florinsandu

African Politics and Realities

Classroom diplomacy

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Attending the Modern diplomacy lecture today was a breath of fresh air. After a long time, in front of us was a lecturer that was not afraid of being wrong, but quite possibly he was waiting on the rest of us to try and prove him wrong! The topic of the debate was the diplomatic relations between Nigeria and South Africa in the light of this week’s developments. For those of you clueless on the matter,the summary would be: South Africa prevented a group of Nigerians coming on the same flight from entering the country on the basis of not having a mandatory yellow fever vaccination card, in return Nigeria did the same to a group of South African nationals…tensions grew higher, and bottom line we have now a sort of mediatic war, and a future series of diplomatic meetings meant to bring a solution to the “chaos” created. Question thrown for discussion….simply, “what do you make of it?”.

Listing the whole arguments at this point would be futile, however it was interesting to see how even during a class at a postgraduate level, the discussion quickly took a more personal turn, or rather, a more nationalistic turn instead of a crude, blunt discussion or attempt of an analysis on what exactly are the elements and so on. Don’t get me wrong, objective and very pertinent arguments were brought to the table, however, for me it was more interesting to watch the cultural belonging to a certain ethnic lines fade away in favor of defending Nigeria as a whole.the only question coming to my mind was ” why doesn’t it happen on a regular basis?

On the other hand, a similar case was on my mind as well, not too far from home….even though apparently far more complex, the case of the deportation of Romanian citizens from France had similar connotations. Regardless of previous opinions on the matter, many of us still felt like our national pride was at stake, moreover that if there is anyone to judge, it should be us. Deeply wrong as that stance might be, it was real, after all, we were defending our “newly ” acquired freedom of moving through Europe without the necessity of having a visa, a noble enough cause…

All in all, today’s lecture was motivating, even though “praising” what should happen on a regular basis and doesn’t is something to think about!

P.S. for more information on the recent diplomatic tensions between Nigeria and South Africa, please take a look at the links bellow.

By Florin Sandu

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Written by fashionroseblog

March 7, 2012 at 11:36 pm

African Politics and Piracy

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We have all been fascinated at one point in our lives by stories of pirates sailing the seas in the quest for treasures and adventure, now….we just fear them!


In recent years, the waters off Somalia and the Horn of Africa have witnessed increased attacks of the “new breed” of pirates, the Somali pirates on vessels navigating through those waters. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), at least 219 attacks occurred in the region in 2010, with 49 successful hijackings, and more than 1000 hostages taken, highest number in recorded history, in a method that has become a Somali pirates trademark.

However, Somali pirates of the East seem to have found their counterparts in the West, with attacks increasing during 2011 in the Golf of Guinea, which stretches along the costs of a dozen countries from Guinea to Angola. Although the number of attacks is significantly lower than that of their eastern counterparts, the IMB is already categorizing the waters of Benin and Nigeria as having the same risk as that off Somalia’s coast.

Even though the West African pirates seem to prefer “simple” robbery and use of violence, unlike their Somali counterparts which prefer hijackings and taking prisoners, the panic effect they have on the ships navigating their waters doesn’t appear to be less powerful or effective. As a result of these increasing pirates activity, ships navigating the waters of the Golf of Guinea, one of the busiest routes off African waters, are faced with a dilemma, safety over profit, and dozens of ships seem to have already started fleeing those shores, according to Maxime Ahoyo, the navy chief of staff in Benin.

If the activities and effects of African piracy are visible to anyone interested in finding out, what are its causes and background? Well, while the Somali case is attributed to home politics, or rather to lawlessness and lack of government which has allowed the pirates to keep vessels on the coast for months on end , the situation seems to be different on the west coast of the continent. There, the instability in the Niger Delta together with the lawlessness created by the illegal sale of oil and longstanding corruption on mainland seem to be the underlining factors behind the phenomenon. What is safe to say is that African piracy has global effects, and the involvement of the US and other western states, who have an anti-piracy armada patrolling the waters of East Africa is more than enough proof to that extent.

Perhaps these modern-day pirates do not live up the the legends, myths and stories we all know, but it’s probably because our world lacks the ability to wrap criminality into adventure, or because they use GPS instead of a compass, or motor speed boats instead of the “Black Pearl”. Who knows, maybe in a few hundred years things will change…

By Florin Sandu

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March 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Senegal: Abdoulaye Wade and the Goblet of Power 2

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Imagine a “new” Senegal with the old Abdoulaye Wade at its helms, and imagine that the protests and lives lost cannot be a match for the “intricate” ways of politics…It can’t be that hard to imagine that! After all, despite the fact that he didn’t manage to get a majority in the first round of elections, he did get the biggest number of votes (32%) which means he is the front runner for the second round that is to be held this month.

The second man standing is Macky Sall, Wade’s former prime minister and protege, who managed to get 25 % of the total votes casted. However, talks seem to have already started between Sall and other candidates of the opposition in order for him to receive their support in the second round, thus giving him a theoretical better chance of becoming the new president.

This game seems to have been played before…The old vs the new/the past vs the present/the bad vs the promise of good… and what is at stake is the future of a country..ruthless politics at its best! What needs to be noted is that despite the events preceding the votes, the weekend was quite calm, giving hope for the period that is to follow after the second round. However, that might change in a blink of an eye if Wade comes out victorious. Game is still on, until 18 March.

By Florin Sandu


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March 2, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Senegal: Abdoulaye Wade and the Goblet of Power

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The recent decision taken by the Constitutional Council of Senegal of allowing incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade(aged 85) to seek for a third term re-election despite constitutional provisions limiting presidents to a two-term mandate,  has sparked large scale protests and violence across the West African state throughout this week. Often seen as a model of democracy in the region, Senegal is now facing with what many see as a major destabilizing element before the February 26 presidential elections.

The protests taking place have been organized by the opposition coalition and thousands of activists, grouped under the umbrella of M23, which was formed last year to combat Wade’s attempt of amending the constitution, seen at the time as a method meant to be clearing the path towards his re-election in this month’s poll.

A contributing factor to the massive discontent of both political opposition and civil society seems to have been the decision of the Constitutional Court taken during the same session of denying 3 independent candidates to run for presidency , among which popular Senegalese musician Youssou N’Dour, arguing that the minimum threshold of 10,000 signatures necessary to validate their candidacy was not met.

On the other hand, countries and international organizations such as the former colonial master France or the United States, and the United Nations Organization, just to name a few, have expressed through official channels that they support a democratic and violence free Senegal, and also that Abdoulaye Wade should reconsider his bid for re-election keeping in mind the best interest of the country and its citizens.

Analysis

No matter how significant the population’s involvement is, the protests are still lead by a few, which not surprisingly means that once the opposition decides to call off the activities, everything might as well go back to “normal”. Thus, going beyond the constitutionality of the Court’s decision, which in all fairness invoked the principle of non-retro activity ( the constitution was adopted in 2001, which would technically mean that Wade’s first term would not be covered by it), it should now be a matter of how to best prepare for the polls on the part of the opposition.

The justified fear of rigged elections is on everyone’s minds, however it seems to me that the alert button has already been pushed, so with the high degree of international attention now attributed to the events taking place is Senegal, Wade and his “followers” might as well play by the rules of a democratic electoral game. His vulnerability is obvious, which means that if the opposition has the nation’s best interest in mind they will call of the protests in view of most likely winning the upcoming elections.

By Florin Sandu

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February 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Occupy Nigeria..aftermath

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Not long after the series of protests that have been paralyzing Nigeria for more than a week, things to be calming down with people accepting the new price of petrol despite the hardship it’s bringing along with it. The main topics on the agenda on which the Federal Government and President Goodluck Jonathan seem to be focusing now are the terrorist group Boko Haram and the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) strike.

Recently, at the 18th Assembly meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Nigerian president has been assured of the AU and UN support in combating violence and terrorism, with Secretary General of the United Nations Organization, Ban Ki-Moon stating that “no cause justifies terror” and also that Nigeria should pay attention to elements below the surface of normal indicators that can cause instability, such as deprivation, exclusion and abuse, that have already given birth to the Arab Spring.

The near future is quite unpredictable due the recent and ongoing instability at different societal levels. Governmental strategies are invisible to the majority of people which makes the little trust they had vanish at an alarming pace. Meanwhile, fear, frustration and anger seem to be increasing with religious and cultural cleavages becoming even deeper. If history has taught as anything it’s that it does repeat itself…

By Florin Sandu

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January 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Occupy Nigeria – Week 2!

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Surprising enough for many, the strike over the removal of fuel subsidy is entering its second week today despite the announcement made early this morning by president Goodluck Jonathan through national newspapers that the official price of fuel is now 97 naira, down from 141 naira.

It seems that labor unions and civil society activists are holding their ground for now and respecting one of the main mottos of the Occupy Nigeria movement: “down to 65 or no deal!”. At the same time, the various scattered episodes of street violence across the country has made the unions call off street protests while still continuing with the strike.

The FG , in an attempt to prevent more street protests in Lagos today, has sent military troops and created various checkpoints across the important meeting points of protesters throughout the past week, such as the Ojota area and Ikorodu road. However, protesters are now meeting at the famous Afrika Shrine in Ikeja to continue with their protest in a peaceful manner.

The president is expected to adress the nation today, and rumours of the strike coming to an end soon are in the air.

by Florin Sandu

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January 16, 2012 at 11:07 am

Occupy Nigeria- …and the weekend is for resting…!

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The meeting held on Thursday 12th January, in the capital Abuja between president Goodluck Jonathan and the Federal Government representatives on the one hand , and the representatives of the labor unions on the other did not have any concrete results. It seems that the FG and the president were not ready to revert the price of fuel to 65 naira and the LU reps were not ready for negotiations if that option was not on the table, therefore, Nigeria entered its fifth day of strike on Friday.

However, the weekend seems to be meant for a little bit of rest, as the strike has been called off until Monday, even though a meeting in supposed to take place for further negotiations during the weekend. Meanwhile the Petroleum and Natural Gas  Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has announced that it will join the strike on Sunday evening if the price of petrol will not be reverted to 65 naira, threatening to stop the production of oil.

This is all until tomorrow evening, when hopefully there will be more information available.

Florin Sandu

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