently with the publication of what seemed to be sensational revelations in a dozen or so of the Wikileaks cables. We’ve read that the U.S. State Department’s top Africa expert believes that China is a “pernicious economic competitor” with “no morals” in its African dealings. US embassies report that Chinese nationals are implicated in cases of counterfeit products and environmental damage and at least one alleged incident of bribery. Many Chinese-run companies operating in Africa have poor labor relations and safety standards, and their tendency to bring in large numbers of Chinese workers goes over poorly in African countries with high unemployment. We read that the Chinese remain engaged in countries with human rights abuses: Sudan (where the West has imposed sanctions) and Zimbabwe (where the West has actually imposed almost no economic sanctions).