Thursday, 22 October 2015

Britain's Africa continental shift

Britain's Africa relations have been peppered in recent years with near misses, faux pas and a general lack of policy, but this may be changing with major conferences on migration, next month in Malta, and on climate change, in Paris in December. British diplomats are trying hard to get agreements in advance with African delegations. Britain has extracted itself from its declaration of 2013 that it would have 'only essential contacts' with Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, then under indictment by the International Criminal Court. This reversal was due to some nimble diplomacy by Christian Turner, Britain’s High Commissioner in Nairobi. Now British Prime Minister David Cameron is due in Kenya on a state visit next year.

Nigerian voters brought to an end the difficult relations between Britain and President Goodluck Jonathan, who had held an awkward meeting with Cameron a year ago. We understand that UK officials are now planning a meeting between Cameron and Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan’s well regarded successor. President Buhari has already been feted in Washington and Paris.

British-South Africa relations are still problematic: President Jacob Zuma failed to turn up at a scheduled meeting with Cameron last year, citing a calendar clash. However, this week Britain has welcomed to London Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairwoman of the African Union Commission. She also happens to be the leading contender to succeed her former husband, Jacob Zuma, in the presidency.

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