The man Ivorian Presidents love to hate By Daniel Balint-Kurti Ivory Coast, the one-time poster boy of West Africa, has seen its long-drawn-out crisis deepen since the end of last year. When the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, was defeated in November presidential elections, his supporters had the results overturned. Now two men claim the presidency: Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara, a former Ivorian prime minister and economic czar whose electoral victory was recognised by the UN, the EU and the African Union. A host of sanctions have been slapped on the country and thousands of UN and French peacekeepers guard Ouattara’s parallel government, which is holed up in a luxury hotel in the main city, Abidjan. Violence, however, has flared both upcountry and in Abidjan’s sprawling neighbourhood of Abobo. The blame for this latest fiasco must lie squarely with Gbagbo. He has refused to accept elections that were meant to be the last step towards reuniting a country divided between rebel-held north and loyalist south for nearly ten years. But while it may be simple to apportion blame, working out how the Ivorian crisis could be resolved is far more problematic. As international bodies try to grapple with the […]
What is going on with the African Union? Is its drifting away from the bold values declared in its Constitutive Act, meant to signal a definitive departure from its predecessor, the moribund Organisation of African Unity?
With the successful conduct of the referendum in January 2011, and the overwhelming vote in favor of separation, South Sudan edged a further step towards independence from a unified Sudan, a country that had been ailing from the woes of unity for over 50 years. The vote was part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the second round of Sudan’s prolonged wars. The CPA was a fragile arrangement but one that had opened totally different page in that 50-year history of the southern struggle for freedom and the destructive northern counter-insurgency. The self-determination exercise was the centerpiece of the peace process. Throughout the negotiating process, there came a time when it became the single issue the south was unwilling to compromise on, ready to grant concessions and lose many things in exchange for it. The entire southern population had hung their hopes and aspirations for a better future on this exercise. But with the creation of a new state, will South Sudan transform itself into the nation Southerners expect it to be? In the wake of independence, this question is made all the more acute by the challenges that the new nation faces in attempting to address the […]
One reason why Africans worry about Libya is that they see the possibility of a protracted civil war with multiple power centres, which destabilizes the entire Sahelian region. The civil war in Libya, and the military intervention against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi are generally portrayed as a democratic uprising against a dictator. But they are also the breakdown of a system of governance without institutions. Gaddafi deliberately refused to build institutions in Libya, reflecting both his own Bedouin background and his philosophy of people’s government. His Africa policy was similarly pursued by through the instruments of monetary patronage and ideological solidarity, strictly on the basis of personal relations with counterparts. Gaddafi has been erratic and mischievous, misusing Libya’s financial clout to act as the biggest buyer in a regional political marketplace. Between eleven and seventeen African countries—to be precise, African heads of state—have benefited from his largesse. Many rebel groups, especially in neighbouring countries, have also been the recipients of extraordinary Libyan giving sprees. Not only Gaddafi but his lieutenants possess large reserves of money and enormous stores of weaponry. Much of Libya is now ungoverned. That is particularly true of southern Libya. There has been little attention to the towns […]
Is East Africa slowly democratizing, or about to turn back the clock and slide into political violence again?
Tunisia and the ousting of Ben Ali came first – beginning in December 2010 and reaching a high-point when the President stepped down in January 2011.
By Mark Gevisser* – 07/03/2011 This piece was first published in the Mail and Guardian in June 2010 “These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws,” said the Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika over the weekend as he pardoned Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga from their sentence of 14 years hard labour. Shortly after a meeting with the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, he claimed he was exercising the pardon “on humanitarian grounds”. If he were more truthful, he would have said it was on diplomatic, or expedient grounds: his country is almost entirely dependent on foreign aid, and the pressure on him was intense. Meanwhile, Monjeza and Chimbalanga will no longer see each other now that they are free, according to reports. How could any young couple bear the pressure, and run the risk of recidivism and rearrest? Both have been “returned” to their home communities where their families, it seems, will take up the role of punishing them where the state left off. Two lives, at least, have been ruined, and as the terrible episode draws to a close, it is worth reflecting on why there appears to be a wave of state-sanctioned […]
Throughout the last week of February, several important military operations took place in Somalia – Mogadishu, Hiiraan and Gedo – against al-Shabaab. Militia supported by Ethiopia, the army of the Transitional Federal Governement (TFG) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) acted for the first time – if not coordinated, at least simultaneously – on different fronts.
The Qadhafi regime in Libya is tottering and is likely to collapse within days, despite its reputation for brutality and intolerance. Its disappearance is all-the-more surprising because, over the last forty-two years, it has systematically destroyed any pretence at dissidence and has atomised Libyan society to ensure that no organisation – formal or spontaneous – could ever consolidate sufficiently to oppose it.
Ripples have recently been caused by the a section of the Kenyan government seeking a deferral of the process of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – that has cited 6 Kenyans for alleged crimes against humanity (dating from the 2007/08 post-election violence). Similarly, a statement attributed to President Al Bashir of Sudan to the effect that the ICC arrest warrant against him should be lifted following the referendum in Southern Sudan raises interesting questions. I will briefly consider the law and politics of the deferral process as well as possible outcomes of the process, including the implications for the ICC.