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Re: Africa

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 8:10 pm
by behappyalways
Kremlinology in Kinshasa

Can anyone stop Congo’s president from doing a Putin?
President Joseph Kabila wants to install a pliant successor to keep the throne warm

CONGO HAS many problems, but paying the pensions of ex-presidents has never been one of them. Since independence in 1960 all its leaders have either died horribly in office or soon after being overthrown.

Patrice Lumumba, its first prime minister, was murdered after less than a year in power. Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled larcenously from 1965 to 1997, died of cancer shortly after being driven from his sumptuous palaces. Laurent Kabila, the Rwandan-backed rebel who toppled him, was shot by a bodyguard in 2001. His son Joseph has ruled ever since.

But on December 23rd an election is due to be held, and Mr Kabila fils is not standing. It will be the first time that Congolese voters have peacefully replaced their head of government.

You might expect them to celebrate. Though less ghastly than Mobutu or indeed his own father, Mr Kabila has been a dismal president. His regime is filthier than the untreated water that most Congolese drink. It barely governs the east of the country. It has failed to keep the peace in the centre, where 4.5m people have fled their homes to avoid men with guns and machetes.

Mr Kabila tried to change the constitution to allow himself to remain in office. But unlike the presidents of neighbouring Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Congo-Brazzaville, he failed. Surely his departure is cause for cheer, even if it comes two years after he was legally supposed to have stepped down?

Alas, it is not so simple. The election will be unfair, perhaps farcical. The main opposition candidate, Moïse Katumbi, a former governor of Katanga province, was barred from entering the country to register his candidacy. Without him, the opposition has fragmented. In parts of the country afflicted by fighting, Ebola or both, many voters will be too scared to turn out.

Most Western observers have been banned. Mr Kabila’s handpicked successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, is likely to win.

Little about Mr Shadary inspires optimism. When he was interior minister, protests were crushed with such brutality that he is now under European Union sanctions. He lacks a personal power base.

Mr Kabila is thought to have picked him in the hope that he will be like Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin’s sidekick, who kept Russia’s throne warm for a few years until the big man was constitutionally allowed to come back. In an interview with The Economist, Mr Kabila refused to rule out running again in 2023 (see article).

Still, puppets sometimes cut their strings, as Rwanda found out with Mr Kabila’s father, and as Angola’s ruling family found out when José Eduardo dos Santos, who had misruled since 1979, handed the presidency to João Lourenço in 2017. Mr dos Santos and his children have now been sidelined; Mr Lourenço has vowed to uproot the old regime’s staggering corruption.

Congo will not improve until its leaders allow it to. There is only so much that outsiders can do, but the first task is to help make the election less ridiculous. Observers from the region should be intrusive. The 19,000 UN peacekeepers in Congo are barred from helping with the election’s logistics, but they could widen the areas where people feel safe enough to vote.

The fact that the ballot is happening at all is thanks to pressure from other African countries, which did not want to see Congo implode under a dictator-for-life. Western sanctions have helped, too. If Mr Shadary wins, the pressure should stay until it is clear that he wants change.

Donors should not shell out unless a new regime proves serious about reform, starting with cleaning up Gécamines, the abysmal state-controlled mining giant, which pays the bills. That is a remote hope, but hope is all Congo has.

Source: The Economist

Re: Africa

PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:32 pm
by behappyalways
2019.01.06【文茜世界周報】蘇丹爆暴力抗議 一條麵包的怒火 燒強人總統 ... AU&index=2

Re: Africa

PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2019 8:39 pm
by behappyalways
2019.01.06【文茜世界財經週報】阿拉伯之春8周年前夕 發源地突尼西亞爆罷工潮 ... u&index=11

Re: Africa

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 7:15 pm
by behappyalways
Stopping a thief

The world should not recognise Congo’s stolen election
By ignoring the will of the people, Congo’s rulers invite mayhem

WHEN THE constitutional court declared him the next president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshisekedi toasted his victory with a glass of champagne. He was due to be inaugurated as The Economist went to press. Optimists chirp that this is Congo’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960.

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, congratulated Mr Tshisekedi and urged “all stakeholders” to accept the result and “continue with a journey of consolidating peace, uniting the people of Congo, and creating a better life for all”.

What a travesty. The election was really won by Martin Fayulu, a former oil executive—and by a wide margin. Bishops from the Catholic church, one of Congo’s few functional and respected institutions, sent out 40,000 observers.

According to their tally Mr Fayulu won more than 60% of the vote. This matched data leaked by officials, which showed that 59% backed him. Mr Tshisekedi came a distant second with 19% of the vote.

Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a former interior minister handpicked to succeed Joseph Kabila, the unpopular incumbent, won a paltry 18.5% (see Middle East & Africa section).

It is hard to exaggerate the scale and flagrancy of the fraud. Before the vote, the Kabila regime used all its powers to nobble the opposition, barring popular candidates, banning rallies, firing on crowds and using state resources to promote the hapless Mr Shadary.

When that was not enough, because voters are thoroughly sick of their corrupt, incompetent rulers, the count was rigged. Declaring Mr Shadary the winner would not have passed the laugh test, so Mr Tshisekedi, the callow son of a revered opposition leader who died in 2017, was tapped instead.

Many suspect a stitch-up. Mr Kabila’s party still controls the national assembly. Mr Tshisekedi says they can work together. Mr Fayulu, by contrast, seemed more likely to investigate the graft that flourished during the 18 years that Mr Kabila was in charge. Small wonder the establishment fears him.

At first the stolen election prompted a sharp response from the African Union (AU), a regional body. After the electoral commission announced the result but before the constitutional court endorsed it, the AU called on Congo to hold off on declaring Mr Tshisekedi the winner, adding that it would send a delegation of regional leaders to investigate.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC), of which Congo is a member, called for a recount. But after the court, packed with government stooges, declared Mr Tshisekedi the victor, SADC backed down almost immediately. The AU and many Western governments seem willing to turn a blind eye, too.

Some argue that a transition, no matter how flawed, will break Mr Kabila’s hold on the country and set a precedent for cleaner elections in five years. Others are more cynical. There is little they can do for Congo, they shrug. It is vast, poor, violent and practically roadless. It has never been well or honestly governed.

Not only is it pointless to make a fuss; it might make matters worse. Calls for a recount might spark violence, some fear. This is not an idle worry. Congo’s most recent full-blown civil war, from 1998 to 2003, sucked in nine countries and caused perhaps 1m-5m deaths (mostly from war-induced starvation and disease), depending on which estimate you believe.

Thanks to more recent fighting between mass-raping militias, some 4m of Congo’s roughly 80m people have fled their homes and 13m desperately need humanitarian aid. Rather than get embroiled in this mess, many leaders of other countries would prefer to grapple with troubles back home.

Yet there are costs to ignoring Congo’s great election robbery. Calling Mr Tshisekedi the winner fools no one. Mr Fayulu’s supporters are justifiably outraged. Mr Kabila’s rich cronies are not happy, either—they had hoped that he could rig the poll more competently.

Congo now has an illegitimate regime, riven with internal bickering, ineptly running a country in severe economic distress. That is hardly a recipe for stability, as riots and repression in Zimbabwe demonstrate.

Democracy is beleaguered across the world. If even its supporters, such as Mr Ramaphosa, do not speak up when an election is ostentatiously filched, autocrats everywhere are emboldened. The AU is not completely powerless.

After it adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy for coups in 2000, the number of successful military takeovers in Africa fell, from 38 between 1980 and 2000 to only 15 since then. The policy is inconsistently applied.

The AU pretended to believe that the coup against Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe in 2017 was not a coup (and that the election that replaced him with Emmerson Mnangagwa was fair). Zimbabwe under Mr Mnangagwa is in turmoil.

Far better to call a coup a coup and a stolen election stolen. No one should recognise Mr Tshisekedi’s election. Africa will not be stable until Africans freely choose their rulers.

Source: The Economist

Re: Africa

PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:08 pm
by behappyalways
Sudan's Omar al-Bashir declares state of emergency

Re: Africa

PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2019 5:03 pm
by behappyalways
The new scramble for Africa

This time, the winners could be Africans themselves

THE FIRST great surge of foreign interest in Africa, dubbed the “scramble”, was when 19th-century European colonists carved up the continent and seized Africans’ land.

The second was during the cold war, when East and West vied for the allegiance of newly independent African states; the Soviet Union backed Marxist tyrants while America propped up despots who claimed to believe in capitalism.

A third surge, now under way, is more benign. Outsiders have noticed that the continent is important and becoming more so, not least because of its growing share of the global population (by 2025 the UN predicts that there will be more Africans than Chinese people).

Governments and businesses from all around the world are rushing to strengthen diplomatic, strategic and commercial ties. This creates vast opportunities. If Africa handles the new scramble wisely, the main winners will be Africans themselves.

The extent of foreign engagement is unprecedented (see Briefing). Start with diplomacy. From 2010 to 2016 more than 320 embassies were opened in Africa, probably the biggest embassy-building boom anywhere, ever.

Turkey alone opened 26. Last year India announced it would open 18. Military ties are deepening, too. America and France are lending muscle and technology to the struggle against jihadism in the Sahel.

China is now the biggest arms seller to sub-Saharan Africa and has defence-technology ties with 45 countries. Russia has signed 19 military deals with African states since 2014. Oil-rich Arab states are building bases on the Horn of Africa and hiring African mercenaries.

Commercial ties are being upended. As recently as 2006 Africa’s three biggest trading partners were America, China and France, in that order. By 2018 it was China first, India second and America third (France was seventh). Over the same period Africa’s trade has more than trebled with Turkey and Indonesia, and more than quadrupled with Russia. Trade with the European Union has grown by a more modest 41%.

The biggest sources of foreign direct investment are still firms from America, Britain and France, but Chinese ones, including state-backed outfits, are catching up, and investors from India and Singapore are eager to join the fray.

The stereotype of foreigners in Africa is of neocolonial exploiters, interested only in the continent’s natural resources, not its people, and ready to bribe local bigwigs in shady deals that do nothing for ordinary Africans. The stereotype is sometimes true.

Far too many oil and mineral ventures are dirty. Corrupt African leaders, of whom there is still an abundance, can always find foreign enablers to launder the loot. And contracts with firms from countries that care little for transparency, such as China and Russia, are often murky.

Three Russian journalists were murdered last year while investigating a Kremlin-linked mercenary outfit that reportedly protects the president of the war-torn Central African Republic and enables diamond-mining there. Understandably, many saw a whiff of old-fashioned imperialism.

However, engagement with the outside world has mostly been positive for Africans. Foreigners build ports, sell insurance and bring mobile-phone technology. Chinese factories hum in Ethiopia and Rwanda. Turkish Airlines flies to more than 50 African cities.

Greater openness to trade and investment is one reason why GDP per head south of the Sahara is two-fifths higher than it was in 2000. (Sounder macroeconomic policies and fewer wars also helped.) Africans can benefit when foreigners buy everything from textiles to holidays and digital services.

Even so, Africans can do more to increase their share of the benefits. First, voters and activists can insist on transparency. It is heartening that South Africa is investigating the allegedly crooked deals struck under the previous president, Jacob Zuma, but alarming that even worse behaviour in the Democratic Republic of Congo has gone unprobed, and that the terms of Chinese loans to some dangerously indebted African governments are secret.

To be sure that a public deal is good for ordinary folk as well as big men, voters have to know what is in it. Journalists, such as the Kenyans who exposed scandals over a Chinese railway project, have a big role to play.

Second, Africa’s leaders need to think more strategically. Africa may be nearly as populous as China, but it comprises 54 countries, not one. African governments could strike better deals if they showed more unity.

No one expects a heterogeneous continent that includes both anarchic battle zones and prosperous democracies to be as integrated as Europe. But it can surely do better than letting China negotiate with each country individually, behind closed doors.

The power imbalance between, say, China and Uganda is huge. It could be reduced somewhat with a free-trade area or if African regional blocs clubbed together. After all, the benefits of infrastructure projects spill across borders.

Third, African leaders do not have to choose sides, as they did during the cold war. They can do business with Western democracies and also with China and Russia—and anyone else with something to offer. Because they have more choice now than ever before, Africans should be able to drive harder bargains.

And outsiders should not see this as a zero-sum contest (as the Trump administration, when it pays attention to Africa, apparently does). If China builds a bridge in Ghana, an American car can drive over it. If a British firm invests in a mobile-data network in Kenya, a Kenyan entrepreneur can use it to set up a cross-border startup.

Last, Africans should take what some of their new friends tell them with a pinch of salt. China argues that democracy is a Western idea; development requires a firm hand. This message no doubt appeals to African strongmen, but it is bunk.

A study by Takaaki Masaki of the World Bank and Nicolas van de Walle of Cornell University found that African countries grow faster if they are more democratic. The good news is that, as education improves and Africans move rapidly to the cities, they are growing more critical of their rulers, and less frightened to say so.

In 1997, 70% of African ruling parties won more than 60% of the vote, partly by getting rural chiefs to cow villagers into backing them. By 2015 only 50% did.

As politics grows more competitive, voters’ clout will grow. And they will be able to insist on a form of globalisation that works for Africans and foreigners alike.

Source: The Economist

Re: Africa

PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:54 pm
by behappyalways
Ethiopia army chief shot dead in 'coup bid' attacks