The coming days

RWANDA holds a presidential election on Monday 9th August. President Paul Kagame is sure to win a second seven year term. This will provide a headache for the country’s foreign donors, who fund half of the government’s budget. Stick with Mr Kagame and their money will be spent well, perhaps better than anywhere else in sub-Saharan Africa. This is likely to consolidate the hold on power of a president with a dictatatorial streak. Or, cut aid to a country that has come so far since a genocide that killed some 800,000 people in 1994, while the countries now giving Rwanda aid stood idly by.

ASIF ALI ZARDARI, Pakistan’s president, will be trying to rescue his presidency while parts of the country remain underwater. Some 1,600 people have died in floods in Pakistan. Heavy rains have also caused deadly landslides. Mr Zardari spent last week in London meeting Britain’s prime minister and taking photocalls with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Mr Zardari’s son and scion of Pakistan’s first family. His absence at such an important time is the kind of miscalculation that can finish political careers. For Pakistan, dealing with the inundations will be complicated by the arrival of Ramadan on Wednesday 11th August.

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS’S first week as president of Colombia begins. Mr Santos knows that his first move—working out how to respond to the outstretched hand proffered by Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, may be the defining one for his presidency. Mr Chávez needs enemies almost as much as he needs friends: he has kept Venezuela’s army happy by providing it with expensive weapons to guard against supposed threats from Colombia and even America, and invokes internal and external enemies to justify measures to bolster his power at home. He also has a record of treating fellow Latin American leaders who do not kowtow to him in a high-handed manner.  Mr Chávez turned up a couple of hours late for his first meeting with Brazil’s current president.


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