news analysis advocacy
tips on searching
   the web allafrica.com africaaction.org  

 

AfricaFocus Bulletins with Material on Politics and Human Rights

Select limited time period: 2003-2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010

April 17, 2014  Mali: Polls Show Turn to Optimism http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/mali1404.php
    "In an Afrobarometer survey in December 2012, three quarters of adult Malians were worried that the country was moving in 'the wrong direction.' At that time, at the depths of a profound national crisis, most Malians thought the future looked bleak. A year later, however, a follow-up survey reveals newfound hope in the future. By December 2013, two thirds of all Malians now consider that that the country is headed in the 'right direction.'"

March 25, 2014  Nigeria: Corruption & Its International Partners http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/nig1403.php
    The Nigerian government has pledged to order a forensic audit of alleged missing oil receipts, which Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi reckoned at some $20 billion before his suspension by President Goodluck Jonathan in February. Previous experience with such audits has led Nigerians to be skeptical of the outcome. On a much earlier case, however, this month the U.S. Department of Justice froze some $458 million of assets embezzled by former dictator Sani Abacha and his colleagues during his years in office from 1993-1998.

March 4, 2014  South Sudan: Deadly Conflict Continues despite Ceasefire http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/sud1403.php
    Both the United Nations and Human Rights Watch have just documented extensive killings of civilians as well as other abuses during the last two months of fighting in South Sudan. And incidents of violence are continuing despite a formal ceasefire agreed with regional negotiators. While negotiations as well as development of plans for more effective ceasefire monitoring continue, the prospectives for sustainable peace still seem remote. Meanwhile, international agencies and civil society continue efforts to reduce violence and address immediate humanitarian needs.

February 17, 2014  Burundi: Rising Threats to Democracy, Peace http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/bur1402.php
    The UN Security Council voted unanimously last week to renew the mandate for the UN peacebuilding mission in Burundi until the end of the year, despite the position of the country's ruling party that the mission is no longer needed. The decision was phrased in diplomatic language. But it was a clear signal that the international body shares the concerns of Burundi civil society and political opposition voices about rising authoritarianism and political mistrust, as the ruling party attempts to consolidate its position before elections in 2015.

January 27, 2014  USA/Africa: Exporting Homophobia http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/hom1401b.php
    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed harsh anti-gay legislation into law this month. But Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has backed off on full support for anti-gay legislation passed by Uganda's parliament last month, even while reaffirming his vehement condemnation of homosexuality as an "abnormality" from the West. While the delay in Uganda probably stems from pressure by Western donors, the impetus for the bill was also driven by external Western involvement, by the U.S. Christian right, as documented in "God Loves Uganda," the Oscar-shortlisted documentary film by Roger Ross Williams, which premiered at Sundance last year and is now playing in U.S. theaters.

January 27, 2014  Africa: Challenging Homophobia http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/hom1401a.php
    "I encourage leaders to take a strong stand for fundamental human rights ... This simply means granting every one the freedom - and the means - to make informed decisions about very basic aspects of one's life - one's sexuality, health, and if, when and with whom to have relationships, marry or have children - without any form of discrimination, coercion or violence. ... We can no longer afford to discriminate against people on the basis of age, sex, ethnicity, migrant status, sexual orientation and gender identity, or any other basis." - Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique

January 13, 2014  South Sudan: Reflections on Crisis http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/sud1401.php
    Negotiations and fighting are both continuing this week in the conflict in South Sudan which erupted into open violence on December 15. It may be that coordinated international pressure will soon bring about a ceasefire. But both South Sudanese and foreign sources stress that any long-term solution must deal not only with the political competition between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, who was dismissed at Vice President along with others in the Cabinet last July, but also with fundamental issues of the South Sudanese state.

December 12, 2013  Africa/Middle East: Sinai Trafficking http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/migr1312a.php
    "[I]t is estimated that 25,000--30,000 people [mostly Eritreans] were victims of Sinai trafficking between 2009 and 2013. This figure includes those that have died, disappeared, and survived and those currently being held in the Sinai. It is also estimated that the value of the ransoms paid -- the 'Sinai trafficking industry' -- is, conservatively, USD 600 million over the last five years." - The Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond, December 2013

December 12, 2013  Africa/Middle East: Saudi Migrant Expulsions http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/migr1312b.php
    Deadly risks to migrants and abuses of migrants' rights are found around the world. Yet while deaths of migrants on the US-Mexican border and in the Mediterranean sometimes gain news coverage and have been widely studied, those on other migration pathways are most often invisible to all but those most directly affected. This is certainly true of the journeys from the Horn of Africa to Middle Eastern countries in the arc from Egypt to the Gulf.

October 27, 2013  Nigeria: Cycle of Violence in Northeast http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/nig1310.php
    The cycle of violence in northeastern Nigeria, confirm two new Amnesty International reports this month, is fueled by indiscriminate killings both by Boko Haram and by the Nigerian military's Joint Task Force (JTF). More than 950 people are reported to have died while in detention by the JTF in the first six months of 2013, while Boko Haram has continued deadly attacks on schoolchildren and teachers.

October 11, 2013  Africa: AU and the International Criminal Court http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/icc1310.php
    "We recognize that international justice currently operates unevenly across the globe. In some situations, powerful governments are able to shield their citizens and the citizens of their allies from the ICC's authority by not joining the ICC [International Criminal Court] or using their veto power at the Security Council to block referrals of situations to the court. ... But undercutting justice for crimes where it is possible because justice is not yet possible in all situations risks emboldening those who might commit grave crimes. Working to expand, rather than contract, the membership of the ICC is a key step in widening access to justice and sending the message that no one is above the law." - 130 civil society groups in Africa

Oct 6, 2013  Africa: Migrant Deaths at Sea http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/migr1310.php
    "These days, it takes a blockbuster tragedy for migrant boats to reach the front pages - the quiet, regular additions to the Mediterranean's death toll encountered on an almost-weekly basis by rescuers, human rights activists and migrant communities themselves are simply far too humdrum to make the mainstream news. In the past two decades, almost 20,000 people are recorded as having lost their lives in an effort to reach Europe's southern borders from Africa and the Middle East." - Guardian, Oct. 3, 2013

August 5, 2013  South Africa: The Marikana Syndrome http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/mar1308.php
    "What took place on August 16th could just as conceivably have occurred with similar violence at just about any mine in South Africa - because of workforce similarities, common historical residues inherited from apartheid and preserved so exactly in the world of mineral extraction, similarities of geological conditions, the nature of industrial relations nationwide, the appalling state of safety in South Africa's "hard rock" mines or, perhaps most importantly of all, because the local mining industry has, albeit to differing degrees, experienced common discomfort in coming to terms with the transformative demands being made upon it by a new regime in the twenty years since apartheid. Perceived on this landscape the Marikana massacre is but a symbol or outcome of wider developments." - Philip Frankel

July 31, 2013  Africa: Youth, "Waithood," and Protest http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/honw1307.php
    "This morning I would like to focus our attention on the lives of young Africans struggling with unemployment, the difficulty of finding sustainable livelihoods, and the absence of civil liberties. ... The recent wave of youth protests can best be understood in the context of this generation's struggles for economic, social, and political emancipation. ... Beyond the disparities in their material, cultural, and political situations, young people in rich and poor countries are affected by similar problems of exclusion and restricted futures. And they are beginning to assert their rights as citizens, claiming a new space for themselves." - Alcinda Honwana

July 23, 2013  Zimbabwe: Voters' Roll Follies http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/zim1307b.php
    "The analysis also revealed a number of discrepancies between census data and registered voters across all age groups. For instance there are approximately 831,482 people in the age group 40-49 years. However it is worrying that the voters' roll reflects 1,250,989 registered voters in this age group. Of particular concern is the age group 80 years or more which according to census data has an estimated population of 155,653, while the registered voters of the same group are 343,187, some of whom are as old as 114 years old." - Zimbabwe Election Support Network (NESN), July 12, 2013

July 23, 2013  Zimbabwe: Slim Chances for Credible Elections http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/zim1307a.php
    "As things stand currently, the chances of having free, fair and credible elections are slim, particularly given the shortcomings of security sector reforms and reforms in other sectors." - Dewa Mavhinga, Senior Researcher, Africa Division, Human Rights Watch

July 8, 2013  Egypt: Neither Coup nor Revolution http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/eg1307.php
    "We did not launch this revolution nor risk our lives only to change the players. We wanted to change the rules of the game. That was the mandate we gave to Morsy. He has failed in this crucial task, so we no longer recognize him as a legitimate leader. He has broken the terms of the mandate. And our revolution continues." - Khaled Fahmy

June 19, 2013  Africa: Claim No Easy Victories http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/cabr1306.php
    "Don't tell lies. Fight lies when they are told. Don't disguise difficulties, errors, and failures. Do not trust in easy victories nor in appearances. ... Practice and defend the truth, always the truth, to militants, leaders, and the people, whatever the difficulties the knowledge of the truth can create." - Amilcar Cabral, 1965

June 5, 2013  Nigeria: Counterproductive Counterterrorism http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/nig1306.php
    As Nigerian security forces increase their drive against extremist Islamist groups in northern Nigeria, a wide range of Nigerian and international critics, from human rights groups and scholarly experts to the United States government, have been speaking out. The critics argue that the indiscriminate nature of the counterterrorism efforts not only results in violation of human rights and deaths of innocent civilians, but also fuels the violence rather than reducing it.

May 28, 2013  Africa: Interventions in Historical Perspective http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/int1305.php
    "This book has demonstrated that during the period of decolonization and the Cold War (1945-91) and the first two decades of its aftermath (1991-2010), foreign intervention in Africa strongly influenced the outcome of conflicts and the fate of African nations. However, foreign powers did not simply impose their will on a passive continent or use African actors as proxies for their own interests. Rather, external powers interacted in complex ways with African societies. While foreign governments took advantage of divisions within African societies to promote their own interests, African actors also used external alliances for their own ends." - Elizabeth Schmidt, Foreign Intervention in Africa, 2013

May 23, 2013  Congo (Kinshasa): U.S.-Trained Battalion Implicated in Rapes http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/drc1305.php
    "A Congolese army battalion that received its formative training from the U.S. military went on to commit mass rapes and other atrocities last year, a U.N. investigation has found. Members of the 391st Commando Battalion, a unit created in 2010 with extensive support from the U.S. government, joined with other Congolese soldiers to rape 97 women and 33 girls as they fled a rebel advance in eastern Congo in November, according to the United Nations. U.S. Special Operations forces had spent eight months training the 750-member battalion in a bid to professionalize Congo's ragtag military, which has a long history of rights abuses, including raping and killing civilians." - Washington Post, May 13, 2013

May 8, 2013  USA/Africa: Immigration Reform Needs Fixing http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/migr1305.php
    "The recently released Senate immigration reform bill had a mix of carrot and stick approaches to providing the long-awaited path to citizenship for millions of undocumented people living under repressive conditions. While the bill has several good features, it weighs heavily toward very bad and very ugly provisions that will leave out millions of people and will continue the mass detentions and deportations that have become normalized in U.S. society." - Gerald Lenoir, Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Apr 26, 2013  Morocco: Violence against Migrants http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/mor1304.php
    "The renewed cooperation efforts between Morocco and Spain which, according to these countries, are focused on the fight against cross-border crime, illegal migration and drug trafficking. are having a serious impact on the physical and mental health of sub-Saharan migrants. Migration policies privilege internal security criteria over respect for fundamental human rights." - David Cantero, Head of Mission in Morocco for Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Mar 26, 2013  Mali: Listening without Drones http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/mali1303.php
    "Mali is neither Somalia, nor Afghanistan, nor an 'Africanistan.' ... We hope President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are wise enough not to let analogy do the work of analysis. ... The problems bedeviling Mali are long-running and multi-faceted. They cannot be droned out of existence. The best way the U.S. government can help Malians realize their aspiration for substantive-- not just formal--democracy is to listen carefully, and let them take the lead." - Gregory Mann and Bruce Whitehouse

Feb 9, 2013  Kenya: Elections Ready or Not, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/ken1302b.php
    Violence in the aftermath of the 2007 Kenyan elections which claimed 1,300 lives shows just how vital it is Kenyan police are properly prepared ahead of polls this March, Amnesty International said in a new report, Police Reform in Kenya: A Drop in the Ocean. The report details how delays in implementing new laws on policing mean that many of the same police structures in place during 2007-8 post-election violence will be responsible for security for the 4 March vote.

Feb 9, 2013  Kenya: Elections Ready or Not, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs13/ken1302a.php
    The experience of the primary elections in late January, commented Kenya Human Rights Commission chair Makau Mutua, "made one thing crystal clear. Kenya is illprepared to conduct free and fair elections in March." The elections, he argued, should be postponed and the electoral authorities accelerate plans to manage the election and the government prepares to contain possible violence.

Dec 20, 2012  Africa: Books New & Notable http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/book1212.php
    This annual books issue contains 22 books that have come to my attention that seemed to me to be of particular interest. It's hardly a systematic selection, and I've only read a couple of them so far. But they cover a wide range of topics, and I think most AfricaFocus readers will find at least of a few ot them well worth their time.

Nov 28, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): War in the East, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/ec1211b.php
    after all these years the FARDC [Congolese national army] has remained much more a part of the problem then a part of the solution. Programs and policies meant to reinforce democracy and security were designed and implemented by people in offices far away from the complex realities on the ground, by people with very limited understanding of them." - Kris Berwouts

Nov 28, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): War in the East, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/ec1211a.php
    In a statement issued earlier this week, a coalition of Congolese organizations has called for sanctions against Rwanda, Uganda, and any other individuals or entities that threaten the territorial integrity of the DRC. They also called on the UN to urgently appoint - in consultation with the African Union - a special representative for the Great Lakes.

Nov 5, 2012  Nigeria: "Security" Forces Escalate Insecurity http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/nig1211.php
    Even as new reports from international human rights groups document a pattern of major offenses against human rights by both Boko Haram extremists and government security forces in northern Nigeria, new incidents in the most affected area of Nigeria's northeast include execution of some 40 people by security forces in Maiduguri and the assassination the next day of retired General Muhammadu Shuwa. Boko Haram has denied government charges that they were responsible for killing the general.

Oct 15, 2012  Mali: No Shortcuts to Security http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/mal1210.php
    With thousands of nationalist demonstrators in Bamako calling for military intervention to regain control of the north of Mali from Islamic extremists, and a unanimous Security Council resolution, initiated by France, approving in principle action by an ECOWAS force with support from the African Union, United Nations, and France, one might think that such an intervention is imminent. Those appearances are almost certainly deceptive. Significant skeptical voices, including UN officials, U.S. diplomats and military officials, Mali's northern neighbor Algeria, and expert civil society analysts say an "ill-prepared" intervention could be catastrophic.

Sep 16, 2012  Somalia: New Start, Stubborn Realities http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/som1209.php
    The unexpected election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, an educator and civil society activist, as the new president of Somalia, has aroused hopes of a new start in that country. But the stubborn realities he and other Somalis face include not only the continuing threat from Al Shabaab, which launched a suicide assassination attack on the new president on September 12. Even more daunting is the challenge of embedded corruption in the government he will head, which has been fostered by a long history of external dependence.

Sep 6, 2012  South Africa: The Marikana Era? http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/saf1209a.php
    Will Marikana become an emblematic symbol for an era of post-apartheid plutocracy, as did Sharpeville for the apartheid era in the decades following 1960? Or will it, as many hope, serve as a wakeup call for South Africa to deliver on the promise of the end of political apartheid in 1994?

Sep 6, 2012  South Africa: The Price of Platinum http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/saf1209b.php
    "The recent study of the Bench Marks Foundation has predicted the problems now seen at Marikana. If all the mining houses had addressed the underlying causes of unrest and provided both workers and local communities with the opportunity to live a decent life, the killings could have been avoided." - Reverend Jo Seoka

Jul 31, 2012  Mali: Warnings against Escalation http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/mali1207.php
    "The reason West Africans and others make the Afghan comparison [for Mali] is to sound the alarm over an emerging Islamist safe haven in the Sahara that could be used as a launching pad for international attacks. ... The Saharan debacle is serious stuff, no doubt, and it has implications well beyond the boundaries of the countries that share the desert. But here's one Mali-Afghanistan comparison that does work: It represents a golden opportunity for outsiders to turn a nasty mess into a complete disaster." - Gregory Mann

Jul 16, 2012  Ethiopia: Counterterrorism as Pretext http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/eth1207.php
    On July 13 an Ethiopian court handed down heavy prison sentences to six journalists convicted on vague terrorism charges. Award-winning blogger Eskinder Nega got an 18-year term; the others live in exile and were sentenced in absentia. This was the latest in a series of repressive actions by the Ethiopian government against journalists taken under the sweeping Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009. This is a particularly blatant example of the use of counterterrorism as a pretext, as similar over-broad counterterrorism legislation continues to proliferate in countries around the world.

Jul 2, 2012  Zimbabwe: Diamonds Fund Parallel Government http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/zim1207.php
    A new report from Global Witness reveals that Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) appears to have received off budget financing from a Hong Kong-based businessman as the CIO and other security agencies continue to prepare to influence elections due to take place sometime in 2013. Global Witness reports that CIO members exercise joint control over Sino Zimbabwe Development (Pvt) Ltd, a diamonds, cotton and property company in Zimbabwe, in collaboration with businessman Sam Pa, a prominent member of the Queensway Syndicate, a network of companies with a track record of negotiating opaque resource for infrastructure deals across the African continent.

Jun 25, 2012  Israel/Africa: Denying Refugee Rights http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/ref1206.php
    Last week Israel began deportation of South Sudanese and Ivorian asylum seekers. Other asylum seekers, primarily from Sudan and Eritrea, remain in an indefinite limbo, with no procedure established for individual evaluation of their claims to refugee status and no rights to work or social welfare. Meanwhile, government officials, including Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, have made inflammatory speeches which have helped fuel attacks against African asylum seekers and immigrants.

May 17, 2012  Africa: Jobs, Justice, and Equity http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/app1205.php
    "The extreme pessimism surrounding Africa a decade ago was unwarranted. So, too, is the current wave of blinkered optimism. Real gains have been made, but governments and their development partners need to reflect on the weaknesses, as well as the strengths ... Countries across Africa are becoming richer but whole sections of society are being left behind. ... The current pattern of trickle-down growth is leaving too many people in poverty, too many children hungry and too many young people without jobs." - Africa Progress Panel, May 2012

Apr 25, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): Call for Real Security Reform http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/drc1204.php
    An impressive array of Congolese and international civil society organizations have issued a new call for real security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to be impelled by more coordinated pressures from African and other international partners as well as Congolese civil society.

Apr 19, 2012  Malawi: Hope in a New Start http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/mal1204.php
    Supporters of democracy and women's rights have good reason to celebrate the peaceful succession in Malawi, in which Vice-President Joyce Banda took office despite fears that she might be blocked by associates of President Bingu wa Mutharika after his unexpected death. The country faces a multitude of structural problems, including donor dependency and the role of tobacco, a major threat to global public health, as the leading export. But for now the mood is optimistic. Malawians as well as outside observers say the country is ready for a new start.

Mar 29, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): Democracy Still Deferred http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/drc1203.php
    African and world leaders have celebrated the democratic election in Senegal this month, and moved quickly to condemn the coup in Mali, urging a return to democratic rule. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), however, there is hardly any international attention to the post-election crisis following last November's election. This despite the prominent role of the United Nations and "donor" countries in sustaining the government of this strategically located country, the largest by area in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mar 7, 2012  Europe/Africa: Court Rules for Boat Migrants' Rights http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/mig1203.php
    The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the rights of a group of Somali and Eritrean nationals who were intercepted by Italian Customs boats and returned to Libya in 2009 were violated, under several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. Although this historic decision of the court was for a case under Italy's agreement with the Qaddafi regime, it has clear ongoing relevance, as refugees and other migrants continue to face real threats in their countries of origin, as well as in Libya.

Feb 23, 2012  Senegal: Democracy or Gerontocracy? http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/sen1202.php
    A divided opposition and support from rural areas may yet enable aging and intransigent President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal to win a third term, with a majority in the first round of presidential elections on February 26. But whether this happens or whether the election goes into a second round, urban and youth protests are likely to continue, with uncertain outcomes for Senegal and its reputation as a regional leader in democratic institutions.

Jan 30, 2012  Sudan/South Sudan: A Lose-Lose Scenario http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/sud1201.php
    Sudan and South Sudan seem to have entered a "lose-lose" scenario, precipitated by failure to agree on payments for transport of oil from fields in South Sudan through the pipeline in the north to the Red Sea. Despite African Union mediation and pressure for compromise not only from Africa but also from the United Nations, China, and the United States, South Sudan has closed the oil fields, with likely disastrous economic and humanitarian consequences for both countries.

Jan 23, 2012  Kenya: Impunity & Elections, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/ken1201a.php
    "Public support for the ICC remains high. A majority of the respondents - 64 per cent - are happy that the ICC is pursuing the six suspects. ... the perception that the government is unlikely to conduct genuine investigations, or prosecute powerful individuals, has sustained high support for the ICC as the justice mechanism of last resort." - Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) Monitoring Project, January 2012

Jan 23, 2012  Kenya: Impunity & Elections, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/ken1201b.php
    "The promulgation of the constitution on 27 August 2010, was a historic moment in our country. The constitution was a culmination of the work of a lifetime for most people in this gathering and many other Kenyans not at this meeting. It may also stand out in history as the singular achievement of Kenyans in this time. ... Yet, my concern is that there appears not to have been a proper appreciation of the essence of this constitution after its promulgation. ... I have come to the inescapable conclusion that there are Kenyans at all levels who are yet to make the mental shift to the national and individual conduct that the constitution heralds." - Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, December 2011

Dec 21, 2011  Congo (Kinshasa): Dubious Mandate, Uncertain Future http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/drc1112.php
    Joseph Kabila was inaugurated for his second term as president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on December 20, with representation from Western countries limited to ambassadorial level. African countries, including Congo's neighbors, were represented at prime minister or foreign minister level, with Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe the only foreign head of state in attendance. But despite unresolved doubts about massive fraud in the election, the "international community" (both African and non-African) is unlikely to mobilize any significant pressure to reexamine the results.

Dec 12, 2011  Africa: Books New & Notable 2011 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/books1112.php
    It's past time for one of our too infrequent book issues. I've organized this one into three groups of new books I've come across this year: three books on current priority issues that I recommend to readers as "must reads," new and notable books by AfricaFocus subscribers, and other new and notable books on a variety of topics.

Nov 29, 2011  Congo (Kinshasa): Election Background Analysis http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/drc1111.php
    "Widespread discontent with the current regime and the longing for radical change do explain the great popularity of Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), DRC's oldest opposition party, established in 1982. ... [His] message has been warmly received because it reflects the deepest aspirations of the majority of Congolese. Faced with this formidable challenge, the Kabila regime is doing its best to win the election through violence and intimidation." - Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja

Nov 25, 2011  South Africa: Secrecy Bill Evokes Apartheid Era http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/saf1111.php
    "The new South Africa is not comparable to the evils of old. But on Tuesday, when parliament passed a state secrecy law, we were shamed. The ANC became like its apartheid predecessors. The party of Mandela ignored the man himself and muzzled whistleblowers, journalists and its own citizens. It defied its trade union allies and civil society, and used its majority to ram through the protection of information bill, which gives the state power to classify information and criminalise whistleblowers, journalists and anyone who comes into possession of such classified information." - Justice Malala

Nov 10, 2011  Tunisia: Analyzing Election Results http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/tun1111.php
    "Tunisia was the first Arab country to have a pro-democracy uprising in the winter of 2010-2011, and now it is the first to have held an election. ... In the eyes of many observers, Tunisia is lighting the way forward where others -- notably Egypt -- are faltering." - Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP)

Oct 13, 2011  Africa: Migration, Inequalities, & Human Rights http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/migr1110.php
    Issues related to the situation of refugees and other migrants are hotly contested in locations as diverse as Libya, South Africa, Kenya, Western Europe, and the United States. Anti-migrant sentiment is a recurring phenomenon, featuring restrictive legislation, official abuses against immigrants, and in extreme cases, xenophobic violence. Yet these issues are most often considered in isolation, rather than also as among the most telling indicators of fundamental structural inequalities between nations.

Sep 19, 2011  Libya: Reflections, Zeleza http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/lib1109a.php
    "That the West has always had a nefarious agenda in Africa is not news--we all remember the slave trade, colonialism, and structural adjustment. But we give the West too much power when we absolve our dictators because the West likes or detests them ... Our peoples' struggles and fundamental interests for well-being and freedom should be our only principled guide in supporting struggles for change. In focusing on NATO's role in the Libyan campaign it is tempting to underplay the role of the rebels themselves and the struggles and desires of the majority of Libyan people for freedom from Gadhafi's despotism." - PT Zeleza

Sep 19, 2011  Libya: Reflections, Mamdani, Cole http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/lib1109b.php
    "Whereas the fall of Mubarak and Ben Ali directed our attention to internal social forces, the fall of Gaddafi has brought a new equation to the forefront: the connection between internal opposition and external governments. Even if those who cheer focus on the former and those who mourn are preoccupied with the latter, none can deny that the change in Tripoli would have been unlikely without a confluence of external intervention and internal revolt. ... One thing should be clear: those interested in keeping external intervention at bay need to concentrate their attention and energies on internal reform." - Mahmood Mamdani

Sep 19, 2011  Libya: Observations & Questions http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/lib1109c.php
    As was the case for Tunisia and Egypt, there has been no shortage of day-to-day news coverage (often contradictory) and impassioned international policy debate on the Libyan component of the Arab Awakening. But there has been much less solid analysis, as the popular overthrow of Libya's dictator was complicated not only by the turn to armed conflict but also by the decisive role played by NATO air power and significant external assistance to the rebels, primarily from France, Britain, and Qatar.

Jul 30, 2011  Malawi: Challenging Power & Corruption http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/mal1107.php
    "The protests and riots of July 20 are fundamentally about governance and development, the enduring desire among Malawians for the establishment of a sustainable democratic developmental state. It underscores the fact that economic growth without development is not enough. ... President Mutharika embodies the contradictions of Malawi's political system and the crassness of Malawi's political class." - Paul Tiyambe Zeleza

Jul 24, 2011  Somalia: Refugees and Camps http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/som1107b.php
    The new drought crisis, and increased flow of refugees to Kenya and Ethiopia, comes on top of years of overcrowding and incapacity to deal with the refugee flow from Somalia. The greatest responsibility has fallen on Kenya, where the vast majority of refugees are housed in the huge camp at Dadaab. The failure of the international community includes not only the lack of early response to the latest drought, but the inability to find a sustainable solution other than warehousing refugees in camps.

Jun 30, 2011  USA/Gabon: Blind Eye for Corruption http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/gab1106.php
    The White House was brief in an official statement after the June 9 visit of the President of Gabon. The statement concluded by noting that "President Obama urged President Bongo Ondimba to take bold steps to root out corruption and to reform the judiciary and other key institutions to ensure the protection of human rights, and he welcomed the reforms that Gabon has taken under President Bongo Ondimba to bring more transparency and accountability to government. Both leaders agreed to continue to work together to promote peace and security, as well as advance good governance in Gabon."

Jun 22, 2011  Sudan: UN Debate http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/sud1106b.php
    Northern and Southern Sudan today [June 20] signed an agreement to pull their troops out of the disputed central Abyei region, scene of fierce fighting over the past few weeks, African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki announced as he urged the Security Council to move quickly to ensure implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the two sides. - United Nations

Jun 22, 2011  Sudan: New Violence, Uncertain Future http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/sud1106a.php
    "The remainder of [Sudan] remains saddled with the 'Sudan Problem', where power, resources and development continue to be overly concentrated in the centre, at the expense of and to the exasperation of the peripheries. A 'new south' is emerging in the hitherto transitional areas of Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile that -- along with Darfur, the East and other marginal areas -- continues to chafe under the domination of the NCP. Unless their grievances are addressed by a more inclusive government, Sudan risks more violence and disintegration." - International Crisis Group

Jun 14, 2011  Guinea-Bissau: Drug Trade in Broader Context http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/gb1106.php
    "In Guinea-Bissau, drug trafficking ... is a consequence of the pre-existing lack of stability that allows smugglers to establish their networks in the region and operate to and from there. Ignoring the structural causes of the problem (endemic poverty, corruption, impunity) will have an even deeper impact on the local population than the illegal drug trade, and will leave unaddressed the very conditions that continue to foster trafficking opportunities in the future." - February 2011 report from Norwegian Peacebuilding Center

Jun 10, 2011  Cote d'Ivoire: No War, but No Security http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/ci1106.php
    "Between May 13 and 25, Human Rights Watch interviewed 132 victims and witnesses to violence by both sides during the battle for Abidjan and in the weeks after Gbagbo's arrest. Killings, torture, and inhumane treatment by Ouattara's armed forces continued while a Human Rights Watch researcher was in Abidjan, with clear ethnic targeting during widespread acts of reprisal and intimidation." - Human Rights Watch

May 12, 2011  Eritrea: Refugees and Responsibility http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/er1105.php
    "If refugee flows are a sign of political meltdown, then Eritrea is a level seven nuclear disaster. Figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees indicate that Eritrea, with a population of only about five million, has been among the top ten refugee producing countries in the world for the better part of the decade." - Tricia Redeker Hepner

May 4, 2011  Uganda: Protests in Perspective http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/uga1105.php
    In February this year Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told a press conference: "There will be no Egyptian-like revolution here. ... We would just lock them up. In the most humane manner possible, bang them into jails land that would be the end of the story." Events of recent weeks, including last week's violent attack by security forces on opposition leader Kizza Besigye and a sit-down strike by Ugandan lawyers beginning today, seem to indicate that repression may not be the "end of the story," despite Museveni's overwhelming victory with 68% of the votes in February's election.

Apr 22, 2011  Africa: Migration & Human Development http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/migr1104b.php
    "The entry policies that have prevailed in many destination countries over recent decades can be largely characterized by denial and delay on the one hand, and heightened border controls and illegal stays on the other. This has worsened the situation of people lacking legal status and, especially during the recession, has created uncertainty and frustration among the wider population." - Human Development Report 2009

Apr 22, 2011  Libya: Migrants Situation Update http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/migr1104a.php
    "So far, only about 2,800 out of a total of 500,000 people fleeing the violence in Libya have arrived in Europe. This is less than 0.6 percent of all cross-border movements. ... The movement out of Libya is unrelated to the arrivals of some 20,000 mainly Tunisians on Lampedusa, which is part of the 'normal' boat migration by mainly North African young men in search of work." - Hein de Haas

Apr 14, 2011  Zimbabwe: Hard Road to Reform http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/zim1104.php
    "[The] seeming lethargy of the SADC facilitation took a dramatic turn at the SADC Troika summit in Zambia on the 31st March. [It noted] with 'grave concern' the political polarization in Zimbabwe characterised by the 'resurgence of violence, arrests and intimidation.' ... Without naming Mugabe directly, [the summit's] resolutions were arguably the most forthright diplomatic criticism that SADC had issued of the Mugabe regime, with the recommendations largely echoing the demands that the MDCs and the civic movement had been making since 2009." - Solidarity Peace Trust

Apr 10, 2011  Swaziland: Time for Democracy? http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/swaz1104.php
    Demonstrations planned for Tuesday April 12 in Swaziland are probably the most ambitious effort yet in sub-Saharan Africa to spark a pro-democracy surge comparable to those earlier this year in Tunisia and Egypt. Economic crisis coupled with the conspicuous luxury of an absolute monarchy committed to repression make the parallels obvious. Over 7,000 protesters marched in demonstrations three weeks ago to oppose salary cuts for civil servants. But the regime has banned Tuesday's demonstrations, organized by labor, student, and civic organizations as well as through social media.

Mar 25, 2011  Africa: Variations of Democracy http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/dem1103c.php
    Asking whether North Africa's pro-democracy movements will find an echo in sub-Saharan Africa is both an inevitable and an unanswerable question. But given the wide diversity of national contexts, it is essential also to raise doubts about some of the generalizations that may emerge in attempts to answer it. Critically, one must also stress that many sub-Saharan African countries have in fact made significant advances toward functioning democracies. In public opinion surveys by Afrobarometer, for example, including data from 2008 on 19 African countries, 29% of respondents rated their own country a "full democracy," 30% their country as a democracy "with minor problems," 25% a democracy "with major problems," and only 11% not a democracy at all or "don't know."

Mar 25, 2011  Africa: Democracy and Despots http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/dem1103a.php
    "Many an African dictator is trembling in his (invariably dictators appear to be mostly men) boots, following popular uprisings that swept long-time rulers out of power in Tunisia and Egypt. ... But will the domino effect of these popular uprisings also sweep dictators out of power further south?" William Gumede

Mar 25, 2011  Africa: Winds of Change http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/dem1103b.php
    Do this year's "people's power" victories in the North African countries of Tunisia and Egypt signal a new era for other countries in Africa, as well as for the Arab world of which they are also a part? And if so, what factors will determine where the wind strikes sparks, adding its momentum to pro-democracy forces that have previously been stifled or defeated? Even more uncertain, where can democratic forces not only mobilize but also win? In fact no one knows the answers, but they are being asked across the continent.

Mar 18, 2011  Nigeria: Can Elections be Fair? http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/nig1103.php
    "The April 2011 general elections - if credible and peaceful - would reverse the degeneration of the franchise since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999, yield more representative and legitimate institutions and restore faith in a democratic trajectory. Anything similar to the 2007 sham, however, could deepen the vulnerability of West Africa's largest country to conflict." - International Crisis Group

Mar 5, 2011  North Africa: New Threats to Migrants http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/na1103.php
    "Sub-Saharan African workers [in Libya] are in dire need of evacuation because of the threats they face. The people most in need are mainly from poorer countries in Asia and Africa... whose governments have apparently been unable or unwilling to rescue them" - Human Rights Watch

Feb 28, 2011  Côte d'Ivoire: Human Rights Reports http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/ci1102a.php
    "The political stalemate resulting from the elections has been characterized by the use of excessive force by supporters of Mr. Laurent Gbagbo, including elements of the security forces loyal to him, to repress public demonstrations, harassment and intimidation, incitement to ethnic and political violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings." - Report by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, February 2011

Feb 28, 2011  Cote d'Ivoire: Crisis Facts & Debates http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/ci1102b.php
    There is a real threat of return to open civil war in Côte d'Ivoire, driven primarily by the failure of former President Laurent Gbagbo to admit electoral defeat. But despite a broad international consensus on the election results, the presence of UN peacekeeping forces, and active mediation efforts, there is no consensus on what measures would actually help rather than run the risk of accelerating the turn to violence.

Feb 21, 2011  Libya: Protests Grow Despite Massacres http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/lib1102a.php
    Despite the absence of international news media and shutdowns of the Internet, Libyan protesters seem determine to prove predictions that "it can't happen here" to be false for Libya. A speech Sunday night by Saif El Islam Gaddafi, one of Muammar Gaddafi's sons and previously viewed internationally as a voice of reform, was a disjointed medley of threats that the only alternative to his family's rule was chaos and poverty for the country. Again and again, he repeated that Libya is not Egypt or Tunisia. While there is no doubt of the regime's determination to use violence to keep control, it is already showing signs of fragility, with defections and the progress of demonstrations in the capital as well as in the east of the country.

Feb 21, 2011  Libya: The Past of a Regime http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/lib1102b.php
    "Libya ... resembles a protection-racket run by a family group and its associates who wrested control of a state and its people by force and then ruled for forty years with no attempt to secure popular legitimation. ... [it] is a state of robbers, in formal terms a kleptocracy. The Libyan people have for far too long been denied the right to choose their own leaders and political system - and to benefit from their country's wealth via oil-and-gas deals of the kind the west is now so keen to promote. The sooner the form of rule they endure is consigned to the past, the better." - Fred Halliday, writing in 2009 on the Libyan regime's 40th anniversary

Feb 1, 2011  Equatorial Guinea: Oil but No Rights, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/eq1102a.php
    "For the past three decades, Obiang has proudly presided over one of Africa's most devastating humanitarian and political disasters. With a per capita GDP comparable to Portugal or Korea, Equatorial Guinea's national income is the highest in sub-Saharan Africa - and yet over 60 per cent of the population struggle to live on less than a dollar a day. Since oil was discovered in 1995, President Teodoro Obiang's family and close associates have grown fabulously wealthy, while the majority of the population remain mired in poverty." - Abena Ampofoa Asare

Feb 1, 2011  Equatorial Guinea: Oil but No Rights, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/eq1102b.php
    "Obiang's eldest son, Teodorin, bought a $35 million property in California in 2006. In 2004, he spent about $8.45 million for mansions and luxury cars in South Africa. His only known income was a $4,000 monthly salary as a government minister. His $43.45 million in spending on his lavish lifestyle from 2004 to 2006 was more than the $43 million the government spent on education in 2005." - Human Rights Watch

Jan 26, 2011  Zimbabwe: Not Ready for Elections http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/zim1101a.php
    "As representatives of Zimbabwe's civil society, we are convinced that at present, the country has not carried out sufficient institutional and legislative reforms to enable the country to hold credible elections free of violence and intimidation." - Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, in statement calling for additional action by the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.

Jan 26, 2011  Zimbabwe: Public Opinion Report http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/zim1101b.php
    No one knows whether there will be an election in Zimbabwe this year, or under what conditions. But public opinion polls show that the majority of Zimbabweans are convinced elections should take place, even though they also feared they would be victims of election violence, and are increasingly reluctant to tell pollsters for whom they might vote. While in May 2009 64 percent felt free to choose who to vote for, only 47 percent expressed such confidence in October 2010, a 17-point decline.

Jan 20, 2011  Tunisia: New Beginnings http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/tun1101.php
    The head of the Arab League has told the region's leaders that the recent upheaval in Tunisia is linked to deteriorating economic conditions throughout the Arab world, warning them that their people's anger has reached unprecedented heights. Amr Moussa told an Arab economic summit in Egypt that "the Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession." "This is in the mind of all of us," Moussa said in his opening address to the 20 Arab leaders and other representatives of Arab League members gathered in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. - Al Jazeera, January 19, 2011

Jan 10, 2011  Sudan: Reflections, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/sud1101a.php
    "Both the Government of Sudan and the SPLM have made the solemn and vitally important commitment that should the people of South Sudan vote for secession, they will work to ensure the emergence and peaceful coexistence of two viable states, informed by the objectives of renewed friendship and cooperation between the people of the North and the South." - Thabo Mbeki, University of Khartoum, January 5, 2011

Jan 10, 2011  Sudan: Reflections, 3 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/sud1101c.php
    "I do not believe that either the ruling National Congress party (NCP) in Khartoum or the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which governs the south, want to fight. War would almost certainly bring an end to NCP rule in the north and devastate an already impoverished south. Leaders on both sides are smart enough to know that." - Mo Ibrahim

Jan 10, 2011  Sudan: Reflections, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/sud1101b.php
    ?In this context we should also remind ourselves that Sudan has always been a multi-ethnic African state. Should it divide into two countries, it will divide into two diverse, multi-ethnic African states. Some writers on Sudan have spoken of an 'African' south and an 'Arab' north. However we are firmly of the view that both Southern and Northern Sudan are equally African." - Thabo Mbeki, University of Juba, January 7, 2011

Dec 14, 2010  USA/Africa: Wikileaks Highlights, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/wl1012b.php
    It should be no surprise to anyone that South African diplomats been been frustrated both with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, or that Kenya and the United States have enjoyed close military to military ties despite vocal U.S. criticism of the Kenyan government. Wikileaks cables released to date, such as the ones included in this AfricaFocus Bulletin, provide some nuances and may be embarrassing, but provide no "smoking guns" or startling revelations.

Dec 14, 2010  USA/Africa: Wikileaks Highlights, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/wl1012a.php
    For Africa, as for elsewhere in the world, the cables released by Wikileaks - so far less than 1% of the full set - provide valuable nuance, some embarrassment, and confirmation of many suspicions by exposing a wide variety of reports by diplomats. The attempt to silence Wikileaks should be rejected. It is all the more important, however, that the cables should be used with the same caution that competent journalists or historians should apply to any other source.

Nov 28, 2010  Egypt: Election Questions http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/eg1011.php
    There will be little surprise in the results of Egypt's elections today, as the ruling party has taken all the repressive steps necessary to ensure that it will have no problem in winning. But, says Egyptian human rights analyst Bahey Eldin Hassan, there will be four significant battles to watch: the legitimacy battle, the battle to monitor, the media battle, and the extent of violence.

Nov 17, 2010  Western Sahara: Violence Brings Rare Attention http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/wsah1011.php
    "On November 8, Moroccan occupation forces attacked a tent city of as many as 12,000 Western Saharans just outside of Al Aioun, in the culminating act of a months-long protest of discrimination against the indigenous Sahrawi population and worsening economic conditions. Not only was the scale of the crackdown unprecedented, so was the popular reaction: In a dramatic departure from the almost exclusively nonviolent protests of recent years, the local population turned on their occupiers, engaging in widespread rioting and arson." - Stephen Zunes

Nov 4, 2010  Côte d'Ivoire: A Big Step Forward http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/ci1011.php
    An orderly, peaceful, and fair presidential election on Sunday, with an agreed voters' roll and some 80 percent participation, is clearly a big step forward for Côte d'Ivoire, and well deserving of the accolades from former Ghanaian President John Kufuor and other international observers. Results announced by the electoral commission yesterday reported 38.3 percent for incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, 32.1 percent for Alassane Outtara, and 25.2 percent for Henri Bedié. But the real test of whether the country can return to stability and its leading economic role in the region will come in the run-off expected later this month.

Oct 14, 2010  Sudan: Post-Referendum Issues http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/sud1010.php
    "It is in our interest to see that the North remains a viable state, just as it should be in the interests of the North to see Southern Sudan emerge a viable one too. The North is our neighbour, it shares our history, and it hosts our brothers and sisters. Moreover, I have reiterated several times in my speeches in the past that even if Southern Sudan separates from the North it will not shift to the Indian Ocean or to the Atlantic Coast!" - Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir

Oct 3, 2010  Africa: Media Matters http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/med1010a.php
    "Weak though they may often be, the media, especially the independent outlets, have made remarkable contributions to peaceful and transparent elections in Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Mali, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia; to post-conflict transitions and the restoration of peace in Liberia, Mozambique and Sierra Leone; and to sustaining constitutional rule in times of political crises in Guinea, Kenya and Nigeria. And many continue to push to open up the space for freedom in suffocating environments." - Kwame Karikari, Media Foundation for West Africa

Oct 3, 2010  South Africa: Media Matters http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/med1010b.php
    "The current debate needs to interrogate the desire for secrecy against the right to information in a society in which the lack of socio-economic rights diminishes the ability to access political and civil rights and vice-versa. It is a vicious cycle that the further secrecy of the Protection of Information Bill, will only deepen. The right to access to information that government itself has put in place since 1994 needs to be upheld not undermined." - Pregs Govender, Deputy Chair, South African Human Rights Commission

Sep 10, 2010  Mozambique: Police and Protesters http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/moz1009b.php
    Thirteen dead, at least 300 injured, and 224 arrested is the toll of three days of demonstrations against prices rises and the high cost of living. The main protests were in Maputo and the adjoining city of Matola, with both cities paralysed on Wednesday and Thursday (1 and 2 September) and only slightly functioning on Friday. Activity returned to normal on Saturday, and on Tuesday September 7, the government announced a reversal of the price increases.

Aug 6, 2010  South Africa: Xenophobia & Civil Society http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/xeno1008.php
    "Virtually every author concludes that violence against African migrants will continue and increase unless some profound socio-economic and attitudinal changes occur. This text thus sounds a loud warning bell to South Africa about our future. And it does so not merely based on the opinions of the authors, but because of the views of ordinary South African citizens that informed the research. ... survey after survey, focus group after focus group, have shown deeply xenophobic attitudes rising steadily over time." - David Everatt in introduction to report on South African Civil Society and Xenophobia, July 2010

Aug 2, 2010  USA/Africa: New Evidence on Lumumba Death http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/lum1007.php
    "A 1975 U.S. Senate investigation of alleged CIA assassinations concluded that while the CIA had earlier plotted to murder Lumumba, he was eventually killed 'by Congolese rivals. It does not appear from the evidence that the United States was in any way involved in the killing.' It is now clear that that conclusion was wrong." - Stephen R. Weissman, author of new article "An Extraordinary Rendition"

Jul 9, 2010  USA/Africa: Detroit to Dakar http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/d2d1007.php
    "We insist that the right to education, the right to health care, food, the right to work, the right to housing, the right to clean water are inherent and inalienable and that it is the obligation of the State to guarantee access to these rights for all. The legitimacy of the State itself must be derived from its ability to uphold and deliver these rights." - Detroit to Dakar U.S. Social Forum statement

Jul 6, 2010  Africa: Book Notes http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/bk1007.php
    This AfricaFocus contains a diverse selection of recent books likely to be of interest and new to AfricaFocus readers. You will find, for example, new books by Africa's distinguished elders, such as Achebe, wa Thiong'o, and Mandela. Selected new books from publishers such as Africa World Press, HSRC Press, and Aflame Books. Books on topical themes such as SMS activism and other ICT developments, on India and China's relations with Africa, and on xenophobia and migration. And more.

Jun 18, 2010  Zimbabwe: Whose Diamonds? http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/zim1006.php
    Zimbabwe's diamond wealth, which could potentially provide a decisive boost for economic recovery, is instead still a resource shared by diamond smugglers, army officers and police, and by cliques of top officials in the country's security apparatus, says a new report from "conflict diamonds" researchers at Partnership Africa Canada (PAC).

May 31, 2010  South Africa: Israel/Apartheid Connections http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/issa1005.php
    "Polakow-Suransky puts Israel's annual military exports to South Africa between 1974 and 1993 at $600 million, which made South Africa Israel's second or third largest trading partner after the United States and Britain. ... He puts the total military trade between the countries at well above $10 billion over the two decades." - Glenn Frankel in review of new book "The Unspoken Alliance"

May 25, 2010  Ethiopia: Democracy Deferred http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/eth1005.php
    "Behind an orderly facade, the government pressured, intimidated and threatened Ethiopian voters, ...Whatever the results, the most salient feature of this election was the months of repression preceding it." - Rona Peligal, acting Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Apr 25, 2010  Sudan: No Easy Ways Ahead http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/sud1004b.php
    "A vote for secession [in the 2011 referendum] is a foregone conclusion - given overwhelming Southern popular sentiment - but the time remaining to ensure that the process is orderly, legitimate, and consensual is desperately short. The potential flashpoints for a new war are many. Any new armed conflict runs the risk of becoming rapidly regionalized and difficult to contain, let alone resolve." - Alex de Waal

Apr 25, 2010  Sudan: "Too Big to Fail?" http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/sud1004a.php
    In the minds of its sponsors, the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] is "too big to fail." ... The bailout is simple: support the SPLM/NCP to muddle through no matter how flawed or sham the elections may be. - - Ahmed Elzobier in Sudan Tribune, April 21, 2010

Apr 18, 2010  Zimbabwe: Sanctions and Solidarity http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/zim1004.php
    "In the case of Zimbabwe today, both supporters and opponents of sanctions exaggerate their importance. The international community, both global and regional, has other tools as well. Key issues are not only when to lift or relax sanctions but also how much support Western countries will provide for economic recovery. Even more decisive will be whether Zimbabwe's African neighbors can strengthen their diplomacy by backing it with effective pressures, even if they hesitate to use the word sanctions." - Briggs Bomba and William Minter

Feb 16, 2010  Zimbabwe: Demystifying "Sanctions" http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/zim1002.php
    The European Union formally decided on February 15 to lift restrictive measures against 6 individuals and 9 companies in Zimbabwe that were previously subject to travel bans and asset freezes, but continued the measures for another year on the majority of the 203 individuals and 40 companies on the list. The EU cited the lack of progress in implementation of the Global Political Agreement of September 2008 as the reason for continued measures. Companies removed included the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company.

Feb 8, 2010  USA/Africa: Two to Tango http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/usa1002.php
    Corruption is not a solitary activity, and the networks that promote corruption are rarely confined to one country or one continent. For corruption in Africa, countries outside the continent enter the picture not only when foreign companies pay bribes for access. They are also a preferred location for stolen wealth. A newly released investigative report from a U.S. Senate Subcommittee provides four detailed case studies of funds from Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, and Angola, tracing connections to U.S. banks, lawyers, real-estate agents, financial institutions, and even a university.

Feb 2, 2010  Africa: Solidarity with Haiti http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/hai1002a.php
    "Despite $402 million pledged to support the Haitian government's Economic Recovery Program [in April 2009] ... as of yesterday we estimate that 85% of the pledges made last year remain undisbursed. ... [we don't need more pledges] We need a reconstruction fund that is large, managed transparently, creates jobs for Haitians, and grows the Haitian economy. We need a reconstruction plan that uses a pro-poor, rights-based approach far different from the charity and failed development approaches that have marred interactions between Haiti and much of the rest of the world for the better part of two centuries." - Dr. Paul Farmer, U.N. Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti January 27, 2010

Feb 2, 2010  Africa: Haiti's Debt in Context http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/hai1002b.php
    "Haiti was the only country in which the ex-slaves themselves were expected to pay a foreign government [France] for their liberty [in 1804]. By 1900, it was spending 80% of its national budget on repayments. ... In 1947, Haiti finally paid off the original reparations, plus interest. Doing so left it destitute, corrupt, disastrously lacking in investment and politically volatile." - historian Alex von Tunzelmann, in London Sunday Times, May 17, 2009

Jan 24, 2010  Rwanda: Beyond Reasonable Doubt http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/rw1001.php
    "The April 6, 1994 assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana was the work of Hutu extremists who calculated that killing their own leader would torpedo a power-sharing agreement known as the Arusha Accords. The landmark deal would have ended years of conflict by creating a broad-based transitional government and an integrated Rwandan army. ... Despite the far-fetched conspiracy theories that have circulated over the years, the assassination plot was relatively straightforward. Colonel Bagosora was intimately familiar with the president's travel schedule and sufficiently powerful that the night before the summit, he was able to change the composition of the Rwandan delegation to ensure that Army Chief of Staff General Deogratias Nsabimana - who opposed Bagosora's genocidal plans - would be on the president's plane." Mutszinzi Report,

Dec 18, 2009  Africa: New Books from AfricaFocus Subscribers http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sub0912.php
    This AfricaFocus Bulletin has recent books (2008 and 2009) from AfricaFocus subscribers, including authors, editors, contributors, and publishers. It's a very substantial list, but I'm sure some have escaped my notice. If you are an AfricaFocus subscriber, check this out for your own books and those by the your fellow subscribers. If you are an author or editor and don't find your recently published book here, do let me know (at africafocus@igc.org), and I'll add it below.

Dec 15, 2009  South Africa: 30+ New Books http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sab0912.php
    The most popular of these new books from and about South Africa is undoubtedly that by John Carlin on Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation, now available in two editions as well as in the newly released Clint Eastwood movie. But probably the one most in need of greater international attention is the one edited by Tawana Kupe and colleagues - Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of Difference in South Africa. This photographic and analytic portrayal of the xenophobic violence of 2008 poses fundamental questions about the shape of today's South Africa.

Nov 15, 2009  Eritrea: No Welcome in Italy http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/er0911c.php
    "We were fortunate to spend two days in a small coastal town of Agrigento where in the central part of the city stands a Catholic church with the figure of a black priest carved in stone perched high above in the church tower. It is a statue of Saint Calogero, an African priest who came to Sicily around the 14th century and is revered as the town's patron saint. But in the 21st century, African refugees who traverse the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean Sea find Calogero's city, indeed the entire country, unwelcoming, even hostile to them. A well-known Italian Bishop is said to have remarked that if the saint-priest were to arrive in Agrigento today, he would find himself in similar circumstances as the refugees who are detained and disdained." - Nunu Kidane and Gerald Lenoir

Nov 15, 2009  Eritrea: Press Freedom Updates http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/er0911b.php
    Eritrea ranks at the very bottom of Reporters without Borders index of press freedom for 2009, released in October (see http://www.rsf.org/en-classement1003-2009.html), accompanied in the bottom five by North Korea, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Burma. In this report, Reporters without Borders lists 28 journalists as imprisoned in the country, more than any other country.

Nov 15, 2009  Eritrea: Perilous Journeys http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/er0911a.php
    "On 20 August 2009, off the Italian island of Lampedusa, the Italian coastguard rescued five of the remaining 78 Eritrean passengers aboard a rickety boat set sail from the Libyan capital, Tripoli. While a number of European sailing vessels had passed their boat in the three weeks it had spent at sea, only one stopped to give them life jackets, bread and water. But it soon went on its way ... Seventy-three of the Eritrean refugees died from thirst, hunger and heat. ... The five survivors now face a fine of 5,000 to 10,000 Euros for illegal immigration under an Italian law that took effect in early August." - Yohannes Woldemariam

Oct 23, 2009  Guinea (Conakry): More than an Inquiry? http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/gc0910.php
    "Three weeks after over 150 people were killed in a military crackdown on demonstrators in the capital Conakry, with women and girls raped, Guineans are coping with the aftermath, some still searching for disappeared relatives' bodies. Uncertainty and tension reign." - UN IRIN News, Oct. 21, 2009

Oct 11, 2009  Sudan: African Union Panel Reports http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sud0910a.php
    "Repeatedly during our process of consultation, the Darfurians insisted that the Panel would fail in its mission if it did not identify and address what they called "the root cause of the crisis in Darfur". ... a gross imbalance between a strong centre and a marginalised periphery, which resulted in political power and wealth being concentrated in the centre, with the consequent negative consequences on the periphery." - African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur

Oct 11, 2009  Sudan: Policy Debates and Dilemmas http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sud0910c.php
    In the debate on international policies towards Sudan, analysts as Alex de Waal and Mahmood Mamdani have convincingly critiqued Save Darfur movement and the International Criminal Court for counterproductive "humanitarian fundamentalism." After recent years of alternating bluster and failure to put real pressure on the Sudanese government from the U.S. under President Bush, the Obama administration and the "international community" seem to be gearing up to give diplomacy a serious chance. But the unanswered question is whether even forceful and skillful diplomacy can overcome Khartoum's long-practiced strategies for delay and deception.

Oct 11, 2009  Sudan: Between Peace and War http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sud0910b.php
    The pace of diplomacy on Sudan is increasing, with talks set to resume on Darfur and active engagement by the African Union, the United Nations, and the United States in efforts to move Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement forward as it approaches the last year of a projected 6-year interim period. But, says veteran Sudan analyst John Ashworth, in fact the agreement "is not Comprehensive, nor Peace, nor an Agreement. Its failure could ignite a new war even more deadly than the two previous conflicts in Southern Sudan.

Aug 10, 2009  Angola: Oil & Housing http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ang0908.php
    "Government revenues from oil and gas are set to rise strongly, giving [the top ten oil-exporting countries in Africa] the means to speed up economic and social development and alleviate poverty. The government take in the top ten oil- and gas-producing countries is projected to rise from some $80 billion in 2006 to about $250 billion in 2030. Nigeria and Angola account for 86% of the $4.1 trillion cumulative revenues of all ten countries over 2006-2030." - World Energy Outlook 2008

Aug 10, 2009  Angola: Failed yet Successful http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ang0908s.php
    "In recent years [Angola's] economy has grown at a feverish annual rate of 18 percent. Its government has successfully ended 40 years of violent conflict, consolidated its political base and negotiated profitable deals with major public and private bodies of the United States, Europe and China. [Yet oil revenues may begin to decline by 2015] ... the current development model is thus a ticking political time bomb. The coming decade will reveal whether that bomb will be defused or not."

Aug 4, 2009  USA/Kenya: What Kind of Partnership? http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ken0908s.php
    "Many people had hoped that Kenya's 2007 presidential elections would cement Kenya's democratic progress and would provide a solid foundation for the country to break out of its economic doldrums and begin to achieve some of its enormous economic potential. Instead, the 2007 elections brought trade and commerce to a halt, polarized the country along regional and ethnic lines and for a brief moment nearly brought the country to the edge of civil war." - Johnnie Carson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa

Aug 4, 2009  Kenya: National Government of Impunity? http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ken0908.php
    On July 30, only days before this week's visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Kenya, the first stop on her 7-country Africa trip, the Kenyan Cabinet decided to reject special prosecution of those responsible for post-election violence in 2007 and 2008, whether under a domestic special tribunal or by the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which the case has been referred. Kenyan human rights advocates have been scathing in their critique of the Cabinet decision, and will be closely parsing the signals from the Clinton visit.

Jul 21, 2009  USA/Africa: After the Speech http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/usa0907a.php
    President Obama's speech met with mixed reviews. In Africa as well as in the United States, there was applause for the criticism of corrupt African rulers and the inspiring rhetoric calling for Africans to take responsibility for their future. But many commentators also called for a reality check.

Jul 10, 2009  USA/Africa: Obama in Ghana, What Kind of Change? http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/usaf0907.php
    President Barack Obama's trip to Ghana, beginning today, will be rich in symbolism. But those hoping for a new direction in U.S. Africa policy are tempering their hopes with skepticism. The issue posed, parallel to that in other policy spheres, is to what extent change will remain symbolic or reflect substantive shifts, even if small, away from U.S. policies based on unilateral geostrategic goals or unexamined economic policy assumptions.

Jun 12, 2009  Nigeria: Midterm Results Disappoint http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/nig0906a.php
    "Every Nigerian hopes Yar'Adua's administration will start delivering those political goods which every society is entitled to, and what Yar'Adua promised in his Inaugural Address. But the strength of the hope dwindles with each passing day. As Nigerians, we must raise our voices to demand for these goods, and pray for our leaders to appreciate that they are in office to solve societal problems - not just to make a few friends, relations and cronies better off." - Nasir El-Rufai

Jun 12, 2009  Nigeria: Delta Violence Past & Present http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/nig0906b.php
    "It is impossible to separate the actions of the oil multinationals operating across the Niger Delta from the actions of the Nigerian government in the region. ... In exchange for the oil removed from the Niger Delta, the oil companies, with the support of the Nigerian state, have left behind an ecological disaster, reducing whole towns and villages to rubble, causing death by fire and pollution, and the guns of the Nigerian military." - Sokari Ekine and Firoze Manji

Jun 1, 2009  Africa: Economy and Human Rights, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/hr0906a.php
    "Our first demand in our new campaign ["Demand Dignity"] is to the G-2 leaders, USA and China. The United States does not accept the notion of economic, social and cultural rights while China does not respect civil and political rights. We call on both governments to sign up to all human rights for all." - Irene Khan, Amnesty International

Jun 1, 2009  Africa: Economy and Human Rights, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/hr0906b.php
    "There is still an enormous gap between the rhetoric of African governments, which claim to protect and respect human rights, and the daily reality where human rights violations remain the norm. ... So many people are living in utter destitution; so few of them have any chance to free themselves from poverty. Their dire situation is exacerbated by the failure of governments in the Africa region to provide basic social services, ensure respect for the rule of law, address corruption and be accountable to their people." - Amnesty International, 2009 annual report

May 20, 2009  Zimbabwe: 100 Days Plus http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/zim0905.php
    "We all knew this was going to be a fragile, tenuous, very uneasy relationship but one where the MDC had little option. Having said that, it was also very clear from the beginning that this kind of arrangement was going to be a battle for the State between the two parties from its inception and indeed that's what it's turned out to be ... But I think we've also seen a kind of new hope that emerged in the 100 days, a sense that something else was possible and the beginning of, at least the first steps of accountability of the ruling party." - Brian Raftopoulos on SW Radio Africa

May 14, 2009  Africa: New Books 2009 http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/nb0905.php
    This issue of AfricaFocus features brief notices of 15 books published so far in 2009 that I think AfricaFocus readers are likely to be interested in. This listing, including 10 on continent-wide issues or countries outside South Africa and 5 on South Africa, is far from comprehensive. But it includes a good selection of thoughtful analyses by both African writers and experienced non-African observers of the African scene.

Apr 14, 2009  USA/Nigeria: Halliburton Fallout http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/hal0904.php
    Fallout is continuing from the long-drawn-out case of Halliburton and Kellogg Brown & Root bribery of Nigerian officials for contracts for a liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria. In February the two companies agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and Security Exchange Commission, including payment of a total of $579 million in fines. Further investigations are under way in five countries; and a detailed expose in Nigeria's Next newspaper has accused three former heads of state of being involved with the payments.

Apr 7, 2009  Africa: Racism Conference Review http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/race0904.php
    "The Durban decision is the administration's first test of President Obama's commitment to increasing racial awareness and racial healing. To date the President has largely heard from opponents of the Conference--both from voices inside his administration as well as those outside. President Obama needs to hear from you." - TransAfrica Forum

Mar 25, 2009  Kenya: Crisis Renewed http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/ken0903.php
    "I am shaken. I am shocked. And that is, apparently, the intent. For all of us to be shaken. For all of us to be shocked. For all of us to hear the threat, heed the warning. The threat and the warning implicit in last week's assassinations of Kingara Kamau and John Paul Oulu of the Oscar Foundation." - L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Kenya Human Rights Commission

Mar 9, 2009  Sudan: Into Uncharted Territory http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sud0903.php
    "Sudan has entered uncharted waters as a result of the ICC [International Criminal Court] arrest warrant against President Omar al Bashir. And indeed it is a nothing less than roll of the dice, a gamble with unknown consequences. Yesterday marks a turning point. We cannot say for sure in which direction Sudan will turn but there are many reasons to be fearful." - Alex de Waal

Mar 1, 2009  USA/Africa: Waiting for Change http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/usa0903.php
    "While low visibility for Africa policy may not be entirely unexpected, considering the multiple crises the President faced entering office, it has disappointed many who had hoped the administration might quickly mobilize the high level attention that is needed to spur action on vital issues." - Reed Kramer,

Feb 16, 2009  Somalia: First Steps in a New Direction http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/som0902.php
    "The shortcomings of [the previous U.S.] approach are abundantly clear: violent extremism and anti-Americanism are now rife in Somalia due in large part to the blowback from policies that focused too narrowly on counter-terrorism objectives. The new U.S. national security team must make a clean break by defining and implementing a long-term strategy to support the development of an inclusive Somali government." - Ken Menkhaus

Feb 10, 2009  Zimbabwe: Making a Bad Deal Work? http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/zim0902.php
    "The reality is that they have been co-opted as junior partners on its margins." Zimbabwean journalist Tendai Dumbutshena wrote in Pambazuka News, referrring to the January 30 decision by the MDC-Tsvangirai to accept formation of an "inclusive government" with Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF. And, indeed, few analysts other than partisans of the incumbent regime were optimistic that ZANU PF would truly share power or cease the use of violence against political opponents and human rights activists. But some hoped that the new government might signal some small relief from the downward spiral in economic and social conditions.

Jan 13 2009  Ghana: Political Kudos http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/gh0901a.php
    "It's a triumph for Africa," headlined Kenya's Daily Nation on January 7, as Ghana's new President, opposition leader John AttaMills, was sworn in after a closely fought election (http://tinyurl.com/9sdwqs). The sentiment was repeated around the continent and the world, often with pointed comments on the contrast to other recent elections on the continent.

Nov 27, 2008  Africa: Gift Books Issue http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/book0811.php
    Looking for gifts that are not too expensive, but still attractive, enjoyable, and perhaps even educational as well? Take a look at the 15 books below and click on the links below each book for more information - or to view all the images, just go directly to http://www.africafocus.org/books/gifts08a.php

Nov 18, 2008  USA/Africa: Reflections on the Transition http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/usaf0811.php
    "The problem [with projections of President-elect Obama's foreign policy priorities] is that for a new leader promising change, they have tended to reflect the most traditional sorts of Washington priorities, neglecting other parts of the world that are starving for American moral and political leadership; places where Obama, by virtue of his unique background, offers particularly compelling potential for impact. ... The most obvious and important omission ...is Africa, a continent of nearly one billion people today that according to United Nations projections will count an astounding two billion people by mid-century." - Howard W. French

Nov 11, 2008  Kenya: Call for Accountability http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ken0811.php
    "We are witnessing a situation where the politicians in government are satisfied that they are now sharing power and that it is business as usual. It is disturbing that they prefer to push all issues that contributed to the crisis under the carpet ... We as Kenyan civil society are certain that the crisis we witnessed is not over. These same politicians will certainly break this country if they go unpunished. We demand the full implementation of the Waki recommendations and immediate disbandment of the Electoral Commission of Kenya." - Kenyans for Peace through Truth and Justice

Oct 15, 2008  Western Sahara: Nonviolent Intifada; Diplomatic Impasse http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ws0810.php
    In 1975, as the last prolonged stage of Africa's decolonization process began with the fall of Portuguese colonialism, Portugal's neighbor Spain decided to dispose of its colony of Western Sahara by handing it over to Morocco and Mauritania, defying a World Court decision in favor of self-determination. For thirty-three years, Morocco has continued its occupation, with military and diplomatic support from the United States and France.

Oct 11, 2008  Congo (Kinshasa): War Goes On, Little Pressure for Peace http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/conk0810.php
    The war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, site of the United Nations' largest peacekeeping operation, attracts little attention from the world's media. Conditions vary from place to place in that vast country. But violence continues at high levels in parts of the country, particularly North Kivu, and efforts to rebuild functional state security and oversight over the economy still face enormous obstacles.

Sep 27, 2008  Angola: Election Free and Fair, Sort Of http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ang0809.php
    "Election free and fair, sort of," was the headline from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) news service after Angola's long-awaited parliamentary election early this month. The news service notes that its stories do not represent the position of the United Nations, and there was no official United Nations observer team. But the comment was an accurate summary of the consensus of observers from Africa and Europe.

Sep 13, 2008  USA/Africa: New Policy Prospects? http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/usaf0809.php
    "If the United States takes a narrow view of Africa, as a recipient of charity, a place to pump oil, and an arena for fighting terrorists, then African hopes being evoked by the Obama candidacy will almost certainly be disappointed. If, however, the United States takes a long view, understanding that its security depends on the human security of Africans, then there are real prospects for a new era of collaboration and good will." - Merle Bowen and William Minter, commentary in Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette

Jul 28, 2008  Guinea-Bissau: In Need of a State http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/gb0807.php
    "Drugs arrive by boat or by air from Venezulea, Colombia, or Brazil to be stored in Guinea-Bissau before being redistributed in smaller lots to Europe. The process is relatively easy for the traffickers. The state of Guinea-Bissau has no logistical capacity to control its territory, particularly some 90 coastal islands." - International Crisis Group

Jul 16, 2008  Nigeria: Curse of the Black Gold http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/nig0807.php
    "This book lays out the dynamics of oil and development in Nigeria and Africa. It reveals the complicity in this perfect storm of international oil companies, foreign governments, corrupt oil-producing states and U.S. consumers. ... the future of oil in Nigeria is now in question in an unprecedented way. As we speak, something like 25 percent of Nigerian oil is locked in or deferred because of the attacks by militants." - Michael Watts

Jun 22, 2008  Africa: AfricaFocus Web Updates http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/web0806.php
    In the almost five years of publication of AfricaFocus Bulletin, the number of sources available to readers over the internet, by web and e-mail, has continued to grow exponentially. I am pleased that so many of you continue to find this occasional bulletin of carefully selected analysis useful.

Jun 14, 2008  Zimbabwe: African Leaders Speak Out http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/zim0806.php
    Two weeks before the presidential run-off elections in Zimbabwe, over forty prominent African leaders have released an urgent call for free, fair, peaceful, and transparent elections. The open letter was published on June 13 and June 14 in full-page advertisements in South Africa's Business Day, the Financial Times, and the New York Times. The initial signatories included 18 former presidents or prime ministers, two Nobel Laureates, musicians Youssou N'Dour and Angelique Kidjo, and former United Nations Secretaries General Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. It was sponsored by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, founded and directed by African mobile phone magnate Mo Ibrahim.

May 26 , 2008  Zimbabwe: "Democracy is Not a Privilege" http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/zim0805b.php
    "Africa waged a century-long struggle against colonialism and apartheid precisely to establish the principle that governments should derive legitimacy through the consent of the governed. Democratic institutions are therefore not privileges that may be extended or withheld at the discretion of those who wield power." - Pallo Jordan

May 26, 2008  Zimbabwe: A Dream Deferred http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/zim0805a.php
    This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains the text of "Zimbabwe: A Dream Deferred," a summary report from TransAfrica Forum on the joint observer mission sent by TransAfrica Forum and Africa Action to the Zimbabwe election in March. The summary is written for a U.S. audience, to provide a progressive alternative to misleading and simplistic characterizations of the crisis in Zimbabwe, often characterizing news coverage and debate in the United States.

May 20, 2008  South Africa: Migrants under Attack http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/xen0805.php
    "Xenophobia is rife in South Africa. However, repression of immigrants, refugees and undocumented people goes beyond naked violence in poor communities. Earlier this year, police raided the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, beating up and arresting immigrants, mainly from Zimbabwe. The state systematically abuses the rights of immigrants: health workers deny treatment, home affairs officials demand bribes and police assault immigrants regularly." - Treatment Action Campaign

Apr 28, 2008  South Africa: Women, AIDS, and Violence, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ai0804a.php
    "Despite gradual improvements in the government's response to the HIV epidemic and the adoption of a widely-welcomed five-year plan, five and a half million South Africans are HIV-infected - one of the highest numbers in any country in the world. Fifty-five percent of them are women. South African women under 25 are three to four times more likely to be HIV-infected than men in the same age group. ... the level of new HIV infections amongst women in South Africa continues to increase, while overall incidence of the disease has levelled off." - Amnesty International

Apr 28, 2008  South Africa: Women, AIDS, and Violence, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ai0804b.php
    "In the Southern African region the results of a large scale household survey conducted in eight countries showed that nearly a fifth of the women interviewed reported being a victim of partner physical violence in the preceding year. ... South African based-studies have found that women who experience intimate partner violence are at long-term increased risk of HIV infection, particularly where their partners were involved in multiple concurrent, unprotected sexual relationships." - Amnesty International

Mar 31, 2008  Zimbabwe: Writing on the Wall http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/zim0803.php
    "Mugabe: The Writing is on the Wall," headlined Daniel Howden in a report from Bulawayo today in the UK Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk). He was perhaps making a risky prediction, as official results continued to be delayed. But he was also referring to the fact that a late change in the electoral law had resulted in the public posting of results in constituencies around the country, and that this had made it possible for unofficial counts to speed around the country by text message, email, and mobile phones.

Mar 20, 2008  Kenya: Post-Crisis Agendas http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ken0803.php
    "The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation between the political parties provides Kenya's leaders with a historic opportunity to step back from the brink and to reform and establish institutions that can help build long-term stability. ... However, challenges remain in ensuring that the institutions created actually deliver accountability for recent and previous violence, correct injustices ignored by previous administrations, and tackle the systemic failure of governance that gave rise to the recent crisis." - Human Rights Watch

Feb 26, 2008  Nigeria: Prison System Report http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/nig0802.php
    "Nigeria's prisons are filled with people whose human rights are systematically violated. Approximately 65 per cent of the inmates are awaiting trial most of whom have been waiting for their trial for years. Most of the people in Nigeria's prisons are too poor to be able to pay lawyers, and only one in seven of those awaiting trial have private legal representation." - Amnesty International

Feb 21, 2008  USA/Africa: Images and Issues http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/usa0802.php
    As President Bush winds up his 5-day trip to Africa, the initial focus on his legacy in the fight against AIDS and malaria has been enlivened with debate on the new and highly controversial AFRICOM military command (See, for example, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/21/world/africa/21prexy.html), Commentators have also highlighted the contrast between Bush's itinerary (Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, and Liberia) and unresolved crises in Kenya and Sudan. But from AIDS to AFRICOM, coverage of the trip was also revealing for points hardly mentioned by either Bush boosters or critics.

Feb 1, 2008  Kenya: More Pressure Needed to Stop Violence http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ken0802.php
    "The deep frustrations that are felt on all sides of the Kenyan divide are understandable. There is no doubt that much more work remains to be done for Kenya to become a more equitable and democratic society. But Kenya has come too far to throw away decades of progress in a storm of violence and political unrest. We must not look back years from now and wonder how and why things were permitted to go so horribly wrong.- Senator Barack Obama, on Kenyan radio, January 29, 2008

Jan 8, 2008  Africa: Talking about "Tribe" http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ethn0801.php
    The Kenyan election, wrote Jeffrey Gettleman for the New York Times in his December 31 dispatch from Nairobi, "seems to have tapped into an atavistic vein of tribal tension that always lay beneath the surface in Kenya but until now had not provoked widespread mayhem." Gettleman was not exceptional among those covering the post-election violence in his stress on "tribe." But his terminology was unusually explicit in revealing the assumption that such divisions are rooted in unchanging and presumably primitive identities.

[Update January 17, 2008: Since this Bulletin was written last week, Gettleman's coverage of Kenya in the New York Times has avoided the indiscriminate use of the word tribe in favor of "ethnic group," and has noted the historical origins and political character of the continued violence in the country, as well as its links to ethnic divisions. Thanks to those AfricaFocus readers and others who contacted the New York Times about its coverage.]

Jan 8, 2008  Kenya: Causes and Solutions http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ken0801.php
    "It is the Kenyan People Who Have Lost the Election," headlined Pambazuka News in its special Kenya election edition on January 3. "But the real tragedy of Kenya," the editorial continued, is that the political conflict is not about alternative political programmes that could address ... landlessness, low wages, unemployment, lack of shelter, inadequate incomes, homelessness, etc. ... [instead] it boils down to a fight over who has access to the honey pot that is the state. ...[citizens] are reduced to being just being fodder for the pigs fighting over the trough."

Oct 30, 2007  South Africa: RIP Lucky Dube http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/dube0710.php
    "The tragic death [of Lucky Dube] shocked reggae adherents across the continent. Since the news of his death was announced on Friday, his legion of fans in The Gambia and abroad, jammed radio stations and media houses, with calls expressing shock and dismay at the violent killing of their hero. ... [he sang] many crime related songs and has died by the crime that he helped to fight, through music." - Daily Observer, Banjul

Oct 8, 2007  Africa: Ibrahim Governance Index http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/moib0710.php
    "What we're trying to say is that at the end, governance is reflected in what is delivered to people. .. We are not commenting on the policies. ...Policies should reflect in goods delivered to people. We're trying to capture it [this way] instead of going through this endless discussion about policies - what is good, what is bad - which becomes, at the end of the day, very subjective." - Mo Ibrahim

Sep 23, 2007  Zimbabwe: Pan African Response http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/zim0709a.php
    "For anybody genuinely concerned about the future of Africa there can be no politics of convenience. To be sure, the Zimbabwean crisis is not the only crisis in Africa ... [But it] is arguably the only ongoing crisis in which one side (the incumbent government) and its supporters have mobilised African support and silenced many by asserting more or less that its critics are sympathisers, supporters or agents of foreign interests and former colonial masters. This has wrongly narrowed the framework of the debate on the Zimbabwean crisis." - Rotimi Sankore

Sep 23, 2007  Zimbabwe: A Regional Solution? http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/zim0709b.php
    "Six months before scheduled elections, Zimbabwe is closer than ever to complete collapse. ... An initiative launched by the regional intergovernmental organisation, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to facilitate a negotiated political solution offers the only realistic chance to escape a crisis that increasingly threatens to destabilise the region. But SADC must resolve internal differences about how hard to press into retirement Robert Mugabe ... and the wider international community needs to give it full support." - International Crisis Group

Aug 28, 2007  Asia/Africa: Ubuntu and Sangsaeng http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/wcc0708.php
    "'Business as usual' is inappropriate, if humankind and creation are to survive on planet Earth. The prevailing development trajectory leads to destruction. ... But this is only one side of the coin.... [Those] who have realized the life-threatening consequences of the prevailing growth-oriented economic development paradigm are re-discovering the wisdom and life-affirming values of their own cultures and civilizations." World Council of Churches general secretary Samuel Kobia

Aug 10, 2007  China/Africa: Civil Society Meeting http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/ch0708.php
    "In China, attitudes toward Darfur are evolving rapidly - so that instead of being part of the problem, it could play a significant role in the solution. ... China does not want to be perceived globally as a defender of authoritarian regimes that perpetrate or are oblivious to human suffering." - Gareth Evans and Donald Steinberg

Jul 1, 2007  Zimbabwe: Call for SADC Action http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/zim0707.php
    Over 100 human rights groups, mainly in Africa, have urged South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki and other SADC leaders to put human rights at the center of any mediation efforts on the Zimbabwe crisis. The appeal was initiated by Amnesty International, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,

May 14, 2007  Nigeria: Election Aftermath http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/nig0705a.php
    Militant groups in the Niger Delta have stepped up attacks on oil installations following last month's election. Since the beginning of May, pipelines have been sabotaged and at least 29 foreign oil workers have been kidnapped. A spokesman for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) warned that attacks would continued until the government opened a dialogue about restoring the oil wealth to the people in the region.

May 14, 2007  Nigeria: Fair and Square? http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/nig0705b.php
    Local and most foreign observers are united that the elections were "fundamentally flawed". ... The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, that deployed 50,000 monitors across the country has not only condemned the widespread irregularities variously reported about the election it has gone further than any other group of monitors by categorically calling for a cancellation of the results and a rerun of the vote." - Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem (http://www.pambazuka.org)

Mar 31, 2007  Africa: Citizenship Rights http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/cit0703.php
    "On March 6, 1957, the independence of Ghana promised for all Africans and our communities a new era of citizenship in full dignity and equality with the rest of humanity. 50 years later, ... this promise remains unfulfilled. African governments remain unable or unwilling to fully assure, respect and guarantee effective citizenship in our continent." - Tajudeen Abdulraheem, Dismas Nkunda, & Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

Mar 26, 2007  Zimbabwe: The End of "Quiet Diplomacy"? http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/zim0703.php
    "Southern Africa is 'finally' assuming leadership in trying to resolve the burning Zimbabwean crisis on their doorstep, but it has been a long time coming, said analysts ... The Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has pushed for an approach of 'quiet diplomacy' to the Zimbabwean crisis, has increasingly come under fire for failing to wield any influence." - IRIN, March 23, 2007

Feb 18, 2007  Guinea (Conakry): State of Siege http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/guin0702.php
    Army violence against civilians has escalated after declaration of a state of siege in Guinea (Conakry) on February 12, despite condemnation of the move by leaders of the West African regional organization ECOWAS and the African Union, as well as local and international non-governmental organizations. Fears are mounting that the violence may not only undermine hopes of change in Guinea itself, but also fuel further conflict in Guinea's neighbors.

Jan 31, 2007  Guinea (Conakry): Status Quo Continued http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/guin0701.php
    "After a cloudy sky, the great social storm that broke over Guinea, menacing the established regime, did not succeed in sweeping away the General-President. ... A great disillusionment, at the end of the day: the Conté page has not been turned and the recent popular demonstrations riots have not sounded the sunset of the Conté era." - Le Pays, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Dec 12, 2006  Zimbabwe: Symptoms of Decline http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/zim0612.php
    "Zimbabwe was once the publishing capital of southern Africa. It used to host the best book fair in Africa. But years of neglect, as with Zimbabwe itself, [have revived the saying]: 'We cannot eat books.' With few visitors and even fewer sales, neither can the publishers."

Nov 12, 2006  Lesotho: Anti-Corruption Actions http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/les0611.php
    Search the World Bank's website section on anti-corruption (http://www.worldbank.org/anticorruption) for "Lesotho" and you will get the following response: Your search - Lesotho - did not match any documents. No pages were found containing "Lesotho". But while the World Bank may not be paying attention, the small Southern African country has taken the lead in attacking corruption in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, a giant scheme financed by the World Bank itself.

Oct 31, 2006  Congo (Kinshasa): From Votes to Security? http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/conk0610.php
    Voting went peacefully in presidential runoff elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo on October 29. And both contenders have promised not to resort to force to contest the results. But there is still a significant threat of violence as the votes are counted.

Oct 11, 2006  Africa: "New News" http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/news0610.php
    "I am constantly confounded as to why American media don't find Africa an exciting place to report from and about. I think there's a perception that audience interest is limited. That's certainly not been true in my experience. ... I don't have a problem with reporting death, disease, disaster and despair, because all of the above exist. But that is not all there is to Africa." - Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Oct 6, 2006  Africa: Forced Evictions http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/evic0610.php
    "Forced evictions are one of the most widespread and unrecognised human rights violations in Africa," - Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International's Africa Programme. According to research by Amnesty International and the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), more than three million Africans have been forcibly evicted from their homes since 2000.

Sep 16, 2006  Africa: Migration and Rights http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/mig0609a.php
    Chartered planes started flying illegal African immigrants back from Spain to Senegal last week, resuming a repatriation program aimed at stemming the flow of immigrants to this southern European country. But judging by experience, the return is unlikely to stop thousands of others from risking their lives in small boats to reach the Canary Islands from the West African coast, or finding other perilous ways of reaching the European continent.

Sep 16, 2006  Africa: Migration and Development http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/mig0609b.php
    "[The] potential benefits [from international migration] are larger than the potential gains from freer international trade, particularly for developing countries," notes an extensive recent United Nations report on migration. But while the liberalization of the flow of goods and capital continues to increase, restrictions on the movement of people are leading to thousands of deaths in border areas such as the U.S. southwest desert and the sea routes between Africa and Europe.

Aug 13, 2006  Nigeria: Swamps of Insurgency http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/nig0608.php
    "Over the past quarter century, unrest in the Niger Delta has slowly graduated into a guerrilla-style conflict that leaves hundreds dead each year. The battle lines are drawn over the region's crude oil and gas that make Nigeria the number one oil producer in Africa and the world's tenth largest crude oil producer." - International Crisis Group

Aug 6, 2006  Zimbabwe: Displacement and Survival http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/zim0608b.php
    One year after "Operation Murambatsvina" ("Clean-Up"), the damaging effects of the government campaign aimed at the urban poor are still visible, reports a recent delegation from South African social movements. With Zimbabweans expressing little hope in a divided opposition, internal efforts at resistance are concentrating on survival.

Aug 6, 2006  Zimbabwe: Shadows and Lies http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/zim0608a.php
    "There is no reason why Zimbabweans today should watch our country go down the drain. Look at the time it took to build it up. That one can just destroy it overnight is something very painful. It was not about creating another dictatorship, creating another oppressive system, where you cannot exercise your rights." - Margaret Dongo

Jul 30, 2006  Congo (Kinshasa): A New Beginning? http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/conk0607.php
    In the best scenario, today's elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with more than 25 million voters, will demonstrate the will of the Congolese people for peace and the possibility of increased stability. In the worst case, the elections themselves may prove a stimulus for further violence. In any scenario, the fundamental issues of building a government that works and fighting poverty and corruption lie ahead.

Jun 27, 2006  Gambia: Defending Press Freedom http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/gamb0606.php
    The Gambian government has blocked a non-governmental forum of freedom of expression scheduled to take place in Banjul on June 19 and 30, prior to the African Union summit in the Gambian capital. But media freedom groups will still be focusing on threats to free expression in Gambia and demanding an investigation of the murder of Gambian journalist Deyda Heydara, which took place 18 months ago.

Jun 13, 2006  Africa: A Culture of Accountability http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/acct0606.php
    "In truth serious debate about the manner in which Africa was governed only became mainstream after the end of the Cold war. Prior to this human rights, democracy, freedom of expression and other basic freedoms of ordinary citizens often took a back seat to the grand geopolitical struggles that were played out on African soil. It was thus somewhat disconcerting for many of our leaders to find themselves being lectured about good governance in the early 1990s by the very same Western patrons who had previously supported some of the most corrupt and oppressive regimes on the continent." - John Githongo

May 22, 2006  Egypt: Human Rights Protests http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/eg0605.php
    Despite promises of liberalization, repression is continuing against human rights reformers in Egypt, and U.S. annual aid to Egypt of some $1.7 billion is expected to continue at the same level in the next fiscal year. In addition to critiques from international human rights organizations, Egyptian bloggers are increasingly prominent in disseminating critique of the regime in both English and Arabic.

May 4, 2006  Congo (Kinshasa): Elections and More http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/conk0605.php
    The first round of presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo is now scheduled for July 30, after repeated delays. South Africa is taking responsibility for producing the ballot papers, while the European Union will send over 1,000 troops to aid United Nations forces in maintaining security during the elections. The elections, observers stress, are only one of the essential steps for consolidating peace in the country.

Apr 14, 2006  Africa: Stolen Wealth http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/corr0604.php
    "Corruption is bleeding Africa to death and the cost is borne by the poor. ... Much of the money is banked in Britain or our overseas territories and dependencies. ... We want our government to get tough on corruption." - Hugh Bayley, MP, Chair of the Africa All Party Parliamentary Group

Apr 9, 2006  Benin: Democratic Succession http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/ben0604.php
    "The constitution favors the change of power and the change of heads of state. These fundamental prescriptions of our constitution of 11 December 1990 must resist all opportunistic revisionism, short-term interests and subjectivism." - Outgoing Benin President Mathieu Kerekou, who turned over the presidency on April 6 to his elected successor Yayi Boni, a strong critic of Kerekou's record.

Mar 19, 2006  Liberia: Johnson Sirleaf in New York, Washington http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/lib0603.php
    "Listening to the hopes and dreams of our people, I recall the words of a Mozambican poet who said, 'Our dream has the size of freedom.' My people, like your people, believe deeply in freedom - and, in their dreams, they reach for the heavens. ... I ran for president because I am determined to see good governance in Liberia in my lifetime. But I also ran because I am the mother of four, and I wanted to see our children smile again." - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, speaking to the U.S. Congress, March 15, 2006

Feb 26, 2006  Kenya: Githongo Report http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/git0602.php
    John Githongo, who resigned a year ago as Kenya's anti-corruption chief, this month released a report on scandals he was investigating that has already forced the resignation of Kenya's finance minister and threatens to bring down other top officials. The report is based on detailed records he kept during his investigation, and spells out how officials used security contracts worth as much as $1 billion to siphon off government funds into non-existent companies.

Feb 6, 2006  Swaziland: No Democracy Allowed http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/swaz0602.php
    "King Mswati's time is up," headlined South Africa's Sunday Times last month after arrests and reports of torture of banned opposition party members in Swaziland. But with inauguration of a new constitution entrenching the powers of the monarchy, the prospects for democracy in this small country neighboring South Africa do not seem promising.

Nov 17, 2005  Tunisia: Free Expression Protest http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/tun0511.php
    Tunisia, which is currently hosting the World Summit on the Information Society, is one of the most advanced African countries in provision of information infrastructure. But it also systematically represses internal dissent and blocks access to websites critical of the government. As the summit opened this week, Tunisian human rights activists were on hunger strike and international activists were protesting the government's refusal to allow freedom of expression.

Nov 13, 2005  Nigeria: Delta Oil & Human Rights http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/nig0511.php
    Ten years after the execution of human rights campaigner Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues by the Nigerian government, the issues of human rights and environmental devastation in the oil-producing Niger Delta remain unresolved. Despite the return to civilian rule in 1999 and pledges by oil companies to implement voluntary corporate responsibility standards, new reports by Environmental Rights Action and Amnesty International document only limited action to correct abuses and deliver benefits to the residents of the oil-producing areas.

Oct 10, 2005  Liberia: Elections Necessary, Not Enough http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/lib0510.php
    With frontrunners including soccer star George Weah and experienced international official and banker Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberians are set to choose among 22 candidates for president as well as new legislators. "This country has to finish with war," a shopkeeper in Monrovia told a New York Times reporter as the election approached. Despite hopes for a new start, however, both Liberians and international observers are well aware that much more is needed beyond elections.

Jul 28, 2005  Zimbabwe: Housing Tsunami Continues http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/zim0507.php
    Despite a devastatingly critical report by UN-HABITAT Director Anna Tibaijuka, the government of Zimbabwe is continuing its drive to destroy "illegal" housing and shops that is estimated to have made at least 700,000 people homeless in the last two months. Zimbabweans, rejecting the government's term Operation Murambatsvina ("Clean Out Garbage") compare the assault on the country's poor to a "tsunami."

Jul 13, 2005  Africa: G8 Reaction, Perspectives http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/glen0507.php
    "Outside of British officialdom," writes Sanjay Suri of Inter Press Service from the Gleneagles summit, "celebrations of increased G8 aid for Africa were confined mostly to a population of two - rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono." Non-governmental groups in the Make Poverty History campaign, in contrast, were generally skeptical.

Jun 18, 2005  Ethiopia: On the Edge http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/eth0506.php
    Despite the announced release of 336 detainees in Ethiopia on June 17, and renewed agreement by opposition and government parties to await the results of investigations of election fraud, tension continues high both in the capital and in many other areas of the country. Critics charge that the international community is downplaying government repression because of the strategic importance of the country.

May 30, 2005  Ethiopia: Election Reports, Commentary http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/eth0505.php
    Provisional results from the national election board show a majority for the ruling party in Ethiopia's May 15 parliamentary election, but also significant gains for opposition groups, particularly in the capital Addis Ababa. Initial reports from observers had highlighted the high turnout (over 90%) and the relative calm of election day. However, opposition parties are also claiming victory, with many charges of fraud yet to be investigated. Critics have charged the international community with turning a blind eye to intimidation and fraud by the government.

Apr 30, 2005  Africa: Security Council Expansion http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/un0504.php
    Debate is heating up on expansion of the United Nations Security Council to 24 members. Under one of two options proposed by a highlevel panel on UN reform in December and by Secretary General Kofi Annan last month, there would be six new permanent seats, two for Africa. The proposals are to be discussed this year, but disputes over details mean that further delays are very likely.

Apr 18, 2005  Zimbabwe: Election Fraud Report http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/zim0504.php
    A new report from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe, released on April 12, has presented detailed evidence of bias and outright fraud in the March 31 elections. In particular, the report details allegations of ballot-stuffing sufficient to change election results in at least 20 constituencies. This would shift the balance of directly elected seats from 78-41 in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF to 61-58 in favor of the MDC.

Mar 2, 2005  Zimbabwe: Solidarity Newsletter http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/zim0503.php
    "The Zimbabwean elections of 2000 and 2002 deepened the political crisis, rather than contributing to a progressive resolution. Since 2002 democratic space has been further eroded. What Zimbabwe needs now is not another gravely flawed election but a SADC-facilitated negotiated transition towards democracy." - Zimbabwe Solidarity Conference, South Africa, February 24-25, 2005

Feb 28, 2005  Togo: Peer Pressure Plus http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/togo0502.php
    Less than a day after the African Union imposed sanctions demanding a return to constitutional legality in Togo, Faure Gnassingbe stepped down from the presidential post he had assumed after the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema three weeks ago. Virtually unanimous condemnation was followed by sanctions from Togo's West African neighbors and from the continent-wide organization. This sent the unmistakable message, in the words of one commentator's headline, that there would be "no business as usual for Baby Eyadema."

Feb 11, 2005  Kenya: Corruption Fight Stalling http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/ken0502.php
    The resignation of respected anti-corruption campaigner John Githongo from the Kenyan government has touched off new political furor that seems certain to escalate in coming weeks. In its two years in office, President Mwai Kibabi's government has initiated numerous anti-corruption investigations. But there is widespread skepticism that it has the will to deal with high-level corruption within its own ranks.

Jan 26, 2005  Nigeria: Human Rights Report Released http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/nig0501.php
    The long-awaited report of the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission, completed in May 2002 after two years of public hearings, has now been made public, not by the Nigerian government but by civil society organizations. In December 2004, given the Supreme Court rulingt that the panel's original mandate was unconstitutional, the government said it was not planning to publish the wide-ranging report, which is popularly known as the Oputa report after the name of the panel's chairman, retired Chief Justice Chukwudifu A. Oputa.

Jan 12, 2005  Africa: Beyond the Ballot http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/gov0501.php
    Whatever policies are needed to address Africa's crises, it is increasingly clear to donors, civil society, and politicians alike that capable states are essential for implementing those policies. The current catch-phrase "good governance" has many possible meanings in practice. How to achieve it is even more debatable. But there is wide agreement that free and fair elections are just the beginning.

Dec 19, 2004  Ghana: Election Commentary http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/gh0412.php
    "What Ghanaians have managed to do with this election is prove that election management is no rocket science. It requires adequate and competent preparation, a high degree of transparency, a responsible government, which respects its own citizens, and an alert citizenry ready to protect their vote. ... the process that I witnessed was without exaggeration better than what transpired in the last US election." - Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Centre for Democracy and Development

Dec 12, 2004  Liberia-Sierra Leone: Consolidating Peace? http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/wa0412.php
    "The [multilateral] interventions in Liberia and Sierra Leone are failing to produce states that will be stable and capable of exercising the full range of sovereign responsibilities on behalf of their long-suffering populations. This is essentially because they treat peacebuilding as implementing an operational checklist, involving [quick] fixes to various institutions and processes" - International Crisis Group

Oct 26, 2004  USA/Africa: Fair Elections? http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/elec0410.php
    A team of African and other international observers monitoring the U.S. presidential election issued their first pre-election report last week. The report by Fair Election International (FEI), entitled "Election Readiness: It Is Never Too Late for Transparency," called attention to the need for reforms, including nonpartisan administration of elections and reducing the disproportionate disenfranchisement of minority and poor voters.

Oct 24, 2004  Sudan: Peacekeeping without Peace? http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/sud0410.php
    Last week's decision to expand the contingent of Africa Union peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region to more than 3,000 is the most substantial step yet towards an international presence that could deter continuing violence against civilians by government-sponsored militia. This measure is seen by almost all commentators as a necessary if not sufficient response to the crisis. Like the increased international humanitarian aid that has arrived in Darfur in recent months, however, it is unlikely to have more than a modest impact without simultaneous new advances on stalled peace negotiations.

Oct 21, 2004  Angola: From War to Social Justice? http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/ang0410.php
    "Negative peace (cessation of hostilities) is far preferable to no peace at all but it ... leaves deficits and injustices in the social, political and economic structures, institutions and cultures largely unresolved. It fails to promote political negotiation and democratic processes." - Conciliation Resources briefing paper

Sep 22, 2004  Nigeria: Shari'a Manipulation http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/shar0409.php
    A new report from Human Rights Watch on implementation of Shari'a law in 12 northern Nigerian states stresses that "the application of Shari'a in Nigeria has revealed patterns of fundamental human rights violations which are not peculiar to Shari'a but typify the human rights situation in Nigeria as a whole." The researchers report widespread sentiment in the states concerned that the way Shari'a has been implemented has been manipulated for political purposes.

Sep 12, 2004  Sudan: Darfur and Beyond http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/sud0409.php
    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement last week that the Sudanese government and its proxy militias have indeed committed genocide in Darfur caught media attention and incrementally increased the pressure on the Khartoum regime to rein in the violence. However, the Secretary of State also noted that the determination in itself dictated no new action by Washington. The political will of the international community to increase pressure remains in doubt. How best to focus such pressure is also under debate.

Aug 19 2004  South Africa: Apartheid Reparations Update http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/arep0408.php
    Reparations for historical crimes against humanity, such as the centuries-long slave trade, slavery itself, and the more recent apartheid system in South Africa, are not currently on the agenda for governments preoccupied with more immediate goals. But the issues raised will not go away, as long as the deep inequalities and injustices that these crimes produced continue to exist. Whether in South Africa, the U.S., or globally, the past is in fact not yet past.

Aug 14, 2004  Zimbabwe: Test for African Responsibility http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/zim0408.php
    "The Zimbabwean situation of starvation and malnutrition, willful political violence and intimidation, and the immoral use of food aid by the Zimbabwean government demands stronger and transparent intervention by African governments through the AU [African Union]" - Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC)

Aug 5, 2004  Côte d'Ivoire: Peacekeeping Continued http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/ci0408.php
    West African leaders and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a late July summit in Accra, Ghana, won an unexpected new agreement from Ivorian leaders for a timetable to implement the peace settlement signed in January 2003. Some 3,500 UN peacekeeping troops, out of an authorized strength of 6,240, are in the country, with the largest contingents from Bangladesh, Benin, Ghana, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. But the country is still divided, and it is clear that meeting the new timetable for disarmament and new election procedures will depend on continuing pressure on Ivorian leaders.

Jul 28, 2004  USA/Africa: Oil and Transparency http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/eq0407.php
    Two recent U.S. Senate hearings have highlighted issues related to oil and transparency in West and Central Africa. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has focused on the options for U.S. support for transparency in strategic oil-rich countries in the Gulf of Guinea region, including Nigeria, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea. The Committee on Governmental Affairs, on the other hand, has focused on the less often discussed role of American banks and companies in fostering lack of transparency, with a detailed expose of a prominent Washington bank's role in managing suspect accounts for the leaders of Equatorial Guinea.

Jul 22, 2004  Sudan: Questions of Responsibility http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/sud0407.php
    "There has been a great deal of tough talk since the visits of Mr. Powell, Mr. Annan and others, but the UN Security Council so far has failed to act decisively [on Darfur]. It is time to move directly against regime officials who are responsible for the killing." - John Prendergast, New York Times, July 15, 2004

Jun 30, 2004  Africa: Women's Rights Petition http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/wom0406.php
    The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa was adopted at the African Union summit held in Maputo in July 2003. However, only 29 of the AU's 53 member states have signed the protocol and only one (Comoros) has ratified it. This international agreement has the potential to provide a framework for comprehensive reform of national legislation, but it will remain a dead letter unless it is ratified. African groups have launched a petition to African leaders as part of a continent-wide campaign to mobilize support for the protocol.

Jun 18, 2004  Sudan: Justice Africa Analysis http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/just0406.php
    As overwhelming evidence of atrocities in Sudan continues to emerge, there are new calls for action to stop the genocide. This issue of AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from a mid-May briefing by Justice Africa focusing on key elements needed to inform such action. These include identifying the political forces within the Sudanese government responsible for directing the violence.

May 27, 2004  Eritrea: Human Rights http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/er0405.php
    Releasing its annual human rights report this week, Amnesty International charged that the U.S.-led "war on terror" has contributed to sacrificing human rights and turning a blind eye to abuses, without enhancing security. Among the African governments that has most enthusiastically embraced the anti-terror rationale is Eritrea, the subject of a new Amnesty International report released to coincide with the country's 13th anniversary of independence on May 24.

May 18, 2004  Malawi: Election Context http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/mal0405.php
    "We have the greatest policies around, the most liberal constitution. We have a constitution that any liberal democracy would be proud of, but the will to implement ...is not there." - Rafiq Hajat, Institute for Policy Interaction, Malawi

May 10, 2004  Sudan: More Reports, Little Action http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/sud0405a.php
    The United Nations Security Council met on Friday in private session and heard a report from the UN Commissioner for Human Rights documenting a "scorched earth policy" and "repeated crimes against humanity" by Sudanese militia and troops in Darfur, western Sudan. But they failed to take any collective action other than pledging to "monitor developments."

Apr 30, 2004  Africa: Tragedy and Hope http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/book0404.php
    "Africa eludes us; it is so clearly outlined on the map, and yet so difficult to define. From afar, Westerners have long fancied it to be divided into 'black' and 'white,' in the image of their own societies, and yet observant visitors are more likely to be struck by Africa's diversity, and by the absence of any sharp dividing lines."

Apr 22, 2004  Swaziland: AIDS in Context http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/sw0404.php
    "Swaziland now holds the dubious title of [having] the highest [HIV] prevalence level in the world. ... [It] is a vivid microcosm of all the similarly afflicted countries of Southern Africa. At the grass roots, where it counts, there's a superhuman determination to bring the pandemic to heel, and to overcome the tremendous assault on the human condition." - Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa

Apr 5, 2004  USA/Africa: Policy Prospects http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/usaf0404.php
    A U.S. election campaign, it seems, has room for one foreign policy issue at most. That space is fully occupied by Iraq. So it is no surprise that no African issues - not even the unfulfilled Bush administration promises on AIDS from January 2003 - have edged their way into election debates. The difference that this year's election could make for Africa policy is still largely a matter for speculation.

Mar 31, 2004  Rwanda/USA: "The System Worked" http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/rw0403a.php
    "In a sense, the system worked: Diplomats, intelligence agencies, defense and military officials--even aid workers--provided timely information up the chain to President Clinton and his top advisors. That the Clinton Administration decided against intervention at any level was not for lack of knowledge of what was happening in Rwanda." - William Ferroggiaro, National Security Archive Fellow

Mar 31, 2004  Rwanda/UN: Acknowledging Failure http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/rw0403b.php
    "Some 2,000 personnel from several countries, including France, United Kingdom, United States and Italy, had come to evacuate their expatriates and though they were stumbling on corpses, they remained firm in totally ignoring the catastrophe." - retired General Romeo Dallaire, former commander, UN mission in Rwanda.

Mar 28, 2004  Africa: Parliamentary Potential http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/pafp0403.php
    The new Pan-African Parliament officially launched this month will have only advisory and consultative rather than legislative powers in its first five-year term. Its members are appointed by national parliaments rather than directly elected. But its rapid creation is already raising hopes that it may serve as a new public forum for airing critical African issues, including equality for women. Tanzania's Gertrude Mongella was elected by secret ballot as the president of the new body.

Mar 3, 2004  Africa: Fair Globalization Report http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/glob0403.php
    "No one likes to eat crumbs from a feast; everyone likes to sit at the table." Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa quoted this African proverb in introducing the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalization, released last week. The Commission, initiated by Juan Somavia of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and chaired by the presidents of Tanzania and Finland, offers specific proposals to move the world towards "fair globalization."

Feb 22, 2004  Tunisia: Democracy Deferred http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/tun0402.php
    "This week, President Bush played host to President Zine el-Abidine ben Ali of Tunisia, giving this ruthless autocrat a long-coveted audience at the White House," writes exiled Tunisian journalist Kamel Labidi in the New York Times. "To his credit, Mr. Bush rebuked Mr. ben Ali for his violations of press freedom, but the United States is sorely mistaken if it believes that democracy and the rule of law can ever take hold under leaders like Mr. ben Ali. ... Tunisia today is one of the world's most efficient police states."

Jan 22, 2004  Africa: Davos Report Card http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/dav0401.php
    In his New Year's message for 2004, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, referring to HIV/AIDS, poverty, and other global issues, concluded: "We don't need any more promises. We need to start keeping the promises we already made." A report card prepared for the World Economic Forum now meeting in Davos, Switzerland has concluded that the international community is putting in barely one-third of the effort needed to achieve internationally agreed goals.

Jan 16, 2004  Angola: Oil and Accountability http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/ang0401.php
    A new report by Human Rights Watch on Angola is the most detailed public examination to date of discrepancies in accounting for revenue from oil, the product that accounts for the lion's share of the country's exports and government budget. Although Angolan government officials complained about the unfair focus on their country, attributing the problems primarily to insufficiencies in financial systems, the issues raised go to the heart of questions about political accountability not only in Angola, but also around the world.

Jan 16, 2004  Africa: Oil and Transparency http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/oil0401.php
    From Houston to Luanda, London to Lagos, Washington to Baghdad, or wherever else oil is found or sold, the nexus of oil, cash, and politics poses a fundamental challenge to democratic accountability. Campaigns for greater openness, including the global Publish What You Pay campaign, are making some headway. Still, resistance to transparency is the most common note. In the US, Vice President Dick Cheney continues to refuse to release even the names of the industry executives who advised him on the Bush Administration's energy plan.

Jan 11, 2004  Congo (Kinshasa): Peace & Transition http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/drc0401.php
    "While significant progress has been achieved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ... the tangible benefits of peace have not yet filtered down to the war-weary Congolese population. Socioeconomic conditions remain dire throughout the country ... A key condition for success in national reconciliation will be a true partnership between the former belligerents in managing the transition."

Dec 18, 2003  Nigeria: Oil and Violence http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/nig0312.php
    Delta State produces 40 percent of Nigeria's two million barrels a day of crude oil and is supposed to receive 13 percent of the revenue from production in the state, notes Human Rights Watch in a new report. Conflict over oil revenue lies at the root of ongoing violence, particularly in the key city of Warri. "Efforts to halt the violence and end the civilian suffering that has accompanied it must therefore include steps both to improve government accountability and to end the theft of oil."

Dec 10, 2003  Zimbabwe: "We Are Still Here Ambuya" http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/zim0312b.php
    "We Are Still Here Ambuya," sings mbira player and activist Machingura in his new CD released recently in Berkeley, California. Linking struggles for social justice in Zimbabwe, the United States, and around the world, Machingura's music-making in California follows on his experience as vocalist in Harare's Luck Street Blues band in the late 1990s. It has also led to his selection as one of six "Artist Ambassadors" for the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India in January. He follows in a rich tradition of Zimbabwean musicians whose music has both reflected and inspired their people's quest for justice.

Dec 7, 2003  Zimbabwe: Civil Society Voices http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/zim0312a.php
    A six-nation panel including Australia, Canada, India, Jamaica, Mozambique, and South Africa today recommended continued suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, until the government of Zimbabwe meets minimal conditions indicating willingness to dialogue with internal opponents. News coverage of this issue has focused on the divergent views of governments, particularly the reluctance of some African states to maintain the suspension of Zimbabwe. The simplistic image of a split between Europe and Africa, however, ignores the widespread consensus in civil society in Zimbabwe and the region in favor of continued pressure.

Nov 28, 2003  Sudan: Oil and Rights Abuses http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/sud0311.php
    While diplomats say there are good chances of achieving a peace settlement in Sudan by the end of the year, fighting nevertheless continues in western Sudan, and the United Nations has appealed for $450 million to support some 3.5 million displaced Sudanese. Human Rights Watch has just released an extensive new report documenting the complicity of oil companies with human rights abuses in Sudan, and warning that disputes over oil revenue have the potential to further prolong the conflict.

Nov 20, 2003  Africa: Humanitarian Double Standard http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/un0311.php
    "But let me be clear: the aid we give them is not charity, it is their right. ... donors and citizens who can help have not only a moral responsibility to provide emergency and life-sustaining assistance, but an obligation to do so under international humanitarian and human rights law." - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan