- International Crisis Group
In most places on the African continent, American aircraft are more likely to deliver drone strikes than presidents. This week, at least, things are different, as Barack Obama landed in Kenya with an arsenal of truth bombs and the courage to drop them. He’s already shamed Uhuru Kenyatta on the gay rights issue, and told Africans that some traditions are best forgotten. As he heads to Addis Ababa, can he maintain this unexpectedly undiplomatic momentum? And will he turn that critical lens on himself? By SIMON ALLISON.
This month, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council was supposed to make a field trip to Burundi. The idea was that an on-the-ground intervention might just alleviate the political crisis and ward off further violence. But the trip didn’t happen, and presidential elections went ahead on Tuesday. The PSC REPORT examines why the council stayed in Addis Ababa, and whether they could really have made a difference.
As debate grows around President Paul Kagame’s bid for a third term, maybe critics are missing the point. The constitution does need to change: Not to keep an individual in power, but to fix the structural deficits that means that the constitution exists to reinforce the ruling party’s control. By WILL JONES for AFRICA IN FACT.
The video is shaky having been secretly captured. But the image of the table full of polished ivory artifacts and the merchant sitting behind them is clear. “How much?” asks the undercover agent, holding up a small ivory bracelet. Following a brisk response, the merchant reaches out a hand weighed down by a flashy, gold watch... $80 is exchanged for the life of an elephant. NAFTALI HONIG reports.
In June, former Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi announced his intention to run in 2016 presidential elections. Mbabazi intends to run as the presidential candidate of the ruling National Resistance Movement, hoping to be chosen by the party ahead of long time leader, President Yoweri Museveni. However, following his almost certain defeat in NRM primaries, it is likely that Mbabazi will run as an opposition candidate. The opposition camp has united to form the Democratic Alliance, agreeing to put forward a single candidate against the NRM in a move similar to that which enabled the ascension to power of newly elected Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari. FRANK CHARNAS takes a look.
The preliminary political agreement that emerged from UN-led talks between Libyan rival factions at a signing ceremony in the Moroccan coastal resort town of Skhirat last week was a critical first step toward ending the Libyan civil war. Yet one side’s refusal to come on board without further amendments to the text potentially makes the agreement stillborn, the INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP reports.
There is no perfect way to finance international development, but one – mobilising domestic resources – makes a lot more sense than the current system, which is hugely reliant on foreign aid. Not that reason and logic played a huge role at last week’s flagship Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, where brazen power politics made sure that the rich got what they wanted at everyone else’s expense. By way of the Opium Wars and game theory, SIMON ALLISON explains what went wrong.
In Rwanda, enigmatic President Paul Kagame is carefully laying the groundwork for a third term in office. Now that lawmakers have voted to change the constitution in his favour, only a national referendum stands in his way – and if we know one thing about Kagame, it’s that he doesn’t lose popular votes. SIMON ALLISON looks at what this means for Rwanda, and why it’s more complicated than it looks.
It’s easy to be cynical about the Millennium Development Goals, that lofty set of aspirations drawn up in 2000 to measure social progress by 2015. But in one respect, there’s no denying success. According to a new report by the United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS), the Aids targets of the Millennium Development Goals have been not just achieved, but exceeded – ahead of schedule. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Less than a year after a popular uprising brought an end to the 27-year rule of former president, Blaise Compaore, Burkina Faso once again finds itself on the edge of a political crisis. Tensions between the Presidential Security Regiment, Prime Minister Yacouba Izaac Zida and civil society groups threaten to destabilise the country ahead of the slated 11 October elections, and possibly plunge the country into further economic and political turmoil. By FRANK CHARNAS.
As world leaders gather in Addis Ababa to discuss the future of development, and who’s going to pay for it, the Gates Foundation can only look on with impatience. When it comes to financing for development, the Foundation is doing it by itself, on an extraordinary scale. SIMON ALLISON meets its Africa director to talk priorities, accountability and the civil society backlash.
The case of the strange and for the moment, illegal, departure of Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, has brought to the fore perhaps the most important dynamic currently at play in South Africa. While many people may think it's the slow implosion of Cosatu, or the inevitable break-up of the Alliance, the most important dynamic is in fact the relationship between the African National Congress and our judges. How this plays out will tell us whether the ANC accepts there are legal limits to its power, whether it will play the populist card, and if, one day, it would give up power peacefully. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
While gay rights have been spearing a wave of human rights advances in western democracies – most recently the extension of ‘marriage’ to include same-sex marriage in the US and Ireland – in Africa, the trend is moving in the opposite direction. A recent report released by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF) sought to disprove, systematically and scientifically, the false claims used to justify persecution and discrimination of LGBTi people across the continent. By ANDREA TEAGLE.
That the World Health Organisation failed to adequately respond to Ebola is not in doubt – the proof is in the numbers of people who died and are still dying in the epidemic. To its credit, the WHO knows it messed up, badly, and has sought outside help on what went wrong and how to fix it. The verdict is in. SIMON ALLISON picks out the key issues.
DRC President Joseph Kabila has announced that he will enact a constitutionally mandated process known as ‘decoupage’ to create 26 new provinces in the country before elections can be held. In doing so, the president, who is seeking an unconstitutional third term, has taken steps to delay the polls and disempower one of the most popular figures in the country, Governor of Katanga Province, Moise Katumbi – ‘Moise wamuu Bible (the Moses of the Bible)’. FRANK CHARNAS reports.
Joe-Louis Kanyona, a 32-year old Congolese resident of Cape Town, was hired as a doorman at craft beer mega bar Beerhouse on Long Street last December. At 10:37pm on Saturday 20 June, while standing guard at the entrance, Kanyona, a smaller man than his occupation usually dictates, was approached by four men and stabbed in the neck. Without withdrawing the knife from his flesh – "it was a steak knife, like something from a restaurant," an eyewitness said – Kanyona tried to run upstairs, where his brother Julian was working, but faltered after a few steps. He died a few minutes later. His last words, spoken in French and repeated three times, were: "Lord, I put myself in your hands." KIMON DE GREEF reports for GROUNDUP.
As Burundi’s government digs in its heels, the prospect of a peaceful solution to the crisis gets more and more remote, and the African Union is running out of options. Is it time to take a stand on idealism, or does it make more sense just to give Nkurunziza his third term – especially while he’s holding Somalia hostage? By SIMON ALLISON.
Conservation needs to work with unlikely bedfellows – the hunters, the miners and loggers. Given Africa’s need for economic growth and employments these activities that are so often adjacent, to and sometimes in, protected areas will never be wished away. It would be better therefore if they were included in the conservation discussion and became allies of wildlife areas rather than being perceived as ‘the enemy’. PETER BORCHERT on game rangers, poaching and the need to collaborate to save the continent’s precious wildlife.
The real story moving forward in a tiny kingdom afflicted by HIV and malnutrition – and utterly dependent on foreigners for free HIV anti-retrovirals and extra food – is if the most influential of donors, the United States, sticks to its demand for accountability for those responsible for the events last 30 August. But responsibility is a complex beast. By MICHAEL J. JORDAN.
I wrote my Master’s dissertation in 1986 on Lesotho. Despite having suffered its first military coup earlier that year, the mountain kingdom remained reasonably prosperous, helped by a paradox of anti-Apartheid aid and remittances from its miners in South Africa. And there was the promise of income from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, supplying ‘white gold’ to the thirsty South African reef. The overdue signature of this scheme was one stated reason for the coup that saw Major General Justin Metsing Lekhanya evict Chief Leabua Jonathan who had ruled with steadily increasing authoritarianism since independence in October 1966. GREG MILLS describes the impact of decades of coups and unrest in South Africa’s fractious neighbour.
The deadly assault on Egyptian government positions in the Sinai Peninsula by an Islamic State-aligned militant group was more proof, if any was needed, that Egypt is dealing with a major insurrection. It’s not alone. Following on from the attack in Tunisia, and the occupation of parts of Libya, it’s clear that North Africa is being targeted by Islamic State. Underestimate them at your peril. By SIMON ALLISON.
Don’t panic, Liberia’s health officials say, as a new case of Ebola turns up near the capital city. Liberia was meant to be Ebola-free, and this comes as a devastating blow for the country that is still struggling to get back on its feet after the deadly epidemic. Nonetheless, the health officials are right. Liberia has learnt its lessons, and this time should be different. By SIMON ALLISON.
On Monday, Burundi voted in the first leg of its controversial elections which will, almost certainly, result in a third term for President Pierre Nkurunziza. In going ahead with the polls, Nkurunziza defied almost everyone in the international community, who had urged him to postpone until the political situation had calmed down. But perhaps they should have spoken up sooner. By SIMON ALLISON.