For good and ill, Britain has long played a major role in world affairs and particularly in Africa. Now it seems doomed to become an impoverished island off Europe. Sometimes turkeys do vote for Christmas. And 52% of British voters have just done so. Brexit is national suicide. The tribes of Britain will now be at war with each other. The Scots will demand another referendum and will vote to leave. Northern Ireland will be vulnerable to conflict again. (Are they really going to build a fence along the border? Would Sinn Fein go back to war if they do?) And the Welsh will not be slow to realise they do not want to be tied to an impoverished England. Already the world’s capital markets have shown their reaction and fear that Britain is no longer a global leader in finance and international connections. I wonder if all those building sites in the City will remain building sites and whether other gleaming towers of steel and glass may soon bear “vacant” signs. [See: Uncertain trade, less progressive aid and a new colonial-minded PM? What Brexit means for Africa] What does it mean for Africa? All the reports I have seen show a strong […]
#UgandaDecides: How Museveni survived, grabbed donors by the balls, and became the very thing he warned against
In the 18 February election, President Yoweri Museveni will almost certainly extend his rule and will probably keep extending it until he dies in office. If Shakespeare were alive today, he would probably be writing plays about African presidents rather than medieval kings. Nowhere else in the world has such dramatic and personal politics. Uganda is a case in point. In this East African nation, the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni on 18 February has always been a foregone conclusion. Having ruled for 30 years now, he will almost certainly extend his rule after the election tomorrow and probably keep extending it until he dies in office. Victory was ensured when his two main rivals and former associates – Amama Mbabazi and Kizza Besigye – would not unite. But even if a single opposition candidate had emerged and won a majority, the election would be annulled or a quick “recount” would reverse the results. [See: Uganda: The opposition’s missed opportunity in parliamentary and local elections] In the early days, Museveni did not mind criticism and discussion; he was sharp enough to debate and defend his rule. But today, anyone who gets close to challenging him gets beaten up, jailed or both. […]
For Africa, the UN and the powers in the Security Council, the ongoing occupation of the Western Sahara is an embarrassment. For Saharwis, it’s a profound injustice. Forty years ago tomorrow (6 November), Morocco invaded Western Sahara, a former Spanish colonial possession – mostly made up of desert – in West Africa. As Spain walked away, Morocco claimed the territory as part of its ancient empire. The UN had declared that it was up to the people of the territory to decide their own future, but before they could do so, King Hassan II of Morocco organised the “Green March” in which hundreds of Moroccans were bussed to the border and – in front of the international press – pushed into Western Sahara waving Moroccan flags. Meanwhile, many miles away from the media, columns of tanks, armoured cars and truck-loads of Moroccan soldiers swept into the territory. So too did troops from neighbouring Mauritania which also claimed swathes of ground. These foreign troops were met by indigenous fighters of the Polisario Front who were lightly armed and no match for tanks and artillery. Gradually, the Polisario fighters and thousands of civilians were pushed over the border into Algeria. Morocco ignored international calls for it […]
Ghana’s extraordinary election last December was not just about Ghana. Two decades after the return of multi party democracy to Africa â€“ in some cases its arrival â€“ first-past-the-post, winner takes all electoral democracy is in trouble in Africa. African states suffer all the usual disadvantages of electoral democracy; the sheer expense of elections, the temptation for governments to let loose the purse strings as they come up for re-election and the lack of continuity and experience among suddenly-appointed ministers.