Africa in the News: Goodluck Jonathan to Run in 2015, Oil Prices Drop, and Burkina Faso Plans for Transition

Goodluck Jonathan Launches Re-election Bid Amid Criticism and Security Concerns

At a massive rally in Abuja on Tuesday, President Goodluck Jonathan formally announced his intention to run for re-election in February 2015. Jonathan is largely considered to be the top contender for the presidency despite public criticism over his handling of the Boko Haram counterinsurgency and the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls in April. In fact, this past week Nigeria suffered more attacks, including a suicide bombing at a school in Potiskum that killed 47 students, and another in Kano that killed six people. Nigerian Ambassador to the United States Adebowale Adefuye recently slated the U.S. for refusing to supply Nigeria with the weapons the army needs to combat Boko Haram. U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki rejected his criticisms, arguing that the U.S. has in fact done “a great deal” and has “provided and approved sales of military equipment to its armed forces.” She also noted that the U.S. has concerns that the Nigerian army has, in some cases, waged indiscriminate attacks resulting in the deaths of civilians.

African Oil Sector Reconsiders Priorities

As oil prices dropped to a four-year low this week, Africa-focused oil firms are re-evaluating their strategies and priorities for the region. According to the Financial Times, “collapsing share prices, lower oil prices, and exploration setbacks” are forcing some oil companies to rethink their cost structures and shift their operations from exploration (the current focus of the African oil industry) to development and production.

For example, London-based firm Tullow Oil announced on Wednesday that it cut next year’s spending on exploration (except for onshore drilling projects in Kenya and Uganda) and instead will be focusing on developing its major oil fields in West Africa. Meanwhile, declining share prices have prompted some investors, including ONGC Videsh, India’s state-owned oil group, to express interest in acquiring stakes in Tullow Oil’s assets, although Tullow Oil has not publically commented on selling its shares.

Burkina Faso Plans for Civilian Interim Government

On Thursday, after nearly two weeks of negotiations following the popular uprising and President Blaise Compaoré’s resignation, political, military and civil society leaders in Burkina Faso agreed upon a framework for re-establishing civilian rule. According to the charter endorsed by the group, a select assembly of leaders from the political, military, religious and civil society spheres will appoint an interim president, who, in turn, will identify a prime minister. The prime minister will be in charge of forming a 25-member cabinet. A 90-member transitional council, which will serve as a temporary legislative body, will also be created. Issac Zida, who was appointed interim leader by the military after Compaoré’s departure from office, stated that he will sign the charter into effect and is prepared to transfer authority to a civilian transitional leader in the next few days.