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AFRICA MACRO

MAJOR TRENDS IN AFRICA Political Developments The Arab Spring

The Arab Spring began in Tunisia, a North African country. It was there that the smoldering anger, discontent and frustration that had been building in the Arab world for many years came to a boiling point. A revolution was precipitated by the self-immolation of a 26-year old street vendor who set himself afire on December 17, 2010 to protest the confiscation of his unlicensed vegetable cart and the failure of municipal officials to listen to his complaints. Public outrage swept through the country following his death. Although the government promised reforms it also tried to contain the uprising by arresting protesters and using force to disperse demonstrators. But the people would not be cowed and they continued to protest for a more liberal political order and an end to corruption. On January 4, 2011, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali agreed to step down after 23 years in power. He fled to Saudi Arabia with much of his ill gotten fortune derived from running the country as if it was his own personal fiefdom. The departure of President Ben Ali was the spark that lit a fire throughout the Arab world as people saw they were not completely helpless and could implement change. Protests began to sweep the Arab world with demonstrations occurring in Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Oman and Egypt where it took just a month to end the thirty year reign of Hosni Mubarak on January 14, 2011. In an astonishing development, he is now standing trial for the premeditated killings of peaceful protestors during the revolution. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. The long serving eccentric mercurial tyrant Muammar alQaddafi of Libya has also been deposed after almost 42 years of iron fisted dictatorial rule that suppressed civil liberties and killed dissenters. He was killed after being captured by rebel forces on October 20 near his hometown of Sirte. His death brought an end to seven months of bloody fighting which began with an uprising in the eastern part of the country. NATO bombing was crucial to the victory of the rebels. Without its intervention, they would have probably been unable to prevail and a bloody stalemate would have likely ensued. The toppling of the regimes that monopolized power in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya may prove to be the easiest part of the efforts to establish a free society. A democracy has to be built from scratch in countries that have no tradition of democracy and it has to be accomplished at a time when the economy is very weak. The Economist Intelligence Uni (EIU) has estimated the Libyan economy will decline by 28.2% this year because of the disruption caused by the civil war and the Joab’s Technologies and Research, Natu Court Flat B.

POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

deep plunge in oil production. The IMF has predicted Egypt will expand by only 1.2% this year and Tunisia will experience no growth. For many people who participated in the revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, the transition to democracy has been painstakingly slow, hesitant and disappointing. Great expectations that had been built up are now being dashed by the reality of the difficulty of building a civil society, writing a constitution, organizing elections and forming political parties.

In Egypt, the army took command following the ousting of Mubarak and pledged to quickly turn power over to the people. However, they are backtracking on that promise. An October 15 New York Times article noted, “Egypt’s military rulers are moving to assert and extend their own power so broadly that a growing number of lawyers and activists are questioning their willingness to ultimately submit to civilian authority. Two members of the military council that took power after the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak said for the first time in interviews this week that they planned to retain full control of the Egyptian government even after the election of a new Parliament begins in November. The legislature will remain in a subordinate role similar to Mr. Mubarak’s former Parliament, they said, with the military council appointing the prime minister and cabinet. ‘We will keep the power until we have a president’, Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Hegazy said. The military had pledged in formal communiqués last March to hold the presidential election by September. But the generals now say that will come only after the election of a Parliament, the formation of a constitutional assembly and the ratification of a new constitution — a process that could stretch into 2013 or longer.” The military’s decision to keep its grip on power and reinstate emergency laws to contain protests has angered the public who see the hard won achievements of the revolution slipping away. Most alarming has been the increased tensions between the minority Coptic Christian community (about 8% of Page 44 of 104

Equity Research in Africa, Like an Electric Train Africa is picking up, a True Emerging Market  

Economic analysis of Africa as a whole, as well as of particular countries and sectors, with special regard to their potential as investment...

Equity Research in Africa, Like an Electric Train Africa is picking up, a True Emerging Market  

Economic analysis of Africa as a whole, as well as of particular countries and sectors, with special regard to their potential as investment...

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