A protest by expatriate Togolese demanding democratic reforms and political change after half a century of rule by the Gnassingbe family, Brussels, Belgium, Aug. 31, 2017 (dpa photo by Wiktor Dabkowski via AP).

LOME, Togo—A pediatric inpatient ward in the Sylvanus Olimpio University Teaching Hospital of Lome, the capital of Togo, sat vacant for much of February. The water had stopped running, and staff were short several supplies: a pair of scissors, a rolling cart, a blood pressure cuff to fit children’s arms. Nurses packed patients into a separate ward, where they could be prepared for discharge before hospital staff went on strike again. The smallest patients lay three to a bed, their mothers waiting on makeshift stools for a doctor. The more desperate wandered the complex in search of help. A woman […]

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, center, arrives for the celebration of the country’s 38th independence anniversary at the National Sports Stadium, Harare, April, 18, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to cancel his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. They also weigh in on Italy’s new populist government. For the Report, Simon Allison talks with Robbie about Zimbabwe, which is gearing up for elections later this year, the first in the post-Mugabe era. New leaders from both the government and opposition are finding their feet, though they’re haunted by familiar problems. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read […]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame after signing the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement during the 10th Extraordinary Session of the African Union, Kigali, Rwanda, March 21, 2018 (AP photo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. In many respects, the Africa policy of French President Emmanuel Macron has looked similar to that of his predecessor, Francois Hollande. Both men have overseen large-scale military deployments on the continent while stressing the need for African governments to, eventually, provide for their own security in combating terrorism and other threats. Both men have also talked about the potential of economic development to curb the migration of Africans to Europe. But in his management of one relationship that has […]

Malians check voter listings as polling stations come to a close in parliamentary elections, Gao, Mali, Nov. 24, 2013 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

For months, Mali’s president, Ibrahim Boubakar Keita, has been hounded by a short, harsh refrain: Boua ka bla. In Bambara, the West African country’s most widely spoken language, the words mean, roughly, “The old man must give up.” In the context of Malian politics, they articulate a clear demand that Keita, who is 73, leave office when his term expires this year. In songs and at rallies, the phrase has been taken up by a host of government critics. The most prominent among them is the activist and radio personality Mohamed Youssouf Bathily, popularly known as “Ras Bath,” who the […]

Pedestrians walk past a campaign poster showing Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the ruling party’s launch of its election manifesto, Harare, May 4, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

A distance of more than 400 kilometers separates Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, from Bulawayo, the country’s second-largest city and industrial center. Unless you can afford a plane ticket, and most Zimbabweans can’t, the best way to travel between the two is to drive six or seven hours on a narrow highway, often longer if you hit a pothole, a police roadblock or a traffic jam. There is also a train that links the two cities, but it is in a state of considerable disrepair, running slowly and never on time. Nelson Chamisa wants to do the trip in just half an […]

A burned truck outside al-Rawdah mosque a day after a terrorist attack killed hundreds of worshipers, northern Sinai, Egypt, Nov. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Tarek Samy).

Egypt and Israel have a shared interest in the defeat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate. But when that offshoot—which calls itself Wilayat Sinai, or Sinai Province—is snuffed out, what happens next in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula is unclear, and the interests of these allies of convenience begin to diverge. Since 2011, jihadi militants in Egypt’s North Sinai governorate, who declared their allegiance to the Islamic State in November 2014, have threatened the security of both Egypt and Israel. Before joining the Islamic State, one of the jihadis’ goals was driving a wedge between the two neighboring states. Through […]

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza launches the ruling party’s campaign calling for a “Yes” vote in the upcoming constitutional referendum, Bugendana, Burundi, May 2, 2018 (AP photo).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss Israel’s lethal response to the Gaza protests, the latest surprise developments in North Korean diplomacy and Venezuela’s presidential election. For the Report, Julia Steers talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s violent campaign to silence his opponents at home and abroad, against the backdrop of a constitutional referendum this week that could keep him in office through 2034. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our […]

Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh during an African Union summit meeting, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, June 30, 2011 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. It has been less than two years since Yahya Jammeh, the longtime dictator of Gambia, stepped down and fled into exile in Equatorial Guinea after losing the presidential election to Adama Barrow. But as the process of national reconciliation plays out on Gambian soil, human rights groups are already making moves to have Jammeh put on trial abroad. On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch and TRIAL International published a report they say links a notorious Jammeh-era paramilitary unit known as […]

A view of the embassy of Iran in Rabat, Morocco, May 1, 2018 (AP photo by Mosa'ab Elshamy).

In early May, Morocco severed diplomatic relations with Iran, after having normalized relations with Tehran in January 2017. Rabat had previously severed ties in 2009 over charges that Iran had interfered in Morocco’s domestic affairs. This time, the accusation had to do with meddling in Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco claims sovereignty over, but which is home to a separatist movement, the Polisario Front. In an email interview, Ann Wainscott, assistant professor of political science at Miami University and the 2017-2018 American Academy of Religion senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, discusses the causes of the current […]

Protesters confront soldiers in the neighborhood of Musaga in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 18, 2015 (photo by Adriane Ohanesian).

NAIROBI, Kenya—Epitace Nimbona spent 17 years in the Burundian army, climbing to the rank of captain. As an infantry soldier, he fought against rebels during the country’s civil war. He then advanced to a military university and underwent logistics training in the capital, Bujumbura, and in nearby Kenya. Later, he trained with American soldiers and deployed with two separate peacekeeping missions elsewhere in Africa. His career, however, ran aground following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in 2015—a bid that many people inside and outside the country deemed to be unconstitutional. Protests against it, and Nkurunziza’s ensuing crackdown, […]

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

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Given Washington’s central role in bringing South Sudan into existence as a country in 2011, American officials have long felt a sense of responsibility for its success. Yet this week saw further indications that U.S. support might have its limits, especially if South Sudan’s civil war, now in its fifth year, continues unabated. In a statement Tuesday, the White House said South Sudan’s leaders had “repeatedly demonstrated their inability and unwillingness to live up to their commitments to end […]

Gabon’s president, Ali Bongo, is sworn in for a second term, Libreville, Gabon, Sept. 27, 2016 (AP photo by Jeremi Mba).

Last week, a significant number of Gabon’s top politicians suddenly found themselves out of work. On April 30, the country’s Constitutional Court delivered a surprise ruling that dissolved the National Assembly, the lower house of Gabon’s parliament, and called for the government to step down. Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet complied the next day, issuing a letter of resignation on behalf of himself and his ministers. At first glance, the ruling appeared to be a straightforward rebuke of the government’s failure to hold legislative elections, which are now nearly 18 months overdue. “It is clear that the government has not been […]

Madagascar’s president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, at a meeting in Beijing during a visit to China, March 27, 2017 (AP photo by Lintao Zhang).

Five years after emerging from its last political crisis, the island nation of Madagascar has once again entered a period of heightened tensions, this time over new electoral laws passed in the run-up to elections later this year. The current impasse is driven by familiar underlying factors, but it also features new fault lines and surprising alliances. In an email interview, Cornelia Tremann, an expert on Madagascar’s politics of development and the country’s relations with China, discusses what is behind the current standoff and the role outside actors might play in mediating it. World Politics Review: What is the proximate […]

A woman reads electoral posters in Tunis, Tunisia, May 5, 2018 (AP photo by Hassene Dridi).

It has become conventional wisdom that the Middle East’s popular uprisings of 2011 failed, and that the prospects for true democracy in the region are dim for the foreseeable future. The return of authoritarian leadership in Egypt is the most dramatic reversal of the Arab Spring, but one can also look to Yemen, where a shaky political transition later plunged the country back into civil war, or of course Syria, where the early days of peaceful protest, brutally repressed by the Assad regime, seem like a distant memory in the ongoing civil war. There is occasional turbulence in Morocco, too, […]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame after signing the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement during the 10th Extraordinary Session of the African Union, Kigali, Rwanda, March 21, 2018 (AP photo).

Despite a steady stream of denials from Kigali and Kampala, ties between Rwanda and Uganda appear to be deteriorating rapidly. The latest ebb in this historically volatile relationship stems from the Ugandan government’s pushback on what it perceives as Rwandan meddling in its domestic affairs. Though Ugandan officials have not gone public with any formal allegations, their dissatisfaction can be read in a recent string of increasingly high-profile incidents. Last year, the Ugandan government mounted a crackdown on suspected Rwandan spies operating in Uganda, including the arrest of a handful of Ugandan police officers accused of being part of a […]

President Donald Trump and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari walk from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden of the White House for a news conference, April 30, 2018 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

This week, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was the first leader from sub-Saharan Africa to visit the White House, 15 months after President Donald Trump took office. Trump, by contrast, hosted leaders from every other major region of the world within the first few months of his presidency. The only other African leader he has welcomed to the White House is Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, more than a year ago. In his Rose Garden press conference with Buhari, Trump pointedly did not deny calling African nations “shithole countries” earlier this year, in widely reported comments made during a meeting in the […]

Soldiers attempt to stop a group of demonstrators running toward a cordon of police in the Musaga neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, May 20, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Tensions are rising in Burundi, where the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza plans to hold a constitutional referendum later this month that would potentially permit him to stay in office for 17 more years. Formal campaigning began this week. In 2015, Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to seek a third presidential term, which was widely seen as unconstitutional, triggered widespread violence and prompted hundreds of thousands of people to flee the country. Though the constitution limited him to two terms, Nkurunziza […]

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