Nigerian Shiite Muslims protest and demand the release of Ibraheem al-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, in Cikatsere, Nigeria, April 1, 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

On July 26, the Federal High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, banned the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, or IMN, saying that its activities constitute “terrorism and illegality.” The court order, which the IMN can appeal, came at the attorney general’s request amid repeated clashes in recent weeks between the IMN and security forces. Although observers have speculated about the possibility of the IMN, Nigeria’s largest Shiite organization, becoming “a second Boko Haram,” it appears unlikely to turn into an underground insurgency. There are still opportunities for the federal government to deescalate the situation, and even if it fails to do […]

People take part in a protest condemning a deadly crackdown last month in Khartoum, Sudan, July 18, 2019 (AP photo by Mahmoud Hjaj).

Earlier this month, Sudan’s ruling military council and the opposition pro-democracy movement reached agreement on the broad outlines of a power-sharing deal. The document lays out a three-year roadmap toward free elections and permanent civilian rule. But the two sides have yet to agree on key details, and the opposition is continuing to demand accountability for a bloody crackdown by the military in June that left more than 100 people dead. In a sign of the process’ shakiness, a planned negotiating round was canceled this week in response to the killing of five schoolchildren by security forces during a peaceful […]

Lamin Saidykhan, a migrant from Gambia, in the “Ghetto,” a squatter settlement on the outskirts of Rome, Italy, Nov. 2018 (Photo by Jason Florio).

Late last year, a decree abolishing humanitarian protections for migrants in Italy became law. Pushed by far-right leader Matteo Salvini as part of a crackdown on migrants and refugees, the law threatens to drive Italy’s migrant community further to the margins as anti-immigrant sentiment rises across the country. ROME—Things were looking up for 21-year-old Gambian migrant Lamin Saidykhan in early November 2018. Two years after arriving in Italy via a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, he had finally been granted humanitarian protection status by the Italian government, which would allow him to legally stay and work in the country for […]

Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine, who will challenge President Yoweri Museveni in the 2021 election, in the Kamwookya slum, Kampala, Uganda, July 2019 (Photo by Sophie Neiman).

KAMPALA, Uganda—His striking image adorns the rundown brick walls of the Kamwookya slum in Uganda’s capital. He looks like an icon watching over hawkers selling ripe papaya and watermelon and boda-boda-boys, or motorcycle taxis, racing down the dirt roads. The pop star-turned-opposition politician Bobi Wine, who was born Robert Kyagulanyi, grew up on these hardscrabble streets, before becoming a symbol of hope for many poor Ugandans—first in song and later in Parliament’s posh chambers. On July 24, the young parliamentarian formally announced that he would run for president in the 2021 elections. Wine had previously discussed his intention to challenge […]

Activists celebrate outside the High Court in Gaborone, Botswana, June 11, 2019 (AP photo).

In a major victory for LGBT rights, Botswana’s High Court moved last month to decriminalize homosexuality. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously that a colonial-era law prohibiting “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” punishable by up to seven years in prison, was unconstitutional. The landmark decision was widely hailed by advocates who had been stung by a recent high-profile defeat in Kenya, where its High Court upheld sections of the penal code that outlaw consensual same-sex relations. More than 30 other countries in Africa have similar laws on the books, according to Human Rights Watch, but hopes […]

Women who fled drought line up to receive food distributed at a camp for displaced persons in the Daynile neighborhood on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, May 18, 2019 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series on food security around the world. In the short term, it is critical to respond to the immediate food shortages being caused by persistent African drought conditions. But the search for more lasting solutions may actually mean looking back to traditional systems. Persistent drought conditions across large swaths of Africa have left tens of millions in need of food assistance, particularly in the semi-arid eastern and southern regions of the continent. These areas are on the forefront of the fight against global climate change and will be increasingly hard-pressed to […]

Health workers take their shift at a treatment center in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 13, 2019 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Africa Watch will be off the next two weeks. It will return Aug. 9, with Andrew Green curating the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. The Ebola outbreak that began in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo more than a year ago is now officially a global health emergency. The World Health Organization declared the epidemic a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, after declining to do so on three previous occasions. The reconsideration followed the virus’ spread to the city of Goma, a major regional hub home to a million people. […]

Women work at a textile factory in Kigali, Rwanda, Aug. 28, 2018 (Photo by Kristin Palitza for dpa via AP Images).

Leaders from across Africa gathered in Niamey, the capital of Niger, earlier this month to officially launch the African Continental Free Trade Area, or AfCFTA. The sweeping agreement, which covers 54 out of 55 African Union members, is designed to boost intra-African trade and eventually create a single African market for goods and services. It has been called a potential “game changer” for Africa, but member states must now complete the hard work of implementing the deal and negotiating specific reductions in tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade. In an email interview with WPR, Trudi Hartzenberg, the executive director of […]

First lady Melania Trump walks with Ghana’s first lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, as she arrives at Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, Oct. 2, 2018 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Earlier this month, The New York Times created a mini furor on the internet with a job listing for someone to lead its coverage of East Africa. The announcement described it as an opportunity “to dive into news and enterprise across a wide range of countries, from the deserts of Sudan and the pirate seas of the Horn of Africa, down through the forests of Congo and shores of Tanzania.” It went on to speak of the region’s “many vital story lines, including terrorism, the scramble for resources, the global contest with China,” among others. Whether as afterthought or sop, […]

A monument with the names of those killed during the 2004 Lukodi Massacre by the Lord’s Resistance Army, in Lukodi, Uganda, July 2019 (Photo by Sophie Neiman).

GULU and KAMPALA, Uganda—Deep scars cut into the flesh of Docobella Loremoi’s ankle. He was abducted by Joseph Kony’s brutal Lord’s Resistance Army in 1988, and later injured in a battle between LRA rebels and government forces. Some 30 years on, the wound still causes him pain. He is unsure if bomb fragments remain in his leg and cannot afford an X-ray. Loremoi is just one of many victims suffering mental and physical trauma resulting from the 20-year LRA insurgency, during which an estimated 2 million people were displaced in northern Uganda. Last month, Uganda’s Cabinet finally approved a new […]

President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, and Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, April 15, 2019 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

During the Cold War, American policymakers frequently pushed nonaligned countries to take sides. The Central Intelligence Agency fomented coups against governments that flirted with communism and the Soviet Union, or that just drifted too far to the left for comfort. The State Department threatened to cut aid flows to countries that voted too often against U.S. priorities at the United Nations. Could sub-Saharan Africa find itself caught in the middle again if a cold war with China breaks out? In a speech at the Heritage Foundation last December, President Donald Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, launched a new […]

Containers being loaded at the port of Tema, east of Accra, Ghana, June 11, 2018 (DPA photo by Gioia Forster via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. It took four years of discussions, but the African Continental Free Trade Area, or AfCFTA, is officially operational. African leaders gathered in Niger’s capital, Niamey, last weekend to launch the trade zone, which they hope will create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc and bolster development across the continent. AfCFTA got a late boost when Nigeria, the largest African economy, agreed Sunday to sign on, but that’s no assurance that the bid for a single unified market will be a success. Every African […]

Gambia’s former president, Yahya Jammeh, addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters, in New York, Sept. 25, 2014 (AP photo by Frank Franklin II).

It had long been an open secret in Gambia that former President Yahya Jammeh hand-picked young women to work in his office as so-called protocol girls whom he harassed and abused. That changed last month when Fatou Jallow, a former beauty queen known in Gambia as Toufah, became the first person to publicly accuse the exiled dictator of rape. Her testimony, told to investigators from Human Rights Watch and Trial International, has sparked an overdue reckoning in Gambia, where women have begun sharing stories of sexual assault on social media with the hashtag #IAmToufah. Last week, more than 200 young […]

A young member of the congregation looks at her mother during a morning service at the Saint Charles Catholic Church, in Kano, Nigeria, Feb. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Can a #MeToo moment that originated in Nigeria’s evangelical community last week spark a regional movement? It began last Friday when photographer Busola Dakolo accused Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, who heads the influential Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, of raping her when Dakolo was a teenager. Women took to social media to share their own experiences of rape and sexual abuse by church leaders alongside hashtags that include #MeToo, #ChurchToo and #SayNoToRape. By Sunday, protesters had gathered outside different branches of the Pentecostal church. […]

A child migrant from Central America waits outside the U.N.’s office that is dedicated to supporting refugees, in Tapachula, Mexico, June 3, 2019 (AP photo by Marco Ugarte).

Disturbing scenes emanating from detention centers along the southern U.S. border have underscored the Trump administration’s indifference to the suffering of strangers, even young children seeking asylum. Unfortunately, the current administration in Washington is far from alone in scorning those seeking refuge in foreign lands. The world is in the midst of a global crisis of displacement, one that is testing both established humanitarian principles and the will of wealthy countries to ease the plight of those affected. This calamity shows no signs of abating. The world is utterly failing to assist and protect those most in need. Late last […]

Former Defense Minister and ruling party presidential candidate Mohamed Ould Ghazouani casts his ballot in Nouakchott, Mauritania, June 22, 2019 (AP photo by Elhady Ould Mohamedou).

It may be the first peaceful transfer of power between elected heads of state since Mauritania won its independence from France in 1960, but the victory by Mohamed Ould Ghazouani in presidential elections on June 22 really represents the latest phase of control by a ruling clique of military officers and businessmen whose influence reaches back to the 1980s. With 52 percent of the vote, Ould Ghazouani—a former defense minister and the handpicked successor of outgoing President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz—forestalled a second round, though the opposition claims the results were marred by fraud and is trying to challenge them. […]