The Top 10 African Leaders to Watch in 2010
We believe 2010 will prove critical for Africa in many ways. Elections are scheduled in highly volatile Sudan, Guinea and Madagascar; Niger Delta militancy threatens to tear Nigeria apart; and the delayed effects of the global financial crisis continue to unsettle the economies of several countries. This free listing features African leaders whose performance could very well determine whether or not the continent passes these and other tests in 2010.
The following is a brief summary of each listing in no particular order.
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- President Umaru Yar’Adua of Nigeria: Since the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) exploded onto the scene in 2006, Nigeria’s oil output has been slashed by an estimated 20 percent, with each major attack and mere threat stalling the country’s economic engines and unsettling global oil prices. Will President Yar’Adua fulfill election promises to curb this growing threat to Nigeria’s stability?
- President Jacob Zuma of South Africa: Upon his election in 2009, Mr. Zuma inherited an African National Congress (ANC) plagued with internal squabbles and slowly losing its invincibility in South African politics. Can Mr. Zuma keep the ANC’s troubles from unsettling South Africa’s fragile economy?
- President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa): Since coming to power in 2006, Mr. Kabila has sought to rebuild a country that witnessed the deadliest war since World War II and the largest in modern African history. In 2010, the 38-year-old Mr. Kabila must prove he has developed the political maturity to handle fresh threats to his country’s tenuous post-war stability.
- President John Atta Mills of Ghana: Whether or not Ghana dodges the natural resource curse that often plagues other African oil and gas producers will depend largely on the foundations that Mr. Mills builds in 2010.
- President Ian Khama of Botswana: The global financial crisis depressed diamond prices and unsettled Botswana’s diamond-reliant economy. Will President Khama use today’s lesson as the necessary political springboard from which to kick-start his country plans to diversify away from the diamond mining sector?
- The Coalition of President Mwai Kibaki and PM Raila Odinga in Kenya: After weeks of post-election violence resulting in more than 1500 killed, these two seemingly incompatible rivals agreed to a power sharing peace agreement in February 2008. Events in 2010 will likely determine whether or not this unnatural union between foes works.
- President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia: Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf’s once impervious popularity took an embarrassing hit in June 2009 when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission she set-up to investigate Liberia’s civil wars called for her to be banned from holding public office for 30 years for allegedly supporting Charles Taylor. Can she survive the scandal? Liberia’s fragile post-war stability may very well depend on her doing so.
- Dr. Donald Kaberuka of the African Development Bank (AfDB): The global financial crisis erupted in 2007/2008, threatening to undo a decade of substantial growth in Africa. Will Dr. Kaberuka’s infrastructure-building plan save the day?
- Gamal Mubarak of Egypt: For the last decade, persistent international and local speculation has been that long-serving Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who will turn 82 in May 2010, has been grooming his younger son Gamal Mubarak for succession to the presidency. Will 2010 bring Gamal’s unveiling?
- The African Union Chairperson: The AU faces many challenges in 2010, including unresolved political crises in Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, Sudan, Madagascar and Guinea, with highly likely disruptive elections scheduled in the latter three. The 2010 AU chairperson will be inheriting arguably the fullest slate of challenges ever presented to an incoming chairperson.
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