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A Victory for Democracy in Nigeria

Nigeria's President Obasanjo bowed to popular will yesterday and endorsed the legislature’s decision to reject bills that would have made it possible for him to seek a third term. The actions by Nigeria's Senate and House of Representatives, and the president’s wise acquiescence, put to rest fears that Obasanjo might join Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Chad’s Idriss Deby in discarding democracy in favor of a personal stranglehold on power. Praise for the move was nearly universal - both within and outside Nigeria.

Nigerian debt deal: Almost done, if not yet home free

The IMF announced today that it has completed its review of Nigeria’s policy support instrument (PSI). The Fund was laudatory, including a quote from first deputy MD Anne Krueger:

“Looking ahead, the authorities are committed to continue the ambitious macroeconomic and structural policies to entrench macroeconomic stability, strengthen public financial management, and reduce the costs of doing business further”

More bad news for oil transparency in Congo-Brazzaville

According to Reuters, two anti-corruption campaigners have been arrested in Congo-Brazzaville, allegedly for embezzling funds. If true, it is disturbing that people tasked with overseeing fiscal transparency are themselves involved in fraud, and bodes poorly for Congo’s chances of breaking its cycle of wasting public money.

Class Act: The UK Invests in Global Education

Think about the plight of many of the poorest countries in the world: Governments may know that long-term national prosperity depends on getting children into school, teaching them well, and keeping them there until they’ve mastered reading, writing and arithmetic. But the social returns aren’t likely to come for more than a decade, when the six-year-olds of today enter the labor market.

Congo-Brazzaville: Too corrupt for debt relief or too indebted to fight corruption?

After a bitter fight between the World Bank's board of directors and Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, Congo-Brazzaville was allowed to reach decision point in the HIPC program on March 9. The deal was almost held up after reports that Congo’s President Denis Sassou-Ngueso spent $300k at a New York hotel, but this scandal wasn’t enough to convince debt relief diehards that Congo wasn’t perhaps the most worthy recipient

Liberia's President Sirleaf: A true African hero

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf addressed a Joint Session of Congress on March 15th. This is only the second time in the last decade that an African Head of State has addressed Congress – the first being South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. She was superb. The combination of humility, resolve, courage, strength of purpose, and vision, along with great communication skills, made it one of the best speeches I have seen on any topic in a long time.

Millennium Villages: Useful contribution to development or publicity stunt?

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute of Columbia University, spoke yesterday at CGD (video clip available) to describe his Millennium Villages Project. Sachs’s argument is generally that countries like India developed not by ineffectual, small amounts of foreign aid – as he argues the US delivers today – but by creating a Green Revolution. Communities learned to work together, and with fertilizers donated in part by the United States, they became able to feed themselves and eventually to begin developing.

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