- The International Business Times (IBT) reports that the U.S. Agency for International Development efforts in the Sahel, an initiative called the Sahel Resiliency Program, is being delayed. Apparently, the delay is because no contractor has come forward to bid for the program. IBT points out that “USAID’s difficulties get to the heart of one of the most frequent critiques of U.S. counterterrorism efforts around the world: that development too often falls by the wayside.”
- In a surprise development, the Congolese M23 declared a ceasefire this Friday (Read more: Aljazeera, BBC, VOA). The announcement comes after a week of intense fighting in the Goma region of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), close to the border with Rwanda. The UN Mission in DRC was recently given a mandate to take an offensive approach against M23. If the ceasefire holds, it will be a de-escalation of what was a worsening crisis.
- In an important step towards an integrated Somalia, the semi-autonomous state of Jubaland agreed Wednesday to align itself with the national government and hand over control of the strategic, embattled city of Kismayo. The African Union congratulated Somalia. This move led the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) to announce it will establish a presence in Kismayo. The top United Nations envoy in Somalia hailed the successes in Somalia, and urged the international community to continue their “collective efforts.” He underlined that the security situation remains volatile, and terrorism and piracy remain serious threats.
- The Wilson Center and the Center for American Progress (CAP) both published articles on the growing drug trade in Guinea-Bissau, its links to Latin America, where the cocaine originates, and the need for the United States to reassess its counternarcotics policies in both regions. “It may be time for policymakers, especially in the United States, to hit the stop clock on the War on Drugs (WoD) for a moment and look closely not only at how ‘success’ is measured, but at the implications of those measurements,” writes the Wilson Center’s Derek Langford. While CAP’s Max Hoffman suggests that “The United States and the international community should view the creation of viable economic alternatives in Latin America and Guinea-Bissau as part of a sustainable solution to the proliferation of transatlantic cocaine trafficking.” Both articles are worth a read.
- President Barack Obama announced that he would appoint outgoing ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Booth to be the U.S. special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan.
- Agence France Press reported that in South Sudan, a probe into the newly trained police force uncovered 11,000 fake names on the payroll, costing the government $9 million. The United Nations is currently working with South Sudan to professionalize the security sector.
- In a surprise move, the interim government in Mali removed last year’s coup leader General Amadou Sanogo from the leadership of a military committee tasked with reforming the West African country’s armed forces.
- In an analytical piece, Reuters writes that the United Nation’s mission to Mali will have to include state building in addition to traditional peacekeeping as the UN will have to strive for a balance between security and development.
- Kenya police commissioner, Johnston Kavuludi, who is leading efforts to reform the police force, was sent a severed head with the message “you are next.”
- French President Francois Hollande warned that the Central African Republic risks “Somalization” and appealed to the U.N. Security Council and the African Union to work to stabilize the country. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expressed alarm at the growing humanitarian crisis.
- A week after Human Rights Watch released a report on police brutality in Liberia, Kareina Brazernor, U.S. Political Officer in Liberia, admitted that human rights abuses in Liberia are often overlooked. This week, a U.S. Congressional delegation has visited Liberia to discuss economic development. (Read local coverage Front Page Africa, New Dawn)
- A Nigerian court ordered the extradition to the United States of an Al-Qaeda suspect allegedly tasked with finding English-speaking recruits.