Opposition candidate Mohammadu Buhari at a campaign rally in the northern city of Maiduguri Getty.
The postponement of Nigeria’s presidential elections on security grounds has flushed into the open scenarios reminiscent of the dark days when the country’s democratic aspirations were stifled by a military cabal. The polls will take place against a backdrop of regional and ethnic tensions, with the ruling Peoples Democratic party up against a well organised opposition. A free and fair vote could lead to the country’s first constitutional transfer of power, an event that, if handled peacefully, would not only further Nigeria’s political evolution, but provide a fillip to democracy across the continent. Read more
Abubakar Shekau has been killed and resurrected so many times now he is using up his proverbial nine lives .
The leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram extremists appeared on Thursday in a fresh video released to the French news agency AFP, declaring the border areas with Cameroon as “Muslim territory” and boasting that only Allah could take his breath away. Read more
Nigerian teachers at a rally in Lagos protesting against the abduction of 200 schoolgirls and the killing of 173 of their colleagues by the Islamist Boko Haram group. Getty
Osama Bin Laden must be chuckling from his grave on the ocean floor. In the wake of 9/11 he explicitly targeted Nigeria as a new front-line in his global jihad. When the UN Security Council on Thursday blacklisted Boko Haram alongside al-Qaeda and its other affiliates, Nigeria had formally arrived.
It is the latest in a series of international gestures intended to isolate the group, which provoked international outrage for a series of atrocities including abducting more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls and threatening to sell them into slavery. But its value is little more than symbolic.
Kenyan police officers outside a polling station in Nairobi (Getty)
Foreign election observers have yet to pronounce on the overall credibility of Kenya’s tense elections. But there are already strong indications that they will go along with almost any outcome if it means preserving the Kenyan peace.
“Monday was a great day for Kenyan democracy. They undertook a lot of things to ensure things went in a smooth way,” Alojz Peterle, head of the European Union observer team, said on Friday.
His stance was in marked contrast to his predecessor’s proclamations on fraud at Kenya’s last elections in 2007, which reinforced Raila Odinga’s claims to have been robbed of the presidency. Read more
While parts of the British media obsess about whether or not the UK has landed a few special forces boots on the ground in Mali, a far more significant deployment has been taking place.
An armoured column of Chadian troops was rumbling on Wednesday through the Niger scrub on its way to the Mali border. The contingent is part of a 2,000-strong force that N‘Djamena has promised to deploy to help retake the northern two-thirds of the country from Islamist militias, whose offensive towards the Malian capital triggered France’s intervention.
The Chadian army has had extensive training from France and some from the US too in recent years. More importantly, the Chadians have their own history of fighting rebellions in scalding desert sands and mountains – something the smaller Nigerian contingent that has landed in Bamako as part of a hurriedly put together African intervention force cannot quite claim. Read more
The advance south in recent days by Mali’s Islamist rebels has caught the region and wider world on the back foot and precipitated a move by former colonial power France to the front foot.
Speaking to diplomats in Paris on Friday, President François Hollande, confirmed France’s willingness to intervene militarily on behalf of the Malian government under the terms of existing UN Security Council resolutions. Only hours later on Friday, France said it had initiated military action in support of a government offensive to take back lost ground by government troop. Air strikes followed. Read more
The world is in the midst of a sustained oil boom. Yet Africa’s leading producer is haemorrhaging the proceeds. The Nigerian treasury, which should be raking in record revenues, has been squeezed at both ends of the oil trade, writes William Wallis. Read more
The United Nations has a chequered history in the Democratic Republic of Congo dating back to its first ever peacekeeping mission in the 1960s. The latest twist will do nothing to change that.
In the same week that a leaked report by UN experts charges top Rwandan officials with teleguiding a rebellion in the east of Congo, Rwanda has been elected to serve a two-year term representing Africa on the UN security council. Read more
Mo Ibrahim at a 2011 press conference to announce the winner of that year's prize (Ben Stanstall/AFP/Getty Images)
There has been something of a hullabaloo each time the Mo Ibrahim Foundation has failed to find a worthy laureate for its $5m annual prize for excellence in African leadership.
One year it even prompted speculation that the Sudanese-born philanthropist and pioneer of African telecoms had run out of money. He had not. Rather, the criteria for the award had to be stiff if it was to have any credibility on a continent with a long history of tyranny and mismanagement. The intent was not just to encourage personal integrity and conformity to democratic principles among African heads of state but to reward transformational leadership. So, it should be no surprise that there have been some fallow years like this one.
Moreover, when it comes to leadership there is a global deficit. If a similar prize had been on offer in Europe in the same period, it would been a struggle to find an irreproachable candidate. In three out of the six years since the Mo Ibrahim prize was launched there have been winners. For the most part, African leaders are more accountable now than they were. In some cases they have been instrumental in turning their countries around. Read more
It might have gone largely unnoticed. But there was a sting in the opening remarks made by Jia Qinglin to African heads of state at their annual summit.
The sting was aimed in Europe’s direction. Mr Jia, the fourth-ranking member of China’s ruling communist party, made much of Africa’s rich history and culture and of China’s long and brotherly relationship with the continent in his speech at the brand new $200m-headquarters Beijing had gifted to the African Union. Africa was the cradle of mankind, he reminded the audience. Read more
Nigerian unions may have agreed to suspend strike action and call off protests after the government partially caved into demands for the restoration of the longstanding fuel subsidy. But President Goodluck Jonathan is not out of the woods yet. Read more