Archives for January 2011

Ghana be starting something

Nick Ericsson Nick Ericsson | 00:16 UK time, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Ivory Coast rumbles on - and it seems the country's neighbours are getting increasingly drawn in. On today's Network Africa we are carrying a piece about how furious the Ghanaian government is at what it says is a quote by President John Atta Mills about Ivory Coast which was allegedly taken out of context by the BBC. A clip of the quote was used on last Friday's Network Africa. It reminds me of the stink the Focus on Africa magazine created a little while ago over the inclusion of Jerry Rawlings in a preliminary list of African icons. Where, a number of readers cried, is John Kufuor? And, much like today's waves, the story was carried on Accra's Joy FM. I guess we would be doing something wrong if we pleased all of our listeners/readers all of the time. At least this shows they're there.

Take two

Nick Ericsson Nick Ericsson | 14:25 UK time, Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Ok so I was wrong - the dust didn't settle. In fact, it was a veritable sandstorm that followed Friday's news from Tunisia. The difference between producing the Focus on Africa magazine and producing the Focus on Africa radio programme is more than just a word - I was on the radio desk on Friday and I'm struggling to remember a day when breaking news came at us from so many directions. At least on the magazine we have a bit of a chance to sit back and reflect (although not much).
So Tunisia is a very different country to the one it was last week. A new head of state, a new government and a raft of laws meant to free up the oppressive state apparatus. Or is it? The sense we're getting today is that the 'coalition' government is not satisfying those who - last week - were on the streets demanding change. Perhaps that's not surprising. Afterall, what has happened in Tunisia can't be called a revolution. The new administration still has elements of the old. And the words of a protester last week keep coming back to me - is it out of the realm of posibility that the departed (not deposed) president may actually come back?
Let's step back a bit. It seems that January 2008 could have been the starting point of a new era for Africa. That was the month that Kenya exploded after disputed polls. ZImbabwe soon followed and now we are sitting with the tinder-box that is Ivory Coast and Tunisia. In all these cases a mediator has been dispatched to try and bring about peace at all costs - usually in the form of unity governments. Tunisia has been cited in recent days as one of the rare instances of a North Africa country effectively standing up to its strongman leader. While Nairobi and Harare sit with their coaltions in state house, could it be that Tunisia is breaking ground in other ways too - by showing its unity government the door before it's even really got going?

Tunisia's toll

Nick Ericsson Nick Ericsson | 11:32 UK time, Friday, 14 January 2011

The dust is settling on the announcement last night by Tunisia's president that he won't be standing for election again. This follows weeks of bloody protests ostensibly over unemployment. After two decades in power President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's actions may have other long-serving African leaders nervously looking over their shoulders. I wonder how events in Tunis are being digested in Cameroon for instance?
The latest Focus on Africa magazine has an interesting few pages on the state of affairs there in the run-up to elections later this year. Paul Biya has been in power longer than his Tunisian counterpart - but also faces the problem of swelling opposition to his rule via the internet, blogs and social media sites. Is he taking notes do you think?

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