Africa Blog Roundup: Two-Round Electoral Systems, War in Mali, Media in Somalia, and More

Dibussi Tande on the difference having a two-round election system can make, and why Cameroon (for historical reasons) does not have one:

The Republic of Senegal has a new president following run-off elections which resulted in the defeat of outgoing President Abdoulaye Wade by Macky Sall, his one-time protégé and former Prime Minister. One of the main reasons for Macky’s victory is Senegal’s two-round electoral system, which calls for a second round of voting if no candidate obtains more that 50% of votes cast. This is unlike countries such as Cameroon which have a one-round/first-past-the-post electoral system.

In the first round of voting, President Wade obtained 34.81% of votes cast while Sall obtained 26.58%. If this had been the first-past-the-post system practiced in Cameroon, Wade would still be President of Senegal…

The two-round system is a potent tool for dislodging sit-tight incumbents, especially in the face of a splintered opposition (there were 14 candidates in the first round of elections in Senegal).

Erin in Juba provides a snarky perspective on life in South Sudan during the oil shutdown.

Mali continues to grapple with war and the aftermath of the recent coup. Dr. Gregory Mann says Mali’s democracy is “Down But Not Out.” Lesley Warner looks at the trajectory of the war with a post entitled, “After the Loss of Kidal and Gao, What Next for the MNLA and CNRDR” – the MNLA being the rebels in the north (The National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad) and the CNRDR being the military junta in Bamako (the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and the State).

Peter Dorrie continues his series on the Sahelian food crisis with a look at Burkina Faso. He writes,

Burkina will be one of the least impacted countries of this year’s hunger crisis. This is due to its geographical advantages, but also the early and relatively comprehensive reaction by the government and NGOs. Still, many people will be off worse after the crisis than they were before. Lets hope that they won’t be forgotten as soon as the crisis is declared over.

Carmen McCain, “The Strange Poisonous Fruit of Hate: South Africa, Nigeria, and the World.”

Laine Strutton reflects on the way her interlocutors in the Niger Delta talk about the 1990s, and what implications this case has for larger questions of  security and/vs. freedom.

Amb. John Cambell argues, “Africa Unlikely to Win World Bank Presidency.”

And Amb. David Shinn flags a new report on the Somali media landscape.

Been a lot of news this week. What’s on your mind?

Africa News Roundup: Mali Coup, Somalia, Senussi, Senegal Elections, and More

IRIN and Bloomberg probe the causes of the coup in Mali. Think Africa Press examines the micro-dynamics of the mutiny/coup itself. Reuters provides a look at the military situation in the north. The United Nations Security Council, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the European Union, and the United States have all condemned the coup.

Given how rapidly news is coming out of Mali, Twitter remains your best bet for the latest.

Despite hopes that Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala would become the next World Bank president, it appears almost certain that President Barack Obama’s nominee, Darmouth College President Jim Yong Kim, will get the job.

Ethiopian troops aren’t gone from Somalia, yet, it seems. Together with Somali government forces they drove al Shabab rebels from the town of Hudur (map) on Thursday.

The Mauritanian government has refuted earlier reports that it had agreed to an extradition of former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al Senussi back to Libya. Libya’s new government says it wants to try Senussi before elections this June.

Guinea-Bissau is set to hold a run-off in its presidential elections. The problem is, the second-place finisher, former President Kumba Yala, says he will not participate.

IRIN has an interesting look at the strategies of pastoralists in Niger for coping with drought, and includes some commentary on how the border closure with Nigeria (due to the Boko Haram uprising) has denied pastoralists access to an economic safety valve.

Last but definitely not least, Senegal will hold the second round of its presidential elections tomorrow, pitting incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade against challenger Macky Sall, whom the BBC has profiled here.

What are you reading today?

The World Bank and Kenya’s Crisis

Kenya is not “on the brink” right now, but it faces a host of problems. Inflation is high, and getting higher. The shilling dipped to record lows this summer. Drought in the Horn of Africa, which affects northern Kenya, pushes food prices higher and drives pastoralists from their homes. Thousands of refugees from Somalia are pouring into the country. In Nairobi, politicians are wrestling with the Constitutional Implementation Commission over the passage of bills necessary for the promulgation of the new constitution. Meanwhile, some of Kenya’s most prominent public figures are headed to The Hague for the last major legal step before their trials – on accusations of fomenting violence after the 2007 elections – begin. In short, Kenyan authorities have a lot on their plate.

The World Bank is responding to these problems by providing Kenya with $407 million in loans:

The money will be used to supplement existing projects in agriculture, health and water and sanitation and to scale up medium-term to long-term interventions in energy and water resources management.

[…]

The additional funding will be used to diversify pastoralists’ livelihoods, provide seeds to farmers, treat malnutrition, drill and repair boreholes and provide cash transfers to orphans and vulnerable children.

The timing and size of the loan suggest to me that the Bank is worried about Kenya, although perhaps not severely so. Their latest economic assessments of the country (see below) have acknowledged the difficulties of the present while expressing optimism about the future.

During the last major drought, in 2009, the Kenyan government was harshly criticized for alleged inaction. Perhaps this year will see a more aggressive response to the crisis by Nairobi and its partners.

VOA has more details about how the loans will be used.

The World Bank, China, and Africa

Reuters:

The World Bank is working with China, including via jointly funded projects, to develop a manufacturing sector in Africa and potentially transform the economies of the poorest continent, its head said on Tuesday.

[…]Chinese officials often talk of the potential for Chinese investment to bring about an African industrial revolution. Zoellick’s desire to see World Bank expertise and cash tied up with Chinese business and manufacturing knowhow supports that view.

It also marks a departure from World Bank criticism of some of the massive minerals-for-infrastructure deals that have typified much Chinese investment in the continent.

[…]

Zoellick said last year he had talked to senior Chinese officials about the feasibility of moving low-value factory work, such as making toys or shoes, from China to special economic zones in sub-Saharan African countries.

Such projects already exist in Zambia, Nigeria, Mauritius and Ethiopia, but are very much in their infancy.

I wish I knew more about the politics behind this. If nothing else it’s an acknowledgement of China’s growing economic muscle on the continent.

Any insights?