Top of the Morning: Cairo Clashes, Cameroon Elections, Volatile Food Prices

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Top Stories

Clashes Kill Dozens in Cairo

At least 24 people were killed on Sunday in the worst bout of violence since the toppling of the Mubarak regime. Despite pleas by the prime minister, the violence continued in Monday. “The clashes Sunday night raged over a large section of downtown Cairo and drew in Christians, Muslims and security forces. They began when about 1,000 Christian protesters tried to stage a sit-in outside the state television building along the Nile in downtown Cairo. The protesters said they were attacked by “thugs” with sticks and the violence then spiraled out of control after a speeding military vehicle jumped up onto a sidewalk and rammed into some of the Christians. Most of the 24 people killed were Coptic Christians, though officials said at least three soldiers were among the dead. Nearly 300 people were injured. The latest clashes Monday broke out outside the Coptic hospital where many of the Christian victims were taken the night before. The screams of grieving women rang out from inside the hospital and some of the hundreds of men gathered outside held wooden crosses. Empty coffins were lined up outside the hospital.” (AP

Cameroonians Take to the Polls in Exceedingly Low Numbers. Wonder Who Will Win?

Cameroon President Paul Biya has been in office since 1982.  The 78 year old even engineered a constitutional amendment to eliminate term limits in 2008 so he could keep on running for president indefinitely so it is without surprise that he is poised to cruise into yet another seven year term as Cameroonians take to the polls this week. Well, actually, only relatively few Cameroonians are actually casting a vote. “Mr. Biya said the world is not perfect, but he said that despite any irregularities, there is no intention to cheat. He is running against a record 22 candidates. His most high-profile challenger, John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front, received only 17 percent of the vote in 2004. Observers said turnout was extremely low Sunday, with many Cameroonians expressing apathy, saying the winner is already decided.  Nationwide figures are not available, but observers said polling stations were conspicuously uncrowded, with some reporting fewer than 15% of registered voters turning up.  Voting also got off to a late start. In some cases, polling stations opened hours behind schedule. And some voters told the Associated Press they were issued more than one voting card, potentially allowing them to vote multiple times.” (VOA

Be Prepared for Volatile and Possibly Surging Food Prices

The UN released its flagship annual report on global food insecurity today and the news is not great. “Food price volatility featuring high prices is likely to continue and possibly increase, making poor farmers, consumers and countries more vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity, the United Nations’ three Rome-based agencies said in the global hunger report published today. Small, import-dependent countries, particularly in Africa, are especially at risk.  Many of them still face severe problems following the world food and economic crises of 2006-2008, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011’ , an annual flagship report which they jointly produced this year.” (FAO