Africa News 2-Weeks in Review 8-09-16

U.S. Policy:

  • According to Defense News, the U.S. Department of Defense is considering dissolving the Africa Command, in response to budget pressures. The article notes that “the plans for combatant command realignment and consolidation are still nominal,” but one option includes moving the responsibility of Africa to Central and European Command. A defense official told Defense News that “Combining combatant commands is certainly not something that we want to do, but something that we have to consider because all cuts have to be on the table.” Read more here.

Mali:

  • The second round of the presidential election ended in Mali without incident. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won after rival Soumaila Cisse conceded defeat on Monday. Turnout was higher in the second round, though still less than 50 percent. International donors hope that President Keita will oversee the more than $4 billion of aid.
  • Just days thereafter, Amadou Sanogo, the leader of last year’s coup, was promoted to army general, the Associated Press reports. Sanogo received six trainings from the United States.
  • A new analysis from IRIN suggests that international aid fuelled the conflict in Mali in several ways: it favored one ethnic group over another, it fostered corruption, and it created an aid dependent economy, which was vulnerable to aid withdrawal. Read the report here.

Nigeria:

  • Reuters and the Associated Press reported on the rise of vigilante groups, which commit reprisals against suspected Boko Haram members. The Nigerian military is seen as backing the movements, suspected of human abuses such as summary executions and burning down the houses of suspects. Reuters warns that this risks further implicating civilians into the conflict, and creating a spiral of violence. BBC reported that Boko Haram’s attack on Muslim worshipers at a mosque, which killed 44, was in retribution for vigilante activities.
  • Preliminary investigations by the International Criminal Court have led the chief prosecutor to conclude that terrorist attacks by Boko Haram likely amount to crimes against humanity. The Court is considering a full-fledged investigation.
  • As the first African country to do so, Nigeria ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, an international agreement aimed at stopping the illegal shipments of deadly weapons.
  • The Nigerian Defense Departments started a new entrepreneurship and management-training program for senior military officers.

Somalia:

  • Heads of State and Government of the Troop Contributing Countries to AMISOM met on Sunday August 4th to harmonize their approach to Somalia. They reaffirmed their commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Somalia, and pledged to continue their fight against Al Shabaab.
  • The humanitarian relief NGO Doctors Without Borders announced it would leave Somalia, in response to increased attacks. Council on Foreign Relations blogger John Campbell argues that this indicates that Al Shabaab is getting better organized.

Sudan:

  • The New York Times reports that Sudan, which has been under international arms embargoes, has been supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition. Sudan thus continues a history of involvement in conflicts and of support for Sunni Islamist movements.

Central African Republic:

  • A group of independent UN experts warned that the rule of law in the Central African Republic (CAR) is “almost non-existent.” Shortly thereafter, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos warned that CAR is on the way to become a failed state barring any intervention. The New York Times ran an in-depth article featuring the growing insecurity and describing it as “one of Africa’s most troubled countries.” Mob justice, abductions, targeted killings as well as torture are reportedly widespread. On March 24th Séléka rebel coalition seized the government after months of fighting.

Zimbabwe:

  • Zimbabwe’s electoral commission announced that President Mugabe and his party ZANU PF won the election with 61 percent of the vote. The opposition won 34 percent. Opposition leader Tsvangirai filed a court order, arguing elections results were rigged.
  • President Mugabe announced he would continue indigenization, the policy of forcing companies to cede the majority of their shares to black Zimbabweans.  The Christian Science Monitor reports that women voters were particularly targeted because of their suspected support for the MDC opposition party.

Niger:

  • Foreign Affairs published an in-depth analysis of security and development challenges in Niger. It warns that an over securitization of development aid in Niger risks repeating a Mali scenario. Read the analysis here.

Rwanda:

  • The New Times, a Rwandan outlet, reported that the Rwandan police began a human trafficking raid. According the U.S. Department of State 2013 Human Trafficking report, Rwanda is both a source and transit country, and to a lesser extent a destination country. According to the same report, the Rwandan government has been making significant effort to combat the problem.

Uganda:

  • Uganda’s parliament passed a controversial Public Order Management bill limiting public protests. Amnesty International described it as a “serious blow to open political debate.” Critics note that because the police have exhibited historic bias against opposition groups, activists are worried this bill will restrain their ability to gather in public spaces.
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