Nicholas Westcott

A regular blog from RAS Director, Nicholas Westcott.


Thursday, 11 August 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
Today’s election in Zambia pits an opportunist president against a rich, slick contender. It could be tight. President Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front won 48% of the vote in 2015 to 47% for Hakainde Hichelema of the United Party for National Development. Lungu made his way to the top by switching parties to join the Patriotic Front after President Michael Sata came to power in 2011. After Sata died in 2014, Lungu made it to the top at a questionable national convention where there was... more
Wednesday, 10 August 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
Last week I was asked to speak at a gathering of Africa Auditors in Ghana. I haven’t been there for a while and I thought the conference a good opportunity to see how the country is doing as it heads into a December general election on the eve of its 60th birthday. I was in for a shock. I assumed auditors were people who added up rows of figures and made sure that companies have added up all the numbers correctly and nothing has gone missing. But these days auditors ponder and judge... more
Thursday, 28 July 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
The remarkable John Drysdale was almost completely unknown in Britain but a national hero in Somalia, where he was known as Abbas Idriss. A short man with pebble glasses, he looked more like an old professor than a soldier-turned-activist. Last month he was given a state funeral in Hargeisa attended by the great and good of Somaliland where he spent the last years of his life (see photo above). He first went to the Somalia during the Second World War in 1943 as a British army officer with the... more
Friday, 24 June 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
Sometimes turkeys do vote for Christmas. Just over half British voters have just done so. Brexit is national suicide. The tribes of Britain will now be at war with each other. The Scots will demand another referendum and will vote to leave. Northern Ireland will be vulnerable to civil war again. Are they really going to build a fence along the border? Sinn Fein will go back to war if they do. And the Welsh will not be slow to realise they do not want to be tied to an impoverished England.... more
Tuesday, 24 May 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
Twenty five years ago Somaliland declared its independence from the wrecked country called Somalia. The ceremony of raising the flag was held on May 18th in Burao, a small town down on the plain. It still had some buildings standing. The capital Hargeisa had been utterly destroyed. I arrived with an ITN film crew a day later. After consultation the new government agreed to perform the independence ceremony again for the single TV camera. So any commercial footage you see of Somaliland’s... more