Blog entries from: Baobab

RSS feed for the Baobab Economist blog.

1 to 10 of 105

July 28 2014

From Baobab Mon Jul 28 2014, 02:00:50

FOR years Africa was a backwater for al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, but today it is rising axis for extremism. Two African insurgencies now rank among the most dangerous internationally: Boko Haram in Nigeria and Somalia's al-Shabab. Going by the number of fatalities per attack, Nigeria now has the world's deadliest insurgency (killing an average 24 people per assault, versus two in Iraq), according to the risk consultancy Maplecroft. Violence has spilt into neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger. In Somalia, al-Shabab has come under pressure from regional African forces, but has responded by striking beyond its borders. Kenya has been particularly hard hit. Since the bloody siege on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, the capital, last year, a series of coastal attacks has cost hundreds of lives and ...

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July 25 2014

From Baobab Fri Jul 25 2014, 12:34:39

RIVAL Muslim and Christian militias from the Central African Republic (CAR) signed a ceasefire this week, which they said would protect civilians after 16-months of civil war. But there are several reasons to be sceptical about its capacity to bring an end to fighting that has killed thousands of people and displaced about a million more.

Ceasefires are hard to implement at the best of times, and their track record in Africa is not encouraging. South Sudan provides a good example of how quickly they can fall apart. Leaders there have signed two agreements this year to bring an end to a political conflict that has divided the country along ethnic fault-lines since December 2013. Both were breached with depressing rapidity.

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July 24 2014

From Baobab Thu Jul 24 2014, 15:38:30

TWO French fighter jets screamed across northern Mali on Thursday not in pursuit of terrorists, but on a far more tragic sortie. At 1:50 AM Air Algeria AH5017 disappeared, possibly over the country. The plane was an MD-83, carrying 116 people from Oaugadougou, Burkina Faso to Algiers. Onboard were passengers from France, Burkina Faso, Lebanon and elsewhere, and a Spanish crew. Its pilots were apparently told to alter course to avoid bad weather before contact with the flight was lost. Algeria has sent a C-130 aircraft and Mali is also looking, but the French military lead the search.

Operation Serval was launched in Mali in 2013 to drive terrorists from its northern cities. This month François Hollande, France's president, declared the mission ...

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July 22 2014

From Baobab Tue Jul 22 2014, 16:42:34

AID in Africa has controversial reputation. Critics say it is wasteful and does little to assist the poor. Some even argue that it is counter-productive by making recipients dependent on hand-outs. Seldom, though, are western aid agencies accused of providing the funding for human rights abuses.

Yet on July 14th a British court ruled that an Ethiopian man had legal grounds to ask for a judicial review of Britain's development assistance to Ethiopia after he alleged it had led to human rights abuses. The man, identified only as Mr O to protect his identity, claimed that Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) had contribute funding to a resettlement program that led to human rights abuses being committed on his community in Ethiopia.

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From Baobab Tue Jul 22 2014, 16:42:34

AID in Africa has controversial reputation. Critics say it is wasteful and does little to assist the poor. Some even argue that it is counter-productive by making recipients dependent on hand-outs. Seldom, though, are western aid agencies accused of providing the funding for human rights abuses.

Yet on July 14th a British court ruled that an Ethiopian man had legal grounds to ask for a judicial review of Britain's development assistance to Ethiopia after he alleged it had led to human rights abuses. The man, identified only as Mr O to protect his identity, claimed that Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) had contribute funding to a resettlement program that led to human rights abuses being committed on his community in Ethiopia.

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July 17 2014

From Baobab Thu Jul 17 2014, 15:07:49

NIGERIAN cinephiles rejoiced this month as news emerged that Half of a Yellow Sun (pictured above), arguably the most ambitious film project in the nation's history, had received a release date in its own country. For three months the nation's media censorship board held up the film, raising vague concerns over its depiction of the nation's bloody Biafra War. But that is not what makes the film's release notable. Half of a Yellow Sun was actually released a year ago, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, then finagling releases in major markets such as Britain before making it back home to Nigeria. It was a strange route for a Nigerian film, most of which have been cheap productions aimed primarily at a domestic market. But Half of a Yellow Sun is a symbol of a new ...

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July 15 2014

From Baobab Tue Jul 15 2014, 10:49:41

After much speculation over the cause of a deadly set of explosions in Lagos last month, Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, released a video claiming responsibility, signifying that the Islamic insurgency has managed to hit the country's commercial centre for the first time.  

Two successive blasts in the Lagos' port district on June 25 were passed off by the local government as mishap with a gas container. That explanation seemed a little thin. Behind closed doors, diplomats called it a cover-up designed to prevent panic. Now, Mr Shekau appears to have undermined the government's claims: "You said it was an ordinary fire, but it was me in that fire," he said in his video.

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From Baobab Tue Jul 15 2014, 09:57:35

DURING the military intervention of France in Mali January 2013, officials in Paris were at pains to emphasise the exercise's modest ambition. "France can intervene only in an exceptional moment, for an exceptional and limited period", said President François Hollande, as French troops swept into the west African country to beat back a jihadist advance that was threatening Mali's capital, Bamako. After stopping the rebels in their tracks, France, he insisted, would hand over the country's security to African forces.

A year-and-a-half later, the French are less bashful about their intentions in the region. On July 17th Mr Hollande is setting off on a trip to the Ivory Coast, Niger and Chad to herald the onset of a new counter-terrorism operation, codenamed "Barkhane", which will aim ...

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July 9 2014

From Baobab Wed Jul 9 2014, 05:35:37

ANDARGACHEW TSIGE, an exiled Ethiopian opposition leader with British nationality, could be facing the death penalty after apparently being arrested and sent back to his country of origin while on a trip to the Gulf. While transiting in Yemen on June 23rd, during a journey from Dubai to Eritrea, Andargachew mysteriously ended up on a plane to Ethiopia. It is believed that he was detained by Yemeni officials and handed over to members of Ethiopia's security apparatus.

Andargachew was charged by the Ethiopian authorities with terrorism and sentenced, in absentia, to death, at two separate trials between 2009 and 2012. Following post-election protests in 2005 he had fled the country and been granted asylum in Britain, where he created Ginbot 7, a leading opposition movement.

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July 8 2014

From Baobab Tue Jul 8 2014, 09:06:50

NEARLY six months after Guinea registered its first cases of the ebola virus, the outbreak is still spreading. A World Health Organisation statement last week said 467 people had died from the illness, which has been confirmed in more than 60 communities in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, including the capital cities of the former two countries.

Past outbreaks have been contained and eliminated through careful tracking of individual cases. But the current outbreak has proved harder to manage. West Africa has higher population density and better roads than Central Africa, the site of previous outbreaks, meaning the illness has more opportunity to spread. Robert Garry, a virologist from Tulane University in New Orleans, points out that the current virus is less aggressive than some ...

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