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Archive for October 2008

While they’re young

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Very interesting post from Chris Blattman. Allegience to armed forceds seems to be highest among the youngest of child soldiers.


child soldier allegiance

child soldier allegiance



Chris is one of the best bloggers around and a darn fine economist. I read his work and blog with great interest.


Written by Niall

October 31, 2008 at 12:55 pm

DRC bad news of the day

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…where news is plural:

DR Congo refugee camps ‘burned’

Congo-Kinshasa: Government Troops ‘On the Rampage’

Panic grips DRC as rebels advance on town of Goma

I’m skeptical that the UN has enough of forces in and around Goma to hold the china set together should fighting break loose in the city. I doubt Nkunda’s threat to take fighting to Kinshasa is credible. But should killings continue in refugee camps or if fighting opens up in Goma, this will not be an easy conflict to stop.

Written by Niall

October 31, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Eastern Congo – Road to trouble?

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Any peace there was or could have been in eastern Congo looks to be in perilous jeopardy.

The Economist provided this recent comment from French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner:

We fear that huge, frightening massacres could start again in the eastern area and in Kivu.

Today’s news suggests that that prediction may be closer to coming true than hoped. From the Mail & Guardian:

A new bout of heavy fighting erupted between government and rebel forces on Wednesday in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)…The fighting was centred in an area about 30km from Goma, where thousands of civilians have been forced to flee amid the advance by Tutsi rebels.

As reported in serveal places, this is by no means a domestic stuggle. Suspicion and contempt runs wild across the borders of the Lakes Region. In many respects, this is as much a Rwandan civil war being waged on Congolese turf as it is a conflict between the Congo and rebel forces. 

UPDATE: Chaos seems to be the word of the day in Kivu. Jeffery Gettleman is reeling off some good copy on the unfolding events in Kivu. Here’s the quote that speaks the most volume:

“What can we do?”‘ said Kikaya Bin Karubi, a member of Congo’s Parliament. “We don’t have a national army. Our so-called army is a combination of different rebel militias, with a 100 from this group, a 100 from that group, and so on. They haven’t even trained together for a year. How do they stand a chance?”

Samantha at gorilla.cd provides and answer to the honorable MP’s question:

It’s total chaos in Goma. I am being told, through various phone calls and text messages, that the army have now laid down their weapons at Kibumba, 12 miles north of Goma, and are fleeing the rebels. In other words they have totally given up.

Written by Niall

October 29, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Africa, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Rwanda

Tagged with , ,

Zambian Election

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Zambians go to the polls on Thursday. This is an early election for them after the death of President Levy Mwanawasa in August. It looks to be a referendum of continuity versus change in the ruling party.

Zambia has been one of the most stable members of Central Africa. Frontrunners in this election are Rupiah Banda (Movement for Multiparty Democracy) and Michael Sata (Patriotic Front). Banda, the Vice President to Mwanawasa and current acting President, states that he will continue to pursue the policies of Mwanawasa, which have included inflation fighting measures and promotion of copper exports. Mwanwasa proved to be very popular among the international community. Banda has the support and backing of former presidents Kenneth Kaunda and Frederick Chiluba.

Sata, a former MMD party mmber who started PF in 2001, received 29.4% of the vote in 2006 and garners strong support from Lusaka Sata has developed something of a populist image, but this may be tamed if he is the victor. Lower copper prices, caution from international investors in emerging markets and a MMD-controlled parliament will, most likely, stiffle any attempts at major policy change. The Economist puts it rather bluntly and makes little attempt to hide its skepticism of Sata: 

Zambia relies less on foreign generosity than a few years ago, but a big chunk of its budget is still funded abroad; the tap would soon run dry if economic policy became populist.

Hakainde Hichilema, a third party candidate from the United Democratic Alliance is getting less attention despite the fact that he collected 25% of the vote in 2006 presidential elections.

Of course, there is the potential for a tumultuous couple of weeks following the election, considering some ballot concerns and bitter political rivalries between the PF and MMD.

Written by Niall

October 29, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Africa

Tagged with , ,


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Two stories in the New York TImes have me thinking on Marathons. I’m looking for a race in Southern or Eastern Africa and planning on a marathon in the US in early 2009. These stories have got me motivated. One, to race and, two, to se the film on the NYC Marathon.

Written by Niall

October 29, 2008 at 2:15 am

Posted in Running

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Go back to the polls?

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That’s what MDC is starting to arguing for in Zimbabwe.

The MDC has called for an extraordinary summit of all southern African leaders but is now openly talking about new elections.

The current talks are preportedly stalled by an agrument over cabinet members. In reality, the talks can’t go forward when neither side trusts the other side and the head mediator has lost all credibility with one side:

The MDC has never had much confidence in Mr Mbeki as mediator and one source said that following these proposals they had informed the former South African president that he could “go to hell”.

Given that talks are stalled, a new round of elections may very well happen. The resurrection of PF Zapu and its cesession from Zanu PF would make elections much more appealing to MDC. Could this be on the horizon? MDC is certainly holding firm.

Written by Niall

October 27, 2008 at 12:29 am

Posted in Africa, Zimbabwe

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Time for the IMF to earn it’s keep?

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Dani Rodrik thinks so:

 I have a feeling that this will be the make-it-or-break-it week for emerging markets. I hope the IMF will make an announcement in time to make a difference.

Discussing the particular case of Africa, Shanta Devarajan concurs::

Of greater concern in Africa is the resurgence of inflation and macroeconomic imbalances in some countries…Although unrelated to the financial market crisis in the U.S. (but closely related to the food and fuel price increases of earlier this year), these developments will require early and decisive actions to avoid the situation getting worse.

Groups of a socialist bent in Africa seem to think that trouble is a stir on the continent/

Written by Niall

October 26, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Development Economics

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