Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, center, arrives for the opening session of the 33rd African Union Summit, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 9, 2020 (AP Photo).

Since taking office in 2017, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has demonstrated a pattern of heavy-handedness, authoritarianism and impunity that belies his carefully crafted global image of a debonair and progressive African leader. The latest controversy involves a bill, supported by members of Akufo-Addo’s administration and key religious institutions in the country, that would criminalize displays of same-sex affection and advocacy for LGBTQ rights, punishable by up to a decade in prison. Ghana has long had a mixed record on protecting LGBTQ rights, but for much of the past four years in particular, LGBTQ Ghanaians—as well as their allies and advocates—have […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends a a rally in Sivasagar, Assam state, Jan. 23, 2021 (AP photo by Anupam Nath).

In the run-up to India’s 2014 elections, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, campaigned on the slogan, Achhe din aane waale hain—“The good days are coming.” Led by the charismatic and popular Narendra Modi, who now serves as prime minister, the BJP stormed to power that year, decimating the long-ruling Indian National Congress party. Then, in the 2019 elections, the BJP improved on its previous electoral performance, taking more than 300 seats. It was the first time in 30 years that a single party had won a majority of the 543 seats in India’s legislature in back-to-back elections.  […]

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo reviews the honor guard as he arrives for a military parade in Lima, Peru, July 30, 2021 (AP photo by Guadalupe Pardo).

One week after taking office, having won election by the thinnest margin imaginable, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo finds himself “between the sword and the wall,” to use the Spanish expression, as a result of the country’s complex political realities, made worse by his early stumbles. Peruvians are watching anxiously, uncertain about what direction he will try to take the country and how far he will get in his efforts. Castillo assumed the presidency last Thursday, in a day so filled with controversy that it seemed a continuation of the turbulent events that brought him to the top job. Obviously, it […]

A vendor sits in front of a screen showing an AI program playing the game Starcraft 2 at the China Beijing International High Tech Expo in Beijing, Sept. 19, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Years of a laissez-faire approach on the part of Chinese authorities has enabled homegrown tech companies like the Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings to grow into the successful conglomerates they are today. But as the poster children of China’s innovation economy become too big for Beijing’s comfort, the Communist […]

A couple wearing face masks looks at their mobile phones in front of a big poster in Hong Kong, July 27, 2020 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

Before sitting down to write this week’s column, I opened a large and tattered, white, padded envelope that had arrived from Hong Kong late last week to find the final issue of the city’s once famously feisty newspaper, the Apple Daily, which was forced by local authorities to shut down for political reasons on June 24. A Chinese friend had sent it to me from the city long renowned for being efficient and smooth-running. For the month that it took the package to arrive, therefore, I had wondered whether it had been held up for inspection by Hong Kong authorities […]

A police officer stands on a closed-off road near Igualada, Spain, March 13, 2020 (AP photo by Joan Mateu).

MALAGA, Spain—In a decision with international significance, Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled last month that the country’s 50-day lockdown to counter the initial spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020 was unconstitutional and therefore illegal. In coming to its historic decision, the court focused on whether Spain’s lockdown constituted a limitation or an effective suspension of fundamental rights.  Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez invoked a “State of Alarm”—the least serious of the three states of emergency outlined in Spain’s Constitution—in March 2020, which should have only allowed for a limitation of fundamental freedoms. The court ruled instead that the […]

Two soldiers enter the Catholic church at the 10th RCAS army barracks in Kaya, Burkina Faso, April 10, 2021 (AP photo by Sophie Garcia).

In early June, jihadist militants in Burkina Faso raided homes and the local market in Solhan, a village close to the border with Niger. By sunrise, they had killed at least 160 civilians in what local officials said was the country’s worst terrorist attack in years. Though particularly shocking for its scale, the attack is the latest expression of an ongoing and escalating conflict. Since 2016, Burkina Faso has been home to a jihadist insurrection that has thrown the country into an “unprecedented humanitarian crisis,” according to the United Nations, and displaced more than 1 million people—a number that has increased […]

A man attends the funeral of slain President Jovenel Moise in Cap-Haitien, Haiti,  July 23, 2021 (AP photo/Matias Delacroix).

Three weeks after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, and a week after being sworn in as prime minister, Ariel Henry held his first Cabinet meeting on July 28. It did not go well. In an effort to distance himself from the unpopular Moise administration, Henry attempted to revoke a 2020 presidential decree creating a national intelligence agency, which had been widely criticized as an unaccountable secret police that could potentially spy on Moise’s political opponents.  But in response to Henry’s proposal, the Cabinet’s secretary-general, Renald Luberice, submitted a letter expressing his opposition to dismantling Moise’s agenda, in which he […]

European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager speaks at a news conference on the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Dec. 15, 2020 (AP Photo by Olivier Matthys).

Regulating digital content and platforms was never going to be easy. As the European Union continues what is expected to be a multi-year process to turn its draft Digital Services Act into law, France appears to have jumped the gun and enacted its own version of the proposed regulations. In a 12-page rebuke couched as “observations,” the European Commission warned that France’s law “poses a risk to the single market in digital services and to Europe’s prosperity.” Just as it prepares to assume the EU’s rotating six-month presidency next January, France seems set on a collision course with the institutions charged with […]

A rally outside the White House in support of protesters in Cuba, in Washington, July 13, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

On Sunday July 11, Cuba was rocked by an unprecedented public display of opposition as thousands of people joined nationwide demonstrations against the government. The largely spontaneous outbursts underscored the depth of Cuba’s social and economic crisis and pose a huge challenge to President Miguel Diaz-Canel and the ruling Communist Party. They have also forced the issue of Cuba to the top of U.S. President Joe Biden’s agenda.  The first demonstration began that morning in a park outside the Catholic Church of San Antonio de los Banos, a small town on the outskirts of Havana. By prior arrangement, several dozen […]

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