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Central Africa | People to watch in 2019

Posted on Thursday, 31 January 2019 16:16

CAMEROON | Maurice Kamto
Self-proclaimed president

The opposition’s most popular candidate in the October 2018 presidential election intends to keep the pressure up on President Paul Biya in 2019. Maurice Kamto’s young Mouvement pour la Renaissance du Cameroun (MRC) claimed that Kamto won and that the election was fraudulent, but the Conseil Constitutionnel rejected all challenges to the outcome. The MRC launched protests in the hopes of maintaining its grassroots mobilisation for legislative and municipal elections in 2019. Having negotiated the handover of the Bakassi Peninsula from Nigeria, Kamto is a talented lawyer laying the groundwork for the opposition to be a force in the succession battle.

By Reinnier Kaze
Photo: Jacques Torregano for JA

Talent, energy and ambition

One of the best singers from the formidable Koffi Olomide stable, which is saying something, Deplick Pomba Nuance went on to perform with Werrason’s immensely popular Wenge Musica Maison Mère. Deplick went solo in 2014, releasing his first album, Ouverture, in 2016. This year Deplick released Bundesliga, underlining his love of the beautiful game. Lovers of older style Congolese rumba may lament the absence of poetry, blistering guitar solos or any hint of political consciousness, but Deplick’s singing is beautiful, the arrangements are strong and Deplick has the energy and ambition to keep honing and improving his sound.

By Greg Mthembu Salter
Photo: Deplick Pomba Nuance / Facebook

CHAD | Succès Masra
From the bank to the ballot box

The former senior economist has left behind the stodgy offices of the African Development Bank in Abidjan for the cut-throat world of Chadian politics. Succès Masra quit his job at the bank in early 2018 to launch his Les Transformateurs party. As a sign that he is being taken seriously as an opposition mobiliser, he was received for a visit by the French foreign ministry in October to talk about President Idriss Déby’s efforts to weaken the opposition. Masra tells sister magazine Jeune Afrique that most of Chad’s problems could be fixed with “political will and good governance”.

By Marshall Van Valen
Photo: Francois Grivelet for JA

Thorn in Touadéra’s side

Troubled President Faustin-Archange Touadéra and his allies rallied to sack the national assembly president in October, but it may not be Abdou Karim Meckassoua’s last act in politics. Amidst sectarian violence that has divided the country for years, Meckassoua was the first Muslim in CAR to lead the national assembly before falling out with Touadéra amid claims that he was preparing a coup. He is often now seen travelling with Nimery Matar Djamous, the wanted head of a Muslim vigilante group in the capital.

By Hippolyte Donnossio
Photo: Charles Bouessel /AFP

GABON | Brice Laccruche Alihanga
Bongo Ondimba’s trusted ally

With President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s recent health crisis and potentially long recovery period, cabinet director Brice Laccruche Alihanga is in part responsible for keeping the Gabonese ship of state afloat. Alihanga replaced Maixent Accrombessi – a popular target of opposition ire – in 2017 and has since helped to push through the tough reforms that the oil-based economy needs, and the International Monetary Fund demands. Alihanga, a 37-year-old former banker, is also now the ruling party’s chief auditor.

By Marshall Van Valen
Photo: David Ignaszewski for JA

REPUBLIC OF CONGO | Denis-Christel Sassou Nguesso
Heir in waiting

The son of President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who is a member of parliament and senior official of the state oil company, is crafting a narrative that he would be the most natural successor for his father. Denis-Christel is charting a middle path between radical reforms and maintaining the political status quo. The opposition might not be the biggest worry in terms of blocking a familial succession, as members of the ruling party are likely to be some of his fiercest opponents.

By Marshall Van Valen
Photo: Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso/FACEBOOK

This article first appeared in December-January 2019 print edition of The Africa Report

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