NAIROBI, Kenya — Throughout his time in Kenya, U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger has been known for his expansive and delighted presence at any number of cultural events and festivals, especially those that featured dancing, and his fondness for vanilla lattes from the local Starbucks equivalent, Java House, just a stone’s throw from his office. However, he has also been known for his blunt assessment of the country’s government and political elites, particularly in the aftermath of the country’s 2007 post-election violence. Ranneberger’s departure from Nairobi has been expected for months. Now, the very Kenyan politicians Ranneberger has long targeted are […]

After more than 26 years of autocratic rule, a tumultuous and at times brutally violent post-coup era, and a fraught electoral period, the people of Guinea were entitled to some time to celebrate the fact that a civilian had finally been elected president. But in an indication of the deep-seated animosity, fears and mistrust that have led the bauxite-rich West African nation to the brink of disaster time and time again, the Nov. 15 announcement that veteran opposition leader Alpha Condé had won the second-round run-off election was accompanied by ethnic riots, mass arrests and killings at the hand of […]

Human rights were glaringly absent from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s agenda when she recently met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit ahead of Egypt’s Nov. 28 parliamentary elections. The silence is noteworthy, given Cairo’s suppression of the political opposition in advance of the elections as well as its overall dismal human rights record. The Obama administration fears that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will respond to criticism by withdrawing both political support for the stumbling Israeli-Palestinian peace process and logistical support for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The administration is also concerned that criticism would boost […]

JUBA, Sudan — Almost a month ago, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Southern Sudan’s ruling party, convened all of the South’s registered political parties for a conference designed to promote Southern unity ahead of the region’s looming self-determination vote, scheduled for Jan. 9. The vast majority of Southern Sudanese favor secession, and politicians as well as everyday citizens seem to agree on the need for consensus during the South’s “Final Walk to Freedom,” as a billboard in the Southern capital of Juba calls the countdown to the referendum. However, despite the conference’s goal, persistent rifts among the South’s political […]

Egyptians like to say that their country is Umm al Dunya, or “the Mother of the World,” and that, as the crucible of a great civilization dating back 7,000 years, its natural place is among both regional and global powers. In many ways, the boast is entirely accurate. By dint of its history, geography, and demography, Egypt has played a central role in Middle East politics and security policy since World War I. Successive global powers such as Great Britain, the Soviet Union and, most recently, the United States have come to regard Egypt as an indispensable asset for achieving […]

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At a summit in late-September 2010, the European Union and South Africa both expressed interest in concluding protracted negotiations over closer trade ties. In an e-mail interview, Stephen Hurt, senior lecturer in international relations at Oxford Brookes University, discusses relations between the EU and South Africa. WPR: What is the historic context of EU-South Africa relations, and where do they stand today? Stephen Hurt: Coordinated EU policy toward South Africa dates back to the mid-1970s, a time when foreign policy was usually seen as the preserve of EU member states. The two main initiatives during the apartheid era were a […]

The room came to order. The negotiators, some still exasperated by the day’s events, sat anxiously awaiting the final results. “Congratulations, delegates,” the moderator announced. “You have negotiated a comprehensive successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.” The delegates erupted in deafening applause, screams of joy and relieved laughter. No, these were not real-life climate-change negotiators. In August, we designed and ran a daylong scenario to simulate the international climate-change negotiations that will launch in Cancun, Mexico, on Nov. 29. Our goals were to gain a sense of how events may play out in Cancun when the real international negotiators meet […]

To trace the deterioration of Côte d’Ivoire from 2002, when a civil war pitted north against south, through Oct. 31, 2010, when ballots were cast in a presidential election five years overdue, one only needs to look at the dance trends that came and went during that time in the nightclubs, living rooms and village squares around the nation. First there was 2002’s “Coupé-Décalé,” which roughly translates to “Cut and Run.” Then in 2004, the theme was “Abidjan Est Gâté” (“Abidjan Is Ruined”), a lament about the fate of the economic capital, Abidjan. In 2006, people flapped and squawked their […]

With elections underway or imminent in Ivory Coast, Niger, Tanzania and Guinea, Africa seems to be entering a season of democracy. But it follows a year that saw democratic governments and processes take a hit across the continent. Meanwhile, U.N. peacekeepers have struggled to contain violence in eastern Congo, tensions are rising in Sudan in anticipation of January’s referendum on Southern Sudan’s independence, and power-sharing agreements are being tested in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Hovering in the background, the continent’s regional power, South Africa, struggles to realize the promise of its post-apartheid potential. World Politics Review offers a closer look at […]