African governments are nervously confronting a mounting wave of often deadly social unrest caused by the soaring cost of food and fuel. Forty people died during price riots in Cameroon in February. There also have been deadly troubles in Côte d'Ivoire and Mauritania and other violent demonstrations in Senegal and Burkina Faso -- where a nationwide strike against price rises is to start on Tuesday.
Mali's opposition vowed on Tuesday to challenge a weekend election that appears to have handed a new five-year mandate to incumbent President Amadou Toumani Touré. ''We will take appeal to the Constitutional Court to have the cancellation and rerun of this election,'' said one opposition candidate.
Malians went to the polls on Sunday in presidential elections expected to hand the incumbent a second five-year term and boost the West African country's democratic credentials. Amadou Toumani Touré, a former coup leader who won democratic acclaim, is seeking a new term as an independent candidate.
Guinea's military ordered the country to go back to work as it removed barricades from the streets on Sunday following the lifting of martial law. Guinea's usually obedient Parliament dealt a blow to the president when it voted unanimously on Friday to end the state of siege he had slapped on the West African country.
Guinean unions have called off a crippling 18-day strike in which 59 people died after securing a deal with embattled President Lasana Conte that will put a prime minister at the head of government. ''We declare the suspension of the general strike launched January 10 and urge Guinean workers ... to resume work,'' said union leader Ibrahima Fofana.
West Africa has become an increasingly important transit hub for trafficking cocaine to Europe. The ''tightening of border controls in the Netherlands and in Spain ... forced South American traffickers to tackle the European market via West Africa'', said Fabrice Pothier of Senlis Council, an independent global think-tank fighting against narcotics trafficking.
Just months after winning Liberia's presidential election, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has scored a masterstroke at the start of her mandate by ably negotiating the transfer of Charles Taylor to Freetown to stand trial, observers in the region said. After taking office in January, Johnson-Sirleaf initially decided not to involve herself in the problem posed by the former Liberian president.
Subsidies paid to cotton producers, especially in the United States, prompted an impassioned plea for a fairer deal on trade for Africa at a weekend Franco-African summit, where President Jacques Chirac lent his voice to the campaign. ''African farmers must receive a fair reward for their work,'' Chirac said here, days before a key ministerial meeting in Hong Kong on global free trade negotiations.