Cyril Ramaphosa addresses delegates during the closing of the conference of the African National Congress, Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

After a decade of Jacob Zuma’s leadership of the African National Congress, or ANC, and more than eight years of him as South Africa’s president, it was hardly surprising that Cyril Ramaphosa’s election to the ANC presidency on Dec. 18 was almost universally welcomed beyond the ranks of the ruling party itself. Zuma’s time in power has been characterized by corruption and dysfunctional governance. However, despite the surge of enthusiasm for Ramaphosa at home and abroad, reflected in an immediate rallying of the rand on global financial markets, the paradox of his election is that it was far from universally […]

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Lt. Gen. James Ajongo Mawut, the army chief of staff, attend a ceremony, Juba, South Sudan, May 18, 2017 (AP photo by Bullen Chol).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Four years after South Sudan’s civil war began, leaders signed yet another cease-fire this week, and diplomats expressed cautious optimism that the agreement represented real progress in ending fighting that has killed tens of thousands of people and triggered the largest African refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The cease-fire is due to come into effect Sunday. It was negotiated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD, a regional East African bloc, during talks in Ethiopia […]

Guinean President Alpha Conde attends a working session at the G-20 summit, Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. In late November, 40 leading radio stations in the West African nation of Guinea suspended their programming in an act of solidarity with another radio station that was closed by the government. The protest was a sign of the growing tension between the government of President Alpha Conde and the Guinean press. In an email interview, Muheeb Saeed, a program officer at the Media Foundation for West Africa, explains what was behind the recent protest, and how press freedom […]

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba attends an event at the EU-Africa summit, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Nov. 29, 2017 (AP photo by Diomande Ble Blonde).

Last week, the National Assembly of Gabon passed a bill that would revise the country’s constitution. It did so with as little fanfare as possible. As AFP noted, the news went unmentioned on state media, and the official who confirmed it to the agency declined to give his name. This is perhaps unsurprising given that President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s government has kept the actual substance of the revisions under wraps as well, opting not to make the bill public even though the Cabinet approved it back in September before sending it to lawmakers. Multiple versions have circulated online, but the […]

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta waves to his supporters as he arrives for his inauguration ceremony, Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 28, 2017 (AP photo by Sayyid Abdul Azim).

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 tension and fears of widespread violence, Kenya’s political leadership this week took steps that seemed designed to end the year on a more conciliatory note. In late November, President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term, following a rerun presidential vote that was boycotted by his main opposition rival, Raila Odinga. In the days that followed, Odinga’s political coalition broadcast plans to hold an alternative ceremony inaugurating Odinga as the “people’s president.” On Sunday, […]

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo greets supporters, Accra, Ghana, Dec. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo offered opinions on everything from the state of democracy in his country to child marriage and Donald Trump. But of all the topics covered in the 25-minute segment, it was his responses to a series of questions on LGBT rights that seemed to attract the most attention, at least domestically. Ghana’s criminal code outlaws same-sex sexual acts, grouping them under a category of offenses referred to as “unnatural carnal knowledge.” When asked by the interviewer, Jane Dutton, why the law remained on the books, Akufo-Addo said he did not […]

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron before a lunch at the Elysee Palace, Paris, Dec. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Mali is set to hold presidential elections in July 2018. Pre-campaign maneuvering recently accelerated, with candidates declaring and likely candidates readying themselves to run. Although President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita enjoys the structural advantages of incumbency, events since last summer suggest he may be vulnerable next year. Keita, known in Mali as IBK, will likely seek re-election after winning his first term in 2013. He is a veteran politician, having served as prime minister in the 1990s and president of the National Assembly in the mid-2000s. Like much of Mali’s political class, he has been on the political scene since the […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping is welcomed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to the Saadabad Palace, Tehran, Iran, Jan. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

The lifting of international economic sanctions on Iran following the 2015 nuclear agreement opened the doors to what many observers expected to be a rush of foreign investment. Yet lingering restrictions from the United States and the decision in October by the Trump administration to decertify the Iran deal have kept some European firms at bay, while China has exploited opportunities in their absence. In an email interview, Nader Habibi, the Henry J. Leir professor of economics of the Middle East at Brandeis University’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies, discusses China’s involvement in Iran before and after the nuclear […]

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour and U. S. Ambassador Nikki Haley confer before a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Dec. 8, 2017 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

The United Nations is a slow, imperfect and often unsuccessful peacemaker. We should celebrate that. Last week, U.N. officials were grappling with three crises that have each been on the organization’s agenda for over half a century. On Tuesday, Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman flew to North Korea to call for “open channels” of diplomatic communication with Pyongyang to avoid a nuclear confrontation. His visit came just over 70 years after the U.N. General Assembly first set up an international commission to facilitate the reunification of the northern and southern halves of the country, a dream that remains as […]

A herder drives his animals away after watering them at one of the few watering holes near the drought-affected village of Bandarero, Kenya, March 3, 2017 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and what it means for the Middle East. For the Report, Andrew Green talks with Peter Dörrie about a pilot program in Kenya that is testing the long-term impact of a universal basic income. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work by subscribing. We’re currently offering a 25 percent […]

Burkina Faso troops provide security following an attack in January 2016 by Islamist extremists, one of several high-profile strikes in West Africa in recent years, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Theo Renaut).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Since taking office in May, French President Emmanuel Macron has been an enthusiastic champion of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, which brings together soldiers from Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Mali to combat militant groups and drug and human trafficking. His efforts have involved publicly pressuring the United States to do more to support the force; his defense minister, Florence Parly, made the case directly during a visit to Washington in October. But while American officials have pledged […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rwandan President Paul Kagame arrive at the Kigali Memorial Center, Kigali, Rwanda, July 6, 2016 (AP photo).

On Nov. 28, the day Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that attending the event would give him an opportunity to reinforce Israel’s engagement with the continent. “Our intention is to deepen ties with Africa, also by forging links with countries that we do not have diplomatic relations with,” he said before boarding a flight to Nairobi. “I hope by the end of the day I will be able to announce the opening of a new Israeli embassy in an African country.” Netanyahu got what he wanted. Though […]

Informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya, November 24, 2016 (dpa photo by Miro May via AP images).

A village in Kenya is the only one in Africa known to be receiving a monthly universal basic income, or UBI, stipend. The experiment is intended to encourage countries with high poverty levels to rethink their approach to social welfare, but not everyone is convinced the UBI trial will yield the answers researchers seek. Makanga is a village like many others in rural Kenya. Farmsteads with walls made of clay and roofs of corrugated iron sit on plots separated by bush. Dusty footpaths cross fields that bear signs of the latest drought to hit East Africa—the effects of which are […]

Musa Bihi Abdi, the new president of Somaliland, speaks to the media after casting his vote, Hargeisa, Somaliland, Nov. 13, 2017 (AP photo by Barkhad Kaariye).

The candidate of Somaliland’s ruling party, Musa Bihi Abdi, was finally declared the new president of this semi-autonomous region of northwestern Somalia late last month, after eight days of counting, recounting and closed-door negotiations between him, his main rival and the National Electoral Commission. Now Bihi faces the task of dealing with Somaliland’s many challenges, most of all turning a nascent democracy and East African success story into a fully functioning and independent state recognized by the world. The election was declared peaceful and free by both local and international observers, who despite concerns claimed to have “observed a poll […]

The Jummah Mosque in Port Louis, Mauritius, April 10, 2008 (dpa photo by Lars Halbauer via AP images).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss North Korea’s latest missile test and why it is so difficult to de-escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula. For the Report, David Ucko talks with Peter Dörrie about the troubling signs of Islamist radicalization in the multiethnic and multicultural island nation of Mauritius, and what this “rainbow nation” can do to address it. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work by subscribing. We’re […]

People walk past a campaign billboard for President Paul Biya, Yaounde, Cameroon, Oct. 7, 2011 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. It’s been more than a year since large-scale protests, followed by a harsh government crackdown, began disrupting life in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions, where the population has long complained of marginalization at the hands of the government and Francophone majority. Yet with actors on both sides embracing increasingly extremist rhetoric and tactics, there’s every reason to believe the crisis will continue—and several signs that its attendant violence will worsen. Within a span of 24 hours this week, five soldiers and […]