Also today: Somalis claim to have killed al-Qaeda leader; Ivorians riot as promise of election fades; Chad and Sudan make peace over Darfur; Ghanaian oil find exceeds 800 million barrels, but politics abound.
Nigerian parliament approves acting president
Nigeria’s two-tier parliament has recognised vice president Goodluck Jonathan as acting head of state while President Umaru Yar’Adua recovers from heart problems in a Saudi Arabian hospital. But reports say the country’s constitution makes no provision for parliament to make such a move. In addition, a recent federal high court ruling says there’s no constitutional requirement for the president to hand over power, and that the vice-president can act on his behalf. The constitution itself says Yar’Adua must make a written declaration that he’s on vacation or unable to carry out his duties before he can transfer power. So, there’ll be interesting days ahead. Yar’Adua’s two-month absence has caused a storm of protest in the giant oil-producing nation, with critics saying his failure to formally hand power over to Jonathan risked bringing government to a grinding halt. The senate and house of representatives say Jonathan will only be able to exercise executive powers until the president returns to office, but that the vice president can now pass legislation and assume control of the armed forces. Photo of Goodluck Jonathan: Reuters.
Somalis claim to have killed al-Qaeda leader
Somalia’s government says its forces have killed a senior al-Qaeda fighter who is also a member of the local radical Islamist al-Shabaab group. Al-Shabaab recently claimed it’s allied to Osama bin Laden’s terror organisation. Somali officials say the man – named by media as Amar Ibrahim – replaced a leader in al-Qaeda who was killed in a US helicopter attack last September. Al-Shabaab denies this claim. The Americans say the man they killed, Kenyan-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, was responsible for attacks on a hotel and an Israeli airliner in Mombasa in 2002. Al-Shabaab had long denied links to al-Qaeda, but last month said it was joining al-Qaeda’s global jihad.
Ivorians riot as promise of election fades
Rioters in ethnically-riven Ivory Coast have burned down a local government building to protest the government’s handling of voter registration. The BBC reports witnesses say more than 1,000 demonstrators marched through the western regional city of Vavoua as local security forces fired warning shots into the air. The city is in the largely Muslim half of Ivory Coast, and is administered by the rebel New Forces. The former French colony is being urged by the UN to hold a much-delayed election in March. Ivorians were supposed to vote in 2005 after a 2002/3 civil war split the cocoa-growing nation into north and south. But opposition leaders suspect President Laurent Gbagbo is trying to extend his rule by further delaying elections, which could easily see the country slip back into civil war. Migrants from neighbouring countries such as Guinea, Burkina Faso and Mali, fear they won’t be allowed to vote because they can’t prove Ivorian identity. Disputes over nationality were a big reason for the civil war.
Chad and Sudan make peace over Darfur
Chadian President Idriss Deby’s surprise visit to Sudan for talks with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has seen the fractious neighbours agree to end their proxy wars over Sudan’s Darfur region. The UN says 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur over the past seven years. The countries say they’ll conduct joint development projects to rebuild their war-ravaged border areas. Each accuses the other of supporting rebels fighting the other’s governments. Deby’s largely unprecedented visit comes at a time when Sudan is set to hold its first multi-party elections in more than two decades, marking the end of a 22-year civil war between the Arab north and oil-rich black African south of the country. Deby said he would now be in regular contact with Sudan’s Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur.
Ghanaian oil find exceeds 800 million barrels, but politics abound
Ghana’s Jubilee oil field, discovered in 2007 by a venture between the Ghanaian government and international oil firms, has recoverable reserves of 800 million barrels, according to energy minister Jospeh Oteng-Adjei. That’s only enough oil to feed the world for 10 days, but at a value of some $100 billion (at $120 a barrel), it’s easy to see why President John Atta Mills wants Ghanaians to be the biggest beneficiaries. The first oil from Jubilee is expected to be pumped in the fourth quarter of 2010, massively supplementing the country’s exports of cocoa and gold. But there’re political hurdles to be surmounted, as Ghana’s state-run oil firm is in protracted talks to buy a stake owned by Kosmos Energy, which is said to have agreed to sell its interest in Jubilee to Exxon Mobil for $4 billion.
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