- Simon Allison
Although he’s been around for a long time - 26 years and counting - Idriss Deby doesn’t enjoy quite the same profile (or notoriety) as other African leaders of his ilk, such as Robert Mugabe or Teodoro Obiang. But a recent push to insert Chad into regional affairs, coupled with Deby’s recent appointment as chairperson of the African Union is changing this perception. By SIMON ALLISON.
It seemed as though Africa was set to embrace meaningful transformation. But perhaps we were all too busy approving frameworks and strategies centred on the need for real structural transformation to realise that the African story line is still not sanguine. Huge differences in the distribution and exercise of political and economic power have resulted in violent conflicts and the key economic locomotives of this continent have been choked. By CARLOS LOPES.
National elections in Nigeria in March 2015 brought Muhammadu Buhari of the newly-created All Progressives’ Congress (APC) to power, despite the fact that failed to win any of the oil-producing states in the Niger Delta. In these states, the the incumbent People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of former President Goodluck Jonathan triumphed.What will this mean for Nigerian democracy? By FRANK CHARNAS.
Thabo Mbeki and former Nigerian president Olesegun Obasanjo initiated the APRM in 2003. This system was designed to help the continent’s leaders urge each other to better governance. In its prime, some of the country’s reviews told uncomfortable truths, such as the 2007 one which warned about rise of xenophobia in South Africa. Is it unhip or a cool tool? By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
Despite overseeing the near-total destruction of Africa’s newest country, South Sudan’s liberation hero-turned-rebel leader Riek Machar says that his war is just. In an in-depth interview at his residence, Machar tells SIMON ALLISON that while he has some regrets, he’s not the bad guy and that history will vindicate him.
At this month’s summit, the African Union had a chance to make a real difference in Burundi. Instead, it re-elected the crisis-stricken country to its flagship Peace and Security Council, and refused to approve plans for a peacekeeping mission designed to prevent tensions from spiralling out of control. So much for all the tough talk. By SIMON ALLISON.
Media and civil society at the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa face a stark choice: avoid criticising Ethiopia, or risk being denied access to the continental body. SIMON ALLISON reports on how the Ethiopian government uses its role as gatekeeper to the AU to keep journalists, researchers and activists in check.
When Kenya’s top paper fired managing editor Denis Galava, they said he had failed to follow procedure. He tells a different story, noting that his sacking came soon after he published an editorial criticising the president. Either way, it is another ominous sign that Kenya’s independent media, among loudest and bravest in Africa, is under serious threat. By SIMON ALLISON.
January 17 marked the 55th anniversary of the US- and Belgian-orchestrated assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lumumba's body was hacked to pieces and dissolved in sulphuric acid by two Belgian police officials. This week the Belgian magazine, Humo, published an interview with Godelieve Soete, daughter of Gerard Soete, one of the officials who disposed of Lumumba's body and during which she produced one of Lumumba's teeth that her late father had kept as a macabre souvenir. Now author Ludo De Witte, who in 1999 exposed the Western forces behind plot to murder Lumumba, has lodged a charge with Belgian police calling for Lumumba's mortal remains be returned to his family. The story reminds us that history never sleeps. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Swing states in Africa cannot act as a stabilising force in their region if they, themselves, suffer from major internal conflict and violent divisions; instead they become exporters of insecurity. They also cannot galvanise regional or continental consensus around the key issues of our time if they are not acknowledged as leading nations, which represent and advance certain shared values and interests. By TERENCE MCNAMEE.
When the Congolese village of Miriki was attacked by rebels, villagers were entitled to expect a response from South African peacekeepers stationed just one kilometre away. None came. The resulting massacre left 17 people dead, and even the UN has admitted that South Africa should have done more. By SIMON ALLISON.
The growing threat of Islamist activities in West Africa is complicated by increasingly blurred links between militant and criminal activities. Such collaboration of crime networks carries a strategic value for African Jihadists like those who attacked the Splendid Hotel and the adjacent Cappuccino Cafe, in central Ouagadougou over the past weekend. By OLGA BOGORAD.
After a tumultuous 15 months, during which they witnessed a revolution, a coup, a counter-coup, and the most open election in the country’s history, the long-suffering citizens of Burkina Faso probably deserve a break. But Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has other ideas. A coordinated attack in the capital Ouagadougou left 28 people dead, and is likely to have devastating consequences for tourism, development and investment. It’s also a dramatic statement of intent from AQIM... But what message are they trying to send, exactly? By SIMON ALLISON.
Kenyan non-governmental organisations (NGOs) head into 2016 facing a deeply uncertain future as their government intensifies its effort to crack down on an independent civil society. Between administrative harassment, legislative hurdles and a public campaign to tarnish their reputation, many NGOs are finding it harder and harder to perform their core function of holding the government to account. By SIMON ALLISON for ISS Today.
Like it or not, Paul Kagame will run for another term as president of Rwanda in 2017, and he’ll win. While there is plenty of reason to doubt the wisdom of this decision, there is also no arguing with the status quo. Now it’s up to Kagame to prove that he’s not an ‘eternal leader’, and that third terms don’t have to be a disaster. By SIMON ALLISON.
Roch Marc Christian Kaboré’s victory in the 29 November presidential election shows that Burkinabes aspire as much to change as to continuity. A former heir apparent to Blaise Compaoré, Kaboré symbolises both the stability of the former regime and, given his split from Compaoré, the desire for change. By the INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.
As General Bala Keita, the military head of Central African Republic's U.N. peacekeeping mission, fended off militia attacks on a polling station in a besieged Muslim enclave in the capital Bangui earlier this month, he was surprisingly optimistic. It certainly wasn't an auspicious start to a constitutional referendum meant to pave the way for pivotal general elections. But amid the machine gun fire and incoming rocket-propelled grenades, the battle-tested Senegalese officer saw hope. By Crispin Dembassa-Kette and Joe Bavier for Reuters.