Africa Blog Roundup: Media Piracy in Nigeria, Ghana’s 2012 Elections, Malian Politics, and More

Yinka Ibukun on piracy, music, and movies in Nigeria.

Dennis Laumann: “Six Lessons from Ghana’s 2012 Elections.”

Peter Tinti: “Mali’s Coup 2.0: Adjusting to the New Normal.”

Lesley Anne Warner:

Until the political situation in Bamako becomes less unstable, the U.S. and European allies can agree on an approach to intervention, and ECOWAS can get boots on the ground (perhaps not until late 2013), I think containment is going to be the name of the game in northern Mali.

Aly Verjee on the resignation of US Special Envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman and the trajectory of “US diplomacy in the Sudans.”

Derica: “Dear K’naan, Africa Is Not The Only Place Where ‘Politics Happens’.”

Internally Displaced:

What I am enjoying…in the South Sudan National Archives, as they take shape, is looking at how a determined researcher – with a significant amount of time on their hands – could write a very interesting, if a bit scattergun, history of women in South Sudan from these records.

The main body of the collection sits in the 1920s to late 1970s, and is dogged by the sex-centric, patriarchal mode of governments with respect to their female citizenry.  There are files and files of adultery cases, domestic violence disputes – including whole files on chiefs’ violence against their wives and resulting punishments – runaway women and girls, and prostitution; illustrated nicely by the page above, in a letter from a local Sudanese official deciding not to pursue abductors of “genuine incest children or undesirable harlots”  – clearly these are unwanted and unpleasant things.

However, there are also women in politics: local chapters of the Liberal and Federal Parties and the Southern Front include women members, at least until the government banned their participation; their role in chiefly disputes and tribal affairs includes spying, informing on disputes and suspects, protecting and harboring criminals and suspects, and encouraging clashes – and that’s just the stuff I’ve had time to read.

Jimmy Kainja: “The Virtuous Circle of Malawi Politics That Sustains Poverty.”

Richard Joseph makes recommendations concerning US policy toward sub-Saharan Africa during President Barack Obama’s second term.

What are you reading?

Happy Independence, South Sudan!

The Republic of South Sudan officially becomes independent today, the result of a referendum held exactly six months ago in which Southerners voted overwhelmingly to secede from North Sudan. Congratulations to the people of the world’s newest country – whatever challenges lie ahead, you have fought long and hard for this achievement, and I hope you enjoy this day to the fullest extent.

Please treat this as an open thread, and if you are tracking events in Sudan on Twitter, I suggest following @glcarlstrom, @bechamilton, @wasilalitaha, @maggiefick, @rovingbandit, @SudaneseThinker, and @simsimt for coverage, along with a host of others.

From the US side, Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, Special Envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, and other diplomats are set to attend. It will be interesting to see who else attends – and what Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, who is also scheduled to be there, has to say to his former countrymen. It will also be interesting to see who recognizes South Sudan, and in what order.

Please post your reactions in the comments, and I’ll update with any critical information.

Africa News Roundup: Nigerian Elections Postponement, Princeton Lyman, Senegal Protests, and More

The big news this weekend was the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s decision to postpone Nigeria’s National Assembly elections by 48 hours.

Mr. [Attahiru] Jega [Chairman of INEC] placed blame for the delay on a failure to get voter materials shipped in from outside Nigeria on time, but said he was confident that everything would be in place for the vote to proceed on Monday.

Mr. Jega made no suggestion of a delay in the presidential election or votes a week later for the nation’s 36 governors. The electoral commission has put tougher measures in place to prevent cheating and intimidation, which raised such broad doubts after the last elections in 2007 that foreign observers said they might not have reflected the will of the people.

Voters had gathered eagerly on Saturday to register at polling places across the country’s two most populous cities — the commercial hub Lagos in the south and Kano in the north — but elsewhere, tempers were frayed by the delays. Gunshots in the volatile oil-producing Niger Delta also raised worries of violence.

The delay has caused domestic fears of tampering and international worry over the integrity of the process. Today INEC “raced to get aborted polls back on track.” Matthew Tostevin and Wole Soyinka consider some of the ramifications of the delay and of the elections generally. 234Next has Nigerian leaders’ statements on the delay.

In Sudan news, President Barack Obama has a new Special Envoy to Sudan, veteran diplomat Princeton Lyman, who has been closely involved with Sudan over the past few years. On Friday the two men met at the White House:

Before Friday’s Oval Office meeting, Lyman told reporters that “tough” negotiations are ahead before South Sudan’s formally achieves its independence in July.

At the State Department on Thursday, he said issues remaining to be settled include border demarcation and the question of oil revenues. Lyman also discussed what he called a “very tense situation” in Abyei, where clashes between rival groups have left more than 100 people dead and displaced at least 20,000.

“We have to work on two fronts. We have to try and ease this immediate security problem, but I don’t think we are going to get the tensions really resolved until the people in Abyei know what is going to happen to them, particularly by July. Are they going to remain in the north, are they going to move to the south? And that the Sudanese leadership needs to address,” Lyman said.

The White House statement on the meeting with Lyman is here. Former Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell calls Lyman’s appointment “an encouraging sign of the Obama administrations continued engagement with Sudan.”

In Senegal, “about 200 disabled Senegalese former soldiers held a two-hour demonstration Friday on a busy Dakar street to call for better pay and health coverage.” This protest does not seem to have been formally connected with other recent protests in Senegal, but it does hearken back to a veteran’s self-immolation in February.

Finally, some Somalia news, or perhaps just a rumor. The Standard, a Kenyan outlet I am not familiar with, says that Somalia has “plans to create another autonomous region along its borders with Kenya.” Have readers heard anything about this? If true, that would be a radical change to the current political configuration of Somalia.

Hope your weekend is going well.