When Kenyans vote in the country’s presidential, parliamentary and county elections March 4, they will have the chance to distance themselves from the traumatic elections of December 2007. More than 1,000 people were killed and approximately half a million others fled their homes when violence between rival ethnic groups and political supporters broke out in the weeks following the vote. Much has changed since then, a lot of it for the better. But the main causes of the violence remain unaddressed. The 2013 election is thus fraught with hazard, and a mood of trepidation has characterized the campaign period. The […]

In Djibouti, the small but strategically important state in the Horn of Africa, security forces are still working to disperse opposition supporters protesting the ruling coalition’s victory in Friday’s parliamentary elections. The vote marked the end of the opposition parties’ 10-year boycott on contesting elections. Djibouti is home to the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa, and instability there may have important implications for the wider region, including Yemen and Somalia. On Friday, authoritarian President Ismail Omar Guelleh and his Union for the Presidential Majority claimed to have won 49 out of 65 seats in the National Assembly in […]

Before departing from her position as U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton stated at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is “not only a terrorist syndicate, it is a criminal enterprise.” Recognizing the interconnected nature of these multifaceted illicit networks, Clinton affirmed that to combat them, “we’ve got to have a better strategy.” The former top U.S. diplomat was voicing a conviction increasingly shared by governments and multilateral organizations around the world, which are beginning to recognize that today’s most pressing security challenges are too connected, transnational and vast for states to confront […]

Macky Sall, who was inaugurated as president of Senegal last April, came to power amid massive discontent with his predecessor, President Abdoulaye Wade. Critics, including youth protest movements Y En A Marre (“Enough is Enough”) and M23 (named for a 2011 demonstration), accused Wade of failing to address core economic and infrastructure problems while enriching himself and suppressing dissent. In an address to the nation one day after taking office, Sall listed economic issues as being among his administration’s top priorities. “It is a matter of urgency in our cities and our suburbs,” he stated, “to fight unemployment, flooding, insecurity […]

Until the end of the Cold War in the late-1980s, U.S. policy in East Africa and the Horn tried to balance regional security concerns with support for economic development and mitigating food shortages and famines. The primary goal of U.S. policy in the region was to minimize Soviet influence and that of China, Eastern Europe and Cuba. As the Cold War came to an end, the United States added to its policy agenda the objectives of encouraging democratic governance and improving human rights practices. In the post-Cold War era, the primary U.S. human rights and governance concerns in the region […]

Armed groups proliferate like rabbits in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From the state’s collapse in the early 1990s through two wars at the turn of the 21st century to today, the lack of government control over the country’s territory makes it easy for a few dozen — or a few thousand — men to take up arms, tax local populations, exploit natural resources and engage in massive human rights abuses against civilian populations. The DRC’s numerous armed groups are formed for a diverse array of reasons, ranging from legitimate concerns over land rights in the country’s eastern Kivu […]

The East African Community (EAC) provides a useful lens through which to examine the prospects for broader regional integration in East Africa. The current EAC is built on a long history of regional cooperation, including a High Commission (1948-1961), a Common Services Organization (1961-1967) and even a previous attempt at an EAC, which was formed in 1967 and managed to build shared institutions before collapsing in 1977 under the weight of trade imbalances and ideological differences. In spite of the collapse, the three founding countries — Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania — agreed to explore and identify areas for future cooperation, […]

After years of political wrangling, Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government announced in mid-January an agreement on a new constitution, setting the stage for a constitutional referendum and general elections in the coming months. While progress on the constitution is a welcome step forward for institutional and democratic reforms, President Robert Mugabe’s continued grip on the country’s coercive apparatus and disregard for formal institutions mean that a new constitution will likely be insufficient to avert another round of electoral violence in Zimbabwe. The compromise draft document, which curtails the power of the executive, among other changes, enjoys support from all parties in the […]

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, sponsored the second annual “Opportunity: Africa” conference at Delaware State University. The senator’s remarks emphasized the need for the U.S. to recognize the metamorphosis of the continent. “We’re trying to shift the American mentality toward Africa from aid to trade,” Coons told Trend Lines in an email interview after a full day of conversations on expanding economic engagement with Africa. The U.S. has lagged behind China in seizing trade and investment opportunities in Africa, he said, in part because of outdated assumptions and in part […]

European soldiers, often mocked by American analysts in recent years, are back in fashion. France’s intervention in Mali has inspired commentators on both sides of the Atlantic to wonder whether, in the words of Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post, “the European Union could become the world’s policeman.” French President François Hollande’s willingness to go to war excites those who believe the Obama administration is too cautious in its use of military strength. Philip Stephens of the Financial Times observes that “Europeans have caught the interventionist bug just as the U.S. has shaken it off.” There are some obvious problems […]

A little more than a decade ago, in July 2002, the African Union (AU) was formed against an inauspicious backdrop. For Africa, the previous decade had been defined by conflict, state collapse, failed peacekeeping missions and even genocide. So dire had Africa’s condition become that in May 2000 the Economist captured its malaise under the infamous rubric, “the hopeless continent.” The AU’s mission over the past decade was in part to challenge and rewrite such bleak narratives. Looking back, its record is mixed, particularly in its attempts to position itself as the principal vehicle for the advancement of democratization on […]

Across the globe, partner capacity-building through steady-state theater security cooperation (.pdf) plays an increasingly important role in the forward defense posture of the United States. The Defense Department’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (.pdf) identifies building the security capacity of partner states as a key mission, while the 2010 National Security Strategy (.pdf) argues that the United States can advance its national security by enabling partner states to prevent, deter and respond to transnational security challenges before they pose a threat to U.S. citizens, interests or the homeland. Moreover, at a time of budgetary constraints, partner capacity-building through theater security cooperation […]

Uganda’s parliament announced plans earlier this week to summon the country’s defense minister and military chief to clarify recent statements attributed to them that seemed to threaten a military takeover of the government. In addition to reputed warnings by Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga and military chief Gen. Aronda Nyakairima that the military was monitoring legislators’ actions and might take control if they did not make sufficient progress, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni reportedly warned members of parliament that the military would not allow “confusion” in parliament to continue. In an email interview, Adam Branch, a senior research fellow at the Makerere […]