Wanuri Kahiu, the director of the film “Rafiki,” stands by an art installation in Nairobi, Kenya, April 27, 2018 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Ever since “Rafiki,” the latest film by the acclaimed Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu, screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May, it has been widely praised by foreign critics and directors and even generated some Oscar buzz. But only in the past week have Kenyans been able to see it for themselves. The film centers on a romance between two women. Ezekiel Mutua, chairman of the Kenya Film Classification Board, or KFCB, banned it domestically, saying it was an […]

Soldiers examine burnt-out cars outside the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, after it was attacked by al-Qaida-linked extremists, Jan. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

The Islamist militants came on motorbikes, arriving before dawn in two villages in eastern Burkina Faso. In the first village, Diabiga, they struck a mosque, killing a local Muslim leader and four other worshipers; a sixth person later died of his injuries. In the second village, Kompienbiga, they killed three members of the same family. The dual attacks, which occurred on Sept. 15, did not come as a total surprise. In the weeks leading up to them, a series of similar incidents in the east claimed around 20 lives. Analysts suspect the violence is the work of the Islamic State […]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame attends a roundtable event at the EU-Africa summit held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Nov. 29, 2017 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. “It took me by surprise, but I hope this is the start of the opening of the political space in Rwanda.” That was Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a Rwandan opposition politician who was incarcerated for six years before her surprise release over the weekend. More than 2,100 other people were also freed in a move for which the government provided little explanation. Ingabire returned to Rwanda from the Netherlands in 2010 and announced her plan to challenge President Paul Kagame […]

A local woman harvesting seaweed and mollusks during low tide, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Jan. 10, 2018 (Photo by Sergi Reboredo for DPA via AP Images).

Several years ago, in a speech marking his final International Women’s Day as Tanzania’s president, Jakaya Kikwete demonstrated how he had cultivated a reputation as a champion of women’s rights. At a rally in the town of Morogoro, outside the capital Dar es Salaam, Kikwete touted a record that included appointing more women to government posts, expanding economic opportunities for women and investing in improvements to maternal and reproductive health. Just as importantly, his words suggested these were causes in which he felt personally invested. “I am proud to have created an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment that has […]

Peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon stand at attention during a ceremony at the mission headquarters, Naqoura, Lebanon, March 19, 2018 (AP Photo by Hassan Ammar).

Is it time to stop panicking about peacekeeping? Discussions of United Nations peace operations are always tinged with a sense of crisis. Blue-helmet operations have been through a rough patch in recent years, struggling to stay on top of crises from the Central African Republic and South Sudan to the Golan Heights. As I noted last week, many experts fear that U.N. forces in trouble spots like Mali have stumbled into counterterrorist and stabilization missions that they cannot sustain. This is just one aspect of a broader malaise. The U.N. has endured a long series of revelations about indiscipline, corruption […]

Angolan President Joao Lourenco, center, arrives for an event at the EU-Africa summit, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Nov. 29, 2017 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. When Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who served as president of Angola for nearly four decades, confirmed last year that he would not run for another term, many expected him to continue wielding power behind the scenes. This was especially true after he announced he would stay on as head of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, which has been the ruling party since the oil-rich southern African country attained independence from Portugal in 1975. “He […]

Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, left, listens to Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, before a working session of the African Union in Nouakchott, Mauritania, July 3, 2018 (AP photo by Ludovic Marin).

About a month ago, a fresh wave of violence kicked off in northern Chad when rebels crossed over from neighboring Libya and staged an attack on a border post in the region of Kouri Bougri. According to one report, the rebels, who arrived on vehicles equipped with machine guns, managed to kill at least three soldiers while possibly kidnapping others. A security source, speaking to Radio France Internationale, initially downplayed the significance of the incursion, saying it had been perpetrated by common criminals. But the Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic, or CCMSR, a Chadian rebel group […]

President of Comoros Azali Assoumani addresses reporters after a meeting with former French president Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Oct. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Christophe Ena).

On July 30, Comoros passed a referendum to revise the nation’s constitution. Among other changes, the referendum extended presidential term limits and abolished a power-sharing system that had rotated the presidency every five years between the main islands of Grand Comore, Anjouan and Moheli. Since the referendum, which was boycotted by the opposition, President Azali Assoumani has moved to consolidate power by arresting and issuing warrants for prominent opponents such as former Vice President Jaffar Ahmed Said Hassani. In an email interview, Shafick Osman, a research associate at Florida International University who specializes in the Western Indian Ocean region, discusses […]

A member of the German armed forces wears a helmet that features the United Nations logo at Camp Castor in Gao, Mali, April 5, 2016 (Photo by Michael Kappeler for DPA via AP Images).

Seventeen years after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, the “war on terror” is still stumbling along. From the Sahel to the Philippines, governments and international coalitions continue to battle jihadi groups. In an era of mounting international competition, political leaders, generals and spies continue to agree that transnational terrorism is a common threat. Global organizations like the United Nations cannot insulate themselves from this tendency. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has made consolidating the institution’s counterterrorist activities a priority. Last week, World Politics Review ran a trenchant piece by Larry Attree and Jordan Street of Saferworld, warning that […]

Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa climb over a fence that divides Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, March 28, 2014 (AP photo by Santi Palacios).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the battle for Idlib in Syria and the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats’ surge ahead of Sweden’s upcoming parliamentary elections. For the Report, Malia Politzer talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about Spain’s approach to an influx of African migrants under new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. 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 straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, left, shakes hands with Senegalese President Macky Sall, right, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, during the Forum On China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, Sept. 4, 2018 (AP photo by Lintao Zhang).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Kicking off the latest iteration of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday pledged $60 billion for various projects in Africa, a sum that included $20 billion in credit lines along with $15 billion in “grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans,” according to The Associated Press. The announcement wasn’t especially remarkable, given that China pledged the same amount during the last summit, in 2015. Yet this year’s forum coincided with an intensifying debate […]

Senegalese Gen. Amadou Kane, deputy force commander of the U.N. mission in Mali, sits for an interview, Bamako, Mali, June 23, 2018 (Photo by Sean Kilpatrick for Canadian Press via AP Images).

From Bosnia to Rwanda, United Nations peacekeepers have always faced tough choices that come with operating in complex, dangerous environments. Today, the climate is no less challenging. Record fatalities and injuries for U.N. personnel have increased pressure from some quarters to embolden U.N. peacekeeping and political missions with stronger, more aggressive mandates. But recent decisions made by the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, such as a mandate to support a regional, non-U.N. counterterrorism unit in Mali, the G5 Sahel Joint Force, risk plunging blue helmets into the quicksand of unwinnable wars. This short-term thinking poses considerable long-term risks […]

A U.S. and Niger flag are raised side by side at the base camp for air forces and other personnel supporting the construction of Niger Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger, April 16, 2018 (AP photo by Carley Petesch).

It is often hard to figure out precisely what President Donald Trump’s security strategy is. He seldom talks about U.S. national interests and priorities other than trade. His broad regional policies are vague or missing altogether. This is particularly true for Africa. Nearly halfway through his term, Trump has made no speeches on Africa, has not visited the continent, and was slow to appoint an assistant secretary of state for African affairs, America’s key policy coordinator for that part of the world. All this suggests that after 50 years of modest involvement in African security, the United States may be […]

Mauritania’s president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, welcomes his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron upon his arrival at Nouakchott airport, Mauritania, July 2, 2018 (AP photo by Ludovic Marin).

Last Friday, the day before voters in Mauritania went to the polls for parliamentary, regional and local elections, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that he would be “closely following developments” in the West African country. In particular, he called on “all parties” to “allow for the participation of all interested stakeholders.” By that point, however, this wish was already out of reach. That’s because in early August, Biram Dah Abeid, a prominent opposition politician, was arrested at his home by police officers who reportedly said they were executing “an order that came from above.” Abeid remains […]

Migrants sit in front of Spanish police officers at the port of Algeciras, southern Spain, July 31, 2018 (AP photo by Marcos Moreno).

MALAGA, Spain—On a recent Wednesday morning, Montee Thompson sat on the edge of a concrete planter box outside the central bus station in this coastal town in southern Spain, where palm trees dot the landscape and, during the summer months, tourists come by the busload to sun themselves on the beach. The 36-year-old was unsure of where he was, or what he should do next. Originally from Liberia, Thompson had arrived in Spain the previous weekend, having traveled from Morocco in a small rubber boat carrying 15 other men. The group spent nearly a full day adrift at sea before […]