- Rebecca Davis
Conflict, migration, political instability, poverty, homosexuality and dialogue are amongst the many issues expecting coverage on the Pope’s visit to Africa this week. Despite questions and concerns about security, Pope Francis left Rome for a six-day trip to Kenya, Uganda and the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR) on Wednesday morning. Millions of Catholics, and a significant number of non-Catholics, are expected to welcome the Pontiff. Francis will visit a church that is growing in numbers – unlike much of the western church. He will be welcomed with jubilant African drumbeat and singing. But he will also find a continent and church that is struggling. By RUSSELL POLLITT.
The deteriorating situation in Burundi is a perfect storm of much that undermines stability in Africa today: presidents seeking impunity and power through dubious new terms, authoritarian regimes muzzling opposition and independent media, regional rivalries stalemating efforts to bring peace and outside powers unwilling or unable to act. By Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Ayo Obe and Fola Adeola for the INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.
After keeping the nation waiting for five months, President Muhammadu Buhari has finally unveiled his new, slimline cabinet. In control of Africa’s most populous country, and its largest economy, these men and women will determine Nigeria’s future, and their success will be Africa’s too. SIMON ALLISON picks out the key names.
As South Africans, we often tend to view our political struggles as existing in a silo. But the shifting political tides in our country are reflected across Africa, as a new wave of popular protest, often led by young people, sweeps the continent. With the #FeesMustFall student uprisings still ongoing, it’s helpful to consider the ideas of a new book, which charts the latest moment of African protests. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The United Nations recognises two instances of genocide in Burundi: the 1972 mass killing of Hutus by the mainly Tutsi military, and the 1993 mass murder of Tutsis, at the hands of the majority Hutu population. Jointly, these form a terrible precedent, especially when taking into account a statement made by the British Ambassador to the country, Matthew Rycroft, who has warned that due to ongoing violence in the country there is once again a “threat of genocide.” By FRANK CHARNAS.
Historically, there have been four drivers behind France’s Africa policy: security, people, business and aid, and the importance of an international ‘voice’. These still remain, to an extent. But French policy on Africa has been on a trajectory of change since the mid-1990s, reflecting generational changes and institutional imperatives. By GREG MILLS.
This week MTN was hit with an unprecedented $5.2-billion fine by Nigerian regulators, the largest ever imposed on an African company – and, not incidentally, equivalent to nearly a quarter of Nigeria’s annual budget. Can the firm keep operating in Nigeria? And are South African businesses being targeted? By SIMON ALLISON.
When observers explain the dramatic increase in Ebola infections in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that began in March, they mostly point to weak health systems, limited resources, population mobility, inadequate support and the fact that the virus was largely unknown in the region, but a lack of trust in the state, its institutions and leaders was also a major factor. And for its part, the international community mostly ignored warnings until the threat was perceived as global. Unless lessons are learned, the next regional health crisis will be as needlessly costly and disruptive as the Ebola epidemic and pose a similar risk to international stability. By the INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.
In an unusual new report, Human Rights Watch investigates what it’s like to be mentally ill in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland. Spoiler alert: it involves abuse, neglect and prolonged chaining. The implications of the report, however, go even further than this. Somaliland’s high levels of mental illness suggest a nation suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – and if Somaliland, an oasis of calm and stability in the region, has it bad, then elsewhere must be even worse. By SIMON ALLISON.
Despite the longstanding perception that Mali's drug trafficking infrastructure is mainly restricted to the north, several recent developments have shown that there is an emerging threat of a spillover into the centre and south of the country. New smuggling networks could soon become a Malian and regional reality. By OLGA BOGORAD.
South Africa’s failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir has created a dilemma for the International Criminal Court (ICC) about how to act against a state party that violated the Rome Statute in a case referred by the UN Security Council. On Monday the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda made a submission to the ICC judges asking for a deadline for South Africa to respond to why it did not arrest Al-Bashir. She also asked for it be confirmed that “South Africa has a continuing obligation to arrest and surrender Al Bashir”. If South Africa is found to be in violation of the Rome Statute, the UN Security Council may have to decide whether to censure Pretoria. RANJENI MUNUSAMY reports from The Hague.
Among the three principal politicians who have struggled for power in Côte d’Ivoire since 1995, President Alassane Ouattara, 73, is the only one still in the game and is most likely to win the presidential election on 25 October. The significance of this election is not so much the electoral outcome – which seems to be a foregone conclusion – as much as the political choices that will result from a renewed Ouattara mandate. Without meaningful political, security and judicial reforms, Côte d’Ivoire could face yet another prolonged period of violence. By Rinaldo Depagne for the INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.
Tensions are high in the Central African Republic ahead of elections to be held before the end of the year. Today, the priority is to loosen the grip of armed groups throughout the country and create a consensus, which does not yet exist, around the electoral process. To do so, the number of French Sangaris and United Nations troops should be quickly increased, and the elections should be delayed to 2016 so they can be held in a climate of peace, and to promote sustainable stability. By THIERRY VIRCOULON and THIBAUD LESUEUR for INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.
Aliko Dangote’s cement empire is only getting bigger, with Zimbabwe next in the Nigerian tycoon’s sights. But this might be more than just a canny business decision: if Mugabe’s government is right, this could be the intervention that finally turns Zimbabwe’s economy around. But that’s a big if. By SIMON ALLISON.
Not long ago, Burundi’s army was considered the greatest success of the 2000 Arusha peace accords, which brought a gradual end to a civil war that began in 1993. Today, the army is nearing its breaking point. Its silence since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s re-election in July contrasts starkly with the increase in violence in the country and with the army’s internal divisions. By THIERRY VIRCOULON for INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.
While Algeria is emerging as an indispensable broker of stability in North Africa and the Sahel, its ambitions have self-imposed limits. A moribund domestic political scene clouds the political horizon and relations with other powers with clout in the region, notably Morocco and France, have room for improvement. By the INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.
Oped Bapela, chairperson of the African National Congress’s international relations sub-committee, announced on Sunday that the party would seek a departure from the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court. At the same time, he assured the country that “South Africa still holds the flag of human rights, we are not lowering it, we will continuously hold it high”. He wants to both have his cake and eat it; unfortunately, he can’t. By SAUL MUSKER.
Following months of aggressive rhetoric and threats, Mozambique may be on the brink of yet another armed confrontation. After 15 years of civil war and 17 months of confrontations in 2013-2014, a renewal of fighting could further set back one of the world’s least developed countries, and both the government, led by the Frelimo party, and the opposition Renamo movement have their fair share of blame. By IAN SCHECHTMAN.
South Africa needs less talk of reducing migration, of associating migrants with negative outcomes, or of sending illegal migrants home. Instead it requires a better informed, cohesive and regionally responsive labour migration policy framework that recognises the country's socio-economic challenges and develops provisions that will ensure migrant workers contribute to, rather than work on the periphery of, national economic and labour objectives. By ZAHEERA JINNAH.
While Africa has a very small proportion of younger leaders between 33 and 55 in comparison with other continents, it has the youngest population in the world. The age gap between Africa's elderly leaders and its young population has created a disconnect between the leaders and the led. By DAVID E KWUWA for THE CONVERSATION.
This 2016 election in Uganda is likely to be closely contested, with personal animosity seeping into the bigger political questions. Having removed presidential term limits in 2005 and, over 30 years, engineered a system in which he sits at the apex of decision-making, President Yoweri Museveni is not keen to leave. But the 'Old Man' will have to beat out his former doctor, Kizza Besigye, and former prime minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi to cling onto power. By MAGNUS TAYLOR for the INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is riding high after being unanimously re-elected by parliament. But this united front masks deeper fragilities that may yet unseat Hailemariam. Still, while the premier may not have any natural constituency of his own, he can at least rely on Meles Zenawi’s ghost for support. By SIMON ALLISON.
Successful state building in Somaliland has raised the stakes of holding – and losing – power. While Somaliland has remained largely committed to democratic government, recurrent political crises and delayed elections risk postponing much needed internal debate. The political elites have a limited window to decide on steps necessary to rebuild the decaying consensus, reduce social tensions and set an agenda for political and institutional reform. By the INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.