Buhari hasn't solved Nigeria's security threats. Will voters punish him?

1 day 15 hours ago
Nigerian soldiers clearing a Boko Haram camp in Borno State in 2015. EPA/Stringer

Weeks away from another democratic transition in Nigeria, electoral campaigns are in full gear for the dozens of candidates vying for the presidency in the country. Four years from the historic 2015 elections – the first democratic transition not marred by post-election violence – there is palpable tension due to insecurity in some parts of the country.

The 2015 election was won, partly, on a promise by incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari that he would end the Boko Haram insurgency in the country and guarantee security across the country. But the surge in terrorism in the North-East is evidence that Buhari has failed to keep one of his major campaign promises. The security situation in the country remains volatile.

In addition to the Boko Haram insurgency, there have been several pockets of violence in other parts of the country. The conflict between herdsmen and farmers has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. And it’s deepened ethnic tensions in the North Central region of Nigeria.

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South African commentators often don't understand the ANC -- or the country

1 day 15 hours ago
African National Congress supporters during the recent ANC Election manifesto launch in Durban. EFE-EPA/Kim Ludbrook

Regular media as well as social media in South Africa have much to say about the governing African National Congress (ANC). But much of the commentary fails to understand the party – or the country.

This was evident when the ANC launched its election manifesto at a January rally in Durban. Two reactions to the event mirror constant themes in the ANC commentary. Both miss important realities.

The first is related to former president Jacob Zuma’s role at the ANC manifesto launch. The second is the manifesto’s position on the South African Reserve Bank.

Much was made of the fact that Zuma was an honoured guest and reportedly received the loudest cheers. For some, this showed that the ANC has not distanced itself from Zuma and patronage politics. For others, it meant that he and patronage politics were making a comeback. Neither fear is valid.

What the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, really thinks of Zuma is revealed by his speech to ANC activists a few days before the launch. He said:

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DRC protagonists must find working solution to manage perilous situation

1 day 15 hours ago
DR Congo presidential candidate Martin Fayulu who has challenged Felix Tshisekedi's win in the December 2018 poll EPA/EFE/Stefan Kleinowitz

The Constitutional Court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has ruled that Felix Tshisekedi won the recent poll. But the runner-up Martin Fayulu has rejected the court’s decision. He claims that he has been robbed of victory under a secret deal between Tshisekedi and the outgoing president Joseph Kabila and has declared himself president.

No one should be surprised by the court’s verdict. It would have been very surprising had the DRC’s Constitutional Court overturned the electoral body’s decision.

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Making sense of the DRC's struggle for democracy

3 days 21 hours ago
Citizens movements are now more powerful than conventional political parties in the DRC. EPA-EFE/Hugh KinsellaI Cunningham

On January 10, amid much controversy, the national electoral commission announced that Félix Tshisekedi had won the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) presidential poll. Prior to this, unofficial voting results leaked to diplomats and the press suggested Martin Fayulu had won.

Days later, compelling evidence emerged that Fayulu had won by a sound majority. The evidence was based on rigorous analysis of voting results provided by the Catholic church’s network of observers and by voter tallies in the electoral commission’s database.

In our view, confidence in democracy in the country will be built through incremental steps. Understanding the complicated dynamics at work now will solidify the foundation in the future.

One important factor to bear in mind is that citizens’ movements in the DRC are now more powerful than conventional political parties. They anticipated political and strategic issues and assisted political parties in raising public awareness in the run up to the elections.

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What the return of Gbagbo could mean for Ivory Coast's 2020 election

5 days 22 hours ago
Supporters of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo celebrate his likely return home. EPA-EFE/Legnan Koula

Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo’s acquittal on charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) opens the way for his return to Côte d’Ivoire once released.

His return after seven years in detention at The Hague and eight years after being discovered in a bunker during the disputed 2010 presidential election, could shape the character of the country’s 2020 presidential election. Despite his absence, his influence on Ivorian politics has shaped opposition divisions in the years since he’s been gone. His return therefore raises the question of internal opposition party loyalties.

Gbagbo and his co-accused, youth militia leader, Charles Blé Goudé, were arrested for having allegedly orchestrated the murder, rape and persecution of opponents after he lost the election in Côte d’Ivoire in December 2010. At least 3,000 people were killed in the violence.

Despite his absence, he has continued to influence internal opposition party loyalties. His return is therefore likely to shape the character of the election. Another reason he’s likely to play a significant role is that the coalition that won presidential elections in 2010 and 2015 – led by President Alassane Ouattara – has, for the time being, fallen apart.

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Why Gbagbo acquittal is a bigger blow for the ICC than the Bemba decision

1 week ago
Supporters of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo celebrate on the announcement of his acquittal. EPA-EFE/Legnan Koula

Just less than three years into their trial former Côte d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, leader of the youth militia, have been acquitted and ordered to be released by the International Criminal Court (ICC). They were both faced four charges of crimes against humanity. These were murder, rape, inhumane acts and persecution of opponents in the aftermath of the election in Côte d’Ivoire between December 2010 and April 2011. The conflict left over 3,000 people dead.

This is not the first time that judges at the ICC have ordered the release of a person on trial. In 2008 and 2010 the Court ordered the release of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. The reason cited was the prosecutor’s failure to disclose evidence which, it was argued, undermined the defendant’s right to a fair trial. This judgment was rejected on appeal and the court later convicted him in 2012.

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Bold steps Mnangagwa should be taking instead of fiddling with the petrol price

1 week ago
Zimbabwe erupted in violent protest after the government doubled the price of petrol. EPA-EFE/Aaron Ufumeli

When economically challenged rulers try to run nations, especially fragile ones, they can easily make mistakes.

In the past few weeks demonstrators have taken to the streets of Khartoum and Omdurman to protest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s removal of subsidies that have long kept bread and fuel affordable.

Now it’s Zimbabwe’s turn. Just before flying off to Russia last weekend, President Emmerson Mnangagwa doubled the price of petrol. Doing so brought already impoverished urban Zimbabweans out onto the streets of the capital Harare as well as Bulawayo and a dozen other cities and towns. Protesters blocked roads with tyres, trees and rocks, stopped bus transport, attacked the police, threw canisters of tear gas back at security forces and generally ran amok.

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Ramaphosa sets out a bold vision for South Africa. But can he pull it off?

1 week 2 days ago
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the governing ANC's 2019 elections manifesto in Durban. EPA-EFE/Kim Ludbrook

As South Africa heads for the polls in a few months time in its sixth democratic election, political party electioneering has begun in earnest.

President Cyril Ramaphosa kick started the governing African National Congress’s (ANC’s) election campaign in his January 8th Statement celebrating 107 years since the birth of the liberation movement. This campaign continued with the launch of the ANC’s manifesto at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in KwaZulu-Natal on January 12. An estimated 80 000 ANC members and supporters attended the launch.

The ANC declared 2019 the year for “united action to grow South Africa”. This year sees a continuation of the dominant themes of unity, hope and renewal, for both the troubled ANC and South Africa, which Ramaphosa has reiterated since he assumed the presidency in February 2018.

Ramaphosa noted that he was presenting a plan:

that we have forged together to respond to the challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty.

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Tshisekedi’s victory in the DRC is historic -- but controversial

1 week 5 days ago
Supporters of DRC opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, celebrate his presidential election win. EPA-EFE/Hugh Kinsella Cunningham

Félix Tshisekedi is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) president elect. He is the leader of one of the DRC’s longest serving opposition parties, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress. Before the election, he joined forces with Vital Kamerhe and his Coalition for Change. Tshisekedi promised to make Kamerhe his prime minister if he was elected president.

The Coalition for Change faced many political opponents at the polls. Their most formidable was the Common Front for the Congo, led by Emmanuel Shadary. Shadary was outgoing President Joseph Kabila’s favoured candidate.

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