Monday, 16 April 2018

The WhatsApp rumours that infused Sierra Leone’s tight election

In Sierra Leone’s 2018 elections, opposition leader Julius Maada Bio won a narrow victory.Several fake news stories started online, but soon spread far and wide offline, duping even senior officials.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s warning, made on his first and last official visit to Africa, that “African countries” should be careful not to “forfeit their sovereignty” in their dealings with China Image result for CHINESE MEN CAMPAIGN IN SIERRA LEONE

Solidarity with China and its people has taken root in Koroma’s party, the APC. Photos taken  during a campaign rally in the country’s interior show ethnically Chinese men openly campaigning with local APC candidates, wearing APC clothing. Much of the APC merchandise – cups, fans, T-shirts and banners – was made by Chinese companies. A new seven-storey APC headquarters was constructed recently in downtown Freetown by a Chinese construction firm.A stir was caused recently by footage of ethnically Chinese men campaigning alongside the APC in full party uniform, raising the issue of direct partisan involvement by China in Sierra Leone’s political process. This is but the latest in a long string of such incidents confirming the close relationship between the APC and the ruling Communist Party in China. In 2017 construction began on a seven story “Friendship Building” donated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to the APC and earlier this year at an APC rally supporters could be heard chanting “We are Chinese! We are Chinese!”, an expression of support for the country that has poured vast amounts of resources into Sierra Leone.

Under President Ernest Koroma, Chinese investment in Sierra Leone has significantly expanded. Under Koroma’s headship, Chinese resources have been poured into a new freeway system, a hospital, and a $318 million airport. It is the last of these investments that has received particularly sharp criticism. Both the World Bank and the IMF have criticized the project, suggesting that this hugely expensive project is a poor use of resources when Sierra Leone is still recovering from a devastating Ebola outbreak. It is projects like this that informed Tillerson’s criticism  of China’s “predatory loan practices” in Africa.In Sierra Leone's 2018 elections, opposition leader Julius Maada Bio won a narrow victory. Credit: Direct Relief.

The WhatsApp rumours that infused Sierra Leone’s tight election
In early March, a few days before Sierra Leoneans went to the polls, news emerged that UN peacekeepers were about to be deployed. As voters geared up for the first-round of what some feared would be fractious elections, this rumour, accompanied by some very out-dated photos, spread rapidly across Whatsapp, the dominant social media platform in the country. The story was completely false. But it continued to circulate, forcing the Inspector General of Police to issue a formal press release denying the presence of foreign peacekeepers on Sierra Leonean soil.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Another reason why imperialism wanted Gadafi in Libya overthrown

NY Daily News
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy detained for questioning over Gaddafi loan, reminding us of another reason imperialism wanted the Libyan leader assassinated. 
Seven years ago this month, beginning on 19 March 2011, the United States Pentagon and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) began a massive bombing campaign against the North African state of Libya.For seven months the warplanes flew tens of thousands of sorties over Libya, at the time the most prosperous state in Africa. Nearly ten thousand bombs were reportedly dropped inside the country resulting in an estimated 50,000-100,000 dead, many more injuries and the dislocation of several million people.On 20 October 2011, long-time Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, was driving in a convoy leaving his home area of Sirte when the vehicles were struck. Gaddafi was later captured and brutally executed by counter-revolutionary forces, which were led, armed and financed by the US, NATO and its allies.
France played an instrumental role in the destruction of Libya as a nation-state. The then Conservative Party President Nicolas Sarkozy praised the overthrow of the Jamahiriya political system and the execution of Gaddafi.All of the imperialist states and their cohorts told the international community that the counter-revolution in Libya would lead to an era of democracy and prosperity. These proclamations could not have been further from the truth.Sarkozy wanted the Libyan state eviscerated and Gaddafi assassinated because he had borrowed millions of dollars from the African leader in 2007 to finance his presidential campaign. Rumours and later documented proof surfaced to substantiate these claims.
On 20 March 2018, people around the globe awoke to news reports that Sarkozy was in custody and being questioned over financial irregularities involving the Libyan state under Gaddafi. During the period in question, Libya was a leading country within the African Union (AU) where the basis for the revitalised Organisation of African Unity founded in May 1963, realised its birth.  The Sirte Declarations of 1999 led to the creation of the AU in 2002, shifting the focus of the continental body mandating deliberations on the development of viable institutions encompassing more meaningful objectives such as economic integration and regional security.
The spotlight turned on Sarkozy raises again the question of the genocidal war against Libya during 2011 and the subsequent underdevelopment, instability and impoverishment of the country and its implications for North and West Africa along with the continent as a whole. Today Libya is a source of terrorism, enslavement and internecine conflict where there are at least three sources of purported authority.
Despite the efforts of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to form a Government of National Accord, the unity of the country has remained elusive. The UNSC bears responsibility for the Libyan crisis due to the fact that Resolutions 1970 and 1973 provided a pseudo-legal rationale for the blanket bombing and ground operations in the 2011 imperialist war and its brutal aftermath.According to an article published by France24: “Agents of France’s office for anticorruption and fiscal and financial infractions are questioning Sarkozy in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where he has been detained since Tuesday (20 March 2018) morning. It is the first time authorities have questioned Sarkozy in connection with this dossier. They can keep the 63-year-old conservative former head of state in custody for up to 48 hours, after which he could be released without charge, placed under formal investigation or asked to reappear at a later date.”

Is the Harambee House handshake a betrayal of the opposition or a sincere effort to unify Kenya?

The handshake between Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his arch-rival Raila Odinga on the steps of Harambee House – the office of the president – on 9 March has baffled even some of Odinga’s own political allies, let alone observers. After a long and bitter dispute – dating back to the judicially nullified first presidential elections on 8 August last year, and beyond – the two announced they had made up, were now ‘brothers’ and would work together to unify a divided nation.
For Kenyatta, the benefits of the deal were obvious. It ended the months-long campaign of civil disobedience that Odinga launched after the repeat presidential election on 26 October last year, which he boycotted for lack of electoral reform. This campaign included having himself sworn in as the real ‘people’s president’ on 30 January and establishing a People’s Assembly and the militant-sounding National Resistance Movement (NRM) to oppose and delegitimise Kenyatta’s presidency.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Tillerson didn’t do much for Africa. Pompeo could well be worse.

Mike Pompeo has been named as Rex Tillerson's successor as US Secretary of State. Credit: Gage Skidmore.

An enhanced America First security-first approach under Pompeo will not be good for Africa.

When it comes to Africa, don’t expect much from the changes taking place at the US State Department. The White House is not interested in Africa.The Trump Administration has not made Africa a priority and the White House has failed to set out a comprehensive strategy or introduce any new policy initiatives regarding the continent.The appointment of CIA Director Michael Pompeo to replace former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not lead to an uptick in interest or engagement.
If anything, this change will reinforce America’s focus on security and counter-terrorism. This emphasis could end up taking US policy further backwards. It could align the US with increasingly corrupt and autocratic governments. It could ensnare Washington in longstanding conflicts that cannot be won by military means alone. And it could undercut US influence and integrity more broadly on the continent.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Tanzania Everyone is scared

In an unprecedented move, leaders from all sectors of society are speaking out about growing assaults on freedoms and political violence.

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Credit: Hendri Lombard/World Bank.
In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Credit: Hendri Lombard/World Bank.
On 16 February, Akwinlina Akwiline was on her way to university in Dar es Salaam. She was reportedly heading to the National Institute of Transport, where she was a student, in order to hand in a letter that would allow her to shortly begin her field work. She boarded a bus.
Akwiline, however, never made it to her destination. The 22-year-old student was killed after being hit by a bullet fired by police officers attempting to disperse an opposition rally.
The news of Akwiline’s death was far from the first politically-related tragedy that Tanzanians have endured in recent months. In September 2017, for example, the senior opposition lawmaker and government critic Tundu Lissu only narrowly survived after being shot several times in Dodoma. Meanwhile, just days before Akwiline’s killing, opposition official Daniel John had been found dead with machete wounds in Dar es Salaam.
In a manner unlike after those incidents, however, the death of the innocent student seemed to galvanise public opinion. A wide variety of organisations expressed their frustration at the situation in Tanzania in a rare show of outspokenness.