Ethiopia – Grand Renaissance Dam

arbe_large

As the government pushes forward with huge dam project, concerns resurface about the downstream impact.

The government of Ethiopia is currently constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which once completed will be the largest hydropower facility in Africa.

The huge project will contribute around 6000 MegaWatts (MW) of power, nearly triple the country’s current electricity generation capacity, and will also present an important source of economic revenue for the government.

The project is seen by Ethiopia as a strong symbol of unity, with the Ethiopian Herald claiming that it fills Ethiopians with hope, not just a development project but a symbol demonstrating the wish to overcome poverty.

Statistics from 2016 show that around 30% of Ethiopia’s population have access to electricity with more than 90% of households still relying on traditional fuels for cooking, leading to respiratory infections, which are the main cause of death in the country.

The Ethiopian government rationalises the project in these terms and the economic benefits are clear. Critical commentators, however, have pointed out that in areas in which 70% of the population rely on subsistence agriculture, standard of living needs to improve before Ethiopians will consume additional electricity. Unless the electricity is subsidised by the government.

00321360-620d7fe9d6498e023990d45986198cd9-arc614x376-w1200
Grand Renaissance Dam – All Africa

The government also sees crucial revenue opportunities, particularly through electricity exports. Power purchase agreements have already been signed with Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania.

But there are concerns about how this dam will affect downstream states, in particular Sudan and Egypt. Initially, Sudan was opposed to the construction of the dam, but has since agreed to purchase electricity upon its completion, and the respective countries have agreed to collaborate on a ‘free economic zone’.

In May 2017, the Middle East Monitor concluded that Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan had just finished their 14th round of unsuccessful discussions about how to manage the Nile River.

The Ethiopian government expects it will take y five or six years to fill the GERD reservoir. In contrast, Diaa Al-Din Al-Qousi from Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said 12 to 18 years is needed to guarantee water security for Egypt.

The Geological Society of America said that the Nile’s fresh water flow to Egypt may be cut by as much as 25%, with the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam in Egypt cut by a third. Egypt is already one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, reported the Institute of Security Studies.

Hammond-Figure-2-274x300
Nile Basin – Global Water Forum

Ethiopia insists that the project has been conducted with adequate transparency but since it was announced in 2011 Cairo has periodically demanded that construction cease, claiming it is protected by a 1959 treaty, that divides the river between Sudan and Egypt, but does not include Ethiopia.

Ethiopia, however, claims that it never signed the treaty and highlights that Egypt has not signed the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) of the Nile Basin States.

Analysts at the US-based consulting group Stratfor have said that Egypt’s reaction will be determined by its political leadership, but that a large-scale reduction in water from the Nile would be intolerable to any Egyptian government’, reported the Institute of Security Studies.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

WATER: Ethiopia
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 5, Pp. 21732B–21733C

WATER PROJECTS: Ethiopia – Kenya
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 2, Pp. 21624B–21625C

ETHIOPIA: Regional Powerhouse
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 9, Pp. 21411A–21412C

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today. 

Nile Basin – No Deal After Summit

arbe_large

Discussions between Nile Basin countries fail to reach agreement as many leaders boycott talks.

The Nile Basin Summit from June 20-22nd was convened to provide an opportunity for the ten countries reliant on the River Nile to agree on the equitable use of the resource. Tensions around the vital water source have persisted for many decades.

Initial signs, however, were less promising as a number of leaders chose not to attend. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kirr notified the delegates that they would skip the event.

The summit brought together all countries along the River Nile and was attended by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, South Sudan Vice President Joseph Wani, Burundi’s 2nd Vice President Joseph Butore and Sudan’s Vice President Hasabo Mohammed Abdul Rahman.

The leaders of Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania also turned down invitations to attend at the last minute, although no clear reasons for the decision were given by the respective embassies.

It was clear during the meeting that an agreement on the equitable use of resources was proving difficult as stakeholders repeatedly walked out of meetings at the Speke Resort Munyonyo in Uganda.

Led by Sudan, water security experts walked out a meeting at 10pm on June 21st, while Ethiopia followed suit. In the large the summit was organised to nudge Egypt, the biggest beneficiary of the Nile basin, to join the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI).

However, Egyptian Minister for Irrigation and Water Resources Mohammed Abdel-Atti said that his country would only rejoin if some provisions in the draft Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) were changed.

Al-Sisi reportedly said that his country was suffering from a water deficit of 21.5 billion cubic metres per year. However, although Egypt hasn’t yet rejoined NBI, it will engage in development projects in the region.

Speaking to journalists, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he and his colleagues discussed development issues. Despite only three heads of state being present, Museveni said they decided to meet as leaders to discuss the ‘strategic issues of the Nile.’ reported the Observer. 

nilebasin
Nile Basin – Source: Africa Water.

According to Museveni, prosperity for the Nile Basin countries is the best way to protect the river and other vital water systems in Africa. He pointed out a number of key threats to water systems.

These threats included the growing population, lack of electricity supply, lack of industrialisation, over-reliance on primitive agriculture and the destruction of the environment on which the Nile depends.

He said that industrialising the Nile Basin would resolve the problems of the bulk of the population engaging in primitive agriculture, pushing many into the industry and service sectors. He added that this would reduce the strain on the environment through the invasion of wetlands and destruction of forests for agriculture, reported the Uganda Media Centre.

Of course this sort of solution is denounced by others who note how industrialisation will lead to further environmental degradation and pollution, and raise levels of inequality as groups are incorporated, often on adverse terms, as labourers in the service or manufacturing economy.

Further, a deal between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed in December 2015 whereby the three countries agreed to end tensions over River Nile water, is also facing an unclear future due to ongoing tensions between Egypt and Sudan.

The two downstream countries at the end of April agreed to de-escalate tensions and end counter-accusations as well as import bans and deportations had brought relations between the two countries to tipping point.

Meanwhile Ethiopia continued its quest to bring Nile Basin countries on its side as its Grand Renaissance Dam nearing completion.

With electricity as a bargaining chip observers say Ethiopia will have an edge over Egypt which claims the majority share of Nile waters, given to it by a colonial agreement put in place by the British, reported the East African.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin today:

Grand Renaissance Dam Project
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 52, Issue. 3, Pp. 20795A–20795B

POWER: Egypt – Ethiopia – Sudan
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 51, Issue. 8, Pp. 20543C–20545C

EGYPT – ETHIOPIA: Nile Dam Problems
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 50, Issue. 10, Pp. 20154B–20155B

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today.

Egypt – ‘Tribal’ Coalition

An organisation of tribes in the North Sinai, in cooperation with the army, aims to counter the Islamist threat.

In the North Sinai, a number of ‘tribal’ groups have taken up arms against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS aka Daesh), after Islamist militants attacked the Tarabin, a key Sinai tribe, which prompted them to form a coalition in collaboration with the Egyptian army.

In mid April ISIS reportedly attacked two pick up trucks belonging to the Tarabin, and abducted two people. The following day the Tarabin besieged Rafah’s Al-Barth market and arrested two members of the group.

A week later ISIS attacked Tarabin youths killing four, subsequently prompting the Tarabin to capture and burn alive an ISIS member.

On April 29th the Tarabin invited North Sinai tribes to meet, where they formed the Sinai Tribes Union (STU), led by tribal chief Abdul-Majeed al-Mene’I from the Sawarkeh, the largest tribe in the Sinai region.

Other tribes include the Rumeylat, the Tiyaha and the Fawalhriyeh. Since the formation of the STU both sides have engaged in attacks, and a young Tarabin businessman named Salem Abu Lafi was killed.

However, some warn of negative consequences in the long run. “All expected scenarios of Sinai tribes carrying arms are dangerous, because the confrontation with Daesh could turn into revengeful armed conflicts among tribes… and this could get out of the Egyptian state’s control,” security expert and former intelligence officer Mahmoud Zaher told Qatari Al-Arab daily.


North Sinai Map

Further, an Egyptian appeals court overturned on May 4th death sentences for 25 people over deadly tribal clashes in the country’s south, ordering a retrial. The men had been convicted of taking part in 2014 clashes in the southern Aswan province that killed 28 people.

Tribal reprisals are common in the rural south. In 2014 a long-standing rivalry between the Bani Hilal, an Arab tribe, and the Dabudiya, a Nubian tribe, flared after a man from one sexually harassed a woman from the other.

The two sides had sought to resolve tensions with a reconciliation meeting, but it degenerated into a firefight that killed three Bani Hilal members. (© AFP 4/5 2017; BBC Monitoring 17/5)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

EGYPT: Church Bombings
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 4, Pp. 21401C–21402C

EGYPT: Christian Exodus
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 3, Pp. 21364C–21365B

EGYPT: Military Gains, Militant Retaliations
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 1, Pp. 21292B–21293B.

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today. 

Egypt – Economic Situation Deteriorates

arbe_large700

The government devalues the currency in attempts to avoid an economic crisis, creating further worries for citizens.

As part of efforts to boost its ailing economy, Egypt has taken steps to devalue its currency, raised fuel prices and plans to cut customer subsidies, as part of conditions to receive an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan of US$12bn.

While the IMF insists that floating the currency is a sensible long-term economic move and will attract foreign investment, many are concerned as inflation and unemployment are already high, and the price of food and services are also likely to rise, reported Al-Jazeera.

According to economists, any long term gains are going to be coupled with short-term hardships – the government hopes that attracting investment will end a hard-currency shortage. According to Reuters, wide-ranging economic problems will mean the huge volumes of hard currency required to stabilise the dollar will take a long time to arrive.

However, calls by some for protests were not supported by most opposition groups and activists; “At this point we find calls to protest scary. There is no political organisation, which means things can get out of hand. The country could burn,” said Malek Adly, a human rights lawyer with the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, reported Reuters.

The IMF has delayed the approval of the loan until Egypt can meet the desired conditions – around $1bn had already be disbursed at the end of 15 but since then the flow of money has been halted. There have been shortages of goods such as wheat, baby milk, sugar, rice and cooking oil, reported Africa Confidential.

The decline in tourism revenues is also particularly damaging, now at around $3.8bn a year, which is less than one third of the levels before the 2011 uprising. The fears surrounding terrorism have furthered affected tourist numbers.

2105794854_e836726aee_b
Revenues from the Suez Canal have also fallen – CC

Another condition of the loan is that Egypt can secure co-financing of $5-6bn; in September the Egyptian Central Bank’s reserves went up by $3bn largely due to deposits from Saudi Arabia. However the support of Saudi Arabia has been in doubt after the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) suspended deliveries of 700,000 tonnes per month of petroleum products – these supplies covered almost a third of Egypt’s import requirements of petroleum and natural gas. One suggestion is due to tensions of the Egyptian courts ruling against an agreement to give Saudi Arabia control over two Red Sea islands, reported Africa Confidential.

The consequences of these economic decisions are likely to be felt mainly by the poor and struggling middle class. Already at least 27% of the population live below the ‘poverty line’, and the political economic effects of structural adjustment are likely to exacerbate this further, reported Al Jazeera.

Already, Egyptians face capital controls, including limits on transferring currency abroad and the amount they can withdraw to travel overseas – this has particularly hit students studying abroad.

The focus of economic policy has largely been on grandiose projects that will take a long time for benefits to materialise. Little attention has been given to problems including massive levels of youth unemployment. Similarly Al Jazeera commented that the economic policy is entering the realm of the absurd, after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi suggested funding for development projects could be garnered by collecting spare change.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

EGYPT: Job Creation Boost
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 9, Pp. 21417A–21417C

Egypt – Development Policy Finance
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue. 9, Pp. 21430A

EGYPT: Baby Formula Shortage Row
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 8, Pp. 21381C–21383C

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today.

 

Africa – ‘Panama Papers’

arbe_large700

As global reverberations are felt following unprecedented leaks, some of the most pressing concerns are in Africa.

A number of high profile African leaders and businessmen have been named in the recent ‘Panama Papers‘ leak involving the Panama-based firm Mossack Fonseca, detailing the global scale of tax avoidance and evasion; top officials from at least 15 African countries have been named.

The leaks have added to the calls, made in an African Union (AU) and UN Economic Commission for Africa report in 2015 that African money kept in foreign banks should be repatriated to the continent. At a conference in 2015, former South African President Thabo Mbeki said that Africa was loosing US$50 billion through illicit cash flows, more than double the Official Development Assistance (ODA) the continent receives, although a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) put the amount higher at $150bn, reported Deutschewelle.

The information released in the leaks strongly correlates with findings of the report and confirms the existence of a network of offshore accounts and investment vehicles, driving tax avoidance and evasion. According to a report by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, it is an undeniable fact that these illicit financial flows deserve our full attention continentally and globally.

“There are illicit funds from Africa in European banks. We started discussions with the European Union (EU) some years ago to bring back these funds. We find it morally and economically good for the banks to send the funds back,” said the African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

_89086286_5786d44c-359f-4408-8a50-5c8d5406f434

BBC

In July 2015, at the UN Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African nations led the G77 bloc of developing countries who offered to forego international aid if western countries closed tax loopholes and shut down tax havens, reported the Daily Maverick.

The leaks are not entirely new revelations as many in Africa have been pushing for the global tax system to be overhauled, pointing to the billions that is lost from the continent each year. However it is the scale of the networks of financial secrecy, essentially set up to be unaccountable, that is becoming clear, and the intricate and murky connections between world leaders and businessmen.

Journalists have yet to make their way through but a tiny fraction of the 11-million documents and the high profile and politically connected nature of the African individuals implicated, seems to indicate that more are yet to come.

The leak was obtained from Mossack Fonesca by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung who worked in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and around 106 worldwide news organisations. Mossack Fonseca is a leading creator of shell companies, corporate entities that are used to hide asset ownership. The leaked internal files contain information on 214,488 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories.

A full breakdown of findings from the ICIJ are available here.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 15.56.05

African Public Officials Implicated – ICIJ

Country Level Findings

Botswana

The President of the Court of Appeals, Justice Ian Kirby, has been named in the leaked files, being said to hold shares in up to five offshore companies mainly in the UK, although he has insisted that all of these are legal. Much of Botswana’s wealth comes from diamond mining, and has been noted to have checks and balances in place to avoid illicit flows of wealth. However, commentators said that it was a worrying sign that many wealthy people in Botswana were considering to invest offshore, reported Deutschewelle.

DR Congo

A leading financial institution with close connections to the gold mining industry, Rawbank, has been implicated in the leaks, which show that the Rawji family, the shareholders of the bank, make extensive use of tax havens and shell companies, maintaining a web of offshore structures such as Khazana Holdings and Hurricane Investments in the British Virgin Islands, Pix Business and Trading Mamu Investments in Panama, and many more. Each of the entities are connected to many other shell companies, which lead to a complex and illusory network of financial connections. There have been concerns that with Dubai’s rise as a gold buyer, a destination for around 70% of DR Congo’s gold, coupled with its financial secrecy, illicit financial flows are growing, reported the Daily Vox.

Jaynet Desiree Kabila Kyungu – twin sister of President Joseph Kabila – considered one of the most influential people in the country, owns a media company together with a Congolese businessman, who were both co-heads of an offshore company in the South Pacific, said to have shares in mobile telecoms operators in DR Congo, reported Deutschewelle.

Egypt

The son of the overthrown President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak was named; Pan World Investments INC, owned by his son Alaa Mubarak, was managed by Credit Suisse in the British Virgin Islands. After the toppling of Mubarak authorities asked Mossack Fonseca to freeze Pan World’s assets, although it is claimed that this was never fully implemented, reported Aswat Masriya.

Ghana

Ghana’s former President John Agyekum Kufour ‘s eldest son, John Addo Kufour, allegedly controlled a bank account in Panama worth US$75,000. They appointed Mossack Fonseca, to manage the fund, reported Deutschewelle.

Guinea

Mamadie Toure, widow of Guinea’s late president, Lansana Conte, was allegedly granted the power of attorney to Matinda Partners and Co Ltd, a British Virgin Islands company, in November 2006. Authorities in the US claimed that Toure received $5.3 million to help a mining company win a mining concession from President Conte just before he died in 2008, reported Deutschewelle.

Kenya

The company which recently bought a controlling stake in the Raila Odinga’s molasses plant in Kisumu – Energem Resources Inc – has been linked to many dubious diamond mining companies in West and Southern Africa and tax havens in the British Virgin Islands.

Kalpana Rawal, Kenya’s Deputy Chief Justice was implicated in several business deals linked to two companies based in British Virgin Islands. The documents revealed Rawal’s involvement in real estate in the UK through offshore companies. Kenya’s constitution bars public servants from owning a bank account outside the country, reported Deutschewelle.

Separately, a Danish national, who has previously been accused of land grabbing in Kajiado Country, has been accused of running Avon Developments Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands, reported the Daily Nation.

Namibia

The leaks have revealed details about the Sicilian Mafia’s business network between Italians and Namibian businessman Zacky Nujoma, the youngest son of founding President Sam Nujoma. According to reports even though much of the criminal syndicate is imprisoned, the empire – with connections to Namibia, Italy and South Africa – has used financial secrecy companies in the British Virgin Islands, reported the Namibian.

Nigeria

Former Delta State governor, James Ibori, who has already been implicated for embezzling up to $75m in London property, has been named in the leak, leading to concerns that the true amount involved could be much higher.

Senate Bukola Saraki, said to be the third most powerful person in the country, has been named as failing to declare offshore assets in his wife’s name.

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote and his half-brother Sayyu Dantata, have also been linked to Mossack Fonseca’s shell companies. The two are said to have repeatedly bought and sold shares in 13 companies, mainly in the Seychelles, reported Deutschewelle.

Theophilus Danjuma, a retired army general and former defence minister, is one of Nigeria’s richest people, due to ownership of one of Nigeria’s most lucrative oil blocs. The leaks exposed another of his companies – Eastcoast Investments Inc – which he incorporated in Nassau, in the Bahamas, reported the Premium Times.

South Africa

President Jacob Zuma’s nephew Clive Khulubuse has been mentioned in the leaks, as being authorised to represent the offshore company Caprikat Limited, which purchased oil blocks in the DR Congo. According to reports the leak showed that he did not directly benefit from the deal which “deepens the mystery as to what he was doing there. The question arises why would they use him and what benefits would he have gained from that?” Sam Sole, from the investigative team at South African newspaper the Mail & Guardian said.

Zimbabwe

The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has called for an investigation after the Panama Papers brought to light links between two wealthy Zimbabwean business men, and the Zimbabwean regime. Billy Rautenbach and John Bredenkamp were named as engaging in widespread tax avoidance and externalising huge sums of money outside the country. PDP spokesman Jacob Mafume said “Bredenkamp is an arms dealer and mining tycoon while Rautenbach is the owner of GreenFuels and is involved in diamond mining”, both well known funders of the ZANU-PF ruling regime.

“As a result of the controversial links between Rautenbach and Zanu PF, major shareholders in fuel retail companies such as Sakunda and Redan have been elbowed out of business as the Zanu PF cartel has moved in to create a total monopoly in the fuel sector and thus keep consumers hostage to high fuel prices…What concerns us at the PDP is that the Panama Papers are being released when Mugabe in February said over $15 billion of proceeds from diamond mining remained unaccounted for,” Mafume added, reported New Zimbabwe.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

KENYA: Graft-Tainted Ministers Sacked (Free to Access)
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.11, Pp.21059B–21060B

Transparency International: “Endemic Corruption” Plagues Most of Africa
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.11, Pp.20627B–20627C

TANZANIA: Illicit Outflows Report
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.5, Pp.20413C–20414B

NIGERIA: Illicit Oil Proceeds Laundered
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.50, Issue.9, Pp.20119A–20120C

AFRICA: Illicit Financial Flows
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.49, Issue.2, Pp.19449C–19450C

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today

Egypt – Academic Freedom Threatened

arbp_large

There are concerns over the ideological control of universities after a recent crackdown on researchers.

According to a prominent academic and women’s rights activist Cairo University Professor Khulud Sabir, Egyptian authorities are cracking down on academic freedoms after they refused to allow her to take up a post in Belgium.

She was told that her permit to carry out research abroad had been unexpectedly withdrawn by the university’s Survey and Information Office. However the Higher Education Ministry said they had been too hasty to issue the permit in the first place.

It is law that Egyptian academics must apply for permission from state security bodies in order to travel internationally. According to a joint statement by 20 Egyptian advocacy groups this “has dangerous implications for academic freedom.”

The statement pointed to increasing incidents of forbidding research, prosecuting researchers and denying travel, stating that ideological and governmental controls are part of a campaign to dictate the political narrative.

According to statistics in the 2014/15 academic year an estimated 800 students were arrested and 281 expelled. A further 1,850 are currently in detention according to the Adalah Centre for Rights and Freedoms.

One scholar, Imad Shahin, who worked for an American University in Cairo, was sentenced, in absentia, to death in May 2015 for publishing articles critical of the ruling regime. The government has also introduced a decree allowing it to appoint university presidents and deans, and to sack academic staff with no disciplinary review.

3535117479_9d9642f310_b

American University, Cairo. CC 2009

In another recent incident Cambridge University PhD student Giulio Regeni was found dead in Cairo on February 3rd. Italian security services claimed to have a credible witness who saw Regeni being stopped by plain-clothes security officers near his home in Cairo on the eve of his disappearance. Egyptian authorities have denied any involvement in his death.

Mr Regeni reportedly left his flat in the el-Dokki area of Giza, at around 8pm to meet friends at a birthday party in the centre of Cairo. His body was found by the side of the road many miles from both locations, nine days later on February 3rd.

According to reports there were also signs of torture, his body shows signs of stab wounds, bruising, a severed ear and cigarette burns; he “suffered a slow death” said Cairo prosecutor Ahmed Nagi.

Suspicions of a cover-up by security forces increased after local media quoted a police official, General Khaled Shalabi, stating “the first investigations suggest he was the victim of a car accident” – despite the apparent torture.

The witness claimed that Regeni was stopped near Bohooth metro stop on January 25th, when he was on his way to visit Hassamein Kashek, considered a leading anti-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi intellectual.

Sources also revealed that Regeni had noticed being photographed by an unknown observer at a meeting on December 11th.

Media in Italy have reported strong suspicions that the security forces interrogated him due to his research into labour and other forms of advocacy. Regeni had written many articles under a pseudonym for Egyptian trade unions and left wing Italian newspaper Il Manifesto.

There are concerns that this is part of an increasing trend of intimidation and crackdown on opposition members and critics, both domestic and international.

(BBC Monitoring 12/2; The Independent 4, 8, 12/2)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

EGYPT: Cairo Killings
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.1, Pp.20860C–20861B

EGYPT: Police Brutality
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.12, Pp.20827C–20828C

EGYPT: Corruption Scandal
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.9, Pp.20704C–20705B

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today

Obituaries: Mathieu Kerekou & Ghamal El-Ghitani

arbp_large

Mathieu Kerekou (1933 – 2015)

Mathieu_Kérékou_2006Feb10

The former President of Benin and one of the world’s longest serving political leaders, Mathieu Kerekou, died on October 14th at the age of 82.

He was credited with helping to usher in multi-party democracy in Africa, having had two spells as leader, the first as the head of a Marxist regime in 1972, but he conceded defeat to Nicephore Soglo in the 1991 election after accepting the idea of multi-party democracy. Kerekou returned to power in 1996 in a democratic election, and won a second and final five-year term in 2001.

Kerekou abandoned Marxist-Leninist politics as the official ideology in Benin in 1989, following global trends and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Born into the-then French colony Dahomey, Kerekou attended military school in Mali and Senegal, joined the French military and became the ‘aide-de-camp’ of Dahomey’s first President Hubert Maga. (BBC News Online 15/10; Daily Nation 15/10)

 

Gamal El-Ghitani (1945 – 2015)

pro03

(www.africansuccess.org)

El-Ghitani, a renowned Egyptian novelist and journalist, died on October 18th aged 70 at Al-Jala Military Hospital in Cairo after health complications that had rendered him in a coma for over three months. His books, which included the widely praised novel Zayni Barakat, have been translated into a number of languages, and he made great efforts to promote Arab literary culture, founding the literary magazine Gallery 68.

Originally trained to be a carpet designer, in 1969 he switched careers and became a journalist for the Egyptian newspaper Akhbar al-Yawm. In 1993, Ghitani founded and headed Akhbar Al-Adab (Literature News), one of Egypt’s literary newspapers. In 2015, he won the Nile Award for Literature, the highest literary honour granted by the Egyptian government.

Ghitani, a firm supporter of the army since the fall of veteran leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011, was one of Egypt’s most acclaimed writers. In a statement, the presidency said Egypt and the Arab world had lost “a senior cultural figure who had contributed to enriching the cultural life in Egypt with his unique style and contemporary vision”. (AhramOnline 18/10; the Independent 19/10)