Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Confidential Agenda (Week ending 19 December)

KENYA: Naming names or no names
Kenyans eagerly await the announcement due at 17.00 Nairobi time on 15 December from the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo, about its efforts to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the post-election violence in 2008. Many believe that Ocampo will name the six politicians and business people that he deems most responsible for the violence that killed more than 1500 people and displaced another 300,000.

But we hear some senior Kenyan politicians have made representations to the Court, requesting Ocampo not to make public the identities of the suspects until the cases have been considered by the pre-trial chamber – that is the judges who decide whether the six should be formally charged by the ICC. If Ocampo does go ahead and name the people he holds responsible for the killings, expect a sharp reaction from their supporters in Nairobi and beyond. Kenya’s security forces will be on high alert on 15 December.

COTE D'IVOIRE: How many divisions has the UN?
The stand off between rivals Alassane Dramane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo – both claiming to have won the presidential election and now forming rival governments – looks set to drag on. The machinery of international outrage at Gbagbo’s attempts to steal the election is creakily gathering momentum. The critics are all the more effective because they are led by the regional Economic Commission of West African States and backed up by the African Union. And then the United Nations Security Council endorsed the independent electoral commission’s announcement of Ouattara’s victory.

However, it could take more than the opprobrium of these worthy councils to shift Gbagbo. Tensions are mounting and local rights groups report attacks on Ouattara's supporters in Abidjan. Gbagbo’s cheerleaders are calling for action against Ouattara and his protectors in the UN force. If violence does break out, the terms of engagement of the more than 9,000 blue-helmeted police and soldiers serving the UN mission will have to reviewed. This is shaping up to be the toughest test to date of the African Union and the UN’s willingness to defend free elections.

ANGOLA/SOUTH AFRICA: Dos Santos visits the comrades
Angola's President José Eduardo dos Santos arrives in South Africa on Tuesday 14 December for a state visit to consolidate his friendship with President Jacob Zuma and to sell some oil and gas to Africa’s biggest economy. Dos Santos prefers Zuma to ex- President Thabo Mbeki. Indeed, some say Luanda backed him financially in the battle for the South African presidency. Two years ago Zuma visited Luanda in what looked like a state visit – but for the minor detail of Mbeki still being President.

Expect much glad-handing, announcements of undying fraternal comradeship and plenty of energy deals. Angola and South Africa’s Petro SA are joining forces to build a 200,000 barrel-a-day oil refinery in Lobito, and there is bold talk of a gas pipeline linking Angola to Namibia and South Africa. With good relations between all three countries, and Angola’s substantial gas reserves, this could provide a well-priced solution to South Africa’s chronic electric power problems.

WESTERN SAHARA/MOROCCO: Back to the table without a road map
On 16 December, the Polisario Front and the Kingdom of Morocco resume informal talks about a solution to the problem of self-determination for Western Sahara under the auspices of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary General for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross. The last round, in New York in November, made no real progress and was quickly followed by Polisario protests in Laayoune and harsh reactions from the Moroccan military that led to several deaths. The progress of the talks has not been affected by the outbreak of violence and Ross talks hopefully about a converging of positions.

There is a fairly big gap, however. Morocco wants only ‘autonomy’ for Western Sahara; Polisario demands that the promised referendum be held with independence as an option on the ballot paper. Neither side has produced any proposals about how those huge differences might be navigated.

SOMALIA: Doubts about Kenya’s military bid
As talk of mercenaries being recruited to fight in Somalia reverberates around East Africa, the UN’s top Relief official Mark Bowden painted a grim picture of conditions in the country after 20 years of crisis. The toll includes 1.46 million people chased from their homes, continuing food supply problems and expectations of more drought. To that must be added the prospect of more violence.

The US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks included reports that Kenya was trying to mount an armed intervention over its Somalia border, apparently with China supplying the weaponry. Until now, Kenya has studiously stayed out of regional security efforts in Somalia, leaving Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to lead the charge against the Islamist insurgents, Al Shabaab. Nairobi’s reluctance to get involved was based on fears that an intervention would be socially divisive (there are hundreds of thousands of Kenyan Somalis) and that Kenya would be an easy target for supporters of Al Shabaab seeking revenge.

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