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.

Africa Blog Roundup: UN and al Shabab, Nigeria and Dick Cheney, US and North Africa

Somalia: UN Dispatch asks whether the UN will enter into dialogue with al Shabab.

In potential talks with rebels in the south-central region, [UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark] Bowden and his team will be negotiating for aid agencies based in those safer communities to be able to cross more freely into rebel-controlled territory. The success of such talks may hinge on whether the UN chooses to argue from the Western point of view, championing humanitarian access for the moral imperative of human rights, or from the Somali point of view, championing access for aid to repair traditional structures regardless of political orientation.

Burkina Faso: Peter Casier writes about desertification in northern Burkina Faso.

Nigeria: News that Nigeria will charge former Vice President Dick Cheney with corruption elicited reactions around the blogosphere. See Dionne Searcey (Wall Street Journal), Nigerian Curiosity, Juan Cole, and a roundup from Loomnie.

Sudan: Roving Bandit calls out The Economist for “using made-up poverty stats.”

North Africa: Dipnote (US State Department) writes about the North African Partnership for Economic Opportunity (NAPEO).

Finally, what percentage of the US federal budget goes to foreign aid?

Al Jazeera English on pro-secession activism and voter registration in Southern Sudan: