19 March: Gambians charge ‘coup’ plotters

19 March: Gambians charge ‘coup’ plotters

Also today: UN says sub-Saharan growth set to continue, but within narrow vein; Khartoum defies main Darfur rebels by making peace with minor militants; Zuma claims Zim leaders are hunky-dory, but nobody else thinks so; West African pirates release Chinese fishermen; UN tells Ivorians to get on with elections.

Gambians charge ‘coup’ plotters

The Gambia

The Gambian justice ministry says a group of senior army officers and businessmen have been charged with plotting a coup against President Yahya Jammeh. They were accused of bringing weapons and mercenaries into the tiny West African country. This follows the arrests of ranking police, soldiers and senior government officials, some of whom have been jailed for months without charge. It’s not the first time the military has been accused of trying to overthrow the government, with neighbouring Senegal alleged to have taken part in a 2006 plot. Jammeh is known for his “cure” for Aids, and for threatening to kill gays and rights workers.

Photo: Gambia’s President Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh attends the plenary session of the Africa-South America Summit on Margarita Island September 27, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Read more: BBC, Agence France-Presse, The New York Times, Gambia News


UN says sub-Saharan growth set to continue, but within narrow vein


The World Bank says the economies of sub-Saharan Africa will bounce back this year, growing by about 3.8%, but will lag recovery in other developing nations because of their reliance on commodities. Also, the sub-Saharan region is less export-orientated than other emerging markets, so it won’t benefit as much from an upswing in trade. Growth should accelerate to 4.6% in 2011, up from about 1.1% last year. The dip in growth in the region was less pronounced than in other developing countries, so the bank says they’ll come back faster with growth averaging an estimated 5.2% this year, and 5.7% in 2011. The bank also says the global crisis is over, and that growth from fiscal stimulus will now start to diminish.

Read more: Reuters, Bloomberg


Khartoum defies main Darfur rebels by making peace with minor militants


Sudan has signed a three-month ceasefire with Darfur’s Liberation and Justice Movement during talks in Qatar, weeks after the Khartoum government signed a similar accord with the far more powerful Justice and Equality Movement. Earlier JEM said it would walk out of the Doha talks if accords were signed with other groups. It hasn’t yet done so, but has dismissed the deal with LJM, a new group representing rebel factions, saying it’s irrelevant to peace in the country’s troubled western province ahead of Sudan’s first multiparty elections in more than two decades. Another main rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army, won’t join peace talks until a general cessation of hostilities. The SLA says the government launched a heavy attack on it just weeks ago, backing ground forces with jets and helicopters.

Read more: Qatar Tribune, Al Jazeera, IRIN News, Sudan Tribune, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya


Zuma claims Zim leaders are hunky-dory, but nobody else thinks so


Reuters reports that South African President Jacob Zuma said in Harare that Zimbabwe’s leaders had agreed on what needs to be done to rescue their fragile unity government, and will now work towards a deal. That’s another way of saying that President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai are nowhere near an agreement on anything, except to meet again on 25, 26 and 29 March to deal with Mugabe’s latest unconscionable act. That being his unilateral redistribution of ministerial powers from portfolios held by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to those held by his Zanu-PF party. The MDC says this is in gross violation of the Global Political Agreement, which forged the so-called unity government. Zuma said Mugabe and Tsvangirai will report back to him on 31 March, after which the Sothern African Development Community “troika” chairman Mozambican President Armando Guebuza may call a meeting to discuss the deal. Sounds like some real tough diplomacy going on here. The troika comprises Guebuza, Swaziland’s King Mswati III and Zambian President Rupiah Banda. SADC appointed Zuma to mediate the crisis. Tsvangirai must be thrilled. Oops, it’s Mugabe who’s thrilled.

Read more: Reuters, The Zimbabwe Guardian, Afrik, Herald de Paris, Zimbabwe Metro, Voice of America


West African pirates release Chinese fishermen


Seven Chinese fishermen hijacked off the coast of Cameroon by pirates last week have been released. It’s not clear if cash changed hands after Cameroonian officials said their policy is never to pay a ransom. There’ve been more attacks on shipping in the Gulf of Guinea of late, where there’s plenty of oil installations and illegal fishing. But the buccaneers usually steal cargo, unlike their East African counterparts off Somalia, who ransom ships and crews for millions of dollars. It’s thought the mob who abducted the Chinese might be Nigerians. They reportedly demanded $25,000 dollars for the crew’s safe return. In November pirates attacked an oil tanker off Benin, killing a crew member and stealing the contents of the ship’s safe. It sounds like the West Africans are still learning the ropes.

Read more: Agence France-Presse, Reuters, BBC


UN tells Ivorians to get on with elections

Ivory Coast

It’s moot whether the UN Security Council is more impatient than the people of Ivory Coast, but they’ve told the government there to get on with elections delayed since 2005. The latest delay in the farce came when President Laurent Gbagbo disbanded the government and electoral commission in February, accusing electoral authorities of illegally adding names to the voters list to boost the opposition. That led to two weeks of deadly protests in a country wracked with ethnic tension. A 2002/03 civil war split the Ivory Coast in half, comprising a largely Muslim north and Christian and animist south. The elections are supposed to stick everybody back together, but lots of cynical politicians are playing games with people’s lives.

Read more: Voice of America, Reuters


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.