Tag Archives: africa

Welcome to my day: 3 September 2018 – dancing for loose change?

I’m not one to criticise Theresa May’s dancing. You don’t want to see me on a dance floor, if truth be told. And, regardless of her prospects in “Strictly Come Dancing”, she was trying.

And on that thought, welcome to another week, with the schools going back and, indeed, Parliament. The behaviour is likely to be rather more dignified in schools though, with the weekend papers featuring supposed coup preparations against both Corbyn and May. We Liberal Democrats have Vince’s speech to look forward to at the end of the week, when he may, or may not, be talking about his …

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Tony Blair bestrides the globe while the UK goes “la la la – not listening”

It seems that shortly after attending the Remembrance Sunday parade at London’s Cenotaph, former Prime Minister Tony Blair hopped on a plane for The Gambia. On Tuesday, he popped up there to meet the country’s President, Adama Barrow at his office (above) and then have dinner with him at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa in Serrekunda. (A night in the Presidential suite there would set you back £1870). Globe-trotting Tony Blair also met Mr Barrow back in April, shortly after the latter had been elected President, replacing the tyrannical Yayha Jammeh.

Tony Blair has recently had many high level meetings with African leaders. Back in July he was in Kaduna, Nigeria and Togo. He’s been to Ghana. This month he was also in Cote d’Ivoire. There he met the Energy Minister, the Education Minister and the Prime Minister.

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A tale of two Presidents

As we know, on Friday Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. This was in a carefully choreographed handover of power, laid down by the Founding Fathers of the nation a couple of centuries ago. This is a country of 319 million people with a GDP per capita (PPP) of $53,750. Trump was elected in a process which took two years in total. Controversial but smooth.

Just a few hours before, election winner Adama Barrow was sworn in as President of The Gambia, one of Africa’s smallest states. It is smaller, in land area, than Yorkshire. It has 1.9 million people. The equivalent GDP figure here is 3% of that of the USA. This Presidential inauguration was rather different to the one in Washington DC.

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Extremely welcome news from The Gambia – ‘the marbles have spoken’

Well, well, well. Wonders never cease. President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia has conceded defeat after the country’s Presidential Election. Those are words I never thought anyone would write. Jammeh has been President of The Gambia for 22 years. He once said he would rule for ‘a billion years’. He has recently become increasingly erratic and autocratic.

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Liberal International’s African Reach

When Liberal International was founded in Oxford nearly 70 years ago it was very much a European affair. With the noble exception of Canada, Liberal parties and values were largely confined to northern Europe, but since then the picture has changed dramatically. As we in Britain lick our wounds from the double whammy of the Brexit vote and the triumph of Donald Trump in the United States let us take comfort from the fact that the Liberal family is growing worldwide. This was dramatically illustrated by the Liberal International (LI) Executive in Marrakesh, at which five new African parties – …

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Zambia: one too many close calls for democracy?

Zambia 1Democracies in the developing world must often overcome a number of hurdles on the road to maturity and development as a stable state. Peaceful elections, a vibrant civil society, regular transfer of power, and fair service delivery are all key indicators of democratic development. No doubt, differences in the maturing of democracies should be considered based on local realities, and a so-called Western roadmap must not be the only lens through which we view this development.

But has the southern African country of Zambia, rich in copper and with plentiful tourism potential, had one too many close calls in its democratic development? Does Zambia and its people need to rethink their political path?

The most recent August 11th elections certainly give that impression.

This year’s General Elections resulted in the incumbent Edgar Lungu (Patriotic Front – PF) winning the presidential race by just over 2.5%, enough to avoid a second-round run-off. The liberal opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), led by Hakainde Hichilema, also lost the last presidential by-election by a mere 27,757 votes. Those early presidential elections were called after the passing of former President Michael Sata in 2014. On the surface, these results appear to be a sign of political maturity, with an election called upon President Sata’s death and an apparently democratic process in place for political succession.

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Africa’s Super Sunday

Recently on holiday in West Africa, I was somewhat torn. There was a strong temptation to leave my political conscience in a left luggage locker at Gatwick. Indeed, I think I did to an extent. I was, after all, on holiday and, being in a rural “eco lodge”, I was able to mix with ordinary Africans and provide some support to the local economy.

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Botswana elections: Liberal Democrats help sister party and its “calm revolutionary of our time”

Three chiefs and justice gaborone botswana by BoHeMIoYesterday was polling day in the General Election in Botswana. 57 parliamentary seats are up for grabs along with council seats across the country. The Botswana Democratic Party has been in power since the country gained independence in 1966. The Liberal Democrats have been helping our sister party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy, which has been fighting the election as part of a coalition of opposition parties, the Umbrella for Democratic Change. In early August, their campaign suffered a huge blow when BMD leader and Vice Presidential candidate Gomolemo Matswaledi was killed in a car accident on the way back from a visit to Johannesberg.

Top Liberal Democrat campaigns guru Victoria Marsom, who has the by-election victories in both Brent and Eastleigh under her belt, has been working closely with the BMD for the past year as part of a project funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. She’s travelled to Botswana twice, once in June and she’s there now for this last week of the campaign. I had a bit of a surprise the other night when I found this from her on my Facebook timeline:

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Opinion: Emerging markets could mean the end of the elephant, but it’s not too late

For some years I have been sponsoring an African Elephant called Grace. It was a birthday present that I have never had the heart to cancel. She is fortunate enough to live in a conservation area in Kenya. Grace is one of approximately 400,000 African Elephants still alive in the world, their population having been slashed by 50% since 1989, driven predominantly by the ivory trade. Despite an increasing shift in western attitudes very little has changed. Ever expanding globalisation and the economic crisis has resulted in several fluctuations in ivory demand, perpetuated by international ivory trade deals that have …

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Clegg on UK and EU relationship with Africa: “more trade, fairer tax and greater business transparency”

Nick Clegg gave a speech at the Africa Jubilee Business Forum which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation for African Unity. Here are the highlights:

Political rights must go in tandem with economic growth

Everybody, of course, wants growth – the key decision is how you achieve it. More and more African countries face a choice between the economic models of authoritarian capitalism, on the one hand, and liberal democracy, on the other.

In countries like China, authoritarian capitalism argues the case for economic growth ahead of political freedoms. And it’s a seductive argument in view of surging growth

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone – mobile money opens new opportunities in Africa

Lynne Featherstone writes on Huffington Post about the exciting innovation of mobile money:

There is money in the air in Mozambique. The deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and I have just watched Nilza and Herculano transfer 100 meticais (about two pounds) via mobile phone. They may both be standing in front of us for this demonstration, but in a country where less than 12% of adults have a bank account, the benefits of these mobile money systems can be large.

The Department for International Development (DFID) supported the launch of M-Pesa mobile money transfer when it was first launched in Kenya

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Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “From Eastleigh to Africa – and back again!”

Nick’s latest weekly missive focuses on two places: his visits as party leader to the Lib Dem by-election campaign in Eastleigh, and his visit as Deputy Prime Minister to Mozambique and Ethiopia to focus on ‘the three Ts’ – tax, transparency and trade. Here’s his letter in full…

libdem letter from nick clegg

Like so many of you, I’ve been to Eastleigh this week. I was there to visit a local college with our excellent candidate Mike Thornton on Monday, and after a brief stop off to see the kids, I headed straight

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone on ending violence against women and girls in Zambia

International Development minister Lynne Featherstone is currently visiting Zambia and blogging her trip for the Huffington Post. In her first post she writes:

My first visit since arriving in Zambia was to a UK aid adolescent girls empowerment programme in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of the capital, Lusaka. This initiative is supporting more than 1,500 of the most vulnerable girls, providing safe spaces and mentoring to help build their confidence and life skills.

The girls I met told

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LibLink: Vince Cable – Where is Africa’s share of the spoils?

In the Independent, Vince Cable complains that Africa sees little of the vast profits from its natural resources:

Each year, international oil, gas, forestry and mining companies make large payments to the governments of resource-rich developing countries, though their citizens see very little of it. Charities have estimated that in Africa this income is six times greater than the aid the continent receives. Where does all this money go?

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Lynne Featherstone MP writes… First ever Lib Dem DFID Minister, first trip to Africa

A month after taking up my new role as Minister for Africa in the Department for International Development, I’m currently on my first trip to the continent – South Sudan, via an overnight stop in Kenya.

Though I’ve actually been to Africa in my role as International Champion for Tackling Violence against Women Overseas, a role I’ve held since soon after the Coalition was formed, I’m anxious to see first-hand the work that DFID does toward alleviating suffering, bettering people’s lives and working with partner governments to improve their

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Opinion: Lib Dems should promote Somaliland’s case for international recognition

While Scottish Liberal Democrats are playing a full part in the debates about the country’s constitutional future, they should not forget problems facing other less fortunate small lands.  The plight of Somaliland is a case in point and is exercising the Scottish branch of Liberal International.

The first problem Somaliland confronts on the world stage is that people confuse it with lawless Somalia.  It is an immediate neighbour and shares Somali culture but is largely peaceful and enjoys a recent record of solid democratic progress.  So are its achievements in the troubled Horn of Africa lauded?  Not a bit of it, …

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Opinion: With Darfur still burning, the question that must be asked – has the Liberal hand lost its touch in times of crisis?

With the relentless genocide in Darfur still incendiary, our attention must turn to the lack of affront from the liberal contingent. Unlike the Arab/Israeli conflict or the violence in Sri Lanka, the Liberal Democrats have lucid policy on the crisis in Sudan. Without a doubt the strength of Lib Dem rhetoric does not match the strength of our policy. This begs the question: has the Liberal hand lost its touch in times of crisis?

It was Liberals who hailed the end of Apartheid. The recent death of Helen Suzman was a poignant reminder of this. It was liberal democracy that salved …

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