All talk but no peace: South Sudan’s stumbling talks

Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (L) exchanges signed documents with rebel leader Riek Machar (AFP)
South Sudan President Salva Kiir (L) exchanges signed documents with rebel leader Riek Machar (AFP)

After 13 months of fighting and six failed ceasefires, diplomats are being forced to accept that any deal to end the war in South Sudan will, at best, result in a return to the status quo that precipitated the carnage in the first place.

 The latest peace proposal drafted this week in Addis Ababa by regional bloc IGAD and seen by AFP leaves Salva Kiir as president and re-installs rebel leader Riek Machar as his deputy, a position he held until July 2013 when his sacking planted the seed of a war that erupted five months later.

Hopes of formulating a comprehensive peace deal that addresses South Sudan’s underlying problems and tribal divisions have faded. “That moment has passed,” a European diplomat involved in the talks said. Continue reading All talk but no peace: South Sudan’s stumbling talks

Wrecked city picks up the pieces as tide of war turns

The Times of London
Baidoa, Somalia

Beneath a shady tree in the courtyard of a shattered government villa, dozens of old men have gathered to talk about the liberation of their city.

“For three years al-Shabaab colonised us,” said Maalim Ali Barre, a clan elder. “Now we’re free.” Continue reading Wrecked city picks up the pieces as tide of war turns

‘We have no problems with the Ethiopians, they bring peace’

The Times of London
Doolow, Somalia

Ethiopian troops are not supposed to be in this broiling Somali border town, but they are.

The official message from Addis Ababa and Mogadishu is that there are no Ethiopian troops in Somalia, but Doolow tells a different story. Continue reading ‘We have no problems with the Ethiopians, they bring peace’

Ethio jazz fuses the Western and Eastern music traditions

The Times of London
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Mulatu Astatke is bringing his brand of jazz to the Barbican in London
Mulatu Astatke is bringing his brand of jazz to the Barbican in London

On Thursdays, the dim-lit lobby bar at the Jupiter Hotel is packed with music fans knocking back bottles of St George Beer and tumblers of Johnnie Walker to the sounds of The Four Star Band.

Almost any night of the week bars and clubs across the capital are host to live bands playing “Ethio jazz”, a fusion of Western and Ethiopian musical traditions that is enjoying a surge in popularity at home and abroad. Continue reading Ethio jazz fuses the Western and Eastern music traditions

War clouds gather as nations demand a piece of the Nile

The Times of London
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Nairobi, Kenya

A girl from a Cairo slum carries water from the Nile (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)
A girl from a Cairo slum carries water from the Nile (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

Without the Nile, Egypt would be a scarcely habitable desert, Sudan a parched wilderness. The world’s longest river flows for more than 4,000 miles through northeast Africa; it irrigates farmland, provides water for drinking and sanitation and drives hydroelectric power stations.

The Nile supplies almost all of Egypt’s fresh water and three quarters of Sudan’s. Both countries claim historic rights over it but neither controls its sources. For thousands of years Egypt has jealously defended its right to use the Nile’s waters as it pleases.

Now, amid warnings of conflict and crop failure, the balance of power is starting to change as other countries make new claims on the water. Continue reading War clouds gather as nations demand a piece of the Nile

Opposition allege vote rigging as Ethiopian election gets underway

The Times of London
Mojo, Ethiopia

Ethiopians queue to cast their ballot in Mojo (Jerome Delay/AP)
Ethiopians queue to cast their ballot in Mojo (Jerome Delay/AP)

Soon after polling stations opened at 6am dozens of voters queued patiently in the morning light outside a school administration building in the crossroads town of Mojo, central Ethiopia.

Here and elsewhere in Africa’s second most populous country yesterday’s election got off to a calm and well-organised start, but opposition groups were quick to allege intimidation and irregularities.

Continue reading Opposition allege vote rigging as Ethiopian election gets underway