South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, center with black cap, goes for a walk with members of the public, Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 20, 2018 (AP photo).

President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power in November 2017 promising to tackle Zimbabwe’s legacy of economic mismanagement and dictatorship. But his government’s handling of recent protests makes it clear he is not the reformer he claimed to be. Find out more with your subscription to World Politics Review (WPR). The military coup that ended the ruinous 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe in November 2017 was greeted with genuine enthusiasm both in Zimbabwe and abroad. Any skepticism of Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s successor, was drowned out by the new president’s calming rhetoric about unity and reconciliation and his commitment to a “new […]

Zimbabweans who were arrested during protests over the hike in fuel prices are taken to a court appearance, Harare, Zimbabwe, Jan. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

The military coup that ended the ruinous 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe was greeted with genuine enthusiasm both in Zimbabwe and abroad. Any skepticism of Emmerson Mnangagwa was drowned out by the new president’s calming rhetoric about unity and reconciliation and his commitment to a “new beginning.” It seemed churlish, amid such optimism, to deny the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe their moment of hope. Yet that spirit has been dashed recently as Mnangagwa’s reforms have been exposed as cosmetic, at best. Instead of a new Zimbabwe, it is the same old state within the narrow parameters imposed by the ruling […]

Malian troops stand with former rebels before a joint patrol in Gao, Mali, Feb. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Baba Ahmed).

Ethnic violence in central Mali is the latest manifestation of the chronic insecurity that has prevailed for the better part of a decade. But even as bullets continue to fly, officials have backed a range of initiatives—from disarmament to criminal trials—to move on from the Malian conflict. BAMAKO—On a Monday morning last June, toward the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Amadou Barry, a 55-year-old cattle herder and member of the Fulani ethnic group, noticed smoke coming out of a nearby village. It wasn’t long before he registered the sound of gunshots—a telltale sign that a militia attack was […]

People stand behind burnt out cars after a suicide bombing in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria, Feb. 17, 2017 (AP photo by Hamza Suleiman).

How has Nigeria responded to a resurgent Biafran separatist movement, and how is it dealing with its other security challenges? Learn more with a subscription to World Politics Review. Fifty years after the Biafran war, a new separatist movement has taken shape in the Nigerian province. In response, the Nigerian government has used a repressive approach to snuff out the movement, arresting activists en masse. The movement’s self-declared leader, Nnmadi Kanu, was at home when Nigerian soldiers stormed his compound. More than 20 people were either killed during the attack or disappeared after it. Kanu himself has not been seen […]

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, left, and his predecessor, Joseph Kabila, at Tshisekedi’s inauguration ceremony in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

What is the most effective way to neuter a peacekeeping operation? Last week, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali, known by its French acronym MINUSMA, lost 10 soldiers when jihadis attacked their base. A few days later, a roadside bomb killed two more peacekeepers. Although this was an especially grim week, guerrilla forces regularly hit U.N. camps and convoys in northern Mali. Since it was deployed in 2013, MINUSMA has lost over 100 personnel to hostile acts. A 2018 study suggested that the mission devotes about 90 percent of its military resources to protecting itself. Many U.N. officials and […]

Security forces help civilians flee the scene of the attack at the 14 Riverside hotel-office complex in Nairobi, Kenya, Jan. 15, 2019 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

NAIROBI, Kenya—Last week, a five-man cell from al-Shabab, al-Qaida’s Somalia-based affiliate, entered the popular 14 Riverside hotel-office complex in an affluent neighborhood of Kenya’s capital, where there were more than 700 workers and hotel guests. One of the men blew himself up with a suicide vest, while the four others threw hand grenades and fired on people having a late lunch and then trying to flee. Al-Shabab has wreaked havoc in East Africa since 2006, proving to be one of the world’s deadliest jihadist groups. Its latest attack in Nairobi was an appalling reminder that, despite historic reforms and rapprochement […]

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).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.A year ago, Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was riding high as he traveled to Davos, Switzerland, to declare at the World Economic Forum that his country was “open for business.” It was a message he had delivered many times since coming to power in November 2017, after longtime President Robert Mugabe was forced out in a military intervention, and would continue to deliver at seemingly every opportunity. As Alex T. Magaisa, a Zimbabwean analyst, put it last year, the new […]

Kenyan security forces aim their weapons as they run through a hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya, Jan. 15, 2019 (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. On Monday, a court in Kenya ruled that three men must stand trial over their alleged role in the 2013 assault on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi by the Somali extremist group al-Shabab. That attack, which left more than 60 people dead, underscored the risk of blowback in Kenya over its military operations against al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia. The very next day, assailants detonated explosives in the parking lot of a Nairobi hotel and shopping complex before going inside […]

Supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo celebrate his acquittal of war crimes by the International Criminal Court, in the Yopougon district of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Jan. 15, 2019 (AP photo by Diomande Ble Blonde).

In late 2011, as the International Criminal Court prepared to mark 10 years since it began operations, its record was looking decidedly unimpressive. For one thing, it still had not secured any convictions; the first, for the Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, wouldn’t be delivered until March 2012. Perhaps more importantly, the court’s most high-profile suspects sat comfortably outside its reach. Despite their indictments, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Uhuru Kenyatta, then Kenya’s finance minister, both held onto their offices. And Kenyatta was gearing up for what would turn out to be a successful presidential bid in 2013, a campaign in […]

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir greets his supporters at a rally in Khartoum, Sudan, Jan. 9, 2019 (AP photo by Mahmoud Hjaj).

Omar al-Bashir’s long rule in Sudan has been defined by a criminal and abject failure to govern. But he has also shown unmistakable staying power as the leader of a vast, hard-to-manage country. That is now being tested to its limits as weeks of anti-government demonstrations show no sign of dissipating, even in the face of killings and mass arrests carried out by his security forces. Since seizing power in 1989, Sudan’s president has somehow navigated his way through a permanent state of national crisis, albeit a crisis largely created and sustained by his own actions. Bashir survived a crippling […]

Across Africa, governments are struggling to contain militant groups that have capitalized on widespread anger over problems like corruption, inequality and abusive state security forces. Download your FREE copy of African Insurgencies In Nigeria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Mozambique and Somalia to learn more today. In some countries, like Nigeria, these groups have already created large-scale humanitarian emergencies, killing thousands and displacing even more. In others, like Mozambique, the worst may still be yet to come. This report provides a survey of these crises and explains why official responses are falling short. Download African Insurgencies today to take a […]

A man reads a news report on his mobile phone, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 20, 2018 (AP photo).

The government in the Democratic Republic of Congo cut internet and text message services across the country two days in a row last week, as tensions rose ahead of the release of official results from last month’s presidential election. It was just the latest move to restrict internet access by a state with a poor democratic track record, as more countries appear to take their digital cues from the likes of China and Russia. Last year, Thailand proposed a cybersecurity law that would give the government “sweeping powers” to surveil the internet, censor content and even seize computers “without judicial […]

Supporters of presidential candidate Felix Tshisekedi wait for election results to be released, Kinshasa, Congo, Jan. 9, 2019 (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. For the past several years, political debate in the Democratic Republic of Congo has revolved around a simple phrase: “Kabila must go.” Opposition politicians, security analysts, human rights campaigners and rebels all embraced this position, contending that the country would not accept any extension of President Joseph Kabila’s rule, which began in 2001, despite his continued attempts to subvert the constitution. As Mvemba Phezo Dizolele wrote in a piece about a year ago for African Arguments, “The longer he […]

Republic of Congo’s president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, leaves after a conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace, Paris, France, May 29, 2018 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

It’s been a tense start to the year in Central Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo appears to be barreling toward an election standoff, with defeated opposition candidate Martin Fayulu on Thursday denouncing “an electoral coup.” Also this week, renegade soldiers in Gabon attempted to oust President Ali Bongo, briefly taking over the state airwaves before they were arrested and two of them were killed. Meanwhile, the Republic of Congo, which is sandwiched between those two countries, is quietly and tepidly moving ahead with a peace-building process designed to stave off just this kind of unrest. While one of the […]

A group of children walk on top of a small hill of dirt in the United Nations protection of civilians site in Bentiu, South Sudan, Dec. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Sam Mednick).

South Sudan’s five-year civil war was supposed to end with the signing of a revitalized peace deal last year, but violence continues and the humanitarian situation remains bleak. The government and opposition now have five months to implement the agreement and form a transitional government, or risk another unraveling. On paper, the peace deal signed by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and former Vice President-turned-armed opposition leader Riek Machar on Sept. 12 halted a conflict that has claimed an estimated 383,000 lives and left most of the population facing malnutrition and severe food insecurity. However, a very similar peace deal […]

Security agents stand next to a large photograph of Senegalese President Macky Sall at the start of a campaign rally, Dakar, Senegal, March 23, 2012 (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. Some 27 candidates initially threw their hats in the ring to challenge Senegalese President Macky Sall in the West African nation’s upcoming election, which is scheduled for Feb. 24. Seven weeks out from voting, however, it looks like the actual number of contenders will be considerably lower. On Wednesday, Senegal’s Constitutional Council ruled that 19 candidacy registrations had been rejected outright, while three others were still under review. Only five registrations, Sall’s included, had been approved. As Jeune Afrique […]

A Burundian carrying a placard in French that says “We Burundians are united in our diversity, we are against the third term of Nkurunziza and no ethnic problems in Burundi” at a march in Bujumbura, June 5, 2015 (AP photo by Gildas Ngingo).

After years of political unrest in Burundi, the country is now in the midst of an authoritarian crackdown.Even as the human rights sphere shrinks, there are signs of a deepening ethnic crisis in Burundi. In early December, the tiny east African country of Burundi garnered international attention when its Foreign Ministry, at the request of President Pierre Nkurunziza, called for the closure of the U.N. human rights office in the capital, Bujumbura. The move was not altogether surprising from a regime once called one of “the most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times” by former U.N. rights chief Zeid […]

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