Ken Opalo: “Who Will Win the Kenyan Presidential Election?”
If the polls are right Uhuru Kenyatta still leads Raila Odinga by about 740,000 votes. I estimate that Mr. Kenyatta will get 48.87% of the votes cast to Mr. Odinga’s 41.72%, which means that a run-off is almost inevitable. I don’t expect Mr. Kenyatta to hit the 50% mark since my model is slightly biased in his favor (especially coming from the Rift Valley turnout figures from 2007 that I use as a basis of estimating turnout in 2013).
Trains: Will Ross with a link to a BBC podcast segment on the Lagos-Kano Express. And Shelby Grossman with a photograph of a terminal under construction along a planned railway from Lagos to Cotonou.
Afendi Muteki: “The Oromo of Harerghe: On the Evolution of Urban Centers [in Ethiopia],” parts one and two.
Jairo Munive: “Disarmament, Demobilization And Reintegration In South Sudan: Feasible Under Current Conditions?”
Religious leaders from Algeria, Mali, Niger and Mauritania this week decided that the most effective way to support peace and eradicate extremist ideas would be to work as a team.
The imams, who initially came together in November to condemn the extremism in Mali, met in Algiers on Wednesday (January 30th) to formally launch the League of Ulemas of the Sahel.
Imams of the Maliki rite across the Sahel will work to educate youth about the dangers of extremism, particularly by working closely with mosques and youth centres, said Algerian imam Youcef Mechri, the new body’s secretary-general.
A suicide bomber Tuesday detonated explosives outside the prime minister’s home in Somalia’s presidential palace compound, killing two people, security officials said. [Al Shabab] claimed responsibility for the attack.
Remember, these attacks occurred after (1) a multi-year military offensive carried out by African Union troops, Kenyan soldiers, and Somali government forces against Al Shabab and (2) a months-long political transition that was hampered by delays and left key questions regarding the nature and extent of federal authority unresolved. Somalia’s conflicts are not over.
Somalia, in my view, fits neither the narrative of “hellhole where nothing ever changes” nor the narrative of “brand new success story.” Reconquering rebel-held territory and holding elections (or in this case selections) for new political leaders do not necessarily end strife and division. Before one touts Somalia as a model for Mali or anywhere else, it’s important to keep in mind the formidable obstacles to national unity and reconstruction that remain there.
Lots of countries, especially ones that are facing internal threats from militant extremism, have “hard-liners.” But only Algeria has “eradicateurs,” a faction within the Algerian government that has argued, since the civil war broke out in 1991, that the military can never negotiate with Islamist movements and must destroy them outright. The war ended, in 1999, only when an Algerian leader from the opposing faction — “conciliateurs” — outmaneuvered the hard-liners. But that central tension has remained within the government ever since, a particularly Algerian dynamic that is important for understanding the country’s militancy crisis and the government’s response.
I don’t begrudge people getting rich and doing well. Why shouldn’t Africa have billionaires like the rest of the world? But sometimes this obsession to fulfil the “Africa Rising” prophecy blinds us to the real issues.
And in the case of Isabel [Dos Santos], I think celebrating her wealth as this Forbes label does is an insult to the two thirds of Angolans who live in poverty. When I look at Isabel and Dos Santos Inc and see all that money, all I can think of are the suffering Angolans who will never have the chances they have had and for whom water, electricity and sanitation are luxuries.
“Mauritanian police arrested eight students of the Islamic University in Laâyoune, 800km northeast of Nouakchott, and accused them of having ties with the extremist Islamist groups in northern Mali,” Sahara Media reported on Monday (January 21st). [Original story in Arabic here – six of them seem to have been subsequently freed (Arabic).]
Another young Mauritanian was arrested Monday in Guerou, 600km east of Nouakchott, Al-Akhbar reported.
Somali security forces will not be able to replace African troops until the international community provides “predictable” funding for their training, according to the United Nations.
“The withdrawal, whether it’s Ethiopian or Amisom, is contingent upon adequate replacement by the Somali forces,” Augustine Mahiga, the UN sectrerary-general’s special representative to the Horn of Africa nation, said in an interview in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “The pace at which Somali forces are being trained is not as fast because there hasn’t been predictable funding.”
Sudan Tribune: “The Sudanese government and a rebel faction of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have agreed on an agenda to negotiate a peace deal, an international official told the UN Security Council (UNSC).”
IRIN: “Chad’s Health System Struggles to Combat Malnutrition.”