Africa News Roundup: Nigeria and Cheney, Niger and Cameroon Elections, Sudan and Wikileaks, and More

Nigeria: AJE: “Nigeria has dropped charges against Dick Cheney, the former US vice-president, over bribery allegations involving the energy giant Halliburton after an out-of-court settlement was agreed. Nigeria’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said that the charges were dropped on Friday after Halliburton agreed to pay fines totalling up to $250 million over allegations it paid millions of dollars in bribes to Nigerian officials.” Halliburton’s implicit admission of wrongdoing is a big deal.

In Nigerian election news, “twenty of Nigeria’s powerful state governors said on Thursday they would support President Goodluck Jonathan as the ruling party candidate in elections next April, giving him a boost ahead of a tough battle in the primaries.” The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) primary will take place January 13.

Finally, IRIN reports on corruption in the Niger Delta.

Niger will hold elections in January, and Cameroon will (probably) hold its presidential contest in October.

Sudan: BBC: “President Omar al-Bashir has been accused of siphoning off up to $9bn of his country’s funds and placing it in foreign accounts, according to leaked US diplomatic cables.”

Cote d’Ivoire: As the standoff between Cote d’Ivoire’s rival presidents continues, “The U.S. is prepared to impose ‘targeted sanctions’ on Ivory Coast’s incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.” The EU, meanwhile, “called on Ivory Coast’s army to defect from President Laurent Gbagbo to Alassane Ouattara, who won the presidential election last month.”

Ethiopia: Conflict is brewing over land policies in Ethiopia:

The government of Meles Zenawi is pioneering the lease of some three million hectares of land over the next five years, an area the size of Belgium.

The policy is targeting massive lowland areas mostly in the west and south-west of the country.

These are regions populated by smaller minority ethnic groups.

The government denies conducting any repression, and says instead that its policy is aimed at lifting local people out of poverty.

Foreign investors in Gambella include Chinese, Indian and Saudi firms.

Foreign control of land in the Horn of Africa is a trend worth watching.

Western Sahara: AFP: “Morocco and the Western Sahara rebel group, the Polisario Front, on Thursday started new talks on the future of the disputed north African territory, diplomats said. The three days of talks at Manhasset near New York are being guided by UN envoy Christopher Ross and also include representatives from Algeria and Mauritania.”

What are you reading today? Feel free to post links in the comments section.

Cote d’Ivoire Roundup Part 2

Last week’s roundup is here, and it includes background on the current crisis in Cote d’Ivoire.

News reports:

  • Reuters: President Laurent Gbagbo “has dismissed talk of a possible resumption of war, and said rival factions should negotiate a solution to a crisis provoked by a row over who won elections on November 28.”
  • IRIN: “With an official curfew stretching into a second week, Ivoirians in the economic capital Abidjan are contending with income loss and daily hardships, as well as uncertainty.” IRIN also has a timeline of events in Cote d’Ivoire.
  • New York Times: “An ominous warning, unheard since the aftermath of the previous civil war six years ago, is being whispered on the streets: the government death squads are back.”

International reactions:

  • AU: The African Union has suspended Cote d’Ivoire, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has as well.
  • US: “The United States said Friday it was looking for more ways to pressure Ivory Coast’s incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo into handing power over to his election rival Alassane Ouattara.” President Obama’s statement here. A report on Secretary Clinton’s remarks here. The US has also threatened sanctions.
  • UN: “Laurent Gbagbo had no grounds to dispute the results of the Cote d’Ivoire presidential election that gave Alassane Ouattara victory, the United Nations has said after reviewing the vote.” As of Wednesday, Russia was blocking a Security Council statement on Cote d’Ivoire’s elections: “Russia has expressed concern that by declaring Mr Ouattara the winner of last month’s disputed election the UN is exceeding its mandate.” The Security Council backed Outtara on Thursday, however.
  • UNHCR: “The UN refugee agency said Friday it was closely following the post-electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, which has led some 2,000 Ivorians, mostly women and children, to seek safety in neighbouring Liberia and Guinea.”

Blogs/Opinion:

  • Matthew Tostevin (Reuters Africa Blog): “Ivory Coast Puts African Credibility on the Line.”
  • VOA Editorial: “After a decade of waiting and with strong U.S. support, the country has an opportunity to move forward along a democratic path. Responsibility for allowing the democratic process to unfold peacefully and openly falls squarely on the shoulders of Cote d’Ivoire’s leaders.”
  • G. Pascal Zachary (Christian Science Monitor): “The nation-state of Ivory Coast must move past the hollow calculus of counting votes. In the end, the imperatives of political transition – and national healing – demand that Ouattara get his turn as president.”
  • Caroline Fourest (Le Monde, French): “Is it neocolonialist to wish that the choice of the Ivoirian people might be respected?”
  • Salisu Suleiman (234 Next, Nigeria): “The lesson from Cote d’Ivoire must be clear: the personal ambitions of politicians should not accentuate ethnic and regional divisions in Nigeria’s political square.”

I leave you with a video from France24:

Feel free to treat this as an open thread.

Cote d’Ivoire Links Roundup

On many Saturdays I post interesting links about various countries in Africa. Today, given the turmoil in Cote d’Ivoire, I thought it appropriate to do a roundup specifically for that country. For those who have not been following the story, a declaration of victory for opposition candidate Alassane Outtara quickly gave way to a declaration of victory for incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo. Turmoil has resulted.

News reports:

  • Christian Science Monitor: “Two Candidates Claim Victory in Ivory Coast Election. Who’s Right?”
  • Financial Times: “The confused outcome of the run-off represents a major setback to nearly eight years of efforts by the United Nations, regional and western mediators to reunite the country and restore legitimacy to the state. It also presents a conundrum to interested countries abroad, including former colonial power France and the US. During campaigning, Mr Gbagbo and his supporters portrayed his rival, a former prime minister and senior official at the International Monetary Fund, as a stooge of foreign powers.”
  • Bloomberg: “The dispute over the results is threatening to worsen violence that left several dead during the campaign, including at least six people who were killed late on Dec. 1 at an opposition party office by unidentified gunmen.”
  • VOA: “The country is under an overnight curfew. All its borders are closed. Foreign news broadcasts are suspended indefinitely.”
  • BBC Q&A.

International Reactions:

  • UN: “U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council plan on Friday to endorse Ivory Coast’s provisional election results that declared opposition presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara as victor.”
  • AU: “The African Union said on Friday it was deeply concerned by developments in Ivory Coast and stressed that it was imperative that the will of the people and the outcome of elections be respected.”
  • White House: “The United States calls on all parties to respect the results of Côte d’Ivoire’s November 28 election as announced today by the Independent Electoral Commission.  Those provisional results have declared Alassane Ouattara the winner over incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo.  Credible, accredited electoral observers have characterized the balloting as free and fair, and no party should be allowed to obstruct further the electoral process.”
  • French Foreign Ministry: “Ivory Coast’s former colonial power France has not taken sides, but [ministry spokesman Bernard] Valero, echoing an earlier statement from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office, praised the ‘remarkable work and rigour’ of the electoral commission.”

Bloggers:

  • Mark John (Reuters Africa Blog): “In the bad old days of post-colonial Africa, dictators would hail their landslide re-elections as a demonstration of the will of an adoring people while international observers would dismiss the polls as electoral farce. In the brave new Africa, it is often the other way round.”
  • Mohamed Vall (Al Jazeera): “It’s a dangerous development that barely falls short of a military coup. But not the traditional type of coup against a sitting president, it’s rather a coup on the future one.”
  • Rosebell Kagumire: “As the t[u]g of war continues…over the election results, the Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a statment that he’s watching the events closely.”
  • Petra Cahill (ABC): “Dreams of a West African paradise of peace and stability seem a long way off looking at the photos of angry youths taking the streets Friday.”
  • Ink Spots: “Stay tuned, this could get really bad.”

Feel free to post relevant links in the comments.