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03-SEP-2018 :: I asked, "Darling, how was it?" She said, "Daddy, I danced and I danced and I didn't stop!"
I remember a time my then 11 Year old daughter Layla attended the
school disco and when I picked her up, her eyes glittered and she
could scarcely stand still. I asked, ‘’Darling, how was it?’’ She
said, “Daddy, I danced and I danced and I didn’t stop!’’ I wanted to
pick her up, spin her as Jean Rhys wrote in her Novel ‘’Wide sargasso
sea’’: Only the magic and the dream are true - all the rest’s a lie.
And, “I must remember about chandeliers and dancing, about swans and
roses and snow.”
I love all my Daughters, Its been such a privilege to have been
allowed to take care of them. I wish Mum was still alive. They would
have had such a blast together. Of course, Daughters are terribly
intuitive especially with their Fathers. For whatever, Layla can read
me from a 100 and probably a 1,000 paces. At this moment, I yearn for
her and am so glad we got some time together in Meru just the two of
Meru National Park is home to a mosaic of different habitats and varied landscapes with 13 permanent rivers running through the Park! @DSWT
870 sq. km (roughly the same size as Maine in the USA)
Acacia woodland and grasslands. Forests in the West act as a vital
water catchment system feeding 13 rivers that run through the Park.
Home to abundant wildlife including the rare Grevy’s Zebra, Elephants,
Black Rhino, White Rhino, Cheetah, Leopard, Lions, Buffalo, Hippos,
Crocodiles and Reticulated Giraffe. There are also more than 427
recorded species of bird.
Ivory and Rhino Horn poaching and commercial bush meat poaching.
SWT/ KWS Meru Mobile Vet Unit, SWT/ KWS Meru Anti-Poaching Team, and
Sheldrick Trust funded extension of electric fence for the Meru Rhino
Founded in 1966 and made famous as the home of lioness, Elsa, Meru
National Park is home to a mosaic of different habitats and varied
landscapes with 13 permanent rivers running through the Park. At the
peak of Meru’s popularity, close to 40,000 people visited the Park but
in the late 1980s, intensive ivory poaching reduced the elephant
population from 3,500 to just 210. After significant investment into
the Park, several species including reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s
zebra, impala, leopard and elephant were reintroduced. Within the Park
also lies the Meru Rhino Sanctuary which now protects a population of
over 80 white and black rhino.
Israeli Navy ready to block Iranian oil exports in transit - Netanyahu
Law & Politics
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is prepared to throw the
power of its naval force – and urges the world to join in – to block
the Iranian oil shipments circumventing unilaterally imposed US
sanctions against Tehran.
“Iran is trying to bypass the sanctions on it through the covert
smuggling of petroleum via the sea.
As these attempts expand, the navy will have a more important role in
efforts to block these Iranian actions,” Netanyahu said at a navy
cadets’ graduation ceremony in Haifa on Wednesday.
Failing to explain how exactly Israel’s relatively small naval force
would impose the suggested blockade against Iranian oil tankers,
Netanyahu only emphasized that Israeli sailors are well-trained and
adept at carrying out sea missions against adversaries.
@narendramodi's dangerous moment @TheEconomist
Law & Politics
India and Pakistan should stop playing with fire
The armies of India and Pakistan often exchange fire across the front
line in the disputed state of Kashmir. When tensions rise, one side
will subject the other to a blistering artillery barrage. On occasion,
the two have sent soldiers on forays into one another’s territory. But
since the feuding neighbours tested nuclear weapons in the late 1990s,
neither had dared send fighter jets across the frontier—until this
week. After a terrorist group based in Pakistan launched an attack in
the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir that killed 40 soldiers, India
responded by bombing what it said was a terrorist training camp in the
Pakistani state of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistan retaliated by sending
jets of its own to bomb Indian targets. In the ensuing air battle,
both sides claim to have shot down the other’s aircraft, and Pakistan
captured an Indian pilot.
A miscalculation now could spell calamity. The fighting is already the
fiercest between the two countries since India battled to expel
Pakistani intruders from high in the Himalayas in 1999. The initial
Indian air raid struck not Pakistan’s bit of Kashmir, but well within
Pakistan proper and just 100km from the capital, Islamabad. That, in
effect, constituted a change in the rules of engagement between the
two (see article). India and Pakistan are so often at odds that there
is a tendency to shrug off their spats, but not since their most
recent, full-blown war in 1971 has the risk of escalation been so
The intention of Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, in ordering
the original air strike was simple. Pakistan has long backed
terrorists who mount grisly attacks in India, most notably in Mumbai
in 2008, when jihadists who arrived by boat from Pakistan killed some
165 people. Although Pakistan’s army promised then to shut down such
extremist groups, it has not. By responding more forcefully than usual
to the latest outrage, Mr Modi understandably wanted to signal that he
was not willing to allow Pakistan to keep sponsoring terrorism.
In the long run, stability depends on Pakistan ending its indefensible
support for terrorism. Its prime minister, Imran Khan, is urging
dialogue and, in a promising gesture, was due to release India’s
pilot—presumably with the approval of the army chief, who calls the
shots on matters of security.
But in the short run Mr Modi shares the responsibility to stop a
disastrous escalation. Because he faces an election in April, he faces
the hardest and most consequential calculations. They could come to
define his premiership.
Mr Modi has always presented himself as a bold and resolute military
leader, who does not shrink from confronting Pakistan’s provocations.
He has taken to repeating a catchphrase from the film “Uri”, which
portrays a commando raid he ordered against Pakistan in 2016 in
response to a previous terrorist attack as a moment of chin-jutting
The all-too-plausible fear is that his own tendency to swagger, along
with domestic political pressures, will spur him further down the
spiral towards war.
The ambiguity of Mr Modi’s beliefs only deepens the danger. He
campaigned at the election in 2014 as a moderniser, who would bring
jobs and prosperity to India. But, his critics charge, all his talk of
development and reform is simply the figleaf for a lifelong commitment
to a divisive Hindu-nationalist agenda.
Over the past five years Mr Modi has lived up neither to the hype nor
to the dire warnings. The economy has grown strongly under his
leadership, by around 7% a year. He has brought about reforms his
predecessors had promised but never delivered, such as a nationwide
goods-and-services tax (gst).
But unemployment has actually risen during Mr Modi’s tenure, according
to leaked data that his government has been accused of trying to
suppress (see article). The gst was needlessly complex and costly to
administer. Other pressing reforms have fallen by the wayside. India’s
banks are still largely in state hands, still prone to lend to the
well-connected. And as the election has drawn closer, Mr Modi has
resorted to politically expedient policies that are likely to harm the
economy. His government hounded the boss of the central bank out of
office for keeping interest rates high, appointing a replacement who
promptly cut them. And it has unveiled draft rules that would protect
domestic e-commerce firms from competition from retailers such as
By the same token, Mr Modi has not sparked the outright communal
conflagration his critics, The Economist included, fretted about
before he became prime minister. But his government has often
displayed hostility to India’s Muslim minority and sympathy for those
who see Hinduism—the religion of 80% of Indians—as under threat from
internal and external foes. He has appointed a bigoted Hindu prelate,
Yogi Adityanath, as chief minister of India’s most populous state,
Uttar Pradesh. A member of his cabinet presented garlands of flowers
to a group of Hindu men who had been convicted of lynching a Muslim
for selling beef (cows are sacred to Hindus). And Mr Modi himself has
suspended the elected government of Jammu & Kashmir, India’s only
Muslim-majority state, and used force to suppress protests there
against the central government, leading to horrific civilian
As reprehensible as all this is, the Hindu zealots who staff Mr Modi’s
electoral machine complain that he has not done enough to advance the
Hindu cause (see article). And public dissatisfaction with his
economic reforms has helped boost Congress, the main opposition party,
making the election more competitive than had been expected. The
temptation to fire up voters using heated brinkmanship with Pakistan
will be huge.
Mr Modi has made a career of playing with fire. He first rose to
prominence as chief minister of Gujarat when the state was racked by
anti-Muslim pogroms in 2002. Although there is no evidence he
orchestrated the violence, he has shown no compunction about
capitalising on the popularity it won him in Hindu-nationalist
circles. With a difficult election ahead, he may think he can pull off
the same trick again by playing the tough guy with Pakistan, but
without actually getting into a fight. However, the price of
miscalculation does not bear thinking about. Western governments are
pushing for a diplomatic settlement at the un. If Mr Modi really is a
patriot, he will now step back.
Apple Daily reported Taiwan was seeking 66 F-16V at a cost of $13 billion including missiles, logistics and training. @RT_com
Law & Politics
Taiwan has made a formal request to the US for new fighter jets to
defend itself against increasing Chinese threats, Deputy Defense
Minister Shen Yi-ming said on Thursday. “China has been increasing its
military strength and we are starting to have an imbalance of power in
our air defense capabilities,” Shen added. The request, if granted,
could ramp up tensions between China and the US. The island currently
has 326 fighter jets, all in service since the 1990s, including
US-made F-16s, French Mirage 2000s and Taiwan’s own indigenous
fighters (IDF), AFP said. Defense officials did not confirm how many
fighter jets they have asked for in the purchase request, or what
model, but local media Apple Daily reported Taiwan was seeking 66
F-16V at a cost of $13 billion including missiles, logistics and
The Chinese century is well under way @TheEconomist
Law & Politics
There is one economic metric on which China already ranks first.
Measured at market exchange rates, China’s gdp is still 40% smaller
than America’s. However, on a purchasing-power-parity (ppp) basis,
which adjusts currencies so that a basket of goods and services is
worth the same amount in different countries, the Chinese economy
became the world’s largest in 2013. Although China is often grouped
with other “emerging markets”, its performance is unique: its gdp per
person at ppp has risen tenfold since 1990. In general, poorer
economies grow faster than rich ones, because it is easier to “catch
up” when starting from a low base. Yet in other countries that were as
poor as China was in 1990, purchasing power has merely doubled.
China’s record has exerted a “gravitational pull” on the world’s
economic output. The Economist has calculated a geographic centre of
the global economy by taking an average of each country’s latitude and
longitude, weighted by their gdp. At the height of America’s
dominance, this point sat in the north Atlantic. But China has tugged
it so far east that the global centre of economic gravity is now in
Because China is so populous and is developing so quickly, it is
responsible for a remarkable share of global change. Since the start
of the financial crisis in 2008, for example, China has accounted for
45% of the gain in world gdp. In 1990 some 750m Chinese people lived
in extreme poverty; today fewer than 10m do. That represents
two-thirds of the world’s decline in poverty during that time. China
is also responsible for half of the total increase in patent
applications over the same period.
A sub-Saharan seduction @TheEconomist Africa is attracting ever more interest from powers elsewhere
Graham greene, chronicler of hazy entrepots, would have loved
Djibouti. A third of global shipping steams by this little bit of
north-east Africa. All the world, it seems, is crammed together in its
capital. French, Italian and Japanese military bases jostle each other
near the shore. Camp Lemonnier, formerly run by the French Foreign
Legion and now America’s only permanent military base in Africa, sits
by the airport; China’s first such base is a little to the north-west
of it. Indian and British embassies will soon open. Within weeks the
Turkiye Diyanet Foundation will open the largest mosque in east Africa
in the city; the muezzin will struggle to be heard amid the roar of
fighter jets overhead.
From the top of the minaret you can see China—not because it rises all
the way to orbit, but because there is a lot of China to see right in
front of you. Djibouti is small, but it boasts a multipurpose port, a
railway to Ethiopia and the beginnings of a free-trade zone which,
once finished, will be the largest in Africa. They were all built by
Chinese state-owned firms and are at least partly run by them. On a
visit to the port (pictured) your correspondent waves at the sailors
on a Chinese naval vessel one berth along from a freighter filled with
Ukrainian grain; their returning looks prompt the question of what is
Mandarin for disdain.
According to McKinsey, a management consultancy, there are now 10,000
Chinese businesses on the African continent. China’s dramatic
investments have encouraged other countries, most notably India, to
follow suit. At the same time, China is changing the terms of its
engagement, increasingly cashing in economic connections for political
and military ties—again with others, such as Turkey and Russia,
looking to do the same. Alex Vines of Chatham House, a think-tank in
London, talks of a “new scramble for Africa”.
Comparisons to the European race for colonies in the late 19th century
gall Africans keen to point out vast differences. It is true that the
resources colonialists coveted still provide a lure. But the new
scramblers want more than just a share of what Africa has; they want a
stake in what it is now trying to build—in the economies and growing
global stature of the world’s second-most-populous continent, poised
between two of its three great oceans.
This suggests that the continent will increasingly be a place where
international rivalries play out. In a speech in December John Bolton,
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, spoke of it as the
site for a new era of “great power competition”. But such competition
does not have to be a zero-sum game. Infrastructure investments tend
to benefit all comers, not just the investors. Most of all, they can
benefit Africans. Though the new scramblers are often powerful, much
of what they want cannot just be taken. It must be given. African
nations are the primary players in the game. How they play it will be
a decisive factor in how well the continent fulfils the promise
outsiders see in it.
According to the Diplometrics project at the University of Denver more
than 320 embassies or consulates were opened in Africa between 2010
and 2016. Turkey alone opened 26 (see maps). The boom continues: last
year India announced it would open 18 more. Foreign leaders are
supporting the diplomatic push. This year Vladimir Putin, the Russian
president, is set to host the first Russia-Africa summit, a tribute
act to the triennial Forum on Africa-China Co-operation (focac), in
Beijing. Hosted by President Xi Jinping, last year’s focac attracted
more African leaders than the annual meeting of the un General
Assembly. Japan and Britain are also hosting gatherings in the coming
When not hosting African politicians, foreign leaders are visiting
them. China’s top officials made 79 visits to Africa in the decade up
to 2018. Since 2008 Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has paid
more than 30 visits to African countries, most of them sub-Saharan.
Emmanuel Macron has visited the continent nine times since becoming
president of France in 2017; Narendra Modi has visited eight African
countries during his five years in power in India. But not all are so
keen. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian have visited more African leaders
than has Mr Trump, who has yet to set foot on the continent.
Such visits and summits are in part efforts to make use of Africa’s
diplomatic clout. Its 54 nations make up more than a quarter of the un
General Assembly and by custom it always has three of the 15
non-permanent seats on the Security Council. China has persuaded
nearly every African state to ditch diplomatic recognition of Taiwan;
only eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) remains to be swayed. Russia has
petitioned African politicians over its claims to Crimea; 28 African
countries abstained on a General Assembly motion condemning the
annexation. Israel has sought recognition of Jerusalem as its capital,
and now has Togo on its side.
Military ties are strengthening alongside the diplomatic ones. The
Horn of Africa has become part of the broader competition between
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (uae) on one side and Iran,
Qatar and Turkey on the other. In 2017 Turkey built its largest
overseas military base, and its first in Africa, in Somalia. Saudi
Arabia and the uae have launched attacks into Yemen from their
positions in the Horn. Saudi Arabia has also recruited soldiers from
Sudan, some of them children. It is also thought to be keen to open a
base in Djibouti; the uae is set to open a new one in neighbouring
China’s military influence stretches well beyond the base in Djibouti.
Last year the People’s Liberation Army (pla) conducted exercises in
Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana and Nigeria. Chinese popular culture celebrates
Africa as a place for derring-do. In 2017 “Wolf Warrior 2”, a film in
which Chinese special forces save beleaguered doctors in Africa, set
new records at the box office. “Peacekeeping Infantry Battalion”, a
television show, celebrates China’s role as a provider of blue
helmets. The country fields more un peacekeepers than any of the
Security Council’s other four permanent members, most of them in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, South Sudan and Sudan.
This interest in peace goes hand in hand with a brisk business in
arms; China sells more weapons in sub-Saharan Africa than any other
nation. It accounted for 27% of the region’s arms imports in 2013-17,
compared with 16% in 2008-12, according to the Stockholm International
Peace Research Institute. China claims military ties, some of them
simply co-operative rather than commercial, with 45 African
governments. Its aims are several, says Lina Benabdallah of Wake
Forest University. It wants to be seen as a power with
intercontinental reach. It wants to protect trade; in Beijing, east
Africa is counted part of “the Maritime Silk Road”. And there are more
than 1m Chinese living in Africa who may need protection, too. During
the Libyan revolution of 2011 a Chinese naval vessel helped in the
evacuation of thousands of Chinese contractors from the country.
Chinese expansion has worried other Asian powers. Japan is enlarging
its base in Djibouti. India is developing a network of radar and
listening posts around the Indian Ocean, though plans for a base in
the Seychelles were blocked by the archipelago last year. In March the
Indian army will host its first military exercises with a number of
African countries, including Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
Keeping up with the Joneses is not the only reason for military
involvement. European countries are stepping up their presence in the
Sahel, the arid region on the southern edge of the Sahara desert,
aiming both to quell Islamic terrorism and stem the flow of migrants
to Europe. The eu is also supporting soldiers from the “g5 Sahel”
group of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
Russia’s moves are more muscular, and more mercenary. Often the key
figures are cronies of Mr Putin, like Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former
chef, rather than official state employees. Mr Vines likens them to
Cecil Rhodes and other 19th-century imperialists who would lead
private invasions with the implicit protection of the government back
home. Last year, after the Central African Republic (car) asked for
help fighting rebels, Russia barged aside France, the car’s former
colonial ruler, quickly sending arms and advisers. Experts in
extractive industry soon followed. The defence ministry is now home to
a group of Russian “advisers”. Last year’s Miss Central African
Republic beauty pageant attracted the generous sponsorship of Lobaye
Invest, a Russian diamond company.
Though its role in the car is the most high-profile, Russia has been
intensifying its links across Africa. At least 250,000 Africans were
trained in or by the Soviet Union before its demise in 1991, which
provides scope for the renewal of old relationships. Russian political
advisers have been busy in countries such as Zimbabwe, Guinea and
As others have bolstered links with Africa, America has “stepped
away”, notes Judd Devermont of the Centre for Strategic and
International Studies, a think-tank. It has cut funding for
development and diplomatic programmes. It has announced a 10%
reduction in troops in Africa and has left key positions unfilled; it
took Mr Trump’s administration 18 months to fill the top Africa job in
the State Department.
America’s relative economic importance is also waning. In 2006
America, China and France were the three countries doing the most
trade with sub-Saharan Africa, defined as the sum of imports and
exports (see chart). From 2006 to 2018 Chinese trade increased by 226%
and India’s by 292%. Other countries also posted impressive increases,
although from low starting points: 216% for Turkey, 335% for Russia,
224% for Indonesia. The eu, still all-told the region’s largest
trading partner, managed only a modest 41%. American trade with
sub-Saharan Africa shrank.
The top sources of foreign direct investment (fdi) are firms from
America, Britain and France. But last year a un report on global fdi
found that the “geographical sources of fdi to Africa are becoming
more diversified.” China’s stock of fdi grew from $16bn in 2011 to
$40bn in 2016, slightly less than France’s ($49bn). Investments from
companies based in Singapore have grown markedly, too.
Access to Africa’s natural resources remains critical. But economic
relations are about much more than commodities. One-third of
sub-Saharan countries can expect gdp growth of more than 5% this year,
according to the imf. The number of mobile-phone and data
subscriptions will grow by almost 5% per year over the next five
years, more than twice the global average, as nearly 300m Africans
move online by 2025, according to gsma, a trade association.
Food imports and exports are also growing. Gulf countries, which
import 80-90% of their food, have recently struck agricultural deals
with Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Sudan and Tanzania. Other
countries see Africa as a customer for excess capacity. China, which
has run up huge stockpiles, sold more than 781,000 tonnes of rice to
African countries in 2017, more than ten times the amount in 2016,
with Ivory Coast overtaking South Korea as the biggest importer.
And African countries are increasingly home to foreign manufacturing
firms. Chinese state-backed companies have helped set up “special
economic zones” in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda as well as Djibouti.
Olam International, a Singaporean company, operates a free-trade zone
in Gabon; India is trying to open one in Mauritius. Turkey has a
facility next to the Chinese one in Djibouti, part of a set of
ambitious plans for the continent which include building railways in
Tanzania, airport terminals in Ghana and much of the “futuristic”
Diamniadio Lake City in Senegal. Turkish Airlines, which is 49%
state-owned, flies to more than 50 African cities.
Others are thus positioned to take up some slack as China recalibrates
its approach to the continent to make it less expensive. Rather than
announcing a doubling or tripling of its financial pledges to African
countries, as it had at previous focacs, last year China offered a
package less generous than the previous one. Part of this shift is
because some Chinese deals in Africa have gone sour, angering Chinese
investors. Sinosure, the state-owned insurer, had to write off $1bn in
losses on the railway from Djibouti to Ethiopia after fewer passengers
turned up than expected. In September Mr Xi warned against
state-backed investments which amount to “vanity projects”.
China is also sensitive to accusations of “debt-trap diplomacy”: using
loans countries cannot pay back to extract other concessions from
them. In Africa this charge is easily exaggerated. China is the
primary creditor to just three African countries: Congo-Brazzaville,
Djibouti and Zambia, according to the China Africa Research Initiative
at Johns Hopkins University. On average, 32% of African external
public debt is owed to private lenders and 35% to multilateral
institutions such as the World Bank. China is the biggest bilateral
lender, but its loans are just 20% of the total.
But criticism of some loans seems amply justified. In Kenya local
journalists have been probing the terms of the $3.2bn railway between
Nairobi and Mombasa, with worries that Mombasa’s port may be pledged
as collateral. “Ultimately the debt problem is an African problem,”
says Anzetse Were, a Kenyan economist. “But China is finally getting
This may encourage the West to increase its economic efforts. In
September the eu announced it would give €40bn in grants from 2021 to
2027, building on Germany’s “Marshall Plan for Africa” launched in
2017. In October last year America doubled the lending capacity of its
Overseas Private Investment Corporation to $60bn; it is also now
allowed, for the first time in 50 years, to invest in equity as well
as debt. “We would not have gotten that much money from them without
China,” says Ms Were.
“African leaders realise they have more choices than ever,” says
Carlos Lopes, a negotiator for the African Union. They are no longer
bound to their coloniser or in one cold-war camp. They can weigh
priorities and offers and, at least to some extent, play off suitors.
Yet there are reasons to be wary.
The first is that African countries usually remain the weaker partner
in military and economic agreements. In a rush to sign
headline-grabbing deals African leaders often agree to onerous terms.
Better-trained negotiating teams would help, says Ms Were; so would
better language skills among African diplomats. On the structural
front, there could be strength in unity. The African Continental Free
Trade Area agreement, which needs ratification by just three more
countries to enter into force, could be a big plus, giving the
continent a single voice in some negotiations.
The second reason to be cautious about Africa’s bounty of choices is
that it may mean more options for corruption. What is a good deal for
leaders is often a poor one for the led. Western diplomats praise
Djibouti in private for the skill with which it has played countries
off against one another to secure rent on military bases and
infrastructure deals. How much this guile improved the lot of the
citizenry, rather than the country’s elites, is unclear.
Democracy and transparency are the antidotes to corruption. Recently
in Kenya and Ghana, for example, local media, civil society and
opposition parties have been able to scrutinise dodgy deals signed by
their governments. Sadly, however, Russia and China do not care about
African democracy. They may claim that their policy is not to
interfere. But their propping up of autocrats—China’s support for
Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville, Russia’s for
Faustin-Archange Touadéra of the car—amounts to intervention of a
particularly reactionary kind.
The West, too, has a long history of supporting its preferred
“strongmen” on the continent. Since the cold war, though, it has by
and large promoted liberal reforms, if haphazardly and with
exceptions. America’s apathy on matters African is one reason such
initiatives have slowed of late, but re-engagement would not
necessarily set things right. The new Africa “strategy” outlined by Mr
Bolton in December made no mention of democracy.
That is short-sighted. For African countries need more than extra
choices over whom they strike deals with. They need the power to
choose their politicians, too.
"Bury him, don't elect him" @TheEconomist Algeria's ailing 82-year-old president wants a fifth term
ABDELAZIZ BOUTEFLIKA started his campaign for a fifth term as
Algeria’s president by promising not to finish it. The ailing ruler,
who turned 82 this month, is not even in the country. An associate
filed the papers for his candidacy while Mr Bouteflika lay in a Geneva
hospital bed. For two weeks Algerians have been protesting against his
decision to run. The largest rally, on March 1st, drew tens of
thousands of people. In a letter read on state television, Mr
Bouteflika acknowledged their cri de cœur. If re-elected he vowed to
call a new presidential vote—and not to contest it.
Mr Bouteflika has rarely been seen in public since a stroke in 2013.
In rare videos from official events he appears hunched over in a
wheelchair, seemingly unable to speak. That such an invalid could rule
the country, even for another year, strikes many of his citizens as an
insult. “Respect the dead. Bury him, don’t elect him,” quips one
poster seen at the demonstrations.
It is likely that Ali Ghadiri, a retired army general, will be the
only real opposition candidate.
Mr Bouteflika has ruled Algeria since 1999. He helped end the bloody
civil war against Islamists that killed some 200,000 Algerians in the
1990s. His party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), led the
struggle for independence from France a half-century earlier. But
appeals to the past offer little legitimacy in a country where the
median age is 28. Most of Algeria’s 42m citizens have no real memory
of the civil war, let alone the French occupation. All they have known
is one president ruling over an opaque political system. With Mr
Bouteflika ill, power rests in the hands of le pouvoir (the power), a
cabal of army officers and businessmen who have grown rich off
When he faced protests in 2011 Mr Bouteflika bought his way out of
trouble with subsidies, pay rises for civil servants and other
handouts. This strategy is no longer viable. A decade ago Algeria
posted healthy surpluses; last year it ran a deficit equal to 9% of
GDP. Foreign reserves have shrunk by 55% since 2013 (see chart). Oil
prices are projected to average just over $60 a barrel this year. The
government says they must be above $99 to balance the budget.
Unemployment is 11%, and more than twice that for young people.
Ahmed Gaid Salah, the army chief, accused the protesters of trying to
drag Algeria back to the days of civil war. “In Syria, protests began
with flowers and ended with blood,” warned Ahmed Ouyahia, the prime
Even if Mr Bouteflika is re-elected, he cannot take office without
swearing an oath “before the people”. It is unclear that he can manage
that. Whether he can survive a full term is doubtful. Opposition
parties want to delay the vote. There was talk earlier this year of le
pouvoir dumping le président, but they could not agree on a new
candidate. After decades of autocracy, Algeria’s hollow political
institutions offer few alternatives—though perhaps there is a mechanic
named Abdelaziz Bouteflika open to an unexpected career change.
El Beshir mulls the endgame @Africa_Conf
A state of emergency, appointing military governors and disowning his
political allies has done nothing to halt demands for the President's
As demonstrators across the country win growing support in their call
for his exit, President Omer el Beshir's choices are diminishing
quickly and regional developments are moving against him (AC Vol 60 No
4, Pushing Beshir towards the exit).
Most of the negotiations behind closed doors include the idea of a
political transition from the current regime to one that could hold
How and when El Beshir leaves power in that process is far from
settled. The two critical factors are the strength of the opposition
movements which have united around calls for his departure and El
Beshir's vulnerability to an internal putsch by senior officers in the
The determination of the opposition is not in doubt but there are few
signs yet of chinks in the high command's public support for El
Beshir, despite reports of splits and conspiracies against him (AC Vol
60 No 1, The people's spring against Beshir).
Many senior officers, complicit in decades of atrocities in Darfur,
the Nuba mountains and elsewhere, worry about retribution should the
regime come tumbling down.
At best, we hear, that many want to see a managed transition in which
El Beshir maintains a role, akin to that of F.W. de Klerk's position
in the dying days of apartheid South Africa.
For Sudanese activists such a parallel, suggested quietly at the
African Union meeting in Addis last month, is simply surrealistic.
El Beshir's announcement of a state of emergency on 22 February, which
was met with an uptick in protests, appears to be a bid to ensure the
military's loyalty by appointing senior officers to all 18 provincial
A Khartoum source described the move as a coup against the ruling
National Congress Party which stripped the civilian Islamists of
Although the opposition and some regional governments insist that El
Beshir's exit is an essential first step to organising a transition,
the ruling clique has been trying to obfuscate the issues.
At the Munich security summit on 15-17 February, security chief Salah
Mohamed Abdullah 'Gosh' was reported to have lobbied his counterparts
from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates to find ways to
back an exit strategy or soft-landing for El Beshir.
That leaked out when the Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite channel
reported that Gosh had met with Israeli security officials in Munich.
Not only has that complicated the relationship of Gosh (until then
regarded by some as the second most powerful man in the country) with
El Beshir, but it has reinforced the rift between Khartoum and Qatar.
Earlier in the year, El Beshir had flown to Qatar in pursuit of a
financial bail-out. Not only was he turned down and refused meetings
with senior officials but the Doha regime humiliated him by not
inviting him to a military passing out parade at which most of the
students were Sudanese.
Qatar's problem with El Beshir is his siding with Saudi Arabia and UAE
in the Yemen war, in which the money paid for Sudanese troops has
become a vital prop for Khartoum's treasury.
It also takes issue with the way that El Beshir – again at the behest
of Saudi Arabia and Egypt – has ostensibly distanced himself from
supporters of the Muslim Brothers as the price for their continued
Other interlocutors with El Beshir and his ruling clique – including
the African Union, the United Nations, the United States State
Department, and internal political groups – have come away with
different interpretations of what any transition will involve. UN, US
and European Union representatives consider that the transition is
likely to involve the President stepping down in the near feature,
with or without the carrot of the suspension of the International
Criminal Court charges against him (AC Vol 60 No 4, Pushing Beshir
towards the exit). The weakest version of this formula is that El
Beshir simply pledges not to run in the 2020 elections.
We hear that the EU representatives (most of whom are members of the
ICC) are less willing than the US to contemplate any suspension of the
genocide charges against El Beshir as it would set a precedent, and
could ring the death knell of the court.
The US government, notably National Security Advisor John Bolton and
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, oppose the Court and abjure any US
cooperation with it.
Thabo Mbeki's team from the AU appear to envisage a role for El Beshir
in managing the transition and are keen to keep any involvement of the
UN to a minimum.
Following discussions between UN Secretary General António Guterres
and El Beshir in Addis Ababa last month, Khartoum sources have told us
the President's office firmly quashed any idea of another UN special
rapporteur on Sudan.
Guterres's idea of appointing Nicholas Haysom as his special envoy was
opposed by both El Beshir and Mbeki's group at the AU.
The central contest remains between the opposition formations and the
state's security apparatus.
What has changed the situation is the determination and resilience of
the demonstrators in 15 states in the country, and then the
organisation by the professional groups of doctors, lawyers, teachers
and journalists who organised strikes in Khartoum, El Obeid, Medani
and several other cities.
They started on 19 December and are still building support.
Using different means of organisation – mass protests, small
assemblies, sit-ins, strikes, speeches in markets, and quick ad-hoc
protests – this new opposition movement has quickly gathered mass
support and wrong-footed El Beshir and the security agencies.
This flexibility and agility of the protestors has inspired the
fast-growing movement in Algeria which demands the departure of
four-term President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
US officials argue their continuing dialogue with El Beshir, which
envisages an unspecified transition process, has been a restraining
influence on the regime (AC Vol 58 No 15, Sanctions test for Trump).
For their part, the regime's security forces started with generalised
arrests during the protests, beating, interrogating and torturing
demonstrators, then compelling them to sign undertakings not to
participate in future protests. Some were released within a day but
known activists were held for much longer periods.
As the protests gathered momentum, security agents made many more
targeted arrests of known activists, members of such groups as the
Communist Party, Sudan Call or the Sudan Liberation Movement. None of
these groups have any interest in joining the National Dialogue
currently being promoted by Gosh.
In the absence of a widely agreed strategy for a transition, that
suggests El Beshir and the military will ratchet up the repression,
hoping to break the will of the growing opposition. Judging by the
last three months, that will no longer work.
Two main DR Congo parties urge leaders to form coalition government @AFP @YahooNews
Kinshasa (AFP) - The parties of DR Congo's new President Felix
Tshisekedi and his predecessor Joseph Kabila on Wednesday urged the
two leaders to form a coalition government after weeks of failed
Tshisekedi, 55, assumed office in January after a disputed election
mired by fraud allegations, taking over from Kabila who had been in
power for 18 years.
It was the first orderly transfer of power since Democratic Republic
of Congo gained independence from Belgium in 1960, but Tshisekedi has
found himself effectively having to share power since the December 30
He has not been able to push through his choice for prime minister as
Kabila's Common Front for Congo (FCC) wields a huge majority in the
National Assembly, which also held elections on December 30.
The stalemate has put a brake on Tshisekedi's declared ambitions of
reforming a country marked by corruption and rights abuses.
The FCC has more than two-thirds of the 485 seats while the Heading
for Change (Cach) coalition, which backs Tshisekedi, has some 50
In a joint statement on Wednesday, the two parties recognised the
parliamentary make-up but said they had a "common will to govern
together as part of a coalition government".
This path would aim to preserve the "achievements of the historic
peaceful transfer of power that took place on January 24, 2019 to
strengthen the climate of peace and stability of the country... and
facilitate the rapid establishment of a government," it added.
The statement came after Tshisekedi vented his frustration during a
visit to Namibia last week at being unable to assemble a majority to
back his choice for prime minister.
Tshisekedi said he would "not accept being a president who reigns but
The official presidential runner-up, Martin Fayulu, said on Wednesday
he would refuse to take his seat as an MP, describing the role as
inappropriate for someone who considered himself to be the country's
Fayulu has repeatedly said the presidential election was rigged,
claiming the result was a stitch-up between Tshisekedi and Kabila.
He was officially credited with 34.8 percent of the vote against 38.5
percent for Tshisekedi.
But Fayulu maintains he picked up around 60 percent of the vote.
"I was elected president of the republic -- I cannot fall back to
being an MP, never!" he told AFP.
"I am the elected president, and this is what I consider myself to be.
I cannot be both the elected president and an MP," he said.
An aide to Fayulu confirmed that the MP had written to the
administration of the National Assembly to say "he will not take his
seat as a member for the city of Kinshasa".
Diplomatic progress as Angola hosts Portugal president @africanews
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is in the Angolan capital
of Luanda where, together with his counterpart Joao Lourenco, they
will continue to restore relations that have previously been strained
by anti-corruption issues.
The visit follows Angolan leader Joao Lourenco’s landmark November
visit to Lisbon in which he sought to set aside tensions created by
Portugal’s investigation of graft under his predecessor Jose Eduardo
“This state visit clearly marks a new chapter in the already strong
relations between our two countries,” said Lourenco, who added both
sides were working towards “developing exemplary relations”.
De Sousa said there was a “political will to overcome the problems of the past”.
“The current level of political and economic relations between
Portugal and Angola is excellent.”
During the November trip Lourenco compared the fight against
corruption in his country to “touching a wasps nest”.
A key source of friction between Luanda and Lisbon was removed in May
when a Portuguese court decided that Angola’s former vice president
Manuel Vicente can face a corruption trial in Angola instead of
Lourenco had demanded that the trial take place in his country, “so
that relations between Angola and Portugal can return to the level of
the recent past”.
Chatham House analyst Alex Vines said the visit “is a further step in
the normalisation of bilateral relations”.
“A year ago the relationship was fractious — mostly due to a
Portuguese judicial investigation into allegations of corruption
surrounding the former vice president Manuel Vicente,” he added.
“When Portugal handed over the investigative process to come under
Angolan law, a remarkable thawing resulted in President Joao Lourenco
visiting Portugal officially in late 2018 and now this further step in
Luis Vaz de Camoes SONNET
LEAVE me, all sweet refrains my lip hath made;
Leave me, all instruments attuned for song;
Leave me, all fountains pleasant meads among;
Leave me, all charms of garden and glade;
Leave me, all melodies the pipe hath played;
Leave me, all rural feast and sportive throng;
Leave me, all flocks the reed beguiles along;
Leave me, all shepherds happy in the shade.
Sun, moon and stars, for me no longer glow;
Night would I have, to wail for vanished peace;
Let me from pole to pole no pleasure know;
Let all that I have loved and cherished cease;
But see that thou forsake me not, my Woe,
Who wilt, by killing, finally release.
25-FEB-2019 :: This is the right move but I would definitely be short at 2.5
Zimbabwe finally overhauled its dysfunctional,''whack'' and even
Voodoo FX regime.
Zimbabwe’s government dropped its insistence that a quasi-currency
known as bond notes are at par with the dollar as it overhauled
foreign-exchange trading and effectively devalued the securities.
While the government has previously insisted that bond notes and RTGS
dollars are worth the same as U.S. dollars, the units currently trade
at between 3.66 and 3.8 to the dollar respectively on the black market
“The introduction of a Zim dollar will be just in name, but the RTGS$
is essentially the Zim dollar.”
Tendai Biti is predicting a 6-8 range whilst the Government is looking
for it to appreciate to 2.5 which is best characterised as
''Hail-Mary'' economics. This is the right move but I would definitely
be short at 2.5, if it ever gets there which is entirely unlikely.
04-MAR-2019 :: Meanwhile the Kenya Shilling crossed the psychologically important 100.00 mark last week
Meanwhile the Kenya Shilling crossed the psychologically important
100.00 mark last week. We underestimate the regional safe haven status
of the currency and I have noticed that these downside moves in the
Tanzanian Shilling are being mirrored by the strengthening of the
Kenya Shilling. The GOK appears to be inclining towards heavier
issuance in the Kenya Shilling with a tax Free Infrastructure Bond
slated for sale. If this is the thinking, then I expect the Shilling
to strengthen further as Kenya taps offshore funds. The Charts signal
a move as far as 92.00 but that might be too bold.
28-JAN-2019 :: A move below a 100.00 would catch a lot of people off-guard.
Every January every year every forecast about the shilling predicts a
10%-15% devaluation. Its mind boggling. The key levers with regard to
the shilling are the price of fuel [We have to write a cheque every
month], inward Remittances [flew off the chart last year and its not
clear to me if that bump will turn out to be ‘’amnesty’’ affected] and
I think we underestimate the regional ‘’safe-haven’’ status that the
Kenya Shilling has earned. A move below a 100.00 would catch a lot of
06-NOV-2018 :: The Shilling. @TheStarKenya
The Central Bank is sitting on the highest hard currency reserves in
its history. Remittances have surged by 71.9% year on year to $266.2M
in June 2018 from $54.9M in June 2017. Remittances are the most
important source of forex bar none. Our single biggest expense Item is
of course Crude Oil and you will have noted that since the Istanbul
incident, the crown prince has been finessing the price lower to
release some of the pressure in what remains a pressure cooker.