Also today: Nigeria’s ruling party split deepens; Sudan’s election results delayed; Rwandan opposition leader released; Norwegians spared DRC death sentences for now.
Iran’s Ahmadinejad visits Mugabe
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is visiting Zimbabwe to open Zimbabwe’s annual trade fair. That surely indicates how isolated Iran really is over its obnoxious and disingenuous nuclear programme. The trip’s been condemned by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change as a meeting of despots which could further isolate Harare. That comment shows just how dysfunctional the country’s so-called unity government really is. Zimbabwe’s state media lauded Ahmadinejad’s visit as part of a drive to strengthen ties between countries that eschew the West. Ahmadinejad was met at Harare’s international airport by Mugabe and Zanu-PF cabinet ministers, while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and ministers from the Movement for Democratic Change were notably absent. May the farce be with you. Photo: Reuters.
Nigeria’s ruling party split deepens
Nigeria’s ruling party split is growing deeper by the day, after the People’s Democratic Party suspended 19 of its senior members for criticising the country’s leadership. The dissident members of the PDP Reform Forum faction include ex-ministers and former Senate leaders, who appeared on live television outlining demands for party reform instead of appearing, as demanded, before a party committee over accusations of anti-party activities. The dissidents say power is concentrated in the hands of the few, and have now been suspended from the PDP. Things have gone pear-shaped in the five months that President Umaru Yar’Adua has been absent with heart problems. It looks like Nigeria’s political landscape is changing forever.
Sudan’s election results delayed
Sudan’s delaying the results of its chaotic election until next week, after the poll was marred by widespread opposition boycotts. So far, the count shows President Omar al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party has a strong lead. But those results are mainly from the Arab north of the country, and represent the discord that characterised the first multiparty presidential, parliamentary and regional elections in 24 years. The UN says the polls were among the most complex ever held, and that’s why the result’s not going to be the worth the paper it’s written on. Two of Bashir’s main challengers withdrew from the poll over allegations of fraud, and must have felt vindicated when a YouTube video surfaced showing election officials allegedly stuffing ballot boxes. The elections commission and the NCP have dismissed the movie as a fake, but the fact remains that conflict over the possible secession of south Sudan, ongoing troubles in the western province of Darfur, and continuing disagreement over sharing the country’s oil wealth are a recipe for a return to a 22-year civil war.
Rwandan opposition leader released
Rwandan opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, has been conditionally released from detention after being accused of collaborating with a terrorist group and denying the country’s 1994 genocide. Ingabire plans to challenge President Paul Kagame in an August election, but now has to report to authorities twice a month and has been banned from leaving the capital, Kigali. She’s an ethnic Hutu, who’s caused concern by demanding action to be taken against those responsible for killing Hutus during the genocide, despite the majority of some 800,000 killed being Tutsis. Kagame’s a former Tutsi rebel leader, whose forces were accused of massacring Hutus after the genocide ended. Things are looking shaky in the fragile country. And Ingabire’s arrest won’t have helped.
Norwegians spared DRC death sentences for now
Democratic Republic of Congo
A military high court in the Democratic Republic of Congo overturned death sentences given to two Norwegian nationals convicted of murder, espionage and conspiracy after their driver was found dead near the north-eastern jungle town of Kisangani. The men were previously in Norway’s military, but the Norwegian government denied they were serving when the incident occurred last May. But the saga’s not ended for Joshua French and Tjostolv Molandv, as, while the Kinshasa high court annulled the decision, it sent the case back to the Kisangani military court, saying it wanted new judges to reassess it. Molandv’s lawyer said the decision by the Kisangani military court was riddled with errors. Now it looks as if that court will have the chance to add to them.
Stephen Hawking held a party for time travellers. He sent the invitation out the day after. Nobody attended.