Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz during a state visit to China, Sept. 14, 2015, Beijing (AP photo by Lintao Zhang).

Earlier this month, thousands in Mauritania took to the streets to protest President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s proposed constitutional referendum that many believe is designed to allow him to seek a third term in office.* In an email interview, Noel Foster, a doctoral student at Princeton University, discussed politics in Mauritania and the reaction to the proposed reforms. WPR: What constitutional reforms has President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz proposed, and what is driving the move? Noel Foster: Abdel Aziz recently proposed a constitutional referendum, ostensibly to amend the constitution so as to abolish the Senate and pursue decentralization. Granted, the […]

A banana seller walks past election posters, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Nov. 19, 2012 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

In late April, on Sierra Leone’s independence day, police raided the headquarters of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party, firing shots and arresting supporters. In an email interview, Jimmy Kandeh, a professor at the University of Richmond, discussed the state of the opposition and domestic politics in Sierra Leone. WPR: What are the opposition parties in Sierra Leone, and how broad is their support across the country? Jimmy Kandeh: The main opposition party in Sierra Leone is the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), which, like the incumbent All People’s Congress (APC), is a blatantly corrupt patronage outfit. Founded in 1951, […]

Chadian peacekeepers with the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) patrol a check point, Tessalit, northern Mali, Nov. 3, 2013 (U.N. photo Marco Dormino).

Who can do the best job of fighting terrorists in Africa? Islamist extremist groups such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Somalia’s al-Shabab and northern Nigeria’s Boko Haram are garnering increasingly intense international attention. Last week, the U.S Army chief of staff was in Tanzania to discuss the threat with his African counterparts. In the meantime, United Nations Security Council ambassadors were visiting Somalia, while Western and Arab foreign ministers met in Vienna to discuss Libya, where the self-declared Islamic State has a foothold. Also last week, the Nigerian government claimed a symbolic victory when it announced that it had […]

View of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec. 9, 2007 (Flickr photo by irene2005 licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. Last week, the prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), proposed a new budget that included cutting government spending by 30 percent in a bid to avoid hyperinflation, as the economy continues to suffer from low global commodities prices. In an email interview Yvan Yenda Ilunga, a doctoral student in the division of global affairs at Rutgers University, discussed the effect of declining revenues from commodities on the DRC’s economy. WPR: How important are commodities […]

The skyline of central Luanda, Angola, May 4, 2014 (AP photo by Saul Loeb).

Oil-rich Angola is enduring serious hardship with the slump in global energy prices, and there is a sense of things being in a state of flux in a country deeply dependent on petrodollars over the past decade. Throwing major political uncertainty into the mix, in March, long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos announced his intention to step down and retire from active politics in 2018, which would effectively end a four-decade-long tenure as head of state. Whether dos Santos follows through with his pledge remains to be seen; he made a similar announcement in 2001, but then reneged. The context […]

A Syrian Kurdish fighter from the People's Protection Units (YPG), Sinjar, Iraq, Jan. 29, 2015 (AP photo by Bram Janssen).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the challenges facing President Maurico Macri’s reforms in Argentina, Mozambique’s hidden debt crisis, and land protests in Kazakhstan. For the Report, Denise Natali joins us to talk about how the Syrian war has impacted the country’s Kurds and their prospects for autonomy. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: Macri’s Moment: Can Argentina’s New President Live Up to the Hype? Massive Debt Revelation Another Blow to Mozambique’s Economy Kazakhstan’s Unprecedented Land Protests Only the First Wave of Discontent? Can Syria’s Kurds Leverage War […]

Supporters of the Islamist party Ennahda during a rally in Tunis, Tunisia, Feb. 16, 2013 (AP photo by Amine Landouls).

On Thursday, Rachid Ghannouchi, the founder of Tunisia’s Ennahda, told the French newspaper Le Monde that his party—long defined and projected as Islamist—would be “leaving political Islam behind.” Rather than Islamists, Ghannouchi says, Ennahda is a party of “Muslim Democrats,” echoing a paper that a party legislator recently published for the Brookings Institution. The move requires some clarification: Ennahda is not stripping Islam from its identity. Rather, the group will formally delineate between its political and religious activities. Its leadership will focus exclusively on politics and technocratic issues, whereas its other members will remain free to engage in the civic […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Paris Climate Conference, Le Bourget, France, Nov. 30, 2015 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Given global headlines, you might think the world is terribly off course. Geopolitical rivalry threatens stability from Eastern Europe to the South China Sea. Jihadi terrorists sow mayhem throughout the Middle East. A scary virus emerges in Latin America, spreading across borders. A Brazilian president is brought down, as the Panama Papers expose corruption in other lands. Publics everywhere, alienated by yawning inequality and anemic growth, vent their frustration at a system rigged for moneyed elites. Populist politicians, sensing the sour mood, promise to reverse globalization by building walls to keep out foreigners and abandoning trade agreements. This noisy, negative […]

View of the Port of Maputo, Mozambique, Aug. 15, 2006 (Flickr photo by Julien Legarde, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic).

Mozambique’s government was recently revealed to have borrowed $1.4 billion in previously undisclosed loans. In an email interview, Fernanda Massarongo Chivulele, a researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Studies in Maputo, discussed the loan scandal and the fallout for Mozambique’s politics and economy. WPR: What is the background of Mozambique’s debt crisis, and what are the immediate consequences and implications for the donor-dependent government budget? Fernanda Massarongo Chivulele: Mozambique was taken by surprise by an April report in The Wall Street Journal about the existence of an undisclosed loan to the government in 2013, around the same time […]

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh arriving at a security summit, Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 27, 2014 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

The series of protests that have gripped parts of Gambia since mid-April present a serious political test for longtime President Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled the tiny West African state since seizing power in a bloodless coup nearly 22 years ago. The protests come at a time when the Gambian government faces international censure for alleged human rights violations, amid reports of security forces employing heavy-handed tactics against demonstrators. With a deteriorating fiscal situation and a presidential election scheduled for December, Gambia could find itself mired in turmoil for months to come. Yet despite Jammeh’s precarious position, the Gambian strongman […]

Cuban dissident Miguel Alberto Ulloa holding his prison release document, Havana, Cuba, Jan. 9, 2015 (AP photo by Ramon Espinosa).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the challenges facing NATO, South Sudan’s unstable peace, and Kim Jong Un cementing his power at North Korea’s party congress. For the Report, Ted Henken, joins us to explain what normalization with the U.S. and reforms mean for Cuba’s economy and political opposition. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles on WPR: From Russia to Refugee Crisis, NATO Faces Biggest Test Since the Cold War Machar’s Return Only the First Step in Bringing South Sudan Back Together North Korea Party Congress Shows Kim’s Power—and […]

South Sudanese First Vice President Riek Machar, left, and President Salva Kiir after the first meeting of a new transitional government, Juba, South Sudan, April 29, 2016 (AP photo by Jason Patinkin).

South Sudan’s original political odd couple is back together again. In late April, President Salva Kiir watched over the swearing in of his very recent rival and enemy, Riek Machar, as first vice president before declaring that the ceremony marked “the end of the war and the return of peace and stability to South Sudan.” Is Kiir right? While the homecoming for Machar, the vice president-turned-rebel leader, is a crucial initial step in returning peace to South Sudan, it is only that. And it would be dangerous to reduce the peace process to simply the state of the relationship between […]

A Palestinian woman in the rubble of destroyed houses following Israeli strikes, Rafah refugee camp, Gaza, Palestine, Aug. 4, 2014 (AP Photo by Khalil Hamra).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein and senior editor Frederick Deknatel discuss Honduras’ corrupt police force, transitional justice in Cote d’Ivoire, and the political prospects for Turkey, Syria and Iraq’s Kurds. For the Report, Khaled Hroub joins us to talk about Hamas’ options for ending Gaza’s isolation. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant articles from WPR: Police Scandal in Honduras Could Lead to Even More Militarized Policing Gbagbo’s Trial Is the Latest Sign of Victor’s Justice in Cote d’Ivoire Kurds in Iraq, Turkey and Syria Vacillate Between Hope and Despair Can Hamas Afford the Cost […]

Senegalese soldiers during U.S.-led Flintlock military training, Thies, Senegal, Feb. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Vincent Tremeau).

On Monday, the United States and Senegal signed a deal to facilitate U.S. troop access to the West African country, in the latest example of the American military’s expanding presence in Africa. The deal authorizes the creation of infrastructure that enables quick deployment for U.S. forces; once the construction of new facilities is completed, American troops won’t have to start from scratch in the event of a crisis or attack. The agreement comes in the context of West Africa’s increasingly precarious security, with rising threats from militant groups such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram and the […]

Madagascan President Hery Rajaonarimampianina speaks at a U.N. Climate Summit, Sep. 23, 2014 (U.N. photo by Rick Bajornas).

Last month, Solonandrasana Olivier Mahafaly became prime minister of Madagascar after Jean Ravelonarivo resigned, ostensibly, due to disagreements with President Hery Rajaonarimampianina over development policy. In an email interview, Professor Richard R. Marcus, the director of the Global Studies Institute at California State University, Long Beach, discussed politics in Madagascar and the country’s political reconciliation. WPR: What are the reasons behind Madagascan Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo’s resignation? Richard Marcus: Ravelonarivo was brought in to perform an impossible role. His predecessor, Roger Kolo, survived only 276 days in office, largely due to his confrontations with President Rajaonarimampianina and his inability to […]

Cote d’Ivoire's president, Alassane Ouattara, at the African Union Summit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 30, 2016 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

Five years after Cote d’Ivoire’s 2011 post-election crisis came to a bloody end, the trial of former First Lady Simone Gbagbo for crimes against humanity is set to open this month in Abidjan, the country’s biggest city and economic hub. More than 3,000 people were killed, 150 women raped and hundreds of thousands displaced during five months of fighting after Gbagbo’s husband, then-incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down despite losing the November 2010 presidential runoff vote to challenger Alassane Ouattara. Simone Gbagbo’s trial will mark the first time an Ivoirian court has dealt with international crimes committed during […]

U.N. peacekeepers on patrol with Congolese soldiers near Tongo, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, March 19, 2014 (U.N. photo by Sylvain Liechti).

There will be a major crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) before the end of 2016, and nobody really knows what to do about it. This is neither an alarmist nor even a particularly contentious statement. Diplomats, United Nations officials and independent analysts agree that trouble is looming over the DRC’s presidential election, which is supposed to take place in November. The constitution bars the sitting president, Joseph Kabila, from running for a third term. However, almost all observers believe he intends to cling onto power, potentially unleashing serious violence. Nobody can predict exactly how ugly this could […]

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