Author Archive for Tommy Miles

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Niger: Junta names Prime Minister, brings in men from Saibou era.

Following the Monday night communique outlining the transitional authority of the CSRD, The junta President Salou Djibo has named as Prime Minister Mahmadou Danda, the former interim Communications Minister during the 1999 junta's interim rule. Danda has served the government since the 80s, and most recently as Sport Minister in 2000 (under Tandja). He was until now working for the Canadian Embassy, one of the nations most involved in uranium and gold mines. As interesting, Salou's new Personal Chief of Military Staff is Colonel Amadou Moussa Gros. Gros rose under Gen. Ali Saibou's military rule in the 80s, becoming Min. of Tourism. An old friend of Tandja's, he served the brief MNSD government of Hama Amadou in 1995 that was overthrown by Bare. Bare later reactivated him, and made him Chief of Staff. Of late he has been head of a military charitable group, the AAETN. To top this off, Salou went to visit Saibou himself to receive the blessing of the old President and his family.

Institutions: Karzai packs the electoral commission (BBC)

Quite apart from the obvious conclusions about corruption and power, I was struck by the range – or lack of – in the discussion on the BBC today on the packing of the Afghan Electoral Commission in the run up to parliamentary elections. The removal of foreign elements from the commission was the center of concern with Karzai appointing all members of the body. First, foreign observers might be just as corrupted by Karzai, or his sponsors. But the debate never imagined any Afghan opposition or civil society taking part as a check on power. West Africa, following the civil society led wave of democratization in the 1990s, made truly independent electoral commissions (usually under the French acronym CENI) the cornerstone of electoral transparency in most nations, with wide membership of all forces in society. The current crisis in Cote d'Ivoire points to their continued importance, if imperfection. These experiences, sadly, seem ignored elsewhere.

Niger: Tandja to get Red Cross visit

Col. Hima "Pele" Hamadou told the press this weekend that (ex) President Tandja would be visited by the Red Cross to confirm his health. Pele says that Tandja is under house arrest with his family. MNSD-Nassara VP Ali Sabo (assistant to party president Seini Oumarou and chair Albadé Abouba, both high ranking ministers whose whereabouts are not public ) has told the press that Tandja is not allowed any visitors but his doctor, and is being held not at the military school south of town, but in the "Villa Verte": a luxurious house abutting the President Palace's compound, often used for state functions, official meetings, and as home of visiting heads of state. Former Mauritanian President Ould Taya, disposed by coup, spent the first days of his exile there in 2005. Not too shabby!

Ghana’s Earthquake Scare

Someone began a text message earthquake scare on the 18th in Ghana, causing panic amongst thousands. Ghana's National Security agency has vowed to get to the bottom of the rumors, which claimed the BBC was reporting that NASA had told them a quake was about to hit Ghana. Of course no one, especially the US Space Agency, can predict earthquakes. Finger pointing has ensued, with the NDC party blaming rival NPP activists of starting the scare to divert attention from the ongoing NDC national congress. But the attention gained from Haiti has stirred both wide charity work by Ghanaians and a look at their own readiness. Ghana has recorded major quakes back to the 1600s, with a 6.3 quake hitting in 1939. Small tremors have hit as recently as 2005. Yet the Ghana Geological Survey Department reports it's only seismographs are broken: one in Accra, installed in 1988, broke down two years ago while the one at Kukurantumi, fixed in 1923 is said to have gone out of order many years ago.

Trafigura pay-out to go to cronies not victims

An Ivorian court has ruled that a previously unknown NGO should get all compensation, not the victims. '…a senior partner at Leigh Day, the British law firm that has been representing claimants, said that following Friday's ruling, "the prospect of our clients receiving their compensation look somewhat remote… Thirty thousand Ivoirians have been looking to get the compensation due to them to alleviate their lives. Now there is a very real chance they will not see a penny." Another Leigh Day lawyer, Kouame Klement, said only his firm knew the identity of those due to be paid, and that he was worried Mr Gohourou's group would create fictional lists of names. Leigh Day said in a statement that it was concerned there was a "Mr Big" behind Mr Gohourou… Amnesty International is among those concerned that the money could be stolen if passed to Mr Gohourou's newly created non-governmental organisation.'

AFP: West African body presents ‘road map’ for Niger

This is the offer which has been floating around opposition circles for several months: a transition to a seventh republic which resembles the 5th. Tandja, like General Ali Saibou during the transition from the 2nd to the 3rd Republics, would become a figurehead to a constitutional convention with executive power, and then retire to his farm. Tandja will not accept this willingly. ::

The important thing to note here: neither side is really about to compromise, especially Arzika for the government, who's position is entirely dependent of the dictatorial powers of the new constitution. Both sides are positioning themselves to win ECOWAS's support when the talks end. The opposition hopes that strong ECOWAS sanctions will split the regime and overturn Tandja. The government hopes that ECOWAS will be frustrated, make some statements, and eventually — quietly — accept Tandja's rule as a fait a complis.

Alernet’s “Forgotten crises to watch in 2010”

Reuters Alertnet describes nine national and international crises which are likely to appear in the headlines over the next 12 months. Their prediction that somewhere in the rural Sahel chronic malnutrition, heightened by national poverty and market dominated agriculture, will break out into Famine is a safe if depressing bet.

"Here is a selection of some of the under-reported humanitarian emergencies at risk of deteriorating this year. The list is by no means exhaustive nor is it any kind of ranking."

Thailand's Restive South / Violence In The Philippine Mindanao / Food Shortages In Nepal / India's Maoist Rebellion / Hunger In Guatemala / Ogaden Crisis In Ethiopia / Malnutrition In West And Central Africa / Conflict In Central African Republic / Chad's Wild East

Haiti: Death of an African UN worker ties Guinea to Port au Prince

Among those killed in the Haiti UN building was Mamadou Bah, son of a prominent Dinguiraye Peul family. Educated in Lome and Paris, Bah worked in New York as well as Europe Africa and Haiti. Eventually taking joint Franco-Guinean nationality, Bah rose to become chief spokesperson for Minustah, and spearheaded the construction, through the Bibliothèques sans frontières (BSF) charity, the construction of over 100 free libraries across Haiti. The list of family condolences shows the wide diaspora of one Guinean family: in Montreal, Atlanta, Maryland, Washington and Conakry, as well as France and Haiti, people morn this young man tonight.