"Part of the reason why poverty still persists in our continent is governments inability to work in a bi-partisan manner with the opposition to confront the many problems facing us as a continent. In almost all the advanced democracies a government in power works or listens to the opposition in matters of national importance such as education, defence, energy and the economy. However in Africa such matters are always hijacked by the ruling government to the detriment of the nation and its people". Lord Aikins Adusei

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Africa Strategic Interest in the 21st Century


There are many strategic thinkers who believe that Africa’s underdog position in the world stems from the fact majority if not all the countries do not pursue policies that put the interest of their countries and people first. That is each of the countries in Africa does not work for the interest of its people by putting the interest of the nation and its people ahead of all other interests. There is a consensus among policy-makers that if each African country should work for its own interest while coordinating with other countries on the continent on issues such as free trade, energy security, and political stability among others there will be more successful economies in Africa than we have seen over the years. The lack of ‘Africa first’ as both an ideology and as a strategy has been one major factor that has delayed the continent’s development.
Every country in the world works for the interest of its people. US, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, Korea all work to develop their economies for their citizens to benefit and these countries do not care what means they use to achieve those interests. But here in Africa governments sell resources and don't account to the people. Politicians only campaign for votes but not for development. There is complete lack of policies that articulate the concerns and interests of the countries and their citizens. In the 1980s and 1990s many national assets were sold under Structural Adjustment Programme to foreign entities without considering the interest of the countries and their citizens. Today there are countries in Africa where multinational corporations have major shares in mining, oil, and timber, firms while the nations and their peoples who own the natural resources get very little.
Africans are quick to sell raw materials to countries Europe, North America and Asia without asking what they (Africans) could do with those natural resources.

It looks as if African governments do not have any specific interest in the world. They have not projected themselves as nations that matter in any sectors of the world affairs. It is not that these countries do not know what they must do; the problem is that the leaders have often tended to serve the interest of others rather than their countries.
The governments always give their support to countries trying to get a platform in the world and seeking their interest on the continent and some have done so even to the detriment of their own countries. One clear example is the announcement by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia that her country is willing to host AFRICOM even though she has not consulted her people or the countries in the West Africa sub-region. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wrote on the allAfrica.com guest column “AFRICOM Can Help Governments Willing To Help Themselves,” where she horned Africom as a marshall plan for Africa’s development and encouraged African nations to ‘work with Africom to achieve their own development and security goals’ Source: allAfrica.com, 25 June 2007. This attitude is part of the reason why nations like Liberia and Nigeria have not developed. There is no collective national interest, neither is there any effort to do so rather they tend to support others whose interest is to exploit the continent to benefit their citizens.
The Guardian newspaper in Nigeria quoted Sanusi Lamido, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria as saying: “As an economist, I have done and looked at the input and output content of the Nigerian economy, and I have never seen an economy with a kind of black hole like that of Nigeria. We produced cotton, yet our textile plants are not working; we produce crude oil, we import petroleum products; we produce gas and export, yet we don’t have power plant. We have iron ore, we don’t have steel plant; and we have hide and skin, we don’t have leader products”. There is a black hole in Nigeria and other African countries’ economy because for decades the leadership in these countries have deferred their countries’ interest to entities such as multinational corporations and foreign governments as is in the case of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Last year (2009) US, China, Russia, France, Britain, Iran, Israel all sent foreign ministers, presidents, prime ministers and other powerful government officials to Africa to pursue their interests. United States has been urged by the Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies and Africa Oil Policy Initiative Group to declare the Gulf of Guinea a strategic interest and US under AFRICOM is seriously lobbying African governments to allow her to establish military bases so as to achieve her strategic goals.
A declassified document of the US Defence Department regarding the strategic importance of West Africa states that: 'West Africa is a swing production region that allows oil companies to leverage production capabilities to meet the fluctuating world demands.. . .West African oil is of high quality, is easily accessed offshore, and is well positioned to supply the North American market. Production in two major oil producing states (Nigeria and Angola) is expected to double or triple in the next 5-10 years. Already Nigeria and Angola provide as much oil to the U.S. as Venezuela or Mexico, making it of strategic importance.'
Walter Kansteiner, the US assistant secretary of State for Africa speaking about what Africa oil means to his country said: "African oil is of national strategic interest to us, and it will increase and become more important as we go forward."
The United States is not hiding her strategic ambition in Africa, however, I am yet to see Nigeria or Ghana or Senegal, Angola, and Namibia saying wait a minute what is our strategic interest in the Gulf of Guinea, how do we want to see the oil wealth in the Gulf of Guinea exploited and utilised to benefit our peoples and how do we contain the powers that are seeking to exploit the region’s vast mineral wealth. How do we coordinate to ensure that our peoples get the lion share from the oil deals; or how do we work together to strengthen security and prevent terrorists from getting foothold in West Africa? Such issues as the economy, energy security, political stability and infrastructure do not appear on the radars of the countries in Africa. There are few role model countries in Africa where the rest can learn from. The kind of competition that we saw in Asia that led to the industrialisation of countries like Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, which has given them a sense of national pride has not occurred in Africa. I am yet to see the foreign policy of Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, DRC, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya etc. that put the interest of their people first. To me it looks as if each of these countries does not have interest that has to be articulated through their foreign policies.
Nations around the world are launching satellites to strengthen their economies, boost their communication capabilities and to police their countries, others are building a new generation of technologies to help propel and give their nations good footing in the increasingly competitive global economy. You don’t see such aggressive efforts in Africa. Nigeria is sleeping, Angola is still reeling from decades of war, DRC lacks a strong central government to formulate and implement any policy at all. The end result is that a vacuum has been created which is being filled strategically by the United States as in the case of her military base Djibouti.
The lack of strategic interest on the part of African nations means that they will have to rely on countries like US, Britain, France, and China for their security and economic needs, but for how long? How will they win the fight against poverty, hunger, diseases and illiteracy if they do not champion their own strategic interest and how are they expected to be taken serious if they continue to champion the strategic interest of others rather than their own?
Author: Lord Aikins Adusei
E-mail:politicalthinker1@yahoo.com

Anyaoku, Sanusi, others lament Nigeria’s woes

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FORMER Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido, and erstwhile presidential candidate cum economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, yesterday lamented Nigeria’s growing economic and political misfortune under the current democratic dispensation.

They submitted that Nigeria needed to look inward in order resolve most of the inhibitions hampering democracy and good governance in the country.
Anyaoku, in a paper he delivered at a Kaduna town hall meeting chaired by President Shehu Shagari, titled: “Nigeria at 50 In the Eyes of the international Community,” lamented the failures by successive Nigerian governments to transform the country into a medium power and set a baseline for developing nations to follow.

He added: “The challenges are stark but, to my view, surmountable if sincerely and single-mindedly tackled by our leaders. They include failure to conduct credible elections, the pervasiveness of corruption, which continues to drain our treasuries and stifle our national development, the Niger Delta situation, the dilapidated state of the country's infrastructure, the effects of do-or-die approach to politics, and the breakdown of our society's value system as evidenced in particular in worship of money, leading to rampant ambition to make money by fair or foul means.”
Anyaoku noted that “President Goodluck Jonathan has made a promising start towards credible election by the appointment of Prof. Attahiru Jega, a widely respected man of integrity and proven capability as the new INEC chairman,” stressing that “the achievement of credible elections will depend not only on the character of the chairman and his commissioners, but also on credible electoral registers, on efficient logistical arrangements, and honest and committed behaviour by all the staff of INEC.”

Anyaoku stated: “Nigeria at 50 is still seen by most of the international community as Africa's sleeping giant. On the one hand, Nigeria's friends and well-wishers share the optimism of her citizens in believing that she is destined to become a great country when she succeeds in tackling the challenges.
“But there are skeptics who, because of the disappointment that Nigeria has fallen far behind countries like Malaysia and South Korea which were at comparable stage of development 50 years ago, remain doubtful that Nigeria can realise its potentials in the foreseeable future.”

Sanusi, who delivered a keynote address at the event, pointed out that in spite of the strategic resources, which Nigeria was endowed with, the nation still found it difficult to make progress among the comity of nations.
He argued that “it is rather disgraceful” that the nation continues to grapple with development agenda, despite the enormous mineral and agricultural resources at the disposal of government.

Sanusi stressed: “As an economist, I have done and looked at the input and output content of the Nigerian economy, and I have never seen an economy with a kind of black hole like that of Nigeria. We produced cotton, yet our textile plants are not working; we produce crude oil, we import petroleum products; we produce gas and export, yet we don’t have power plant. We have iron ore, we don’t have steel plant; and we have hide and skin, we don’t have leader products.”
Utomi, who spoke yesterday at the 2nd Oyo State Economic Summit with the theme: “Partnership for Economic Development”, identified the failure of successive leaders to take the right decisions at the right time as responsible for the nation’s slow pace of development.

He also listed right policy choices, a regime of true justice, human capital development, building entrepreneurs, revival of the right values and right leadership as necessary ingredients for the economic development of Nigeria.
Chairman of the summit and legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola, submitted that no government could on its own improve on the fortunes of the society. He said: “The trend across the globe today is to involve public-spirited citizens and organisations in the infrastructural, socio-economic and educational projects of the government.”
In his speech, Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala said with the summit, the state sought to intimate investors with its potentials in the areas of arable land, qualified manpower and good governance without which there could be no viable economic activities.

The Guardian

Unity in Africa will remain illusion without sacrifice



For decades the dream of an African continent united under one leadership, one government with a prosperous people with shared values, shared interest, common citizenship and with a common destiny and taking their place in the world community of nations has escaped the leadership in Africa. On the 12th of February 2009 Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade is quoted as saying: "The United States of Africa will be proclaimed in 2017, to allow for the time needed to work out the different African institutions," (Source: Pan-African News Agency, 12 February 2009).

If the United States of Africa is realized it will be a milestone for many who want to see a united Africa with a common foreign policy, common defence and security policy, trade policy, common agriculture policy, common environment, immigration and economic policy. There are many sceptics who doubt Africa's ability to achieve unity because of the differences in language, religion, and traditional or cultural practices among our peoples as well as the various types of political systems currently evidence in Africa: monarchies, democracies and autocracies; the huge size of the continent, the high level of illiteracy, wide infrastructural gaps and different levels of poverty. However, if we put the interest of the continent and its people first I am convinced these challenges can be solved no matter how difficult they are.

African leaders must first and foremost recognize that unity in Africa is in our best interest and the only option we have if we want to attain peace, stability and economic development. We all must recognize that we can only make progress if North, South, East, Central and West Africa come together as one, act together as one and speak with one voice. Unity is the only key to our economic success. We can only make progress if we dismantle the artificial boundaries that have divided our peoples for quite too long. We can never develop if we continue to hold on to the artificial colonial divisions that divided tribes, peoples and regions without considering the needs of the people. We must unite as one people if we are to guarantee the future survival of our continent, its people, its resources and its culture. We can only guarantee the rights of our children and their children’s children to be the owners of our great continent if we take steps to unite our countries.

There can never be peace and development if we are not united. Africans must remember that it was our disunity in the past that enabled Europe to exploit our continent for centuries and even today it is being exploited by the so called super powers to our own disadvantage. We have had our people carried into slavery because of disunity, we have had our resources looted by foreigners because of disunity, we have had our countries invaded, and even today we are under siege from foreign powers and their corporations who are raping the continent of its valuable resources for their own selfish gains. We are helpless because we are fragmented. We are helpless because we cannot speak with one voice. We are helpless because we are not united. We cannot act together to bring peace to Somalia, Sudan and DR. Congo because some of our leaders with the connivance of foreign defence companies and contractors are benefiting from those conflicts.

If Africa is going to make it then the leaders must act together as one, eschew their personal interests and put the needs of the continent first.
Julius Nyerere in an interview about Africa’s unity said this:

"Kwame Nkrumah and I were committed to the idea of unity. African leaders and heads of state did not take Kwame seriously. However, I did. I did not believe in these small little nations. Still today I do not believe in them. I tell our people to look at the European Union, at these people who ruled us who are now uniting. Kwame and I met in 1963 and discussed African Unity. We differed on how to achieve a United States of Africa. But we both agreed on a United States of Africa as necessary... After independence the wider African community became clear to me. I was concerned about education; the work of Booker T. Washington resonated with me. There were skills we needed and black people outside Africa had them. I gave our US Ambassador the specific job of recruiting skilled Africans from the US Diaspora. A few came. Some stayed; others left. We should try to revive it. We should look to our brothers and sisters in the West. We should build the broader Pan-Africanism. There is still the room – and the need" — Julius Nyerere interviewed by Ikaweba Bunting, The Heart of Africa, New Internationalist Magazine, Issue 309, January-February 1999.

There are many African leaders who are dragging their feet and are drowning the Africa Union initiative. Such leaders are only interested in the power and titles that they have in their own countries. They are not asking the hard question as to why Europe is uniting and what will it be for Africa if we are not united. They are not asking why Mexico, US and Canada are uniting to form the North American Union and why US is seeking to establish military bases in Africa through the Africa Command (AFRICOM) project. All these countries are strategising for the next phase of global politics which will centre on who controls what vital resources and in which area. This underscores the reason why US is seeking military bases in Africa to protect her interest and to ensure that its resource needs are met at all cost. How will a small country like Gabon respond if her oil becomes a target of US occupation? Does Equatorial Guinea have the military capability to withstand an all out invasion by Europe if they decide to take her resources by force as America has done in Iraq?

The shortage of resources in Europe and America and its abundance in Africa means in the near future Africa is going to be a battle ground for these countries for the control of the resources. US has projected that by the end the next decade 85% of its oil needs must come from Africa. China too wants Africa's oil. India wants it and the EU is not staying idle either. How is the US going to ensure that the 85% target is met don't you think her Africom project makes sense? How do we respond if we are not united? How do we ensure that Western countries will not exploit our weak and insignificant countries for their own advantage?

Currently there are signs that Africa is going to be a battle ground between Europe, US, China and Russia. All of them are vying for control and influence in Africa. It may get very nasty: it may mean wars; it may mean supporting dictators; it may mean coups in resource rich countries; it may mean civil wars; it may mean assassinations; blackmail and arm twisting all of them tools used by these super powers during the cold war. What are we going to do in the face of these threats if we continue to stick to our insignificant countries? Don't we also need these resources ourselves and what are we going to do to protect them if we are not united?
There is strength in unity and that is why Europe is uniting, that is why North American countries are uniting.

Today Europe is moving forward with political and economic integration while it is making effort to weaken Africa with the hope that a weakened, fragmented and disunited Africa will make it easier for the resources of these countries to be exploited and looted as is currently going on in Nigeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, DRC, Angola, Congo where American and European multinational corporations are paying close to nothing for the resources they take. Fearful of what Africa could achieve if united, Europe under the leadership of France (one of the beneficiaries of Africa’s disunity) is proposing what they term ´Mediterranean Union´ an association that encompasses all nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea including the five north African countries, a move largely seen as an attempt by Europeans to weaken Africa’s effort to unite. This is the divide and rule policies of Europe that has ensured that continental Africa never gets united to do things central to their own people.
"The Mediterranean Union project is also rife with hidden agendas, including the promotion of French national interests, while ignoring some of the biggest dangers in the former European colonies in West Asia and Africa… France’s real motive, though, is to establish a French southern sphere of influence to counter Germany’s dominant position in central and Eastern Europe".--www.livemint.com, Fri, 1 Aug 2008.

The secrecy and the hidden agenda of the Mediterranean Union project was rightly noted by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal:
"But of course there are other obvious goals behind the Union for the Mediterranean initiative like Algeria's oil and gas and Libyan oil,” The same secrecy and hidden agenda surround America's Africom. It can never be about any other thing other than the exploitation of African resources and keeping Africa and Africans at the bottom of the world development ladder.

We must fight this divide and rule policies if we are ever going to make it as a continent and as a people. Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia can never be called Europe and will never be accepted as such by Europeans no matter what French president Nicolas Sarkozy says and the earlier the leaders in North Africa realise it the better. We must resist and fight every attempt to weaken and destroy our effort to unite. We must be very wary of US, Europe, China, Russia and their intentions.

Leaders in Africa who are dragging their feet and only interested in the sovereignty of their insignificant countries must recognise that a united Africa is in their best interest and those of their children and their children’s children. They may be less concerned and not interested in Africa unity because they may be enjoying power in their respective countries but how can they guarantee the future of their own countries, the future of their children and their children's children when they are weak economically and continue to rely on foreign aid for the survival of their governments?

I believe President Abdoulaye Wade was right when he said: "We cannot be kept into a limited space by African leaders who are holding on to petty little states". By any margin each of the countries in Africa is weak politically, economically and militarily to stand on its own and it is only by uniting and integrating our economies that we can stand on our feet and be recognized as people. We must not hold on to our small, weak and powerless states in the name of sovereignty, we must unite for the good of Africa and its people.

"Sovereignty also masks the weakness of Africans at a time when other people have pooled political power in vast territories like China, India, Brazil, Russia and the United States of America. The very colonial countries that were the "foreigners" against whom independent African states wished to protect their sovereignty are themselves building the European Union as a bigger source of power in the global arena"--http://allafrica.com/stories/200908061022.html, 6 August 2009. Where as there is common sense as why Europe is uniting, there is no common sense as why Africans who are weak in every sense of the word are not uniting. If the powerful are uniting definitely, the weak must be uniting too.

We must achieve unity at all cost. There are many in East and South Africa that favour United States of Africa through the regional groupings whereas those in the North and West favour a more rapid integration. We can not allow this to delay and detract our effort to unite. Therefore I suggest we allow our diplomats, intellectuals to dialogue and negotiate as which approach suits us best but the 2017 deadline must be met.

We stand to gain if we are united. Unity has the added advantage of defeating the divide and rule policies of Europe. It has the advantage of ending the wars that continue to ravage many parts of the continent. It has the advantage of helping us to pool resources together to tackle the many challenges facing the continent. Unity will end the disputes between Nigeria and Cameroon regarding the ownership of the Bakasi Peninsula. It will end the near escalated tension between Kenya and Uganda that we saw in 2009 over the Migingo Island in Lake Victoria. Unity will end the Yumbe border dispute between Uganda and Sudan; it will end the Katuna and Mutukula border area dispute between Rwanda and Tanzania. If we are united as one people and as one country there will be no need for the many border disputes including the one between Morocco, Algeria and Western Sahara. Unity will make it unnecessary for Uganda and Rwanda to cross several times into DR. Congo to take resources for the development of their countries. It will end the border dispute between Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Unity will enable us to speak with one voice, deal with Europe, America, China, Russia and India through the government that will represent us all. We can harness the resources in Africa for the good of all us so that Niger, Mali, Rwanda, Ethiopia and other resource poor countries will not have to go to war before having access to the resources they need.

Hutus, Tutsis and other tribes in the Great Lake region will not have to fight each other for control of land and resources since they will not be bound by space. They can come to Ghana live anywhere, farm and enjoy their live. That is what unity can bring us.

To make the United States of Africa possible we must stop thinking in terms of Anglophone, Francophone, and Arabs or Mediterraneans. We must think as Africans not as French or English or German or Dutch, Spanish or Portuguese, or Arabic speakers and not as Anglophone and Francophone. We must think as Africans not as Muslims or Christians We are all God's children. We are all Africans and Africa is our home and we must all work to protect its people, its cultures, its peace, its stability its economy, its democracy, and above all its unity not only for ourselves but for our children's children. These divisions and categorisations only serve France and Britain’s interest not us. These categorisations have been exploited by those who want to see Africans poor. Those who for centuries manipulated, exploited our resources, imprisoned our leaders, overthrew our governments and assassinated our leaders and still want to control us. If we do not unite against the external forces bent on seeing us weak and fragmented then we have ourselves to blame.

The people of Southern Sudan, Northern Sudan, and Darfur must see themselves as Africans not as Southerners, Northerners or Darfurians. Those categorisations only serve the interest of those who want the wars to continue so they can exploit our resources while we are busy fighting. We must know that there is no Nigeria but Africa; there is no Egypt or Algeria, Libya or Sudan, Kenya or Tanzania, South Africa or Ghana but Africa. If we think as Africans and work together we can accomplish a lot for our peoples.

The European Union worked because Germany, France, Britain and the political leadership made huge sacrifices. Therefore some countries must make economic and political sacrifices if we are to realise the US-Africa. South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Kenya, DRC, Botswana, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Angola must make political commitment to bring peace and stability in Africa. The unity of Africa depends on the cooperation and the sacrifices of these countries.

We must recognise that individually we cannot deal with the United States, the European Union, Russia or China; we cannot because we do not have the strength to act and bring pressure to bear. If we want to make our influence felt as the world’s natural resource power house then we must unite and speak with one voice, unite and have one foreign policy, unite and have one economic policy, unite and have one agricultural policy, unite and have one trade policy.
Currently at the United Nations there are more countries from Africa than from Europe and North America combined yet we do not have any say on what goes on in there because we are not united, we do not speak with one voice.

China which is just one country makes a lot of impact at the United Nations than all the over fifty countries from Africa. If we want to change this unfavourable balance of power, take the destiny of Africa into our own hands, protect its people and its resources from external exploitation and develop the economy to benefit its people then we have no option than to unite.



Credit: Lord Aikins Adusei
Political Activist and Anti-Corruption campaigner

Under fire Paul Kagame speaks out

Watyekele Sezi, AfricaNews reporter in Jinja, Uganda
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has launched his campaign for the August 9 polls and promised free elections despite attacks, assassinations and arrests on the opposition. Human rights groups have also berated him for not protecting lives of innocent ones ahead of the tensed voting.
Rwanda's Kagame set to run for second presidential term
"Rwandan voters have the freedom to decide," Kagame told his Rwandan Patriotic Front supporters at a rally at the Kigali national stadium.

The rally was estimated to cost $2 million. However, campaign co-coordinator Christophe Bazivamo said the funding was supplied by "voluntary contributions".

The more modest Social Democratic Party of Deputy Speaker Jean-Damascene Ntawukuriryayo is planning to take out a bank loan.

Two other presidential challengers – the Liberal Party's Prosper Higiro and the Party of Progress and Concord's Alvera Mukabaramba – will also be campaigning on low budgets.

Those three parties supported Kagame during the 2003 presidential election and are described by the opposition as the RPF's "political satellites".

But the three main opposition parties that had planned to contest the election are already practically sidelined.

The Unified Democratic Forces has not been officially registered by the authorities and its leader, Victoire Ingabire, has faced legal action since April after being accused of negating the genocide and abetting terrorism.

The Social Party (Imberakuri) faces similar problems and its leader Bernard Ntaganda has been behind bars since June 24.

In another development, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka – vice chairperson of the unregistered opposition Democratic Green Party – was found dead, nearly decapitated, on July 14.

Several senior army officers have been arrested in recent months and one general, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, narrowly survived an assassination attempt in exile in South Africa.

An opposition journalist who claimed to have uncovered the regime's responsibility in the attempted murder was shot dead days later.

Kagame's government has flatly denied any involvement in the killings.

"There have been all kinds of activities... which have been orchestrated in order to instill a climate of fear in the run-up to the elections but also in an attempt to smear the government," Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told AFP in a recent interview.

Restricting political and press freedom

Rights groups have repeatedly accused Rwanda of restricting political and press freedom ahead of the election.

Kagame has often been praised by Western countries for his economic vision and his ability to maintain stability in genocide-scarred Rwanda but the latest outbreak of political violence appeared to cause some unease.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "expressed his concerns regarding the recent incidents which have caused political tensions" and demanded a full investigation into the death of the journalist and Rwisereka's murder.

Ban's statement came last week in Madrid, where Kagame was invited to talk on the status of the Millennium Development Goals.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero opted out of a meeting with Kagame at the last minute following protests from some political parties over the Rwandan president's role in the genocide.

Gambia: President Jammeh attacked

Kemo Cham, AfricaNews reporter in Dakar, Senegal
The Dakar-based African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights has attacked Gambian president Yahya Jammeh for poor human rights and democracy record.
yahya jammeh
"Since the accession of Captain Yahya Jammeh to power in 1994, the state of democracy and human rights in the Gambia continues to deteriorate," the organization said in a statement in response to the recent conviction and sentencing to death of eight Gambians.

The convicts include former chief of Defense Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba.

“Since taking office more than two hundred (200) coups have been identified in a country where everything has been clocked and where there is intimidation and terror that spares no political actors (opposition and ruling party),” the statement said.

It added: "Currently, many people are detained without charge or illegally imprisoned after unfair trials. Most of them are victims of torture or other ill-treatment."

The organization called on President Yahya Jammeh to respect his obligations vis-à-vis the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

In Nigeria, Northern Politicians Offer Conditional Support for President Jonathan


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In Nigeria, northern politicians have offered to support President Goodluck Jonathan in next year’s elections if he promises not to seek re-election. Analysts say the compromise offer is the strongest indication yet that Mr. Jonathan is the leading candidate of the ruling People’s Democratic Party.
But the compromise is not a significant political development, says Abubakar Momoh, a lecturer at the Department of Political Science Lagos State University.
“It’s just [a] political calculation and strategizing by some elite who think they just have to be politically relevant. The first question to ask is on whose behalf [is] this olive branch [being extended].”
Momoh disagrees with speculation that the compromise is a ploy by pro-Jonathan elements to weaken the position of the North.
“I don’t really believe that some of the names that are being peddled around are really the ones to determine ultimately how electorates in the north will vote. And the electorate in this area is not gullible, it is informed and it knows what is going on. It will vote on the basis of what is on ground, the issues and questions about who is credible and so on. They are going to make a rational choice on the basis of what they are offered.”
The deal offered to the Nigerian leader, says Momoh, is intended to push one part of the country against the other and will be rejected by the electorate.
VOA

Zimbabwe's Coalition Parties Meet in Rare Talks


President Robert Mugabe, centre, shares a light moment with Morgan Tsvangirai, left, Zimbabwe's Prime Minister and his Deputy, Arthur Mutambara after giving their end of year message to the nation, at
Photo: AP
President Robert Mugabe, centre, shares a light moment with Morgan Tsvangirai, left, Zimbabwe's Prime Minister and his Deputy, Arthur Mutambara after giving their end of year message to the nation, at Zimbabwe House in Harare, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009

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For the first time Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party's politburo and the national executive committees of the two Movement for Democratic Change parties met on Wednesday to discuss ways to ensure that political violence ends in Zimbabwe.

The meeting in Harare was the first time the three parties' national executives have met since a unity government was formed 17 months ago.

Following the establishment of the unity government, a multi-party Committee for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration was formed to try to heal some of the scars of political violence since Zimbabwe's independence from the United Kingdom in 1980.

The healing committee has traveled to several regions of the country to persuade victims and perpetrators to face one another and tell their stories.

More than 100 delegates from the three parties agreed by consensus that there could be no national healing without justice and compensation, and that the police must arrest anyone who commits violence.

MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti described the meeting as historic and said the challenge was to ensure that no Zimbabwean ever attacks or kills another on the basis of political affiliation.

Most of the political violence of the decade followed the emergence of the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, which came close to winning elections in 2000.

Domestic and international human rights monitoring groups, such as Human Rights Watch, say that President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party has been responsible for most of the political violence since independence.

Although rights monitors say political violence has declined significantly since the unity government came to power, the MDC says some of its members, particularly in rural areas, are still being attacked.
VOA

Niger's Political Parties Form Alliance Before Presidential Election


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Seventeen political parties in Niger that opposed the country's ousted president have formed an alliance ahead of presidential elections due in January of next year. The various opposition parties say they each will present their own presidential candidates in the first round of voting. They have pledged to throw their collective support behind whichever candidate advances to the second round. The strategic accord was signed Saturday in Niger's capital, Niamey.
Opposition leader and group spokesman Mahamadou Issoufou says the parties signing the pact will work to ensure that one of their candidates is elected in the presidential poll. He says they will make no electoral agreements with political parties outside the alliance. Issoufou said the pact will apply to those legislative and regional elections as well.

The presidential election will take place 3 Jan 2011, with a run-off planned for 14 Jan, if necessary. Local and legislative elections also are planned during that time.

This is not the first time these 17 political parties have joined forces. They also were part of the Coordination of Democratic Forces for the Republic that had opposed former President Mamadou Tandja. Mr. Tandja had grown increasingly unpopular since expanding his power and giving himself another three years in office through a controversial referendum in August 2009.

Mr. Tandja was ousted in a military coup this February. Soldiers promised an election and a return to civilian government within the year.

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