Agnes Tembo, a participant in Malawi's Soils, Foods, and Healthy Communities project, tends to her field of pigeon peas, Mzimba District, Malawi, August 2016 (photo by Jonathan W. Rosen).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Karina Piser, discuss how to get India-Pakistan ties back on track, the international outrage over Russia’s actions in Syria, and Tanzania’s troubling authoritarian turn. For the Report, Jonathan Rosen talks with Peter Dörrie about Malawi’s struggle for food security. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: What Will It Take To Get Troubled India-Pakistan Ties Back on Track? International Outrage Won’t Change Russia’s Behavior in Aleppo Magufuli’s Reformist Drive Takes an Autocratic Turn in Tanzania From Drought to Green Revolution? Malawi’s—and Africa’s—Quest for Food […]

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at a press conference, Rome, Italy, Nov. 24, 2014 (AP photo by Alessandra Tarantino).

Earlier this month, Italy cooperated with Libyan military commander Gen. Khalifa Haftar to ensure the delivery of 700,000 barrels of oil from eastern Libya, despite the fact that the Italian government officially supports the United Nations-backed national unity government in Tripoli that Haftar opposes. In an email interview, Silvia Colombo, a senior fellow at the Institute of International Affairs, discusses Italy’s policies in North Africa and the Middle East. WPR: Who are Italy’s main partners in North Africa and the Middle East, and to what extent do hydrocarbons drive relations? Silvia Colombo: Italy’s foreign policy has always had a distinct […]

People celebrate after the World Health Organization declared Liberia Ebola-free, Monrovia, Liberia, May 11, 2015 (AP photo by Abbas Dulleh).

Last month, a warlord turned senator in Liberia named Prince Johnson kicked off his candidacy for next year’s presidential election with a sharp denunciation of sexual minorities and those who defend them. “A government under our watch will never, ever accept gay rights,” said Johnson, who is best known for his role in wartime atrocities, including the torture and killing of President Samuel Doe in 1990. “Liberia is not Sodom and Gomorrah.” The statement, and the attention it received from local journalists, was consistent with a campaign in which the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Liberians have taken […]

Women and children separate grain from soil, Machinga, Malawi, May 24, 2016 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Driving along central Malawi’s M5 lakeshore highway in mid-2016, a visitor could be forgiven for mistaking the surrounding countryside for desert. In what should have been an area lush from rains ending in April, the land of gently sloping hills, baobab trees and fiery sunsets was parched. Although the road meandered past some signs of greenery—mango trees, tobacco fields, irrigated sugar cane for export—the dust that stretched to the horizon did little to mask that Malawi, like much of eastern and southern Africa, is in crisis. Hit by the strongest El Nino in a generation, which disrupted rainfall patterns, ruined […]

A Tanzanian woman walks past a billboard for then-presidential candidate John Magufuli, Dar es Salaam, Oct. 26, 2015 (AP photo by Khalfan Said).

After winning elections a year ago, Tanzania’s new president, John Magufuli, quickly lived up to the nickname he acquired while he was the minister of works, “the Bulldozer.” He launched investigations against corruption that led to the sacking of senior officials in the Tanzania Revenue Authority, the Dar es Salaam Ports Authority and the head of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau, among others. He sought to introduce a note of austerity within government, canceling expensive Independence Day celebrations and banning government officials from making unnecessary foreign trips. He was photographed picking up litter outside State House, the president’s […]

Demonstrators of the Berber community stage a protest in front of a walled area where Algier's newspapers are headquartered, Algiers, July 8, 2015 (AP photo by Sidali Djarboub).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss Africa’s presidents for life, the need to rethink U.S. relationships with the Arab world, and political stagnation in Indonesia under Jokowi. For the Report, Vish Sakthivel joins Peter Dörrie to talk about the outlook for Algeria when the Bouteflika era comes to an end. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: Why Africa’s ‘Presidents for Life’ Are So Afraid to Lose Power Why the U.S. Should Prioritize Iraq and UAE Ties Over Egypt and Saudi Arabia Why Indonesia’s Apparent Stability Under […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arriving at the national palace, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 11, 2016 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Africa last week, traveling to Mali, Niger and Ethiopia. Issues of security dominated her visit to Mali, while migration was central to her trip to Niger. In Ethiopia, Merkel focused on security dialogue with the African Union, but her expression of support for greater democratization in the country was equally important. Merkel was notably blunter about Ethiopia’s authoritarianism than U.S. President Barack Obama and American diplomats, suggesting Germany’s potential as a mediator and advocate for political rights on the continent. Historically, Germany has not had nearly the same interest in Africa as France, Britain and […]

President Joseph Kabila during a parade to celebrate Congo's independence from Belgium, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, June 30, 2015 (AP photo by John Bompengo).

Last month, more than 50 protesters were killed in two days of clashes with security forces in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The protesters had taken to the streets with a clear message: The country’s presidential election must be held as soon as possible, and President Joseph Kabila must step down on Dec. 19 when his term officially expires. Although the city’s authorities had authorized the demonstration, it was violently suppressed by the police and the republican guard. Having lost faith in their government since the rigged 2011 elections when Kabila was controversially re-elected, the […]

Cape Verde's president, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, addresses the U.N. Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio de Janeiro, June 20, 2014 (U.N. photo by Guilherme Costa).

On Oct. 2, Cape Verde’s president, Jorge Carlos Fonseca easily won re-election with 74 percent of the vote, an unsurprising result given victories by his party, the Movement for Democracy, in legislative and municipal elections earlier this year. In an email interview, Lydia Beuman, a postdoctoral fellow at Dublin City University, discusses politics in Cape Verde. WPR: What were the main issues that dominated the recent presidential election in Cape Verde? Lydia Beuman: The constitution of Cape Verde defines the president as the head of state and the guardian of the constitution. The president has limited executive powers but can, […]

Cote d'Ivoire's President Alassane Ouattara during an interview, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Oct. 29, 2015 (AP photo by Schalk van Zuydam).

Last week, Cote d’Ivoire’s parliament approved the draft of a new constitution that President Alassane Ouattara says will “turn the page” on the country’s “successive crises,” and offer a “new social pact.” That’s because the new draft makes good on his 2015 campaign promise to lift the restriction on presidential candidates with dual nationality, a deep-rooted source of social tension in a country with a large immigrant population. Ouattara himself had previously been barred from running for president, due to speculation that his father was born in Burkina Faso. Ivoirians will vote on the new charter in a national referendum […]

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika applauds after taking the oath as President, Algiers, April 28, 2014 (AP photo by Sidali Djarboub).

The ailing health of Algeria’s aging president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, commonly leads Algeria-watchers to assess the prospects for regime continuity and the risks of political instability in what amounts to an interregnum. Both make up chapters of the country’s recent history. Over the past 25 years, Algerians lived through 10 traumatic years of insurgency and counterinsurgency, sometimes called the Dark Decade that shook the country to its foundations from 1991-2002, followed by a decade and a half of peace under Bouteflika. Bouteflika, along with his predecessor Liamine Zeroual, negotiated the laying down of arms and reconciliation—albeit an imperfect one—among armed groups […]

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi enters the court room to hear the verdict of the International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands, Sept. 27, 2016 (AP photo by Bas Czerwinski).

Late last month, judges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued a landmark verdict, sentencing Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, a Malian member of a jihadi group tied to al-Qaida, to nine years in prison for the destruction of sacred mausoleums in Timbuktu. For the first time, the ICC prosecuted the destruction of cultural heritage as a war crime, sending a powerful message of international condemnation against the growing use of attacks on cultural heritage as a weapon during war. Prosecuting the destruction of the Timbuktu mausoleums was a way to respond through law rather than force to similar devastation […]

Presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo addresses supporters during a rally, Accra, Ghana, Dec. 11, 2012 (AP photo by Gabriela Barnuevo).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss Belarus’ opening toward the West, the slow wheels of transitional justice in Burkina Faso, and the outlook for Peru under President Pablo Kuczynski. For the Report, Dorina Bekoe joins us to talk about the growing risk of instability in Ghana ahead of the December presidential election. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: Belarus’ Lukashenko Gestures Toward Openness in a Bid to Impress the West Two Years After Compaore’s Ouster, the Wheels of Justice Turn Slowly in Burkina Faso With a Strong […]

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi with Saudi Arabia's King Salman, Cairo, Egypt, April 8, 2016 (AP photo by Mohamed Abd El Moatey).

Last week, commodities traders noticed something unusual in the spot oil markets. Representatives of Egypt’s state oil firm were suddenly making more aggressive buys, entering uncommonly large orders. Traders for the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation reportedly purchased 560,000 tons of gas oil, more than double the September amount. And the orders required almost immediate delivery. Since Egypt gets most of its fuel from Saudi Arabia, it wasn’t difficult to trace the cause of the sudden scarcity. The Saudis, it became apparent, had suspended deliveries of highly subsidized fuel to Egypt. Riyadh had just fired a shot across Cairo’s bow. Fortunately […]

People gather as they await the announcement of a new interim leader, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Oct. 31, 2014 (AP photo by Theo Renaut).

In mid-September, Luc Adolphe Tiao, the last prime minister of Burkina Faso’s former president, Blaise Compaore, became the first official to be jailed for the shootings of unarmed demonstrators during the popular insurrection that ousted Compaore in 2014. Tiao, who was believed to have signed an order authorizing troops to fire into huge crowds of protesters two years ago, was formally indicted on murder charges and taken into custody. With Compaore in exile in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, beyond the immediate reach of Burkina Faso’s courts, it has taken nearly two years for anyone in his government to be locked up […]

Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama speaks during his inauguration ceremony, Accra, Ghana, Jan. 7, 2013 (AP photo by Gabriela Barnuevo).

On Dec. 7, 2016, Ghanaians are scheduled to vote in the country’s seventh general election since the return of multiparty politics in 1992, when Ghana transitioned from military to civilian rule. Ghana is considered to be one of Africa’s most mature democracies. Presidential term limits are firmly in place. Political power has peacefully alternated between the country’s two main parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP). Electoral disputes have generally been resolved through the electoral commission or the courts, and not through violent means. Ghana is often praised for its stability, peace and democratic development. […]

Then-vice president of the Seychelles, Danny Faure, addresses the U.N. General Assembly, New York, Sept. 27, 2013 (U.N. photo by Rick Bajornas).

Last month, the Seychelles’ president, James Michel, resigned after his political party, known as Parti Lepep, lost parliamentary elections. Vice President Danny Faure will be sworn in later this month to complete the remainder of Michel’s five-year term. In an email interview, Yolanda Sadie, a professor at the University of Johannesburg, discussed politics in the Seychelles. WPR: What were the main issues that dominated the recent elections in the Seychelles, and what explains the opposition Linyon Demokratik coalition’s victory? Yolanda Sadie: Economic issues dominated the election. During the campaign, the incumbent Parti Lepep, or People’s Party, highlighted its achievements of […]

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