Country sovereignty newsitems last month

January 19

FT Arab nations develop plan to end Israel-Hamas war and create Palestinian state

Israel should allow for “irreversible steps” to form an independent state for the Palestinians. The plan would include western nations agreeing to formally recognize a Palestinian state, or supporting the Palestinians being granted full membership of the UN. In turn Saudi Arabia would recognize Israel. https://www.ft.com/content/11890426-0250-4a3c-ba48-d8523924eb9c

FT Minister in Singapore charged with corruption for accepting gifts

It is “a graft accusation in the city-state that prides itself on its reputation for clean governance and transparency.” The charges came about six months after the anti-graft agency arrested the minister and his donor. His donor is not charged. Singapore’s ministers are among the highest paid in the world, earning about S$1mn a year, in part to discourage corruption. The charges come shortly before the ruling party changes leadership ahead of the 2025 election. https://www.ft.com/content/6db108d8-f44c-4fdc-86ee-e70df8c3177f

January 20

FT Charismatic leaders and empty parties are a bad recipe for democracy

The author, a Princeton university professor, in an op-ed argues that today’s problems with democracy neglect the role of a seemingly old-fashioned institution: the political party. We do see issue based parties arise and they can be seen as part of innovation. But often they lack the essential role of political member based parties: provide consistent programs over time, and to restrain a leader when necessary. https://www.ft.com/content/9016754a-317a-4371-b3a1-c25165ca6400

FT Mystery politician in Ghana reveals himself as alternative to the two main parties

On billboards his image was hidden. The person behind it was revealed when he was stopped (as #TheNewForce) to hold a political meeting. The authorities said the location was booked by others. He is a successful businessman who wants to pursue value addition to the resources of the country. His attempt may fail as the existing parties are better financed and organized. Elections are due in December. https://www.ft.com/content/c18ba3a8-3b9c-4653-9856-498f9b0f058f

FT Government disagreements in Israel split into the open

A centrist minister and observer to the country’s war cabinet in a TV interview called for new elections and declined to declare his trust in the PM. This former military leader, whose son was killed in action last month, said that the government should stop “selling fantasies” about the result of the conflict with the opponents of his country. The conflict in which the country is engaged “cannot be solved in a military way alone”. https://www.ft.com/content/e1a54af7-2ee7-416c-af2b-e4af42621556

FT Finance minister of Germany typifies his country as tired, not sick

He said the country needed to improve its productivity through structural reforms to strengthen the supply side of its economy, such as by improving the availability of labor, energy and digital technology. He is afraid to start a subsidy race (with the U.S.A.) and raise taxes. https://www.ft.com/content/f6eb32e6-dd1d-4532-af2a-583b26597b99

NYT Thailand imposes longest-ever sentence for criticizing royalty

An activist received 50 years in prison for sharing TV and film content on social media that violated the country’s law against defaming its monarchy. Many other cases are still in court. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/19/world/asia/thailand-sentence-royalty-defamation.html

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

WEA selects new Youth Commission leader: https://worldea.org/news/25078/wea-selects-new-youth-commission-leader/

January 22

FT Insecurity in the Sahel threatens to spill over to coastal countries

The Accra Initiative, a grouping consisting of Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo, aims to prevent the spillover of violence from the Sahel to the coast. Some places in the north of Ghana are too dangerous to visit. Yet, the director of academic affairs and research at the Accra-based Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, thinks the jihadi’s will not reach for the coast: “It’s lazy scholarship that doesn’t challenge this, and political expediency because it generates a lot of money from Europe.” https://www.ft.com/content/f9c0ca66-8c32-4906-9e22-f2d3fc0e8c67

January 23

FT First mass malaria vaccination campaign begins in Africa

The distribution of nearly 30mn jabs in the coming months marks a milestone. For now 12 countries are involved. In May or June a second type of vaccine will be distributed in 7 countries. In the latter campaign an industry from India is involved, making a bigger scale possible. https://www.ft.com/content/b6f03756-86ab-4912-aad0-9384198673ad

FT In Israel relatives of hostages held by Gaza military group storm parliament committee meeting

Discussion in Israel intensifies how the hostages can be freed and at what cost. https://www.ft.com/content/f59b908f-9d5b-473b-a0c7-9800811aabbf

FT Inauguration of major Hindu shrine turns into nationalism event with PM of India in key role

The giant complex, see also December 29 and January 10, sits on a disputed site. A 16th century mosque was destroyed there decades ago. Hindu’s cherish the site as the birthplace of their God Ram. The 73-year old PM hailed the opening and said that people would be talking about it “for thousands of years”. In the lead-up to the event, the PM had embarked on a nationwide tour of Hindu temples, during which he kept to an ascetic regimen, subsisting on coconut water and sleeping on a blanket on the floor for 11 days. https://www.ft.com/content/77258247-4db0-45d8-acae-5c6644f46c78

FT Japan rethinks business models as world’s fastest ageing society

It runs out of workers. The crisis happens despite the economy doing well or not. One way of tackling the demographic challenge is by introducing artificial appearances, robots and artificial intelligence to the workforce in key sectors. The country is scouting for new technologies all over the world. https://www.ft.com/content/ad850ad2-6752-4ca7-99f6-4b947d0b741e

January 24

FT Landmark genocide case against Israel seen as litmus test for rules based order in the global south

For Palestinians and their supporters, particularly in the “Global South”, the case is a test of the credibility of an international system they have long regarded as stacked against them. Palestinians see Palestine as a case of oppression of them for the past three-quarters of a century. The case will take years but a decision on emergency measures can be expected soon. https://www.ft.com/content/68074594-c625-4f7a-a1b0-6715a7cfc919

FT Nigeria vows to promote democratic ideals

In an interview with the newspaper the foreign minister said: “We should not put more emphasis on the fight against terrorism than strengthening democratic norms”. The new administration wants to reclaim its regional importance. He admitted that the Ecowas role in the Niger coup failed, claiming the mediation involved too many actors. The minister said the country was eager to join the BRICS and deserves a permanent seat in the Security Council, “which should be democratized beyond the five current permanent members”. https://www.ft.com/content/27061214-0c37-4f98-ab44-bbf5423de7d9

FT In China Ministry of State Security pursues more public and political role

It has abandoned its low profile role and advertises itself as fighting “subversion, separatism, terrorism and espionage”. It also took an account at the country’s most active social media platform to highlight interventions. Its political role has grown too. https://www.ft.com/content/f78c7243-2ff5-4f77-93d0-91c20f6b5548

TT 160 nations speak up against Uighur persecution in China

The review is the first since a UN human rights office report from 2022 said the detention of Uighurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region may constitute crimes against humanity. China denies the accusations and praises itself as a country where human rights are cherished. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nation-after-nation-condemns-chinas-persecution-of-uighurs-qmbgzd5tj

January 25

FT Indonesia looks into policy continuity after election of February 10

The constitutional terms of the president end. The17,500 islands nation with 204mn eligible voters was peaceful under his leadership. A ban on exporting raw nickel ore and bauxite forced industries to set up value addition onshore. The new president needs to find 50 percent of the vote. Otherwise there will be runoff in June. The leading candidate in the polls lost against the incumbent twice and has taken up the current president’s son as vice-president. For him the constitutional age limit was skipped (see October 21). https://www.ft.com/content/affa34ec-41ac-4b43-be4d-87ac9f5ae4f9

January 26

FT Nigeria anti-corruption watchdog raids office of richest African industrialist

This happens at the same time as his new oil refinery is to produce, promising a game changer for value addition of domestic resources. An anonymous official of the ruling party said that there must be a powerful hand behind the raid. The industrialist was close to the former president. https://www.ft.com/content/cd6c0dfa-eafc-4ff2-bcb9-772a6a11be5d

FT In Zimbabwe the opposition leader separates from his party

Following the August election where the party won 102 out of 280 votes the party showed internal struggles with a rival party leader taking hold as interim SG, a newly invented position (see December 20). An analyst pointed to infiltration of the opposition by the ruling party. The departed opposition leader now wants to start a new party. https://www.ft.com/content/08aaa76f-e681-4e02-94f4-34c35ee0d164

FT In France constitutional court rejects part of stricter immigration policy of government

The nine-member body consisting of former politicians and civil servants did base itself on procedural grounds, not on unconstitutionality. Among the rejections were stricter rules on family reunification and a yearly debate in parliament about immigration quota. They had been added to win support from the opposition, as the government lacks a majority in parliament. https://www.ft.com/content/1240bc9d-1e6f-4432-ae91-f8752d95be05

FT Government in Poland accuses opposition of coup attempt

The opposition leader has raised the point of legitimacy of the new government and called for a transition period for what he called an emergency situation (see also January 17). Two lawmakers of the now opposition were arrested and claimed to be tortured. https://www.ft.com/content/ee907f12-8670-4a09-8610-62b662d0381b

January 27

FT The IMF is an anchor adrift in a changing world economy

The western countries are over-represented but there are formidable obstacles to reform. The author considers it unlikely that the original nations will adjust to the relative weight of other stakeholders. https://www.ft.com/content/bd95f714-dc1c-4ee0-ba1b-af89c224c9ff

FT Critical industries and the battle for young talent

Sectors from oil and gas to defense face an uphill battle to find skilled staff. Young people are more value-oriented. There is also a communication gap between corporations and the labor market, according to the newspaper in an editorial. https://www.ft.com/content/3a743eee-b862-4e70-87d1-d8fe65ea5661

FT Sri Lanka raises hopes of resolution to $13bn debt stand-off

The bankrupt nation aims for restructuring soon, but private creditors say they have been left ‘in the dark’. A bondholder committee complained of “a significant lack of transparency” from government creditors about details of the terms that they offered Sri Lanka. https://www.ft.com/content/99333d04-7cba-4017-82cc-c98fd395407b

FT South Korean first lady’s $2,000 Dior handbag triggers graft accusations

The scandal sparks a row within the ruling party and criticisms of ‘authoritarian’ conduct ahead of the general election. She received the bag as a gift from a Korean-American pastor. Supporters of the president see him as a graft buster but this image is fading in his own party too. https://www.ft.com/content/0514da85-52f7-497a-b6ff-4fc97932c566

FT Italy’s central bank boss warns EU against ‘weaponizing’ euro

He says Europe should use the power of having a global currency wisely. If this is not done, other currencies will take up its role. https://www.ft.com/content/df4ac551-2668-410e-b8b5-7fda605602f4

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

WEA contributes to World Economic Forum report released at Davos on faith and business: https://www.weforum.org/publications/faith-in-action-religion-and-spirituality-in-the-polycrisis/

January 29

FT Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger quit Ecowas in escalation of tension

The African states accuse the regional block of being a threat to its members and under the influence of foreign powers. https://www.ft.com/content/3e043c84-dc85-43b5-8f84-c2b96b0774e1

FT India tells tech giants to police deepfakes under ‘explicit’ rules

The technology minister says New Delhi has ‘woken up’ early to the dangers of AI-generated content due to the size of its online population and will hold tech companies accountable for AI-generated deep fake content on their platforms through “very clear and explicit rules”. He said his country positions itself between completely market oriented and completely citizen oriented. https://www.ft.com/content/fc600196-f821-4397-92fc-364ed8d2608a

FT Ecuador rushes to raise cash for costly war against drug gangs

The government aims to refinance the national debt and increase VAT to fund operations against traffickers. The tough line has soared the popularity of the president to 80 percent in the polls. https://www.ft.com/content/d12eaa01-c37a-4e62-96c9-4b1e23878268

January 30

FT South Korea’s birth rate has become a national emergency

A professor of Law in Seoul University wrote this op-ed and concludes that the country’s twin expenses of education and housing is putting young couples off having children. This problem is difficult to fix because it is so intertwined with the country’s culture. South Korean society is deeply competitive. The birth rate is at a worldwide record low: 0,72. https://www.ft.com/content/444a637b-9712-475b-8c14-9b147f4ff244

FT Pakistan battles rising terror threat in Afghan border regions

The government blames the rulers in Afghanistan for harboring militants despite supporting the group during the occupation by the U.S.A. Pakistan had hoped that the Afghan rulers would help rein in the militants in Pakistan. https://www.ft.com/content/f739d848-5061-412e-b55a-027502925a64

FT Medical firm refuses to join Ireland’s mother and baby home compensation scheme

The forerunners of the concerned pharma company tested vaccines at notorious institutions for decades. Some 34,000 survivors of the Catholic institutions where tens of thousands of unmarried mothers were closeted for decades are eligible to apply for compensation by the government. The firm claims to support human rights. https://www.ft.com/content/83867376-ec79-4b79-bf48-a626411c6dd8

NYT Ruling party in South Africa suspends former president

After defending the former South African president during a slew of corruption scandals, the country’s powerful ruling party punished him for endorsing an opposition party. The new party bears the name of the apartheid-era armed wing of the ruling party. The current president said the former president’s walk out came as “a total surprise”. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/29/world/africa/south-africa-jacob-zuma-anc.html

January 31

FT Welcome to the era of the non-state actor

It isn’t China or Russia who will dominate the post-American world. If states are not strengthened from within they give way to sub-state, non-state and anti-state forces. Among them “armed groups with a humanitarian cause”. The International Red Cross calculates that some 195mn are under their control. https://www.ft.com/content/16ec4c4c-b5d6-4198-89be-d825f8d2efaf

FT Former PM sentenced to 10 years in prison ahead of Pakistan election

His party says the latest conviction of the popular former cricket star is an attempt to suppress its vote on the February 8 election. The powerful military in the country is seen as behind the development. https://www.ft.com/content/22001ea1-273e-46d7-90d6-18b10327d574

FT In Spain regional leaders amnesty deal falters as separatists revolt

The hardline faction pushing for independence votes against the bill drafted to protect them. They wanted to involve in the amnesty those who are under investigation for terrorism. https://www.ft.com/content/a5b4bfe8-7949-44c6-8826-7580ce428dc3

FT Government in Ukraine prepares to replace top general

His removal would mark the biggest shake-up of military command since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country and comes after the failed counteroffensive. https://www.ft.com/content/aa9aacfc-c248-4550-bf28-d79ad4c553cb

February 1

FT The hidden cost of supermarket salmon in Europe

The fish sold by major retailers in Europe is harming the food security in west Africa. It uses fish oil and whole fish, crucially affecting west African diets. Locals say the price of sardines is soaring, while stocks of related species are on the verge of collapse. https://ig.ft.com/supermarket-salmon/

FT Nigeria devalues the naira in a bid to attract foreign investors

The new policy leaves the official exchange rate close to the black market rate and follows the removal of the fixed currency exchange rate that crippled free capital flow. https://www.ft.com/content/1729aa7c-3f92-4ff7-9310-c79b5e5cdb84

FT El Salvador’s gang inmates will face life in prison, vows president’s deputy

He is running for re-election as vice-president and defends the government’s sweeping crime crackdown. The country declared a state of emergency two years ago and arrests all people suspected of being part of criminal extortion gangs. https://www.ft.com/content/5ae644b9-8c07-40fd-acfb-2018c88db510

FT The UN agency in Gaza is in crisis. Palestinians may pay the price

The organization helping displaced people could shutter operations in weeks after funding was withdrawn over claims that staff members took part in Hamas attack on Israel. https://www.ft.com/content/bd8c3786-496a-41d2-b001-3b67cd7fe020

FT President of Poland asks top court to review the government budget

The new PM had warned against such an ‘irrational’ move that could lead to snap elections. See also January 17 & 26. https://www.ft.com/content/b509333a-0f4e-4689-9b17-e215997c6e66

FT ‘Dexit’ move would destroy Germany’s wealth, says the chancellor

He calls Brexit an ‘economic disaster’ for Britain in strong criticism of the far-right party’s proposal for Germany to leave the EU.  https://www.ft.com/content/14221be9-4daf-41ca-98c2-5459799499fd

TT Young rebels manage to drive back junta forces in Myanmar

Displaying unusual planning, three ethnic armies calling themselves the Brotherhood Alliance carried out coordinated attacks that took control of 150 junta outposts. A ceasefire brokered by the Chinese government has brought a halt to their advances. But according to Myanmar Peace Monitor, an NGO, ethnic armies and PDF groups have taken control of at least 35 towns across the country. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-teenage-rebels-vowing-to-defeat-myanmar-junta-5kqxvxx7f

NYT Court in Thailand rules that reform push for royal defamation law violates the constitution

Critics call the verdict against the attempt to change the law another blatant attempt to block the people’s will. The court sees the proposed law as an attempt to overthrow the monarchy. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/31/world/asia/thailand-move-forward-loses-verdict.html

February 2

FT Former PM taps A.I. and TikTok to fight Pakistan election from jail

He is barred from next week’s vote, but the former prime minister is using chatbots and social media to energize his party’s supporters. A.I. voice generation is used to deliver his speeches from notes passed to his lawyers. Digital rallies are hosted and the chatbot on Facebook provides information about local candidates for the February 8 polls. https://www.ft.com/content/7c3c5827-c965-453c-8bd1-d1312e90669a

FT India government outlines record capital expenditure in final pre-election budget

The government plans to raise infrastructure spending and trim fiscal deficit as it touts an economic record. The fraying opposition will try to attack the government for failing to create more jobs for labor market entrants, despite the economic growth. https://www.ft.com/content/c668f539-1717-4c4b-b4d2-e0096ecef16e

February 3

FT The professor vs the PM: a political funding probe shakes the government in Japan

A campaigning academic exposed a scandal that threatens to topple the government. The law professor was able to spot discrepancies between the reporting of money raised by political organizations linked to ruling party politicians through fundraising parties and the revenue that the groups declared to the authorities. https://www.ft.com/content/24ca6ce5-8415-4523-ab49-7ea86615cf82

FT IMF chief expresses confidence in ‘pragmatic’ government of Argentine despite setbacks

The IMF managing director says she is “satisfied” by the libertarian plans of the government amid a congressional pushback. The official sees a capable economic team installed and said the new president recognized the need for “more social protection” for poorer Argentines. https://www.ft.com/content/79b4e7e2-9b1a-4b1b-8ff6-efc6f1bd960c

FT The ‘cult’ of a president: El Salvador’s bitcoin-loving strongman heads for second term

The millennial incumbent president is polling at 82 percent amid a crackdown on alleged gangsters. Critics say thousands are jailed without clear gang links. The former marketing manager has focused on changing the image of the country as poor and violent with headline-grabbing moves. He is a descendant of Palestinian Christian immigrants who built a textiles company.  https://www.ft.com/content/9ec562bd-4aef-4867-9ff0-3bd3194dca3d

FT The president of Slovakia is under pressure to ditch the plan to close the anti-corruption office

The Eurosceptic PM faces street protests and opposition from the parliament and the EU over his judicial overhaul. The president called the plan “inadmissible”. The president can overturn a decision of parliament but a second vote can undo that decision. https://www.ft.com/content/ffcf64bb-0b28-4514-87b1-d70b8601ae8c

FT Yes or no to PM?’: the looming choice for voters in Israel

The political class is positioning for an early election as the veneer of October 7 unity begins to fade. The PM would benefit from success in Gaza. If that does not happen, elections may be forced, particularly if the fighting in Gaza reduces. https://www.ft.com/content/d5693fc7-7c13-4509-a45d-db14423dfe77

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

The February 2024 issue of Evangelical Review of Theology is available via this link: https://theology.worldea.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/ERT-48-1_web.pdf

February 5

The influence of Iran’s leading moderate leader is waning

The pro-reformist’s absence from the running for the Assembly of Experts highlights the hardliner’s grip on power. https://www.ft.com/content/0dcf0275-a271-442f-b69b-f058b0f6a434

FT Burst pipes and freezing flats plague Russia

Soviet utilities are failing in dire need of investment but the government is focused on defense spending. https://www.ft.com/content/81985842-e20a-4f2a-96b6-69aeddbe5109

FT The government in Argentine clashes with a province over its plans to issue its own currency

The olive-growing region of La Rioja issues a bold challenge to the libertarian central government austerity agenda. https://www.ft.com/content/1258d346-87ca-4c6b-9075-e9e741a51708

February 6

FT Ethiopia food crisis threatens ‘humanitarian catastrophe’

According to a western development minister the crisis has been provoked by drought as well as by a two-year civil war. The head of the federal government’s Disaster Risk Management Commission, said: “The information that the drought has escalated to famine is unfounded and is being propagated by entities with hidden agendas.” https://www.ft.com/content/7f2656fd-1dcd-4f5e-9ea9-5554710899c6

FT A constitutional crisis looms in Senegal after the president delays the election

Opposition groups denounce the ‘constitutional coup’ that jeopardizes democracy in the stable west African country. The delay was announced on Saturday “because of concerns over how the candidates were approved by the Constitutional Council”. Several opposition candidates cannot run as they are imprisoned for “insurrection”. https://www.ft.com/content/68e1959a-91ec-43d8-9b44-9503a46186d6

FT Container cities: Turkey’s earthquake zone one year on

Huge numbers of people still live in temporary shelters despite the pre-election pledge of the president to ‘heal the wounds to a considerable extent’ within 12 months. Engineers and urban planners say that the devastation worsened by lax enforcement of building codes and Turkey’s long history of amnesty programs providing forgiveness for faulty construction. https://www.ft.com/content/8f931f38-7952-44fd-8527-1ef1e402c5e3

FT Government in Poland moves ahead with plans to sack top court judges

The justice minister claims the overhaul is part of Warsaw mending ties with the EU over rule of law. The president (part of the biggest party, now in opposition) can still block a decision of parliament. The reform would then have to wait until presidential elections next year. https://www.ft.com/content/a990c360-e1d1-4554-8444-7c81a0159cc9

FT Russia moves to ban presidential candidate from running against incumbent

The anti-war candidate is in a long-shot bid that has enough supporters ahead of the election in March. The Central Election Commission found a 15 percent error rate in the collected signatures of endorsement. The candidate is going to challenge this. https://www.ft.com/content/54f3ffa0-78a0-4977-968a-78fa66a70e6a

February 7

FT in Italy tensions are flaring over migrant workers

As its population declines and ages, the country is confronting the increased cultural diversity that comes with a dependence on foreign labor. In one town tensions between the mayor and Muslim residents came to a head last year, when the city banned prayers at the local Islamic center that had been held for 20 years. https://www.ft.com/content/45d12b10-1485-4f30-a7c5-1718a11022aa

FT In Thailand the PM clashes with the central bank governor over $14bn handout plan

The stalemate over the move to issue one-off payments to low-income citizens complicates the forecasts for the country’s economic recovery. This e-wallet system has been plagued by questions over how to pay for it and its rollout is delayed. https://www.ft.com/content/4cb030db-32fa-4cae-947a-8905f87d359d

FT In Pakistan political dynasties jockey for power in an election lacking the popular frontrunner

The incoming government will face an economic crisis but lacks a popular mandate for much-needed reforms, analysts warn. Last month, the Supreme Court overturned a lifetime ban on people with criminal convictions from contesting elections, a decision widely seen as paving the way for a former PM to return to power (see January 10). https://www.ft.com/content/6982fea8-e619-4574-b9ea-fda2abcb684c

FT In Senegal the police ejects opposition MPs from parliament after a vote to delay election

The government’s move to postpone the election sparks protests in the capital. The delay bill was introduced by an opposition lawmaker from a party that voted alongside the ruling coalition in the eventual vote. https://www.ft.com/content/e8364da9-90d4-4c2c-86ab-5b2a67b3a4ac

FT In war torn Gaza citizens search in vain for medicines

Cancer, diabetes and heart disease patients are among those facing chronic shortage of treatments. “Like other kinds of humanitarian supplies, medicines do not enter Gaza in sufficient quantities to meet the need,” said the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza. https://www.ft.com/content/1cd7faf1-5850-474c-b3e2-98b25ff00061

TT India prepares to pass uniform civil code overturning sharia law

The draft “uniform civil code” forces Indians of all faiths to subscribe to the same laws on marriage, divorce and inheritance — banning polygamy and giving women and men equal rights to inherit. It is rolled out in a 10 mn citizens state but a federal minister wants to bring it to the federal parliament as “promoting the unity of the country”. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/india-prepares-to-pass-law-overturning-sharia-in-muslim-crackdown-3fxngt3fg

NYT Cult leader in Kenya is charged in the deaths of 191 children

When he preached that the world was about to end, many of his believers starved themselves to death. He has now been charged along with 29 others. The country’s interior minister last week declared the pastor’s church, Good News International Ministries, “an organized criminal group”. The accused was a taxi driver who reinvented himself as an evangelical pastor about two decades ago. The president of the country, an evangelical Christian, compared the episode to “terrorism” and appointed a commission to investigate the deaths. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/06/world/africa/kenyan-cult-leader-charged.html

February 8

FT The U.S.A. should not allow its trade program with Africa to die

In an Op-ed a director of an NGO Africa program argues that the so-called Growth and Opportunity Act should be reimagined and made fit for an era of renewed great power competition. The author proposes to rebrand the program to “Strategic Economic Partnership with Africa” to convey the shift from a quasi-aid instrument to a strategic trade partnership fit for today’s geopolitical realities. https://www.ft.com/content/9a758373-4c5b-40e7-859e-04e5beaa7e4f

FT Zambia raises hopes it will complete its long-delayed debt restructuring

The finance minister says that the dispute over the bondholder deal could be resolved in the first half of the year. Setting a time-line would be imprudent. Creditors complain on the terms offered for relieving their debts. The country works with a company from the gulf to finalize the debt problem. https://www.ft.com/content/6120619e-899c-4262-8580-36778850493c

FT Argentina’s congress deals a setback to the new government’s reform bill

The government withdrew legislation from the lower house’s floor after the opposition lawmakers rejected measures, whereas the week before they agreed to the whole package. The government called that “betrayal”. https://www.ft.com/content/d916ff3e-b9a8-4ce9-b4a8-6de350106863

FT China removes its head of market regulator as it battles a stock meltdown

The securities commission chair is seen as a ‘scapegoat’ for the plunge in share prices in recent months. The senior party official is replaced by an official who made a name for himself cracking down on brokerages. https://www.ft.com/content/d4b5d691-8a45-4545-9b31-86e1bccbe116

FT In the Netherlands rightwing election winner struggles to find coalition partners for government

One of the other parties walked out of the talks after new information emerged about the financial position of the country. https://www.ft.com/content/099f0264-78a9-4fe4-8053-45d055975929

TT Ecuador becomes the second Latin American state to allow euthanasia

The move came as a response to a legal claim of a terminally ill patient that was passed by the constitutional court. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ecuador-becomes-second-latin-american-state-to-allow-euthanasia-wxm3p05ss

February 9

FT West Africa should protect its fisheries from foreign fleets

Responding to a newspaper “Big Read”, see February 1, the Chief Scientist of the NGO Oceana in a letter to the editor advocates for protection of indigenous fishery. This will help rebuild critical fish stocks, protect artisanal fishers and processors, and work towards long-term sustainability of the sector, ensuring livelihoods and nutrition security. https://www.ft.com/content/5ffdf85b-a25d-4ff2-b55e-1af0184c50fc

FT Senegal’s ‘constitutional coup’ is part of a global democratic backsliding

The west African country is missing its election deadline. This has repercussions beyond its borders. The coup was milder than those of neighbors where weak leaders were elbowed aside by soldiers. The author, the newspaper’s Africa editor, concludes that perhaps that makes it even more significant. https://www.ft.com/content/c650b8cb-23b0-43a2-be9f-8243336642ca

FT Turkey central bank chief warns of new short-term price pressures

The official says some of the government’s policies are complicating the task of taming inflation. His predecessor resigned last Friday, blaming a smear campaign against her in the domestic media. https://www.ft.com/content/7200a1a9-f8d9-4161-bdf9-e215b76c4175

FT Ecuador arrests 6,000 people in month-long gang crackdown

The government escalates the ‘internal armed conflict’ as violence continues to roil the Andean country. The president can be compared with his colleague in El Salvador, see February 3, also a millennial and very popular among the population. https://www.ft.com/content/2a61dacb-0ec0-489a-9c12-8adb5b45aec7

FT In Brazil the former president is ordered to surrender his passport in a ‘coup plot’ probe

Three aides to the former president were arrested as the police set out details of an alleged plan to prevent the current administration taking office after the 2022 polls. https://www.ft.com/content/e51a8b98-96e1-4b2f-bdd0-e2439cd8cef4

FT Government in Ukraine dismisses the head of the armed forces

The move follows months of tensions between the president and the top commander. https://www.ft.com/content/b48ddc17-9384-490e-b3c4-a9d2ae2a72db

February 10

FT The incumbent kicks off the pivotal South Africa election campaign

In his State of the Nation address the president promises land for the poor and action on infrastructure ahead of an expected close-fought election. Though the president did not announce the date of the election, the country’s 27.5mn registered voters could head to the polls as early as May or as late as August. An opposition politician called the announced plans “a work of fiction”. https://www.ft.com/content/cc950b43-fbb5-4e84-8506-210b1ffd6665

FT Senegal cast into turmoil by  a ‘shockwave’ constitutional crisis

One of Africa’s most stable democracies reels after the election postponement to replace the president who served his maximum terms. With the opposition favorite in jail the president reiterated his “solemn commitment” he would not stand again. On the streets there were riots, while parliament voted to delay the election until December. https://www.ft.com/content/a6ca92be-52a1-4f2e-aae3-a1f748ec5294

FT Ivory Coast’s football ‘Zombies’ eye an improbable Afcon victory

The team of the host country overcame the odds to take their place alongside Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations final. The Afcon tournament, which cost an estimated $1bn to organize, has been a celebration of African football at its most dynamic, with a new record for goals scored in the competition’s history. https://www.ft.com/content/3939399b-ca6a-41f4-8253-ccf0a28b288e

FT Loyalists of the jailed former president win a shock victory in the Pakistan election

The so-called independents from the jailed former PM’s party will be the largest group in parliament but will struggle to form a government . They defied a military-backed campaign of arrests and harassment to mount an unexpected bid for power in the country of 240mn. They won 97 seats, compared to 66 seats for the party of the competing presidential candidate and 51 seats for the party of an assassinated former PM. https://www.ft.com/content/35a6dd5b-2924-40ad-a650-004ec6379e00

NYT A friar became the Vatican’s go-to guy on A.I.

He advises the Roman Catholic Church on the tricky questions, moral and otherwise, raised by the rapidly advancing technology. At a conference organized by the ancient Knights of Malta order, an observer to the UN, the ethics professor told a crowd of ambassadors that “global governance is needed, otherwise a social collapse is risked ”. He does not believe in the industry’s ability to self-regulate and thinks some rules of the road are required in a world where deep fakes and disinformation can erode democracy. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/09/world/europe/italy-artificial-intelligence-ethics.html

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

The International Institute for Religious Freedom launches the Violent Incidents Database. https://iirf.global/news/the-iirf-launches-the-violent-incidents-database/

February 12

FT Greece set to defy the Orthodox tradition and legalize gay marriage

The law backed by the center-right government will formalize same-sex unions and parenthood. The government needs the support of the opposition since part of the ruling party is against the new law. And so is the Orthodox church to which 80 percent of the Greeks belong. The church decided to abandon the protest plans as it “did not want to divide the country”. https://www.ft.com/content/6fddfacf-5eca-4a5c-95fb-b49f08d3ceb2

FT Outgoing president in Indonesia still rises high in approval ratings

After a decade of stability in a country not known for it, his performance will be a hard act to follow. He could have run his terms on his populist features, like his modest youth, but he chose to focus on the country’s unity. https://www.ft.com/content/1e1179f6-1977-4b01-82a2-4ea32b3393ae

FT Pakistan plunges into power vacuum after former PM defies election odds from jail

The success for the former PM’s supporters standing as independents as their party was banned, deals a blow to the military establishment and heralds more instability for the nuclear power in financial trouble. It is said that the election result represents a rare repudiation of the powerful army’s long-running manipulation of elections. The other parties swiftly began coalition talks. https://www.ft.com/content/4b38857e-ffcd-46fe-aa90-6c4b3551fda4

FT In the U.S.A. gambling city Las Vegas diversifies itself as a sports arena

Back in 1970 the city decided otherwise but now it is pushing to expand the economy into higher-productivity sectors. The recent Super Bowl and attending girlfriend of a player, also an entertainment superstar, pushed publicity to the highest levels. https://www.ft.com/content/566bbcd8-4f94-42f4-9b40-1ccaef37fd39

February 13

FT Is football in Brazil the next frontier in global sport?

The country is unrivalled as a talent factory, but its clubs are barely known overseas. International investors hope a new league could change that. It would include a new league modelled on English football and is aimed at tapping the potential of sport as a peaceful and profitable activity. https://www.ft.com/content/eea1962a-ae17-4d92-9fe8-d5407c17f2a6

FT Anatomy of a coup plot: how Brazil’s former president tried to cling to power

The police say the far-right former leader and his allies had a detailed scheme to prevent his successor from taking office. After his competitor won the vote in October 2022, the plot fizzled out because the outgoing president feared that he did not have enough support from the army. https://www.ft.com/content/97582a42-cad7-467a-8f52-9b02d6d5dc16

FT How low will rates go? The hunt for the elusive ‘neutral’ level

Economists debate whether the real interest rate seen as key to balancing economies has risen from the pre-Covid lows. The so-called neutral rate, defined as keeping economies growing steadily, with full employment and inflation around 2 per cent, is not a holy grail. In the past decade it was influenced by productivity growth, savings and in the west ageing population. https://www.ft.com/content/e0f27da0-b735-4b73-b5a9-06dbc186842f

FT Finland elects a new president

“This is the greatest honor of my life,” he said as he declared victory. “We are facing a new era in foreign policy where rules are being challenged, and there is a war next door.” https://www.ft.com/content/ce3aa2f8-c77a-4a0a-8f22-9113ffbe4608

February 14

FT From banned general to dancing grandpa: how Indonesia’s favorite to lead the election emerged

The support from his popular predecessor has lifted the 72-year-old, once barred from the U.S.A. over human rights concerns. Polls indicate he may win without a runoff among the more than 204 Mn citizens eligible to vote, about half of them younger than 40. He is the son-in-law of a past dictator and ran a soft campaign focusing on the young. He took the 36 year old son of the incumbent as running mate, see also January 25. https://www.ft.com/content/0e365a05-e87e-4cd1-a2b9-09e843e9403a

TT Farmers tear gassed by drones in fight to reach capital of India

The police and paramilitaries have ringed the city with concrete to prevent a siege by the protesters. The protests are a repeat of action in 2020 and 2021 against agricultural reforms, when farmers camped on the city’s borders for a year, to demand, among other things, that the government set a minimum price for their crops. The government promised to repeal planned reforms, but did not keep this promise. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/delhi-behind-barricades-as-farmers-march-on-capital-again-fwnpdvkqt

NYT Its forces depleted, Myanmar junta says it will enforce a military draft

Three years after it took power in a coup, the regime appears to be on the defensive. The shadow civilian government, the National Unity Government, headed by ethnic leaders and ousted elected officials, says that its forces have seized hundreds of military outposts and 41 cities and towns in upper Myanmar since late October. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/13/world/asia/myanmar-junta-military-draft.html

February 15

FT India opposition alliance (INDIA) fractures as support for incumbent soars

The coalition seeking to unseat the successful PM is hit by infighting, defections and arrests. While the ruling party aims at a “super majority” in the next election, the opposition complains that the government weaponizes the judiciary. Lack of unity is a sure threat to the opposition. https://www.ft.com/content/890aec31-fa87-405c-a5d4-d9f10687dac8

FT Ghana replaces finance minister who negotiated $3bn IMF bailout

The dismissal is seen as the ruling party’s attempt to draw a line under the economic debacle. It is linked to the election of December. Protesters focus on the economic problems. Inflation is on the rise. https://www.ft.com/content/34ce1229-94d4-44ef-a4d0-d491e67fbb56

NYT Opponents of jailed former PM in Pakistan reach a deal to shut his allies out of government

After days of wrangling, two parties run by political dynasties joined forces and will nominate a formerly acquitted PM to be the country’s PM. In a stunning upset, candidates allied with the jailed former PM routed the two longstanding major parties, defying a months long military crackdown on their own party and delivering a sharp rebuke to the country’s military. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/14/world/asia/pakistan-election-coalition-government.html

February 16

FT Supreme Court in India strikes down fundraising scheme in a blow to the government

The envisioned electoral bonds could lead to ‘quid pro quo’ relationships between donors and politicians, according to the top court. The court decision struck down the country’s main legal mechanism for corporate and individual donations to political parties, introduced in 2017 to fight corruption. Opposition politicians and an NGO had petitioned the ruling. https://www.ft.com/content/cbc04ebd-2faf-48f2-917f-1e5a2bb64dd8

FT What the presidential election win in Indonesia means

The former general is expected to adopt a more populist stance than his predecessor, Analysts said the relationship with the incumbent — former electoral foes turned allies — would be critical for the direction of the incoming administration. https://www.ft.com/content/77c92c62-68a1-48b0-9c8b-73ba85e56f74

February 17

FT Pakistan’s old guard confronts shock upset to jailed PM in Punjab heartland

The surge for the jailed former PM’s candidates in the traditional base for dynastic parties could weaken the incoming ruling coalition of minorities. https://www.ft.com/content/74e278ac-8a4c-4c10-a899-7a16d38f38de

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

WEA contributed to the Global 2033 International Leaders’ Summit in Poland: https://worldea.org/news/25523/global-2033-international-leaders-summit-in-krakow-poland/

February 19

FT Citizens in Russia risk arrest to mourn death in custody of opposition leader

The small, unsanctioned Moscow gathering was just one of the many spontaneous vigils for the opposition leader that sprung up in hundreds of cities over the weekend. Across Russia, more than 340 people had been arrested at memorials in the 24 hours following the news of the death. In St Petersburg an Orthodox priest was detained after he announced he would hold a memorial service for the deceased. https://www.ft.com/content/236e5702-5fff-4bf8-aa00-aadf91e36bf9

FT South Africa central bank chief signals caution on rate cuts

The banker says inflation still poses a risk, even as other emerging markets start to loosen policy. “The growth challenges that South Africa is facing have nothing to do with the demand side but instead reflect supply-side and structural problems”, he said. https://www.ft.com/content/b9e4e476-80a5-4334-b986-234dc53a3766

FT Inside the divisive campaign of the new government to restore democracy in Poland

The PM is using an ‘iron broom’ to sweep aside the influence of the previous government, but critics question whether he is going too far. The change of administration has become a case study for how a newly elected administration can restore the norms and institutions that got reshaped or erased by the previous government. The new PM claimed a moral victory as soon as he saw the exit poll, closing the door on any kind of reconciliation and dealmaking. https://www.ft.com/content/e3b10baf-c508-4af1-ad25-8188cf60b174

February 20

FT The wife of Haiti’s assassinated president is accused in his killing

The widow was charged by a Haitian judge with conspiring in his assassination. She was seriously injured in the attack. The 122 page indictment states that she and other accomplices gave statements that were contradicted by other witnesses, suggesting that they were complicit in the killing. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/19/world/americas/haiti-assassinated-president-wife-accused.html

FT Can the Olympics rejuvenate one of the poorest corners of France?

The authorities hope an Olympic Village can transform a Paris suburb known for poverty, crime and violent riots. “The issue is how do you transform no-go zones into welcome zones,” said the Socialist mayor. There is heavy investment in the area to accommodate the games. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/20/world/europe/france-olympics-paris-st-denis-poverty-immigrants.html

February 21

FT Scale of crisis created by Sudan’s ‘hidden’ war alarms refugee chief

The internal conflict has been largely ignored due to the Ukraine and Gaza wars, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council chief: “This is mind-boggling if you believe in human civilization and progress. Those who wage war do not lack resources.” The head of OCHA, the UN humanitarian arm, recently told the FT that: “Sudan is probably the place of the greatest suffering” in the world because of what he called a “hidden war”. https://www.ft.com/content/d06c3638-c1d9-45e2-8661-16f0e4100ef0

FT Widow of opposition leader takes on the struggle against the government of Russia

After two decades of shunning the limelight, the widow becomes the face of her late husband’s activist movement. In a video she stated: “I was by his side all these years: elections, protests, house arrest, searches, detention, prison, poisoning, protests again, arrest again and prison again.” https://www.ft.com/content/3810f09d-2a21-4bc4-84a7-7bfde547a2a1

February 23

FT South Africa to tap $8bn from foreign currency account to pay down debts

The move comes ahead of a general election as the ruling party seeks to quell unease at its handling of the economy. The government heads into general elections on May 29 with public finances strained by weak growth and a shortfall in revenue due to the impact of rolling blackouts and blockages at South African ports. https://www.ft.com/content/e1df3bc2-f6ef-4169-a396-5ad926fdf3b5

FT Pirates in Somalia and West Africa are targeting ships diverted from the Red Sea, warns the UN shipping chief

The maritime body fears resurgence of vessel seizures in the Gulf of Guinea and off the Somali coast after fresh piracy incidents. “We don’t have the capability to provide security ourselves,” the CEO of the IMO said. “We’re reliant on support from member states.” https://www.ft.com/content/a4abcbac-a608-4450-908b-a8d903c8d884

FT How Pakistan’s economy fell into crisis

High debt, low growth and raging inflation will challenge a new government lacking a public mandate, as was demonstrated in the election. The newspaper reveals a detailed economic oversight. https://www.ft.com/content/fbdf57c2-cce4-4c35-827a-1528899f5fb7

February 24

FT The troubling decline in the global fertility rate

The newspaper dedicates an editorial to this issue. Developed economies need to be better prepared for a drop in younger workers. But by the end of this century almost every country in the world could have a shrinking population. All this despite people getting much older. Immigration could be a solution, but the politics of it remains difficult. And it is only a short-term option to propping up workforces with developing countries set to age too. https://www.ft.com/content/008a1341-1882-4b98-83d4-0d7dc08a4134

FT Senegal leader vows to step down at end of his term in April

The president aims to set a date for the election next week after his decision to delay the poll sparked a constitutional crisis (see February 10). In a televised interview late on Thursday, the president vowed to leave office at the end of his second term on April 2. Earlier parliament voted to extend his term until December 15, but the constitutional council last week declared the decision making unlawful. https://www.ft.com/content/e50b07be-a835-4251-9e76-4b9d074a1ad8

TT Who owns the moon? Lawyers are getting nervous

The landing of the private spacecraft Odysseus this week highlights a vacuum in humanity’s lunar rules. “Anything goes on the moon for peaceful exploration right now,” said one space law expert. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, negotiated by the United Nations, requires its 114 signatories to show due regard to one another and exercise responsibility in space. The expert said the treaty contained “so many gaps”. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/who-owns-the-moon-lawyers-are-getting-nervous-h8h32l2nv

NYT Africa’s donkeys are coveted by China. Can the continent protect them?

Governments are seeking to curb donkey skin exports to China, where demand for traditional medicine and other products is threatening animals that rural households in Africa need. For years, Chinese companies and their contractors have been slaughtering millions of donkeys across Africa, coveting gelatin from the animals’ hides that is processed into traditional medicines, popular sweets and beauty products in China. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/23/world/africa/africa-donkey-china.html

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

The WEA children network will gather from the 29th in Thailand: https://www.christiandaily.com/asia/forum-to-address-key-issues-provide-hope-amid-global-crises.html

FT = Financial Times, TT = The Times, NYT = New York Times. Nearly all Africa related items in the FT and all religious life oriented items are included. Original articles may be editorials, news reports or blogs. The focus is on (potentially) enduring trends in statehood, valuable for SDG16. We comply with all copyright rules (see also Copyright Policy | Help Centre (ft.com)) and encourage all readers to read the full text.