U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres shakes hands with civilians at the cathedral in Bangassou, Central African Republic, Oct. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Joel Kouam).

He said his visit was to show solidarity with those inside the conflict-torn country, but the U.N. chief was clearly sending a message to the outside world. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrapped up a trip to the Central African Republic last Friday, his first visit to a country hosting a U.N. peacekeeping mission since he assumed his post in January. The choice signaled the severity of the situation in CAR and a determination to highlight the importance of U.N. peacekeeping. Violence has surged and spread in CAR, a near lawless former French colony, bringing a years-long crisis to a boil. Record […]

A man walks past burned-out houses following an attack by Boko Haram in Dalori village, near Maiduguri, Jan. 31, 2016 (AP photo Jossy Ola).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss what the consolidation of power by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 19th Communist Party Congress means for China and the world. For the Report, Hilary Matfess talks with Peter Dörrie about why the U.S. should reconsider its growing security partnership with Nigeria’s military, which has been accused of human rights abuses and counterproductive tactics in its battle against Boko Haram. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work […]

Members of the Togolese diaspora stage an anti-government protest, Brussels, Belgium, Aug. 31, 2017 (Photo by Wiktor Dabkowski via AP).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. After months of protests and more than a dozen deaths, the situation in Togo is beginning to draw more attention, and public comment, from other heads of state in West Africa. Since August, opposition leaders in Togo have organized large-scale anti-government protests in cities throughout the country, calling for reforms and the departure of President Faure Gnassingbe. The Gnassingbe family has been in power for half a century, with Eyadema Gnassingbe ruling for 38 years before dying in office […]

Ethiopians chant antigovernment slogans during a march, Bishoftu, Ethiopia, Oct. 2, 2016 (AP photo).

Long before a demonstration against South Sudan’s president forced Nikki Haley to evacuate a displaced persons camp in Juba on Wednesday, it was a safe bet that much of the coverage generated by her first trip to Africa as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. would concern the civil war in that country—with some possible competition from her stop in the Democratic Republic of Congo. President Donald Trump specifically mentioned both countries when he announced in September that he planned to send Haley to the continent. Haley has been openly critical of the South Sudanese and Congolese presidents for months, increasing […]

Angola’s new president, Joao Lourenco, casts his vote in the election that brought him to power, Luanda, Angola, Aug. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Bruno Fonseca).

On Sept. 26, Joao Lourenco was sworn in as just the third president since Angola gained its independence from Portugal in November 1975. Unlike other post-colonial leaders in Africa, Angola’s first president, Agostino Neto, was in power for barely four years, until September 1979. In the nearly 38 years since then, Jose Eduardo dos Santos has been at the helm of the oil-rich nation. The historic handover of power, after elections in August, came as Angola finds itself in the deepest economic crisis since before its civil war ended in 2002. Even if there is not yet a political transition […]

Nigerian soldiers during the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Abuja, May 29, 2015 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba). Buhari has tried to cultivate the image of a military man who can successfully take the fight to Boko Haram.

From arbitrary arrests to extrajudicial killings, reports of abuses committed by Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram are legion. These rough tactics undermine the counterinsurgency effort by alienating civilians. So why does the Trump administration seem intent on continuing bilateral military support? Early one Friday morning this past August, the United Nations compound and guesthouse in Maiduguri, the largest city in northeast Nigeria, was targeted in a raid. For several hours after the armed intruders arrived, they were prevented from crossing the gate of the facility, where officials help coordinate humanitarian assistance programs for populations affected by the ongoing violence carried […]

Somalis carry the body of a man killed by the truck bombing, Mogadishu, Somalia, Oct. 14, 2017 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

On Oct. 14, a huge truck bombing in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, killed at least 350 people, the deadliest act of terrorism in the country’s history. The manner and scale of the attack reveal much about the security situation in Somalia and the ongoing war against the Islamist militant group al-Shabab. In an email interview, Yasin Ahmed Ismail, who leads GLAFPOL, a research, analysis and consultancy group operating in East Africa and the Horn of Africa, explains the faults in Somalia’s security system, the government’s ongoing campaign against al-Shabab, and how the Trump administration’s intensified engagement in Somalia could change things […]

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

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. “I did not do anything that can make me regret.” That was South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, defending his leadership of the world’s youngest nation in a rare interview with The Washington Post published over the weekend. Most people, though, would dispute Kiir’s claim that he has not been a main driver of the country’s civil war, which began in 2013 with fighting between factions loyal to Kiir and the former vice president, Riek Machar. Kiir’s soldiers have been […]

Myeshia Johnson cries over the casket of her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an assault in Niger, Miami, Oct. 17, 2017 (WPLG via AP).

The most common reaction to the deaths of four United States Army Special Forces in Niger earlier this month seems to have been surprise that the U.S. had any kind of military presence in the country in the first place. In the wake of the ambush, which has been blamed on yet-to-be-identified Islamist militants, various media outlets placed it in the context of a broader American “shadow war” carried out in “one of the most remote and chaotic war zones on the planet” despite “little public debate” back home. But for those who track the various military efforts to combat […]

An Algerian paratrooper jumps by a flag showing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika during a military show, Algiers, July 5, 2017 (AP photo by Anis Belghoul).

When Algeria’s newly appointed prime minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, addressed parliament last month, he ominously declared that his government would be insolvent by November. Three years of low oil prices had rapidly expanded the country’s budget deficit and eroded its reserves, leaving it with little cash to pay public sector employees or invest in the type of projects that would keep the private sector afloat. Ouyahia’s startling admission provided the pretext for unveiling a new, unconventional monetary policy that he argued would buy Algeria some more time to fix its finances and execute reforms. Ouyahia’s policy—known popularly by economists as “helicopter […]

Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, center, and Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, second left, tour a new Turkish-Somali military training center in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sept. 30, 2017 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsame).

For centuries, outside powers have clashed in Africa, often exploiting weaknesses or divisions across the continent to grasp at power and resources. The second half of the 19th century, for instance, saw the “scramble for Africa” as European nations divided nearly all of the continent into colonies. Several times competition between colonial powers nearly led to war in Europe. In the second half of the 20th century, during the Cold War, Africa was torn as Western nations—first the outgoing European colonizers and later the United States—supported friendly governments and political movements against allies of the Soviet Union, China and Cuba. […]

Riot police remove a barricade used to block a road during protests, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec. 20, 2016 (AP photo by John Bompengo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. The target for elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo only seems to get further away. This week, the country’s national election commission issued a statement saying it would be unable to organize a vote before April 2019—nearly two and a half years after the expiration of President Joseph Kabila’s mandate. Congo’s opposition and the donor community were expected to lodge strong protests to the new timeline, which would represent a brazen violation of a political accord reached at […]

Opposition protesters scatter as police fire tear gas at them during a demonstration in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 26, 2017 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Kenya’s long-running political drama is sinking deeper into crisis, testing the outermost limits of the country’s election laws. Its highest court seemed at first to have struck a rare victory for judicial independence with its declaration that August’s presidential election, which gave a second term to President Uhuru Kenyatta, was “invalid, null and void,” necessitating a rerun. But as the weeks have passed, the Supreme Court ruling looks more like a mixed blessing that guaranteed a prolonged political morass. The new vote was supposed to take place before the end of October, but very few of the underlying problems identified […]

Civil rights activists march at the start of the 21st World Aids Conference, Durban, South Africa, July 18, 2016 (AP photo).

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, is sometimes described as George W. Bush’s signature policy achievement—a rare bright spot on a decidedly fraught record, especially overseas. Active in more than 50 countries, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa, the program has been essential in the effort to bring the continent’s HIV/AIDS epidemic under control. Yet the program’s future seemed to be in jeopardy following Donald Trump’s election last November. In January, a list of questions formulated by his transition team sparked concern among those working on foreign assistance in sub-Saharan Africa—and HIV/AIDS programming in particular. “Is PEPFAR […]

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir casts his ballot for presidential and legislative elections, Khartoum, Sudan, April 27, 2015 (AP photo by Mosa'ab Elshamy).

After several false starts over the past decade, the United States finally lifted sanctions it first levied against Sudan nearly two decades ago. The decision came late last week, after the Trump administration had extended its deadline over the summer on whether to make the Obama administration’s easing of sanctions permanent. The sanctions relief for Sudan was one of former President Barack Obama’s final, surprising foreign policy moves in office. The U.S. has imposed the financial restrictions since the 1990s in response to the Sudanese regime’s penchant for harboring terrorists and for the atrocities it has committed, including the genocide […]

Nigerian special forces run past Chadian troops in a U.S.-led hostage rescue exercise, Mao, Chad, March 7, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. An ambush in Niger that killed three U.S. Army Special Forces and five Nigerien soldiers this week focused attention on the U.S. military’s presence in West Africa, a region typically seen as France’s domain. The attack, which marked the first time U.S. troops were killed by a militant group in Niger, occurred Wednesday about 120 miles north of Niamey, the capital, near the border with Mali. It was not clear if the Americans were specifically targeted. The International Crisis […]

Ugandan opposition MPs scuffle with security trying to eject some of the MPs from Parliament during a debate on the presidential age limit, Kampala, Uganda (AP photo by Ronald Kabuubi).

KAMPALA, Uganda—Not long after he took office in 1986, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, had a singular diagnosis for his continent’s ills. “The problem of Africa in general, and Uganda in particular, is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power,” he claimed in a book titled, appropriately enough, “What Is Africa’s Problem?” But now the former guerilla fighter seems to have changed his mind. Uganda is currently moving full steam ahead with an unpopular constitutional amendment that will effectively guarantee the 73-year-old Museveni the ability to remain in office for the rest of his life, by lifting […]

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