Andry Rajoelina, President of the High Authority for the Transition, was in a vastly different position from a year earlier. On the one hand, he was struggling to find new sources of revenue. On the other, he had successfully solidified his hold on power while resisting the compromise sought by international mediation efforts. Prime Minister General Albert Camille Vital, remained a deeply controversial figure in the eyes of opposition parties and the international community, but was pivotal in keeping the military in line and creating new opportunities to profit from Madagascar’s natural resources. The peace negotiations among the four living heads of state – Andry Rajoelina, Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka, and Zafy Albert – had failed and Rajoelina’s new challenges were internal. Yet, for the Malagasy people the situation continued to worsen, with poverty figures skyrocketing and humanitarian initiatives disintegrating.

2011 was the worst year in terms of political and economic governance since President Mutharika came to power in 2004. Mass demonstrations and unrest on 20 July resulted in the death of 18 people. Issues of academic freedom also dominated the political scene, which saw the closure of the University of Malawi’s major constituent college for eight months over the interrogation of a political science associate professor by the police. Foreign currency problems and fuel supply shortages reached a climax, with a decrease in revenue from tobacco. Relations with major donors were generally strained. Strikes took place in both the public and private sector.

Rising security threats in the northern regions increasingly preoccupied Malian citizens and international observers. The influx of thousands of well-armed Tuareg soldiers from post-Kadhafi Libya significantly altered the already fragile power balance in the north to the advantage of the Tuareg separatist agenda. Moreover, kidnappings conducted by the al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) extended southwards and a Salafist movement (‘Ansar Aldine’) rapidly gained influence in the Kidal region. Economically, the country was dealt a serious blow by the poor and erratic rainfall, which seriously affected the agricultural sector and led to a doubling of prices for staple foods. By the end of the year, millions of Malians faced severe food insecurity. Regional cooperation slowly increased to combat the shared security challenges. Various donors also augmented their financial assistance, enabling the government to increase socioeconomic and security investment in the northern regions.

In the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’, a new protest movement, ‘Coordination de la Jeunesse du 25 Février’, emerged at the beginning of the year. The previously contested election of President Abdel Aziz in 2009 was regarded as a fait accompli and, instead of regime change, the protesters mainly focused on tangible social issues and constitutional amendments. The government responded by launching a series of social programmes and initiated a national dialogue with the opposition in September. Severe criticism from the opposition concerning lack of information and coordination as regards the election process, as well as serious allegations from minority rights groups concerning the national census, eventually forced the government to postpone the parliamentary and municipal elections. Activities of the terror network al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) constituted a regional destabilising factor and led to an increase in military spending. Despite certain tensions in the mutual relationships with Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, these countries continued military cooperation in accordance with the Tamanrasset agreement of 2010. Joint efforts with the EU to reduce illegal immigration from West Africa continued.

Domestic politics were influenced by allegations of corruption and bribery in the public sector purchase of a geriatric clinic, which was followed by the resignation of the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) ministers in the Ramgoolam cabinet. The country maintained its remarkable developmental record with one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa. International analysis lauded the country’s stability: the Mo Ibrahim Index on African Governance again ranked Mauritius in first place; the World Bank Index of Doing Business placed Mauritius 23rd, ahead of all other African countries. Mauritius continued to struggle relatively successfully against the negative effects of the global economic environment.

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Little happened on the domestic political scene, apart from the notable performance of a new political party. Foreign policy played out mainly at the economic interface, with major foreign interests featuring prominently. Mozambique’s leap to become a major mineral-energy exporter dominated its economic performance. By the end of the decade, the country is expected to be the largest exporter in Africa of natural gas, electricity and high quality metallurgical (coking) coal. But poverty was not reduced during the year and socio-economic disparities remained a major challenge.

Author:

The contest for the up-coming head of state elections emerged as a prominent political feature during the year, which in terms of domestic politics presented no surprises. The results of the 2009 parliamentary elections continued to be contested in a prolonged legal battle. Poverty remained a challenge and the government responded to the high unemployment rate by introducing a new three-year capital investment programme. Despite the lack of visible socioeconomic progress and increased signs of corruption, political stability was maintained. International relations continued to favour new friends over old ties, with the EPA remaining contested and bilateral relations with Germany still tested by memories of the genocide committed more than a century ago.

Presidential and legislative elections concluded a successful return to civilian rule. The new president, long-time opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou, gained a precarious hold on power as it would be difficult to keep all the promises made on the economic front and sections of the military remained unruly. In the summer, there was another coup threat, followed by several arrests. At the start of the year, a kidnapping incident involving two young Frenchmen rocked the capital and underlined the deterioration of security in the Sahelian region, made worse by the violent overthrow of the Kadhafi regime in Libya. A catastrophic harvest further complicated the country’s food security and presaged famine for 2012. General economic prospects for 2012 were boosted by the beginning of oil production and the start-up of a new uranium mine.

The April elections at federal and state levels dominated the political scene and confirmed the incumbent Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as president, giving him a very strong political mandate. An improved election commission conducted the most credible elections yet in Nigeria’s history, despite continuing widespread shortcomings and lapses. However, the country experienced an unprecedented wave of political and sectarian violence, evoking the political turmoil and ethnic violence on the eve of the civil war. Although the political class had demonstrated its willingness and ability to continue to stabilise democratic institutions, it failed to understand the dynamics and structures underlying sectarian violence, suicide bombings and organised crime, so that the president and his government gave the impression of being rather helpless. Furthermore, they continued to ignore the microeconomic level as well as the persistent, grinding poverty in the far north. Thus, the government somehow managed to return to the brinkmanship politics of the past, exacerbating the north-south dichotomy and the nationwide youth violence.