elections

December 29, 2008

Kashmir Elections: Another round of cattle-trading over!

As the elections in Indian Kashmir (Jammu & Kashmir state) come to an end, the poll results have triggered another round of cattle-trading in a region known for its vibrant, and often violent, electoral history. The polls haven’t been much of a revelation, except for the fact that the secessionist parties seem to have been delivered a […]


September 5, 2008

The Vultures Start Circling

So at first glance this story in today’s Standard seemed a bit weird. Six months after post-election violence hit Kenya and when a new coalition government is still finding its feet, Kenya’s political heavy weights start jockeying for position… The post-Kibaki alliances started taking shape, on a day coalition partner ODM readied for its own […]


September 3, 2008

Kenyan Political Family Refuses Cash Shock

It was difficult to feel optimistic about Kenya’s post-crisis power-sharing deal. It seemed a classic case of jobs for the boys in a giant cabinet while the tribal and land tensions that exploded into violence had been left to fester. Although many Kenyans hailed the arrival of Raila Odinga as prime minister, many others thought […]


June 11, 2008

A Well-Earned Break for Kenyan MPs

Missed this gem yesterday in The Nation. Parliament resumes this afternoon to prepare for the Budget to be read on Thursday. The House took a break three weeks ago after it became apparent that it did not have business to transact. These, you remember, are some of the world’s most highly paid MPs. And I […]


May 26, 2008

Operation Return Home Unless You Want to be Beaten

A few weeks back the Irish Foreign Minister visited the displaced people in Kenya. He was introduced to the crowds at Kitale’s stadium by the District Commissioner. It was a flying visit, but it wasn’t difficult to pick up the fear among people in the camps: No-one wanted to go home until security was improved, […]


April 30, 2008

One Mean Diplomatic Mofo

Move aside you gangsta rappers The matatus of Nairobi are decorated in many and various ways. By far the most spectacular are those with murals of popular figures on the back. Footballers – particularly Stephen Gerrard – and gangsta rappers seem to dominate. Now there’s a new face in town following Kofi Annan’s success in […]


April 22, 2008

Letter from Harare

So many people have written to send us their best wishes and to let us know that we are in their thoughts at this time, that I have decided to write a short analysis of the situation here, almost three weeks after the election. I apologise to all of you who have written to us […]


March 31, 2008

Exiting Harare for Matabeleland

We woke early on the promise that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) would be starting to announce the official results as of 6am. In fact it announced one parliamentary seat, Mutasa South which went in favour of the Tsvangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) by more than 8,000 votes to 3,000 and […]


March 30, 2008

“MDC is telling truth when it says it has won with a landslide.”

Since breakfast time we have been criss-crossing the city, looking at the results posted on each polling station wall and talking to people who have been getting results from elsewhere in calls and text messages sent by relatives. It’s becoming clear that the MDC has won a landslide victory in Harare and indeed in many […]


March 30, 2008

Live from Zimbabwe election day 2

At 7am we went to check the results posted on the wall of the tent that served as the Chishawasha Junction polling station. Only 236 votes had been cast (they had expected 300, so 64 ballot papers were unused) and 138 of them were for Morgan Tsvangirai, against just 53 for Robert Mugabe and 43 […]


March 29, 2008

Live from Zimbabwe election day

7am – Umwinsidale, Harare Arrived at the polling station, a large marquee in a field between the Redale petrol station and the local police outpost, just after 7am to find a short queue of about 10 people waiting to vote. Loitering outside was a chap wearing a yellow jerkin which read Regional Faith Observer but […]


March 28, 2008

Nation of Millionaires

For a short while today I was a billionaire. I changed US$100 at a rate of 40 million Zimbabwean dollars (ZD) to the US dollar. In Zimbabwe everyone is a millionaire some of the time. I couldn’t have changed more, even if I’d had room in my rucksack because apprehension about the outcome of tomorrow’s […]


March 28, 2008

It’s an Election… but not as we know it

Just two days before the elections in Zimbabwe, Santos still hadn’t decided which presidential candidate to vote for. “Who do you think will make the better president,” he asks, “Simba Makoni or Morgan Tsvangirai?” (He ruled out a vote for Mugabe with an emphatic sideways shake of his head and a guttural click of the […]


March 24, 2008

I Hope It Was Worth It

So, 1500 people died and some 600,000 people were displaced in violence after rigged elections that denied Raila Odinga his chance to become (what his campaign promised would be) the People’s President. He never really specified exactly what the People’s President would do. But the feeling was that he would ensure the dark days of […]


March 21, 2008

Don’t Call It Cattle Rustling

While the love-in between Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga continues, so too does the killing. Another 25 deaths in “cattle rustling” incidents in the Rift Valley this week underlining the fact that a political deal between Kenya’s rivals for president has had little impact on long-standing tribal resentments over land and power. As François Grignon, […]


March 6, 2008

When a Spade is a Long-Handled Digging Implement

Reporters Without Borders has reopened the debate on how best to cover the issue of tribe and tribalism during Kenya’s election violence. Its verdict on the Kenyan media is bizarrely damning: …the Kenyan media failed in its duty to report fully on the political crisis and violence that followed last 27 December’s presidential election because […]


March 4, 2008

They’re Not Getting Around

So I finally got something right. Last week I was panicking because colleagues in Joburg had begun calling me to find out if the gentle scent of teargas was once again wafting around Nairobi. This was a concern because my folks had just arrived on holiday. And they had travelled largely because I had reassured […]


February 29, 2008

A New Type of Kenyan Politician

Barack Obama with his Kenyan relatives. Granny Sarah is second from right, front row Barack Obama’s twin messages of “hope” and “change” are playing pretty well in the US. They’re playing even better in Kenya where his relatives are praying for peace. Here, the allure is simple. After years of misrule by politicians whose only […]


February 28, 2008

What Happens When Kofi Goes Home?

So we have a deal to end Kenya’s bloodshed. Great. And it waters down the power of the president, which is an important step to ending Kenya’s winner-takes-all politics of tribalism. But why was Raila Odinga, the opposition leader soon to be installed in the new post of Prime Minister, looking hatchet faced throughout the […]


February 26, 2008

Waiting and Seeing

The storm clouds have been gathering for a few days. Last week the opposition ODM said they would hold “peaceful” demonstrations on Thursday. Meanwhile, Kofi Annan has been looking increasingly like someone who thought he would have been back in time to be guest of honour at the African Cup of Nations final. His rather […]


February 23, 2008

Lights in Tunnels aren’t Always Good

Kofi Annan. Source: Ricardo Stuckert/ABr On Thursday the endlessly upbeat Kofi Annan, who is mediating Kenya’s peace talks, said he was beginning to see “light at the end of the tunnel”. Well it’s starting to look as if the light at the end of the tunnel is actually the light of an oncoming train. (With […]


February 22, 2008

White Elephants and Windfalls

As African airports go, Eldoret International Airport is one of the finest. The taps in the toilets all work, its runway is long enough for a 747 and there are no queues at check-in. All as it should be for an airport that opened barely 10 years ago and cost $49m. It’s a darn sight […]


February 17, 2008

The Point of Poetry

Call me a Philistine, but I’ve never much seen the point of poetry. Sure the War Poets did some good stuff. But when you are capable of stringing together sentences into a few coherent paragraphs why bother chopping it into lines and verses? It seems a bit, well, contrived. Maybe it takes a war? Whatever. […]


February 16, 2008

Kenya’s Aid Irony

Nairobi is the aid hub for East Africa and the Horn. The city is filled with charity workers flitting to Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and so on. Its vast United Nations complex is reckoned to be one of the biggest contributors to the city’s economy. But when it comes to tackling a […]


December 20, 2006

Media Talk: US Elections

Will the war on terror cost George W. Bush his majority in congress? What would that mean for the world?

Join us as we discuss the likely effects of the November 7 mid-term elections in the US on the Bush administration’s foreign policy.