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Mark Strand on Dreams: A Lyrical Love Letter to Where We Go When We Go to Sleep @brainpickings
However detached from the reality of life dreams may seem, they affect
our every waking moment and even help us regulate our negative moods.
And yet, try as we might to control our dreams, we still know so very
little about where we go when we slip into that nocturnal wonderland.
For all the advances science has made, it still seems best left to the
poets — and the best of poets only.
Trying to recall the plot
And characters we dreamed,
What life was like
Before the morning came,
We are seldom satisfied,
And even then
There is no way of knowing
If what we know is true.
Hums us into sleep,
Withdraws, and leaves us in
A place that seems
Always vaguely familiar.
Perhaps it is because
We take the props
And fixtures of our days
With us into the dark,
We are still alive. And yet
Nothing here is certain;
With one another, houses
Are never where they should be,
Doors and windows
Sometimes open out
To other doors and windows,
Even the person
Who seems most like ourselves
Cannot be counted on,
For there have been
Too many times when he,
Like everything else, has done
And as the night wears on,
The dim allegory of ourselves
Unfolds, and we
Feel dreamed by someone else,
A sleeping counterpart,
Who gathers in
The darkness of his person
Shades of the real world.
Nothing is clear;
We are not ever sure
If the life we live there
Belongs to us.
Each night it is the same;
Just when we’re on the verge
Of catching on,
A sense of our remoteness
Closes in, and the world
So lately seen
Gradually fades from sight.
We wake to find the sleeper
And the dreamt-of is someone who did
Something we can’t quite put
Our finger on,
But which involved a life
We are always, we feel,
About to discover.
12-NOV-2018 :: The King is called the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
MBS, alleged owner of Leonardo Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi which is a
painting of Christ as Salvator Mundi (Latin for "Savior of the World")
dated to c. 1500. The painting shows Jesus, in Renaissance dress,
giving a benediction with his right hand raised and two fingers
extended, while holding a transparent rock crystal orb in his left
hand. The rock crystal orb of course reappeared during Trump's visit
to the Desert Kingdom. The Painting is
currently in the Louvre in Abu Dhabi because the ''optics'' of this
$450m purchase did not sit well with being the son and heir to the
Kingdom. The King is called the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
(خادم الحرمين الشريفين) after all.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to have 'lost' the world's most expensive painting @narativ @jkottke
Law & Politics
world’s most expensive painting. The Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece,
Salvator Mundi, may hold the key to the Trump-Russia investigation.
And, the artwork itself could be evidence of collusion.
Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘last’ masterpiece was to be unveiled on September
18 at the spellbinding new Louvre in Abu Dhabi, but the exhibit was
put on a temporary hold, amid rumours the painting was lost.
The art world has become increasingly alarmed. After all, Salvator
Mundi is the most expensive artwork ever sold. “Nobody outside the
immediate Arab hierarchy knows where it is,” Da Vinci scholar Martin
Kemp told The Times.
Questions are being raised. First, why did the Crown Prince of Saudi
Arabia, an art novice, buy the masterpiece? Secondly, why did he
overpay for it by $300 million? Even for the stupendously wealthy
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, that’s not just a simple rounding error.
How do you misplace a $450 million painting anyway?
We can also reveal Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating
both the buyer and the seller of the Da Vinci masterpiece as part of
the Trump-Russia investigation.
All the intrigue suits Salvator Mundi’s already storied past well, but
as I write this, no-one has seen the rare masterpiece in over a year,
and its exact whereabouts have been unknown for over 100 days.
Leonardo da Vinci is said to have painted the Salvator Mundi, which
literally translates to ‘Savior of the World’, as a male counterpart
to his Mona Lisa, and an homage to his other Christ masterpiece, The
Last Supper. The result of those intersecting ideas is an eerie
portrait of Jesus Christ in a blue renaissance robe, offering
benediction with his right hand raised and while holding a glass orb
in his left.
Dmitry Rybolovlev’s story is typical of many Russian oligarchs. He
made his fortune as a potash miner until the Kremlin bought him out,
sending him into a friendly “exile”. Rybolovlev chose the Grimaldi
House of Monaco to set up shop. He bought the luxurious penthouse “La
Belle Epoque” on Monaco’s famous seaside cliffs, the AC Monaco
football team, 10% in the Bank of Cyprus and allegedly an extensive
network of corruptable judges, ministers and other officials.
He also met Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier, from whom he bought about
$2 billion in art. Rybolovlev officially paid Bouvier a 2% commission
per painting, but he later found out the Swiss art dealer was also
acting for the seller, marking up prices and pocketing the margin
along with both buyer’s and seller’s commissions.
That is how Rybolovlev came to own The Salvator Mundi for $127
million, instead of its valued $80 million
Since March 2013, the now $127 million ‘Salvator Mundi’ has been
hanging in Rybolovlev’s penthouse in New York City. Rybolovlev sees no
shame in the $47 million he lost in the purchase of the masterpiece.
It wouldn’t be the first time someone’s accused him of overpaying.
In addition to several corruption investigations in Monaco and Europe,
Rybolovlev is also under investigation by Special Counsel Robert
Mueller for the $95 million purchase of Donald Trump’s home in Palm
Beach in 2006, which Trump had bought four years earlier for $41
million. There was no market reason for the $ 54 million mark-up,
except to save Trump from another bankruptcy.
Rybolovlev occupies the same proximity to Putin as Oleg Deripaska,
making him extremely rich and powerful and a loyal ally of the Russian
president. Rybolovlev regularly mixes affairs of state with his
personal business. In 2016, he met Donald Trump twice in the final
days of the campaign. Both men deny the meetings took place, but radar
tracking reveals their planes coincided on airport tarmacs in both
Charlotte, NC and Las Vegas, just days before the election.
There has been a lot of ink spilled on the June 9 meeting at Trump
Tower, involving Donald Trump, Jr., Russian lawyer Natalia
Veselnitskaya and a significant offer of dirt on Hillary Clinton, to
which Don, Jr. famously responded, “I love it.”
But a far more significant meeting took place at Trump Tower three
weeks later which has received far less coverage, and yet it may be
the most important evidence of collusion Robert Mueller has uncovered.
The August event may well become “the single most important event of
Trump-Russia,” Seth Abramson, author of “Proof of Collusion” told me
Erik Prince arranged the meeting. Prince is a mercenary who is
notorious for his work with Blackwater. He is still a gun for hire
working for the Chinese and Emiratis yet somehow, Prince still played
a pivotal, yet unofficial role for the Trump Transition and
coordinating this meeting was as significant as they come.
Prince planned to meet his guests at a nearby hotel to avoid the glare
of the media assembled in Trump Tower’s gilded lobby.
You’re wondering who the guests were? George Nader, a
Lebanese-American businessman who was acting as an emissary for both
the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman (MbS) and the de
facto leader of the UAE, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed
(MbZ). Nader was accompanied by Joel Zamel, the Australian-born
Israeli founder of Psy-Group, and an expert in social media
Nader began his pitch. The Saudi and Emirati princes “were eager to
help your father win election as president,” Nader said. He said
Zamel’s Psy Group was particularly successful at social media
manipulation and the two crown princes would bankroll a multi-million
dollar plan drawn up by Zamel, to help elect his father president.
Psy-Group had figured out how to shift public sentiment by creating
fake news, publishing it on fake news sites and then amplifying it
through a network of some 5,000 fake social media accounts. The
company’s side-hustle was providing services in the dark arts of
honey-trapping, hacking and blackmail, for a fee.
$300 million. That’s the incredible profit Rybolovlev made on the sale
of Salvator Mundi. $300 million is also the amount Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman (acting through an intermediary) “accidentally”
overpaid for the artwork.
At first, laundering hundreds of millions of dollars in full view of a
global audience, may not seem like the smartest move, but the facts
support this may have been what the two crown princes and Dmitry
Rybolovlev tried to do.
Rybolovlev put the masterpiece up for auction through Christie’s in
November 2017. The estimated price for Lot 9B was between $80 and $120
million. Christies’s auctioneers were stunned when bidding quickly
surged past $80 million in just seconds and then, just as effortlessly
over $130 million. Two anonymous bidders continuously outbid each
other, not stopping until they had run up the price to $450.3 million,
making it the single most expensive work of art ever sold at auction.
In the ensuing days, The New York Times unmasked Crown Prince Mohamed
bin Salman as the masterpiece’s real buyer but the identity of the
second bidder stayed hidden for months.
In March, The Daily Mail revealed the counter-bidder was Abu Dhabi
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ). The princes claimed they had no
idea the other was bidding and dismissed the whole thing as a mistake.
Up until now, Robert Mueller’s focus has been squarely on Russian
collusion but as citizens from other countries are implicated, it
seems the Special Counsel has widened his purview from just collusion
with Russia, to collusion with a multi-nation alliance of at least
four countries including Russia, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab
Emirates and Israel.
Gregg Smith, the former CEO of Prince’s Frontier Services Group told
me this week he believes “the Israelis, Emiratis and Saudis all had a
role and [Erik] Prince was [Steve] Bannon’s conduit to them.”
There can be no certainty when the game is subterfuge, and we need to
wait for Mueller’s final report before we reach any conclusions, but
if Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi proves to be a key which helps unlock
Trump-Russia, “Savior of the World” could prove to be nothing short of
07-AUG-2017 :: Any financial expert will tell you that President Trump's financial affairs are a "smoking gun."
Law & Politics
Any financial expert will tell you that President Trump’s financial
affairs are a ‘’smoking gun.’’ Deutsche Bank loans were surely
‘’mirror’’ transactions, where Deutsche Bank was a commission agent
interposed between Trump and the real lender. All those sales where
Trump proclaimed himself a ‘’genius’’ because they were so off-market,
we would all be incredulous, were essentially just that
‘’incredible’’. There is a prima facie case here and its in plain
sight. President Trump knows it and that’s why he has been demanding
Al Pacino [a la Martin Scorsese’s godfather] style demands of loyalty
from the likes of the now dispensed with FBI director James Comey.
@realDonaldTrump administration has downgraded the diplomatic status of the European Union's delegation to the United States @dwnews
Law & Politics
EU delegation's diplomatic status in Washington from member state to
"We don't exactly know when they did it, because they conveniently
forgot to notify us," an EU official who is familiar with the matter
told DW in an interview.
"I can confirm that this has not been well received in Brussels," the
person said, adding that the issue and an official EU response was
still being discussed.
After the delegation noticed that the EU's Washington ambassador had
not been invited to certain events late last year, officials
organizing the state funeral for President George H.W. Bush provided
final confirmation to EU diplomats that the status of the
representation had in fact been downgraded.
Chinese scholar offers insight into Beijing's strategic mindset @asiatimesonline's Pepe Escobar
Law & Politics
It’s a full-time job to “channel” China into finding its “right” place
in a new world order. What does the Chinese intellectual elite really
think about all this?
“Geopolitics” may be an Anglo invention, arguably by Sir Halford
Mackinder, but it has been studied in China for centuries as, for
instance, “geographic advantage” (xingsheng) or “historic geography”
Wenmu introduces us to the concept of geopolitics as philosophy on the
tip of a knife, but it’s mostly about philosophy, not the knife. If we
want to use the knife we must use philosophy to know the limits of our
power. Call it a Sino-equivalent of Nietzsche’s philosophizing with a
As a geopolitical analyst, Wenmu cannot but remind us that the
trademark Roman or British empires’ ‘divide and rule’ is also a
well-known tactic in China. For instance, in early 1972, Chairman Mao
was quite ready to welcome Richard Nixon. Later, in July, Mao revealed
his hand: “One must profit from the conflict between two powers, that
is our policy. But we must get closer to one of them and not fight on
two fronts.” He was referring to the split between China and the USSR.
Wenmu gets a real kick out of how Western geopolitics usually plays
things wrong. He stresses how Halford Mackinder, the Englishman
regarded as one of the founders of geostrategy, “influenced World War
II and the subsequent decline of the British Empire,” noting how
Mackinder died only five months before Partition between India and
Pakistan in 1947.
He destroys George Kennan’s theory of the Cold War, “directly based on
Mackinder’s thinking,” and how it led the US to fight in Korea and
Vietnam, “accelerating its decline.”
Even Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former US national security advisor,
“saw the decline of the American empire,” as he died recently, in May
2017. “In that moment, China and Russia gave life to a strategic
collaboration always closer and invincible.” Wenmu is positively
gleeful. “If Brzezinski was still alive, I think he would see the
‘great defeat’ of the Western world – the opposite of what he wrote.”
One of Wenmu’s key points is how “the Tibetan plateau allows the
People’s Republic to access the resources respectively of the Pacific
Ocean to the east and those of the Indian Ocean in the west. If from
the plateau we look at the American base in Diego Garcia [in the
center of the Indian Ocean] we can’t have any doubts about the natural
advantage of Chinese geopolitics.” The implication is that the UK and
US must “consume a great deal of resources to cross the oceans and
develop a chain of islands.”
China is supported by the continental plaque, “which it controls along
its coast,” and “possesses technology of medium and long-range missile
attack,” guaranteeing it virtually a “great capacity of reaction in
both oceans” with a “relatively powerful naval force.” And that’s how
China, as Wenmu maps it, is able to compensate – “to a certain extent”
– the technological gap relative to the West.
President Obama was keen to exhort at every opportunity the status of
the US as a “Pacific nation.” Imagine the US confronted by Wenmu’s
description: “The Western Pacific is linked to the national interests
of the People’s Republic and is the starting point of the New Maritime
Silk Road.” In fact, Chairman Mao talked about it way back in 1959:
“One day, it does not matter when, the United States will have to
retire from the rest of the world and will have to abandon the Western
Wenmu’s most controversial point is that “the advantage that only
China enjoys of linking to markets of two oceans crashes the myth of
Western ‘naval power’ in the contemporary era and introduces a
revolutionary vision; the People’s Republic is a great nation who
possesses by nature the qualification of naval power.” We just need to
compare “how industrial development allowed the West to navigate
towards the Indian Ocean” while China “arrived on foot.”
Extrapolating from Mao, Wenmu elaborates on a “Western Pacific Chinese
Sea” uniting the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Yellow
Sea. “We can use the formula ‘southern zone of the Western Pacific
Chinese Sea’ to describe the part that falls under Chinese
This suggests a combination of Chinese forces in the South China Sea,
the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea under a sole Western Pacific
Beijing’s supreme goal is to effectively move the “Chinese line of
control” to the east of Taiwan. That reflects President Xi Jinping’s
speech earlier this week, where he referred to Taiwan, for all
practical purposes, as the great prize. Wenmu frames it as an
environment “where Chinese nuclear submarines are able to
counter-attack, the construction of aircraft carriers can progress and
products made in continental China may be exported effectively.”
Cue to a fast tour of the rise and fall of empires, with “history
showing how in the main zone of the continent – between 30 and 60
degrees of north[ern] latitude – there can be only 2.5 strategic
forces.” Which means one of the three major spaces always becomes
In modern times it has been rare that one of the three powers “managed
to expand to a 1.5 ratio.” Before, only the Tang empire and the Mongol
empire came close. The British Empire, Tsarist Russia and the USSR
“invaded Afghanistan and entered Central Asia, but success, when it
happened, was short-lived.”
That paved the way to Wenmu’s clincher: “The law of the aurea section
[Latin for ‘golden’ section] as the base of strategic power in Eurasia
helps us to understand the causes of alternate rise and decline of
powers in the continent and to recognize the limits of expansion of
Chinese power in Central Asia. To understand it is the premise of
mature and successful diplomacy.”
In a nutshell, China is key for the equilibrium of Eurasia. “In
Europe, the fragmented zone originates in the center, in Asia, it is
around China. So that presents China as the natural barycenter of
“We now have Dong Feng-21D, Dong Feng-26 missiles. These are aircraft
carrier killers. We attack and sink one of their aircraft carriers.
Let them suffer 5,000 casualties. Attack and sink two carriers,
casualties 10,000. Let’s see if the US is afraid or not?”
U.S. Navy ship sails in disputed South China Sea amid trade talks with Beijing Reuters
Law & Politics
BEIJING (Reuters) - A U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed near
disputed islands in the South China Sea in what China called a
“provocation” as U.S. officials joined talks in Beijing during a truce
in a bitter trade war.
The USS McCampbell carried out a “freedom of navigation” operation,
sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Island chain, “to
challenge excessive maritime claims”, Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Rachel
McMarr said in an emailed statement.
10-DEC-2018 :: Truce dinner @Huawei
Law & Politics
Sirloin steaks, Catena Zapata Nicolas Malbec  Huawei
Technologies Co. and Wanzhou Meng
You will recall that Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping enjoyed a much
anticipated ''Truce'' Dinner at the G20 in Buenos Aires and quaffed a
Catena Zapata Nicolas Malbec  wine with their sirloin steaks and
finished it all off with caramel rolled pancakes, crispy chocolate and
fresh cream, a dinner that ran over by 60 minutes and one where the
dinner Guests broke out into spontaneous applause thereafter.
'Bashir will not budge:' Nationwide protests in Sudan take aim at the president @washingtonpost's @maxbearak and @YousraElbagir
The protests began when Bashir’s government announced a raft of price
hikes to cope with spiraling inflation in mid-December, and thousands
formed spontaneous, leaderless crowds — and not just in the capital,
Khartoum, where past anti-government movements have briefly surged
before being quashed.
The protests remain relatively spontaneous. The decentralized nature
of the protests in Arabic-speaking Sudan harks back to the Arab
Spring, which also began with economic gripes but morphed into popular
discontent against authoritarian leaders.
Sudan’s government has shut off access to social media sites across
the country in an effort to contain the protests, but widespread use
of virtual private networks, or VPNs, has allowed the Internet to
remain a space not just for sharing information but also for sharing
graphic pictures and videos of wounded or killed protesters.
Sudan’s economy under Bashir has tanked. Bashir, who came to power in
an 1989 coup, spends billions on defense contracts while skimping on
health, education and infrastructure. Tens of thousands of Sudanese
people have attempted the dangerous journey across the Sahara desert
Many of the protesters are students and professionals whose savings
have evaporated as inflation has risen.
Ayman Saeed, a 29-year-old with a master's degree in business,
recalled the crackdown on protests in Khartoum on New Year’s Eve.
“People started staring at someone on the roof a building and starting
chanting at him that he was a sniper,” he said. Then, “the trucks of
armed forces closed in on us and started beating and tear-gassing
“A total collapse of President Bashir’s regime is neither an imminent
nor a guaranteed outcome of these protests,” said Muhammad Osman, an
independent political analyst based in Khartoum. “It all boils down to
whether the protests can keep going strong. If they do, the most
likely scenario to happen eventually is a coup as more and more
members of his security cabal continue to realize that he has become a
“What has happened lately is a serious turn in the path of Sudanese
people towards revolution. But no matter what, I believe Bashir will
not budge — will not resign,” said Salaheldeen. “It’s like someone who
has found himself on the back of a lion. He can’t get off without the
lion devouring him.”
Bashir has turned increasingly toward other Arab states, Saudi Arabia
in particular, for economic support, but they have not responded with
offers to help him outlast this crisis. He has sent more than 10,000
militiamen to fight on the front lines of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen
in return for financial assistance, for instance, and has sold
enormous chunks of Sudan’s farmland to wealthy Arabs.
The benefits of such deals haven’t reached most Sudanese people. Sudan
is still a country where banks limit withdrawals to $15 a day, and
where the removal of subsidies on daily staples like bread can plunge
thousands into hunger.
10 NOV 14 ::Ouagadougou's Signal to Sub-Sahara Africa
What’s clear is that a very young, very informed and very connected
African youth demographic [many characterise this as a ‘demographic
dividend’] – which for Beautiful Blaise turned into a demographic
terminator – is set to alter the existing equilibrium between the
rulers and the subjects, and a re-balancing has begun.
We need to ask ourselves; how many people can incumbent shoot stone
cold dead in such a situation – 100, 1,000, 10,000? This is another
point: there is a threshold beyond which the incumbent can’t go. Where
that threshold lies will be discovered in the throes of the event.
Therefore, the preeminent point to note is that protests in Burkina
Faso achieved escape velocity. Overthrowing incumbents is all about
acceleration, momentum and speed best characterised by the Ger- man
07-JAN-2019 :: Why DR Congo delayed election results @TheStarKenya
"It's not the people who vote that count, it's the people who count
the votes." said Joseph Stalin.
The DR Congo held a long delayed election in December. Joseph Kabila
Kabange who besides sporting a whole new sartorial look of late has
been President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since January
2001 and took office after the assassination of his father, President
Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Previously very cryptic and not prone to
engaging with the Press, President Kabila having anointed his
preferred successor Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, was kicking back and
relaxing and giving ''exclusive'' interviews to all the World's Press
and in one interview alluded to Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous quote
''I'll be back.'' In fact, one report I read said he was proposing to
remain in the Presidential Palace and that his Dauphin Shadary would
occupy the residence of the Prime Minister. I have myself visited the
President's residence and on those premises sits a screen [broken and
frozen] from the era of President Joseph-Désiré Mobutu aka Mobutu Sese
Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga which screen was headlined the Bourse du
Valuers, which I was asked to rehabilitate and reinvigorate. I was a
little bit slow on the draw and did not appreciate the ''Dan Gertler''
style of operation, which required ponying up cash up front. I had a
Plan to turn the defunct Marche de Valeurs into a Bovespa [which by
the way is the only stock market in the world wide which is posting
record highs]. The Congo is enormously rich but since the days of King
Leopold through Mobutu through the Kabilas has been a country where
''L'etat c'est moi'' applies and its Citizens have had to exist in a
World which Joseph Conrad aptly pronounced as
“The horror! The horror!” in his book the Heart of Darkness.
V.S. Naipaul, in his book A Bend in the River [whose departure point
was Conrad's The Heart of Darkness] wrote “It isn't that there's no
right and wrong here. There's no right.”
Today, the Congo is once again key to the Global Economy in the c21st.
Once it was about Rubber and today its all about Cobalt [Copper and
Lithium]. Erik Prince who is raising a $500mn Fund to invest in the
supply of these metals said to the Financial Times
“For all the talk of our virtual world, the innovation, you can’t
build those vehicles without minerals that come from generally weird,
''When I see the R&D budgets of all the major automakers ploughing
huge money into hybrid or electric vehicles, I believe the demand
curve for the unique minerals that make up an electric car and battery
technology will be enormously high over the coming years,” Mr Prince
Returning to the Elections, whose results release has now been
delayed. According to Africa Confidential and others, the Catholic
Church [certainly the most trusted Institution in Congo and seriously
ubiquitous] all indications are that the Opposition led by Martin
Fayulu has won this all ends up.
''Early results – which the regime is banning the media from reporting
– indicate a win for the opposition after government plans to fix the
poll went awry'' said Africa Confidential. AC added The Bishops’
Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO) had organised up to
40,000 election monitors to scrutinise the conduct of the poll and
conduct a parallel vote tabulation. CENCO did not name the winning
candidate publicly, but declared that he had polled over half of the
votes in the presidential election. Martin Fayulu is the unnamed
winning opposition candidate, Africa Confidential’s church sources
say. Rival opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi and the ruling
coalition candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary are trailing with around
20% each, we hear (AC Vol 59 No 25, The Twelve Fixes of Christmas).
All these figures, and the detailed calculations underlying them, were
provided by CENCO to diplomats in Kinshasa on 2 January. But the fix
was not thorough enough, sources in Shadary’s Front commun pour le
Congo (FCC) told Africa Confidential. They said control of the poll
was lost because they did not pay off enough election officials.
If President Kabila's Man is at only 20% with the entire State
Machinery at his beck and call, then we are talking about single
digits in reality. Therefore, we are actually talking a compelling
Victory for Martin Fayulu, an open and shut case as it were. The
President's Advisor Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi pronounced that the
coalition "firmly deplores...the partisan, irresponsible and anarchic
attitude of CENCO." President Kabila summoned the Catholic Bishops to
Kinshasa and told them he wants he wants to leave a “united and
peaceful” Congo [@rarrigz]. Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral
commission have said they can’t publish the results on Sunday as
planned to avoid political unrest and that the result will be revealed
"next week" after accusing the country's Catholic Church on Friday of
"preparing an insurrection" by saying it knows the winner.
The Author Jason Stearns 'Dancing in the Glory of Monsters' tweeted
This could unfold in many ways. I find it v hard to believe that
Kabila/Shadary will accept defeat and step down @jasonkstearns
I also don't think they will be able to rig elections and move on, as
we now know that the Catholic Church, opposition and civil society,
will put up a fight @jasonkstearns
The most likely scenario is a protracted, potentially violent standoff
that plays out over months in halls of power and in the streets. It
could spill over into armed mobilization in eastern DRC Many civilians
are likely to be killed in this scenario @jasonkstearns
If President Kabila is determined to instal his preferred Successor
and the AU [which has only once pronounced against an Election [2008
Zimbabwe]] or SADC or its neighbours are not prepared to enforce the
will of the People then I would argue that the US [which has already
positioned 80 personnel in the capital of Gabon, , "to be in position
to support the security of United States citizens, personnel, and
diplomatic facilities" in Congo's capital] should remove President
Kabila from the Congo and instal the rightful Winner at the request of
CENCO. I am not a Believer in Regime Change and in fact President
Assad is the first Leader to have managed to repel the Merchants of
regime Change [The point about Syria is that the ''HeadChoppers'' did
not represent the will of the People] but this is a clear cut case,
where the will of the People is being subverted. Its egregious, its
outrageous. And the US has a National Interest [economic as alluded to
above re Erik Prince comments]. This intervention fits neatly with
Ambassador John Bolton's new Africa Strategy and unlike Iraq where
Dick Cheney said
"We will be greeted as liberators, they will throw rose petals at our feet"
I can guarantee you the People of the Congo will throw rose petals at
$750b of a Defence budget can be put to good use here. If President
Trump and his team from Ambassador John Bolton through to Secretary
Pompeo want to regain influence on this vast Continent, this is that
moment just like it was for Muhammed Ali many years ago in Kinshasa.
Abiy's big steps shouldn't obscure undercurrents in Ethiopia
One of the biggest concerns is that the state’s capacity to maintain
the rule of law and guarantee security is degenerating.
A number of factors are contributing to this. Firstly the ruling
party, the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Party, has been embedded in
institutions running the security services for a long time. The lower
echelons of these services are confused and bewildered as the new
order takes hold. They have no clear direction from the top.
In addition, law enforcement agencies at federal and regional levels
seem unresponsive to local ethnic strife. This is troubling given that
the country has been hit by a new wave of ethnic conflicts. According
to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre report for Ethiopia,
the total number of internally displaced people is nearly 1.4 million
– and rising.
Ethnic tensions continue to pose a threat to major cities like Addis
Ababa. At the same time former rebel groups have resisted calls to
disarm their soldiers. The circulation and trade of armaments are
visible and worrisome in many cities.
Another big threat is the fact that the ruling party doesn’t seem to
have a formal road map which tracks the country’s next steps. As a
senior party member from Southern Ethiopia put it to one of us:
We are not quite sure where the country is heading to.
Another big area of concern is the lack of transparency over the exact
terms of the various agreements with former rebel organisations. This
lack of information has led to conspiracy theories circulating about
the terms on which insurgent groups have been demobilised.
Lastly, there is tension between Abiy’s attempts to create a sense of
identity beyond ethnicities while at the same time attempting to
accommodate several of the ethno-nationalist agendas of certain
Amid the rise of regional and international jubilation over Abiy’s
rise friends of Ethiopia, international institutions, and global
powers like the US should carefully watch these trends and their
possible negative consequences.
Nigerians feel economic pinch as presidential election looms @FT
At the New Market in the Lekki area of Lagos, Nigeria, Joy Eno is
painting a customer’s toes bright yellow. It is one of the few bits of
business she has done all day.
“Customers come but not really that much because they don’t have money
and there’s no jobs,” said the 23-year-old beautician. “The economy is
not really good.”
Nearby, Peter Chuks can remember a time just a few years ago when
businesses in the market could do a roaring trade. “You couldn’t move
in here,” recalled the 38-year-old, who deals in chemicals to treat
water. Now, with nearly a quarter of Nigerians out of work, “the
middle-class man doesn’t have any money, so there’s no customers”.
As Africa’s most populous nation heads toward presidential elections
in February, its roughly 200m citizens are feeling the pinch of
sluggish economic growth. The government last month released
unemployment data for the first time in a year, which showed
joblessness had risen to 23.1 per cent in the third quarter, from 18.1
per cent a year earlier.
While the country has emerged from a recession brought on by a slump
in oil prices, the economy grew at just 1.8 per cent in the third
quarter, according to data released in December.
“We’re not in a recession officially but there’s no growth that would
actually inspire any confidence,” said Nonso Obikili, an economist at
Abuja-based Economic Research Southern Africa. “We are trudging
Yvonne Mhango, Sub-Saharan Africa economist at Renaissance Capital,
said growth in 2018 was well below the 3 per cent she had expected.
“We didn’t appreciate how weak the consumer was and how much more it
will take for the consumer to emerge from this slump.”
“The Buhari policy focuses more on state-driven, more interventionist,
more social, and the Atiku policy ideas are more market-sensitive,
business-friendly,” he said. “Depending on who wins you will see
reactions either in the stock market or just in overall business
Foreign reserves have fallen from $47.6bn in May to $42bn in November.
Observers said such outflows were typical investor behaviour ahead of
elections and with US interest rates also rising. But Bismarck Rewane,
chief executive of Lagos-based Financial Derivatives Company, said
outflows were accelerated by the government’s decision in the autumn
to impose $10bn in fines on MTN, a telecoms operator. The move was
widely panned as anti-private sector. MTN recently settled the matter
with a $53m payment.
He said he had little confidence of any correction soon. “It’s quite a
tough situation, and in the run-up to the election there’s no way the
officeholders or policymakers can make any efficient decisions,” he
Most of Lagos’s business elite hope the economy will improve with Mr
Abubakar, a wealthy businessman, at the helm. But at the New Market Mr
Chuks has little faith that a change of political leadership will make
“I don’t believe in the government of Nigeria,” he said. “They are not
going to make any change, and they’ve been telling us forever that
they’ll fix this economy.”