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Africa 2014 – Elections & Conflicts

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In North Africa, the main event will be the presidential elections in Algeria next April, with Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the ruling National Liberation Front’s candidate running for a fourth mandate. Owing to Bouteflika’s poor health, the main question is whether he will be able to bring it to a conclusion, since challengers such as the novelist Yasmina Khadra stand very few chances. One of the main concerns will be the threats of secession in Libya by the Cyrenaica province and the Fezzan since the ruling General National Congress is unable to run the country and controls afr2less than half of the total oil production. The ‘Prime minister’ of the self-proclaimed ‘Republic of Cyrenaica’, Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, announced in November the creation of its own oil company, whereas in the West, militants from the Amazigh ethnic group, closed the Green Stream gas pipeline which ends up in the Mellitah terminal At the same time, the challenge for the government is also to control the capital, Tripoli, which was paralysed by a general strike on the 17th of November last. If Prime minister Ali Zeidan can hold out until next spring, he might then rely on the protection of military units trained in NATO countries. One of the issues is also to improve relations with Algeria, which refuses to cooperate with militias. The situation is also unpredictable in Egypt, where eleven soldiers have been killed in two terrorist attempts in Sinai on the 20th of November last and where up to 1,000 died in clashes between the army and the police on the one hand and pro-Mohamed Morsi demonstrators on the other. In such a context the plans of Gen. Abdel Fattah al Sissi, the Army Chief of Staff, to run as presidential candidate for the next elections which he wants to organize during 2014 may not materialize.
On the March 16th next, Guinea-Bissau will hold general elections to choose a transitional president and the members of the People’s National Assembly.  In Mali, the question is whether MINUSMA will get enough troops and funds to carry out its task which consists in the stabilisation of the Northern areas of the country and the achievement of genuine national reconciliation. If not, the French presence (about 3,000 troops) is likely to be maintained at the end of 2013.
afr3Attempts by the Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and other Jihadist groups to disrupt the legislative elections which took place on November 24 and on December 15, by firing rockets or perpetrating other attacks, failed. But tensions remain in the three Northern provinces of the country (Gao,Kidal and Timbuktu), specially since the Malian army opened fire on November 28 last on a demonstration of Tuareg civilians in Kidal, killing a woman and injuring several people. The main problem is that the main Tuareg organization, the Movement of National Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), considers that the elections were a ‘mascarade’ and claims that the ‘people of Azawad’ are not represented in the Malian parliament. Moreover, the MNLA’s secessionist plans have been confirmed on November 22 last when the organization announced in a communiqué that ‘the independent state of Azawad’ would join the Organization of Emerging African States (OEAS) which promotes self-determination and the end of colonial boundaries, along with Cabinda, Biafra and Southern Cameroons, Rif, Kabylia and the Canary Islands. Against this background, the French presence is likely to continue because the UN Stabilisation Mission in Mali known as MINUSMA, created in April 2013 by the UN Security Council to re-establish the authority of the Malian state in the North is lacking staff. By the end of 2013, only 6,300 troops were on the ground, slightly more than half afr4of the projected total. MINUSMA was also facing financial and discipline problems. By mid-December, it was still expecting to receive 366 million US $ to cover the mission costs for the first half of 2014. About a third of this amount should be absorbed by the pay of the soldiers and policemen. Yet, the problem is that even when the funds are provided, some states like Chad fail to pay their own soldiers.
In Nigeria, whose troops were pulled out of Mali in July, the two main challenges will be the capacity of President Goodluck Jonathan to convene a national conference to heal the country’s crises, namely the rivalry for power and resource sharing between the states on the one hand. On the other hand, the Federal government will have to show whether it can make progresses against the Boko Haram Islamist terrorists and confirm the determination shown in early December when the army imposed a curfew in the North-Eastern town of Maiduguri, which is one of the strongholds of the Boko Haram Jihadists. Also, during 2014, Nigeria is expected to emerge as the number one economic power of the continent, replacing South Africa, with a twice faster GDP growth rate of 7 percent. Meanwhile, Ivorian citizens will be waiting for the decision of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) on the former President, Laurent Gbagbo’s request for provisional release. (F.M.)

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