Friday, 6 January 2017

A year of transitions

Good, bad, ugly or interminable political transitions will loom large in 2017. The theme of transition will dominate the first two editions of Africa Confidential, which carry a set of economic and political forecasts for countries facing major changes this year.

In Ghana, defeated President John Mahama quickly conceded and jointly managed a transition with winner Nana Akufo-Addo, who is due to take over on 7 January. Not so in Gambia, where President Yahya Jammeh changed his mind about accepting defeat in December's elections. The head of the military, General Ousman Badjie, who initially pledged support for election winner Adama Barrow, has changed his mind, too. A trial of strength looms between Jammeh and regional leaders who insist they will recognise Barrow as the legitimate President after 19 January.

Transitions in Congo-Kinshasa and South Africa will also attract attention. After talks mediated by the Catholic Church, President Joseph Kabila now says he will hold elections and step down by December. His opponents insist he signs the deal in public. Jacob Zuma will be replaced as President of the African National Congress by the end of the year: if he goes with his favoured successor in place, he will still wield influence. If he's forced out early, it would end his political career and that of his key allies. Big changes are looking more likely in Zimbabwe. In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta is tipped to win elections in August but with a high risk of a messy dispute.

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