Janes Intelligence Review

The following article on Central African Republic appeared on Janes website in 2011 A decision by Central African Republic’s President Francois Bozize to postpone presidential elections a third time seems to have been met by broad agreement in the political class in Bangui. But while the announcement has not provoked outrage, it reflects the degree of political stagnation and the inability of the authorities to bring peace and security to the restive north of the country.     President Francois Bozize’s decree, read on national radio on 30th July, stipulated that presidential elections will now be held on January 23rd 2011, with a ten day campaign starting on January 10th. The decision is to some extent being greeted with relief by some international observers who believed a flawed poll could be worse than no poll at all. Concerns that the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) was slow in issuing voters lists, and that demobilisation, disarmament and rehabilitation (DDR) programmes for ex-rebels would not be complete in time, explain why opposition groups are accepting the decision – on August 11th a collection of opposition parties and the rebels endorsed the new date, and committed themselves to abiding by a code of conduct. A spokesman for the main Union of Active Forces of the Nation (UFVN) coalition said they were committed to preventing the country returning to instability. Two days later, Central African Republic celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence from France. But it will not be plain-sailing for the incumbent president, whose mandate to rule had to be extended by the Constitutional Court when the elections were postponed for a second time by the CEI in May. He will need to do everything in his power to ensure that the January date is stuck to, in order to prevent former rebel leaders
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BBC Focus on Africa magazine

The following article on the Tunisian and Egyptian elections was published in the Jan-March 2012 Focus on Africa magazine It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that events in Tunisia in early 2011 changed the world. The so-called Jasmine Revolution there, which culminated in the ousting of the country’s longstanding President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, is widely credited with kick-starting similar pro-democracy movements elsewhere in North Africa. At the time of going to press, Egypt was on the verge of landmark parliamentary elections – the first since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak. But the Egyptian experience has so far proved quite different to the widely-praised Tunisian vote. Just days before the poll (due to start on 28th November), violence erupted again in Tahrir Square – at least thirty eight protestors, who had been calling for the military government to step aside, were killed in clashes with police. Although it looked likely that the vote would still take place, the deaths are likely to cast a shadow over[C1]  what should have been a celebratory event. “We expect the vote to go ahead” says Les Campbell, head of the Middle East and North Africa region at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), in Cairo for the election. “The polling places have been made public and election officials are getting materials in place. But confusion about procedures is rampant and the current unrest on the streets could dampen turnout”. The symbolism of Tunisia’s peaceful election for a constitutional assembly has been hard to follow. The NDI, based in the United States, called the October 23rd vote an ‘extraordinary achievement’; the 180-strong European Union observer mission, based in Tunisia for several months, said it was ‘transparent on every level’. The vote came at an historic time for the Arab world – as journalists
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BBC Network Africa, radio package

[1pjq A8KAC361R0Is] Radio package on energy crisis affecting refugees from Darfur in eastern Chad, who are facing serious depletion of natural resources around the camps in which they live – apologies there are no translations, but Houda (speaking in French) says she does a radio programme about the problems faced by women gathering firewood in the camps, saying that one woman was raped and then rejected by her husband after she went out looking for wood.  
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The Guardian

Concerns over a new food crisis in the Sahel in 2012 – Guardian Global Development website http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/dec/15/sahel-food-crisis-can-be-forestalled
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