Journalists run away from a cloud of tear gas that was fired by Kenyan security forces to disperse a convoy of Kenyan opposition officials, Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. This week, eight leading columnists from Kenya’s largest media house, the Nation Media Group, resigned in protest of government interference and what they called a “loss in editorial independence.” The resignations come amid increasingly restrictive measures placed on the media by the administration of President Uhuru Kenyatta, including its controversial decision to shut down Kenya’s top three television stations in January for covering the shadow presidential inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga, in defiance of the government’s demands. In […]

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

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Though the deal was approved on a Friday night, Ghana’s opposition made sure it wouldn’t be buried. A week ago, lawmakers in the West African country passed a new agreement on military cooperation with the United States. It features terms that have proven controversial, including granting the U.S. access to Ghanaian radio channels and tax exemptions on imported military equipment. Perhaps most importantly, it also gives the U.S. military the “unimpeded” freedom to deploy across the country. “We will […]

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, arrive at the commission’s offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 9, 2018 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

In early March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov embarked on a five-country tour of sub-Saharan Africa. During his trip, Lavrov signed new trade agreements with Russia’s two long-standing partners in southern Africa, Angola and Mozambique. He also strengthened Moscow’s diplomatic ties to Zimbabwe’s new government and highlighted the role Russia could play providing security to several countries facing political unrest at home. Even though Russia’s power projection capabilities on the continent remain limited, the broad range of deals signed by Lavrov suggests that Russia is actively seeking to expand its economic and security influence in Africa, and perhaps reassert some […]

Supporters of Zambian President Edgar Lungu react while supporters of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema picket outside the High Commission of Zambia, Pretoria, South Africa, May 26, 2017 (AP photo).

When Hakainde Hichilema, Zambia’s opposition leader, was let out of prison last August, some analysts speculated that the news would herald a cooling of tensions in a country that had struggled to move on from its disputed presidential election in 2016. Hichilema, the head of the United Party for National Development, or UPND, finished second in that race to President Edgar Lungu, who took office in 2015 after the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata. But Hichilema challenged the result, just as he challenged the 2015 by-election that had permitted Lungu to serve out the remainder of Sata’s term. The […]

Recently freed schoolgirls from the Nigerian town of Dapchi attend a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Abuja, Nigeria, March 23, 2018 (AP photo by Azeez Akunleyan).

On March 23, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared that his government “is ever ready to accept the unconditional laying down of arms by any member of the Boko Haram group who shows strong commitment in that regard.” Two days later, his information minister, Lai Mohammed, revealed that “unknown to many, we have been in wider cessation-of-hostility talks with the insurgents for some time now.” The immediate context for Buhari’s offer and Mohammed’s revelation was Boko Haram’s recent kidnapping of 111 schoolgirls in Dapchi, in northeastern Nigeria. The girls were kidnapped in February; the extremist group released most of the girls […]

Jan Christians sits outside his home in the Richtersveld area, where locals live as they await the outcome of a lands claim action, North Western Cape Province, South Africa, March 2005 (AP photo by Mujahid Safodien).

In late February, South Africa’s parliament overwhelmingly passed a motion seeking to change the constitution in order to allow the government to expropriate land without compensation. The motion came after the ruling African National Congress formally adopted the principle of land expropriation at its party conference in December. South Africa’s new president and the head of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, has since voiced his opposition to the recent spate of unilateral land grabs across the country, or what critics call “illegal land invasions.” In an email interview, John Campbell, the Ralph Bunche senior fellow of African policy studies at the […]

Cyril Ramaphosa, then serving as South Africa’s deputy president, delivers a speech marking the 28th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 11, 2018 (AP photo).

Amid the drama last month of Jacob Zuma’s resignation as South African president and Cyril Ramaphosa’s subsequent inauguration, it was easy to overlook the resiliency of South Africa’s democracy during Zuma’s nine years in power, which were marked by poor governance, corruption and his authoritarian style. By the end, the political opposition, the judiciary, the media and the electorate all successfully exerted pressure on the ruling African National Congress to remove him. Zuma’s departure was a crisis for the ANC, but not for South Africa’s democratic institutions and the rule of law. When it decided that he had to go, […]

African leaders, along with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, at an African Union summit meeting, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 30, 2017 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. What good is an African free trade deal that doesn’t include the continent’s two largest economies? That’s the question economists are asking after both Nigeria and South Africa refrained from joining the 44 countries that signed onto the African Continental Free Trade Area, or ACFTA, during a summit meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, on Wednesday. Though they were not the only holdouts, they were by far the most significant. Taken together, the two countries represent one-third of Africa’s gross domestic […]

People fill the courtroom as the High Court in Kenya begins hearing arguments in a case challenging parts of the penal code seen as targeting LGBT communities, Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 22, 2018 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

In dozens of African countries, laws criminalizing same-sex sexual acts are among the more pernicious holdovers from the colonial era. Even as LGBT rights activists have made considerable gains in securing access to health services and combating specific human rights abuses, decriminalization has remained largely out of reach. Yet in the coming months, judges in two African capitals thousands of miles apart are expected to rule on legal challenges that would help break this deadlock and, in the process, go a long way toward transforming the judiciary from a source of repression into an ally. The cases, in Kenya and […]

An unidentified man smokes marijuana next to a no drugs sign at the New Afrika Shrine, Lagos, Nigeria, Feb. 6, 2011 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. For decades, Nigeria’s government has been at the forefront of drug enforcement in West Africa, leading the charge against trafficking in the region and treating it largely as a criminal issue at home. But the sale and use of illicit drugs domestically does not appear to be falling. On March 21, more than 13,000 pounds of cannabis were seized in the home and warehouse of a single individual in Benin City, according to local reports. The previous day, the governor […]

A Congolese miner digs for cassiterite, the major ore of tin, at Nyabibwe mine, Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 17, 2012 (AP photo by Marc Hofer).

After more than five years of negotiations, Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, signed into law a new mining code earlier this month. The code faced strong opposition from mining companies, which now face higher royalties and taxes. The government has said it may be willing to negotiate terms on a case-by-case basis. Congo has extensive mineral wealth and is the top source of cobalt globally and the top source of copper in Africa. In an email interview, Thomas Lassourd, a senior economic analyst at the Natural Resource Governance Institute, or NRGI, discusses why the government decided […]

Volunteers handle coffins during a mass funeral for victims of attacks blamed on Fulani herdsmen, Makurdi, Nigeria, Jan. 11, 2018 (AP Photo).

Nigeria’s population has quadrupled in the past 60 years, creating a host of pressures on the country’s rural population and pushing farmers and herders into an escalating state of conflict. In 2016 and 2017, four states in Nigeria enacted bans on the open grazing of cattle, aimed at restricting herders and the pastoral communities they support. But the bans haven’t helped reduce violence; over 100 people have already been killed in clashes between farmers and herders this year. In an email interview, Adam Higazi, a research fellow at the University of Amsterdam and an affiliated lecturer at the University of […]

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).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Last October, when four U.S. soldiers were killed after coming under attack in the West African nation of Niger, various lawmakers in Washington said they had been unaware the U.S. military had any kind of presence in the country. “I didn’t know there was 1,000 troops in Niger,” Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, said on “Meet the Press.” He added, “We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world, militarily, and what we’re doing.” Part […]

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes hands with opposition leader Raila Odinga outside Harambee House, Nairobi, Kenya, March 9, 2018 (AP photo by Brian Inganga).

Throughout Kenya’s latest election crisis, there was little love lost between the country’s two political archrivals. Raila Odinga, the opposition standard-bearer who lost last year’s bitter presidential race, accused the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, of presiding over an “electoral dictatorship.” Kenyatta, meanwhile, implied that Odinga, in calling for a boycott of their runoff contest in October, was trying to deprive Kenyans of their right to vote. Last week, however, the tenor of the exchanges between the two men, whose rivalry extends a family feud that can be traced back to the early days of Kenya’s independence, changed completely. After meeting for […]

Former child soldiers stand in line for registration with UNICEF, Yambio, South Sudan, Feb. 7, 2018 (AP photo by Sam Mednick).

Negotiations to bring peace to South Sudan have restarted in earnest, with the parties circulating a power-sharing plan that has failed once before. It is unclear if negotiators have a new strategy to successfully resurrect that agreement or if they are simply out of ideas. What is clear is that there is no end in sight for the current negotiations, even as fighting rages on into a fifth year and aid agencies report that 9,000 people are estimated to be losing access to food every day. Last December, the High-Level Resolution Forum (HLRF) announced a cessation of hostilities agreement between […]

Biafran separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu attends a court hearing, Abuja, Nigeria, Jan. 29, 2016 (AP photo).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and associate editors Robbie Corey-Boulet and Omar H. Rahman discuss the announcement of face-to-face talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. For the Report, Eromo Egbejule talks with Andrew Green about how longstanding grievances and heavy-handed security crackdowns are fueling a revived Biafran separatist movement in Nigeria. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered twice a week straight to your inbox. The […]

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi greets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman upon his arrival in Cairo, Egypt, March 4, 2018 (MENA photo by Mohammed Samaha via AP).

The arrival of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Cairo this week brought with it a flurry of diplomatic and economic announcements, including a $10 billion joint fund for the development of a megacity stretching from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, and possibly even Jordan. While the dollar amount is eye-popping, skepticism is warranted given the number of announced megaprojects in the region that have come to naught. But that doesn’t mean that the crown prince’s decision to stop in Egypt, on a tour that includes London and Washington, is not without importance. For the past two years, Egypt’s relations […]

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