Wednesday, June 10

East Africa roundup

  • Some of the international aid groups expelled from northern Sudan following the International Criminal Court's approval of a warrant for Sudan's president, including Mercy Corps, CARE, and Save the Children, are in discussions about returning (Reuters)
  • Sudan might delay its elections - currently set for February - again. Shocking. Reuters:
    The deputy chairperson of the National Elections Commission, Abdullah Ahmed Abdulla, told Reuters the commission was behind schedule because of delays in announcing results of a vital census and in setting up election committees in states. "We are considering a modification, an adjustment of our old timeframe to accommodate the delays that have taken place," Abdulla said on Tuesday, adding it would "not be very much of a delay".
  • For francophones, a dispatch from Mogadishu by Matthias Bruggmann in Paris Match:
    "La démocratie, c’est quand un homme peut forniquer dans la rue. Il peut se balader nu et forniquer avec d’autres hommes. » Ahmed est sûr de son fait. Avant, dans une autre vie, ce père de famille était enseignant dans une madrasa, une école coranique. Puis il a rejoint Al-Chabab, mouvement islamiste radical somalien, placé par les Etats-Unis dans la liste des groupes soutenant le terrorisme. Aujourd’hui, les combattants fondamentalistes contrôlent presque tout Mogadiscio, après trois semaines d’offensive sans précédent contre le gouvernement. A 34 ans, Ahmed se retrouve émir et commande à une dizaine d’hommes.
That first quote, from an Islamist insurgent, is worth translating: "Democracy is when a man can fornicate in the street. He can walk around naked and fornicate with other men." What's the problem?
  • Another confirmation that pirates are a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. Broadcast:
    The hour-long show Ross Kemp in Search of Pirates, which saw the former EastEnders actor investigate the boom in piracy off the coast of east Africa, was up by 29% on the channel’s slot average for the year so far of 487,000 (2.2%). The channel’s performance this year at the time has improved significantly compared with 2008 when it managed 276,000 (1.3%) at the time.
    Last night’s show improved on Kemp’s previous investigation Ross Kemp: A Kenya Special which attracted 532,000 (2.9%) on 22 September last year.
  • Paul Collier on African elections (Wall Street Journal):
    In Africa, presidential elections have become the fashionable norm, like state airlines used to be. This year there will be 15 of them. But like those airlines, in the absence of supporting institutions elections have proved to be more decorative than functional, a veneer beneath which the autocratic rule of the pre-1991 era continues little abated. Autocracy in Africa was ruinous: Narrow ethnically based elites plundered the country for their own short-term benefit. America and the other Western countries that encouraged democracies were right to think that what Africa needed was accountability of government to citizen, but wrong to think that this could be achieved simply by elections.
  • Swedish expats' dreams of opening a hotel and living out their days in a Kenyan paradise are rudely shattered, along with their innocence. From the Independent:
    But yet again our success was not tolerated. When we refused to pay the customary bribes to the chief, the water was cut off. Nobody had told us that our paradise was corrupt. No water – no hotel – no mushrooms.
  • The Council on Foreign Relations interviews Kenya's prime minister. On an ethnic interpretation of Kenyan politics:
    I don't agree. It's a very simplistic view of Kenyan politics. Kenyan politics are much more complicated than that, and they are fairly ideological. ODM party [Odinga's party] is more of a social democracy [party]. PNU [Kibaki's party] is a more conservative political party. But ideology has even died in America. What is the difference between Republicans and the Democrats? Go to Britain. Labor and the Tories. It is not just only Africa. That is a very simplistic view of what's happening here.Our politics are not ethnic. Look at elections last time. My party won seats in all the eight provinces in the country. Look at the presidential elections. I won the vote in six of the eight provinces. I did not win in [President Kibaki's province], but I also got some votes there. I did not win in Eastern Province, but I also got some votes there.

  • Rwandan Hutu rebels, targeted by a joint DRC-Rwanda military operation earlier this year in Congo's North Kivu province, are causing trouble again, now in South Kivu (mediacongo)

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