The uncertain promise of local elections in the birthplace of the Arab spring

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At least we have a choice now LOCAL lore holds that seven visits to Kairouan’s imposing grand mosque are equal to the haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that is one of the “pillars of Islam”. The city has been a centre of Sunni scholarship for centuries. Lately, though, it has acquired another landmark: the “road of death”, a rutted highway that slices south-west into the desert. The transport ministry promised to fix it in 2016 after 27 people died in wrecks the previous year. Yet the moniker still fits. On April 18th a pregnant woman was seriously hurt in a crash. She might have lived if the local hospital used paramedics qualified to operate the ambulance. Instead, she died hours later. Since their revolution in 2011, Tunisians have been stuck with unelected local governments that do littl

Can Ethiopia and Eritrea make peace?

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Cold peace, hot border “LIKE Sarajevo, 1914,” said the late Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, of the first gunshots fired on May 6th 1998. “An accident waiting to happen.” Neither he nor his counterpart in neighbouring Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, imagined that a light skirmish at Badme, a border village of which few had heard, could spiral into full-scale war. But two years later about 80,000 lives had been lost and more than half a million people forced from their homes. No land changed hands. Two decades on, Ethiopia still occupies the disputed territories, including Badme, having refused to accept the findings of a UN boundary commission. But the conflict’s miserable legacy persists. Thousands of troops still patrol the frontier. Centuries of trade and intermarriage abruptly cease

Mozambique is back, says its president. Donors are less sure

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“MOZAMBIQUE is back,” says President Filipe Nyusi, hoping to persuade a recent gathering of fellow Commonwealth leaders that the buffeting his country has faced in the past few years is over. But his compatriots need convincing, too. Some point to dramatic changes in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Angola. Each has a new leader who vows to correct the bad habits of a recently ejected predecessor. Why, they ask, can’t Mr Nyusi, who succeeded Armando Guebuza in 2015, do the same? Mr Nyusi has three hard tasks. First, he must accommodate Renamo, an opposition party that fought a guerrilla war from 1977 to 1992 and rebelled again more recently against Mr Nyusi’s Frelimo party, which has run the show since independence from Portugal in 1975. Second, he must revive the economy by coming to terms

Angola’s new president, João Lourenço, has made an encouraging start

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FEW presidents have entered office amid such low public expectations as did João Lourenço, who in September became Angola’s first new president in 38 years. His assumption of power did not involve a change of ruling parties. Rather, he was the handpicked successor of José Eduardo dos Santos, who had run the country since 1979, and whose cronies controlled much of the economy. His daughter, Isabel, ran the national oil company, Sonangol, by far the country’s biggest source of hard currency. His son, José Filomeno, ran the $5bn sovereign wealth fund. Even in retirement, Mr dos Santos kept his role as leader of the ruling party. Everyone assumed that he would wield power behind the scenes. Yet since being sworn in, the soft-spoken Mr Lourenço has unleashed change that seemed unthinkable a

Syria is erasing the Palestinians’ largest refugee camp

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WHEN the bombing finally stops, little will remain of Palestine’s capital-in-exile. Yarmouk, on the southern edge of Damascus, Syria’s capital, was once the Palestinians’ largest and liveliest refugee camp, sheltering displaced Iraqis and Syrians too. But two weeks of relentless bombing by the regime of Bashar al-Assad and his Russian backers has reduced it to rubble. Of the 350,000 people who once lived in Yarmouk, only a few hundred remain. Syria used to treat the Palestinians well. They were provided with health care and education and allowed to own homes. Many worked for the government. Mr Assad gave Palestinian security forces arms and training to police their camps. Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, had more access to the president than most of

Lebanon’s prime minister vows to pose for selfies with 6,000 women if he wins

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FEW politicians enjoy a selfie as much as Lebanon’s prime minister, Saad Hariri (pictured). On the campaign trail before a general election on May 6th, Mr Hariri has clambered atop cars, posed with fans and cuddled up to children in search of the best snap of himself. At a rally last month he promised some 6,000 women that he would pose with each of them should he win. A recently released mobile-phone app allows supporters to upload their selfies with the prime minister, though most of the shots posted so far appear to be ones Mr Hariri has taken. It is no wonder he is excited. Lebanon has gone nine years without a general election. One was due in 2013 but postponed three times as MPs failed to agree on a new electoral law, squabbled over the election of a president and debated which si

UNDP To Collaborates With BOSG To Establish Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum On Dialogue, Conflict Prevention

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United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Borno State government (BOSG) has established a Lake Chad Basin Governors rsquo; Forum. This was disclosed by the UNDP Communication Analyst, Miss Eno Jonathan yesterday at ...Powered by WPeMatico