Political troubles across the continent - CNBC Africa

Political troubles across the continent

Special Report

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Political troubles across the continent

The attack came less than three weeks after an attack on April 14, also in Nyanya, which killed more than 70 commuters at a bus transport station. Although no group has claimed responsibility, it seems certain that the attack was again the work of Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgency mainly active in the northeast of Nigeria, which claimed responsibility for the blast in April.

The bombing comes as security forces and civilian volunteers are making little progress in rescuing around 200 teenage girls whom Boko Haram abducted from their school in Borno State in the northeast on April 15.

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This second bombing will reinforce fears that the federal government is incapable of keeping Nigerians safe – indeed, it appears that the militia is targeting Abuja precisely to make that point.

The second bombing, combined with the federal government’s continued lack of concrete progress in Borno, will have two main short-term consequences: it will weaken President Goodluck Jonathan politically in the context of the tension between his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), and it will increase security fears around the World Economic Forum on Africa event which is set to take place in Abuja from May 7 to 9.

It will take time to establish whether security risk in Nigeria actually is on the increase in the longer term. A second bomb in Abuja so soon after the April blast is very worrying: that attack took place two years after the previous terrorist attack in the capital.

It is possible that Boko Haram, which has established ties with other terror groups in Africa, is more dangerous than ever before and that fears of its reach will start to have noticeable effects on investment and travel decisions in central Nigeria, no longer only in the north.

More terrorist activity outside of Boko Haram’s usual operating environment and continued failure on the government’s part to limit the insurrection would confirm that view, but as of writing it is too soon to say. 

Meanwhile, in North Africa, gunmen opened fire in Libya’s Parliament on Tuesday, April 29, causing injuries and stopping an important vote. The General National Congress (GNC) assembled in Parliament and was about to take the final vote on the identity of a new prime minister to replace Abdullah Al-Thinni, when gunmen burst into the building and shots were fired near the chamber.

Most evidently, the incident shows up the way in which armed militias are a law unto themselves in Libya, completely dominating the GNC and the executive. Mr Al-Thinni quit after his family came under fire, and it is possible that in the current atmosphere it will take time to nominate a replacement for him.

The difficulties in voting also show up the deep divisions in the GNC between Islamists on the one side (although the Islamists are split between a more Libyan faction and one aligned with the international Muslim Brotherhood) and the republicans of the National Forces Alliance (NFA). Any candidate favoured by one side will be opposed by the other, and even a consensus candidate will be mistrusted. It is hard to see a way out of this mess.

Finally, in Zimbabwe, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has sacked the party’s secretary-general, Tendai Biti. The sacking on Tuesday, April 29, is a sign of further disintegration on the part of the once-powerful opposition party, leaving something of a void in the Zimbabwean political environment.

With the MDC now on the brink of total collapse, it becomes even more important for credible opposition leaders to regroup and form a viable and worthy opposition capable of taking on ZANU-PF, as the MDC of old once demonstrated was possible.

Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC are not that opposition – and perhaps even under new leadership will still not be that opposition. Zimbabwe faces the real danger of regression in the face of the ruling party’s current absolute power and the documented weakness of regional groupings to protect ordinary Zimbabweans. 

By Melissa Verreynne -  Economist  -  NKC Independent Economists

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