Tensions are high in Sudan with less than a month to go before a landmark referendum that will determine whether Southern Sudan will become a new country.
Many fear that a weak international presence for the January 9 vote combined with a build-up of opposing armed forces on the north-south border could result in chaos.
Why a referendum?
Tension is high in the West African nation of Ivory Coast (also known as Cote d’Ivoire) as two political rivals have both been declared winners of the recent presidential election.
Raising the prospect of violence is the fact that the two candidates are from opposing sides of the decade-long civil conflict that was supposed to be concluded with the election.
It has often been joked that Americans who like small government should go to Somalia.
There the federal government provides little, with most public services around the country supplied by “the market.”
Indeed, Somalia is largely considered a failed nation. But somehow the country carries on, despite no proper government and a battle for its capital city that keeps raging.
Decades without a national government
On Friday, a year after its completion, a historic and controversial draft report by the United Nations was leaked to the media before its scheduled release today.
It is believed that the authors feared that top UN officials were going to have it changed to avoid potentially harmful consequences from one of its findings.
It's not every week that models and actresses give evidence in a war crimes trial. But this week, model Naomi Campbell and actress Mia Farrow testified at the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.
The trial, which began in January 2008, concerns a series of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the West African country of Sierra Leone during their brutal civil war in the 1990s.
If you’re heart goes out to the people of the American Gulf Coast during this current oil crisis, spare a thought for the people of the Niger Delta.
This oil-rich region along the coast of Nigeria has experienced oil spills the size of America’s Exxon Valdez every year for the last 40 years.
The Niger Delta is where the great Niger River breaks up before it meets the ocean on the southern coast of Nigeria.
Earlier this month, Russian Special Forces stormed a hijacked Russian oil tanker, shot one of the Somali pirates and arrested the other ten.
A day later, the Russian government announced they were freeing the pirates because they didn’t want to pay for their imprisonment.
Then, in typical Russian style, they took them out to sea, confiscated their navigation equipment, and released them in their little boat. The pirates are now missing, presumed dead.
Once again there is a political tug of war being fought within Zimbabwe’s volatile coalition government.
This time it’s over a piece of legislation that will require successful businesses to sell a majority of their shares to ‘indigenous’ (black) Zimbabweans. Those who don’t comply face up to 5 years in jail.
From a media point of view, the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (see part 1) doesn’t qualify for much coverage. It lacks the drama and heavy fighting to lure in the camera crews.
In fact, most people are killed from what the war has brought about – a food shortage and poor health conditions.
For years this war has been mixed up in the cauldron of African conflicts, causing outsiders to become both desensitised and indifferent to its true horror.
It’s the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where over 5 million people have died – making it officially the deadliest conflict since World War 2.
In fact, it’s known as ‘Africa’s World War’, which now features the largest ever peacekeeping force in UN history with 20,000 troops.