Five African stories you may have missed during Egypt's revolt
Street protests in Gabon, a punishing stalemate in Ivory Coast, a coming election in Uganda: there is plenty of news even as Africans remain glued to the Egypt revolt. Some of it may affect the price of your next steaming cup of cocoa.
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For now, violence aimed at Ouattara’s supporters and against independent journalists seems to have abated, and the fight is now over money. Gbagbo seems to have taken control of the Ivory Coast’s central bank, although his access to foreign-held bank accounts has been frozen by much of the West. This week, Ouattara told the Financial Times that he would extend his current one-month-long ban on Ivory Coast’s exports of cocoa, a $4.5 billion business.Skip to next paragraph
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But the apparent lack of political will for military intervention by either the African Union or the West African economic grouping ECOWAS, and the lack of any sustained mediation by African leaders such as Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Nigerian former President Olasegun Obasanjo, or South African former president Thabo Mbeki, means that any change in Ivory Coast is likely to come from within, and likely after a long, punishing “war” of economic attrition.
Finally, in Chad, there appears to be some good news. Until lately, Chad was a country with a long history of coups, peppered with the occasional raid on the capital by Sudanese-backed rebel groups. But on Sunday, Chad held its first parliamentary elections in eight years. More surprisingly, the elections went smoothly, with no major reports of violence, intimidation, or manipulation.
Chad’s ruling party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement of President Idriss Deby, currently holds a strong majority in parliament. Opposition candidates complain that the ruling party has loaded the candidate list, but European Union election observers say they have seen no irregularities thus far. Perhaps just as important to Chad’s stability is a signed agreement with Sudan, in which Chad agreed to stop funding and supporting rebels in Sudan’s Darfur region if Sudan agreed to do the same with Chadian rebels lurking along the Sudanese border with Chad. That agreement seems to be holding.
Yet the mere holding of elections is just one sign of a healthy democracy. There are others, such as a strong constitution that guarantees the freedom of expression, a vibrant independent news media, and a civil society that allows citizens to express their views without the fear of intimidation and arrest. On this score, according to groups like Human Rights Watch , Chad may still have a long way to go.