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This week’s editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

From Angola to Somalia, Rwanda to Zimbabwe, conflict and poverty scar Africa. But Africans everywhere are investing huge energies in search of democratic change and social betterment. openDemocracy writers examine the new worlds of an old continent.

Angola’s elections: the politics of no change

Angola's people waited sixteen years for an election. In the end, the victory of the ruling MPLA was even more total than expected. The country's conflicted history, the party's long political hegemony - and oil wealth - help explain why, says Lara Pawson, recently in Luanda.

China and the Olympics: a view from Kenya

China makes the world go round. But from Beijing to Nairobi there is turmoil beneath the skin-deep harmony, says Peter Kimani.

On the road to Accra

Development aid is global public funding that belongs to us all. There can be little progress in tackling inequality and injustice whilst the commitments around gender are ignored in practice, says Tina Wallace

Ethiopia: the tears and the rains

A hard corner of southern Ethiopia is a place where the multiple causes of the global food crisis converge. Here, in Wolayita, people are on the edge of life for want of food and the resources to access it. Lyndall Stein, of Concern, reports

The right and wrong fix: Afghan lessons for Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe’s coronation is the time to start preparing in detail for the aftermath of his regime, say Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart.

Zimbabwe’s election: an African appeal

African civil-society leaders, uniting to call for a free election process and an end to violence in Zimbabwe, invite members of the global public to support an open letter

Zimbabwe: the day democracy died

The decision of the Movement for Democratic Change opposition not to contest the decisive second round of the presidential election puts intense pressure on Zimbabwe's southern African neighbours, says "Hope" of the civic-activism group Sokwanele.

The International Criminal Court: success or failure?

The global court intended to hold war-crimes perpetrators to account is five years old. Nick Grono of the International Crisis Group assesses its record.

Japan in Africa: a distant partnership

Japan's once-pioneering role in African development is reflected in its hosting of a series of international conferences with African leaders. The latest, however, reveals the gap between rhetoric and reality - and how the China factor is changing perceptions on both sides, says Kweku Ampiah.

South Africa's tipping-point

The wave of attacks against foreigners in South Africa is linked both to local political circumstances and the global credit crunch and food crisis, argue Faten Aggad & Elizabeth Sidiropoulos.

South Africa and Zimbabwe: the end of “quiet diplomacy”?

A shift in South Africa's political mood over the crisis in Zimbabwe may have decisive effects in both countries, says Roger Southall.

(This article was first published on 29 April 2008)

Rwanda: the colour of hope

Rwanda's people, refusing to be trapped in or defined by the 1994 genocide, are writing a new chapter in their history, finds Gerard J DeGroot on a visit to Kigali.

Zimbabwe votes - and waits

People are losing their fear and voting for change even in Robert Mugabe's political strongholds, reports The Zimbabwean.

Kenya: histories of hidden war

The systemic realities of political violence in Kenya need to be dissected if the post-election crisis is to be understood, says Gérard Prunier.

Happy birthday, Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe's president is 83 years old today. Wilf Mbanga, former friend turned exiled editor of "The Zimbabwean", writes to him.

(This article was first published on 21 February 2007)

Kenya’s displaced people: a photo-essay

A month of fear and violence following the disputed presidential election has left tens of thousands of Kenyans homeless, displaced and traumatised. Their desperate need is highlighted in Anna Husarska's images and commentary from the frontline of the International Rescue Committee's relief-work.

Kenya: spaces of hope

The way Kenyan citizens are living out and working through their country's crisis offers insight into how boundaries of ethnicity, clan and class can be overcome, writes the anthropologist Angelique Haugerud.

Kenya: ethnicity, tribe, and state

The key to the post-election crisis in Kenya lies in the changing role of the post-colonial state in relation to the country's ethnic terms of political trade, says John Lonsdale.

South African lessons for Kenya

The unfolding political tragedy in Kenya casts fresh light on the Jacob Zuma "tsunami" and on South Africa's wider political compromise, says Roger Southall.

Kenya: roots of crisis

The post-election violence in Kenya can be explained by reference to the evolution of its ethno-political mosaic since independence, says Gérard Prunier.

A past of power more than tribe in Kenya's turmoil

Kenya is tottering on the precipice as post-election violence rocks different parts of the country, in what the Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai calls “ethnic cleansing.” But were the pogroms prefigured by Kenya’s political elite long before the first ballot was cast?

Thinking positive

It is only by listening to those most affected, that we can bring about real change. Ahead of World Aids Day, Luisa Orza and Jennifer Gatsi Mallet report on a groundbreaking project bringing together parliamentarians and HIV positive women in Namibia.

The preventable pandemic: one woman's story

Faustina Fynn Nyame talks about returning to her native Ghana to campaign for womens' right to safe abortion.  Plus: blogging 16 days

Sudan between war and peace

The north-south settlement is fraying and Darfur's violence is heightening. All roads in Sudan's nightmare lead to Khartoum, says Gérard Prunier.

Islam(s) and politics: post-traumatic states in Algeria

“Mosques have never been so full, nor hearts so empty”. In the painful aftermath of civil war, amid domestic economic and social pressures, Algerians are struggling towards new forms of accommodation between religion and politics, reports James McDougall.

The aid evasion and the "bottom billion"

Aid made the G8 headlines, but it is a sideshow alongside the real-world anti-poverty measures of people in Africa

Africa at the G8 summit: déjà vu?

The global discourse on Africa is stuck in a comfort-zone that ignores the agency of Africans themselves. Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie looks for a new script.

Nigeria and the G8: time for action

The G8 summit leaders should use the presence of a Nigerian president elected by fraud to advance the interests of his country's people, say Christopher Albin-Lackey & Ben Rawlence of Human Rights Watch.

Merkel's G8 - spot the difference

As the 2007 G8 summit approaches, Patricia Daniel sees Angela Merkel at the top and asks, how do women best influence the political agenda - from inside, from outside or through the worldwide web?

Somalia: a failing counter-terrorism strategy

The west’s policy in Somalia is fuelling rather than resolving a devastating conflict, says Tom Porteous.

When Ethiopian troops defeated Somalia's Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Mogadishu last December and January it looked like a cakewalk. But since then the armed opposition to Ethiopia's presence in Somalia - and to their Somali allies - has grown. In April 2007, Mogadishu was hit by the heaviest fighting in fifteen years.

Nigeria: the real democratic test

After a messy, tense and violent election campaign, Nigerians still hope for a peaceful transition of power. Godwin Nnanna, in Lagos, reports.

Chad, the CAR and Darfur: dynamics of conflict

A spreading arc of African conflict is rooted in a toxic mix of colonialism, poverty, oil and political ambition. Gérard Prunier dissects the Chadian crisis.

Ugandan peace: a second chance

The two sides in Africa's 21-year war are talking again. But difficult issues of trust, transparency and transnational justice lie ahead, writes Peter J Quaranto.

The Horn of Africa: a bitter anniversary

Five years after international arbitration over the Eritrea-Ethiopia border, the world remains dangerously indifferent to the still-unresolved issue, says Edward Denison.

Angola: worlds in collision

Luanda’s poor are paying a heavy price for the gleaming condominiums and shopping-malls arising around them, reports Lara Pawson.
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