A student throws a tear gas canister back at police during clashes at the National University in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 26, 2019 (AP photo by Ivan Valencia).

Making sense of the world these days can be daunting. Across a swath of wildly disparate countries in the Middle East and South America, popular protests have shaken the foundations of both democratic governments and dictatorships alike. Western democracies haven’t been immune to these systemic shocks, ranging from resurgent—and in some cases triumphant—populist movements to repeatedly inconclusive elections and precarious governing coalitions. All this upheaval has called into question the tenets of the liberal international order that have guided global elites and policymakers over the past three decades. At first glance, it would seem we have entered a new historical […]

Police surround supporters of opposition leader Nelson Chamisa who had gathered to hear him speak in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. President Emmerson Mnangagwa is stifling any form of public protest against his government as Zimbabwe’s economy keeps sinking. Police violently disrupted an opposition party gathering in Harare on Wednesday, firing tear gas and beating people with batons, and more repression looks likely. Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa warned his followers, “Our country is burning.” The latest crackdown comes after the government fired more than 200 doctors for participating in a months-long strike over low pay and poor working conditions. Earlier this month, police […]

A transgender Ugandan poses in front of a rainbow flag during the third annual LGBT Pride celebrations in Entebbe, Uganda, Aug. 9, 2014 (AP photo by Rebecca Vassie).

KAMPALA, Uganda—Revelers at Ram Bar, a gay-friendly establishment in Kampala, were dancing and drinking beer late on a Sunday night, when the police arrived. Shouting, officers rounded up the confused crowd and took 120 people into custody. Sixty-seven of them were soon charged with “creating a common nuisance”; according to Patricia Kimera, a lawyer for the group, they could face up to a year in prison if convicted. Activists describe the arrests and subsequent charges as a direct attack on members of Uganda’s already marginalized gay community. “This is intimidation,” Frank Mugisha, the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a […]

Congolese security forces attend to the scene after the vehicle of an Ebola response team was attacked and burned in Beni, northeastern Congo, June 24, 2019 (AP photo by Al-hadji Kudra Maliro).

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo—At first glance, there is nothing out of the ordinary about life in Beni, a cosmopolitan trading town on Congo’s northeastern border with Uganda. On a typical Sunday, roller skaters train for their next competition on the town’s paved main road, studiously avoiding the potholes and errant cows. Off the avenue, the side streets of packed yellow dirt are dotted with people going about their daily business. At night, clubs serve locally brewed beer, while revelers dance in the dotted pink light of a spinning disco ball. Before anyone can enter the club, however, they must […]

Mmusi Maimane, the former leader of South Africa’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, addresses the media after the country’s general elections, Pretoria, South Africa, May 10, 2019 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

South Africa’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, or DA, is in turmoil following its poor showing in parliamentary and provincial elections earlier this year. Several senior black figures in the DA, including Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba and Mmusi Maimane, the DA’s first black leader, left the party last month. Their resignations came on the heels of the return of the party’s controversial former leader, Helen Zille, to a top leadership post. Zille, who is white, has a history of making remarks seen as racially insensitive, so her return was widely interpreted as a sign that the party would recalibrate […]

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks during the Ethiopia-Korea Business Forum in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 27, 2019 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. At least three university students were killed this week in the latest episodes of ethnically motivated violence in Ethiopia. The increasingly volatile situation is at risk of exploding ahead of national elections scheduled for next year. Africa’s second-most-populous country has been wracked by violence along ethnic lines this year, including the murder of the army chief of staff amid an attempted coup in June and intercommunal violence in the central Oromia region in October that left at least 86 people dead. After […]

Supporters of opposition leader Jawar Mohammed at a rally in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

Scores of people died in Ethiopia in late October after anti-government demonstrations descended into communal violence in and around the capital, Addis Ababa, and other parts of the Oromia region. The protests against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed began when a high-profile activist and media mogul, Jawar Mohammed, accused the government of plotting an attack on him at his home. Responding to the violence—which killed 86 people, according to the government’s latest count—is only one of the domestic challenges facing Abiy, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last month for his efforts to reconcile with neighboring Eritrea. To discuss the […]

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

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Even for a region that has witnessed the growing entrenchment of extremist groups and skyrocketing violence, it was a particularly deadly week in Africa’s Sahel. On Nov. 1, Islamist militants killed 54 people, including dozens of soldiers, in an attack on an isolated military base in northeastern Mali; the Islamic State claimed responsibility. Days later, gunmen ambushed a Canadian mining company’s convoy in northern Burkina Faso, killing at least 37 people and wounding 60 more. Though the two attacks are not directly […]

People walk home in the dark due to power shortages in Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Two years after the military coup that removed Robert Mugabe from power, Zimbabwe has entered a new spiral of decline that threatens to take the country back to the worst days of his era. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who came to power in that coup, had promised a “new beginning” for Zimbabwe. That initially bought him some valuable breathing space, and even goodwill from the international community, which seemed willing to give him an opportunity to make good on his pledge. It hasn’t taken long for the euphoria—always rooted more in the demise of Mugabe than in the rise of Mnangagwa—to […]

A child on the sales floor of a tobacco market in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 15, 2017 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

If climate change is the most important matter of common concern around the world, what comes second? Perhaps nothing close. But by my lights, the usual looming questions—about the fate of American power and influence, Brexit, the related viability of the European Union, and the many uncertainties surrounding the rise of China—seem almost parochial in comparison to one that gets immeasurably less international attention: the future of employment in Africa, where unprecedented demographic transitions are underway. Based on current projections, the continent’s population of nearly 1.2 billion people will rise to 2.5 billion by the middle of this century—more than […]

Sudanese pro-democracy supporters celebrate a final power-sharing agreement with the ruling military council, Khartoum, Aug. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Mahmoud Hjaj).

The civilians who helped end the repressive regime of Sudan’s longtime president, Omar al-Bashir, are discovering that exercising power is often more difficult than attaining it. Barely three months after forming an uneasy transitional government with military and paramilitary leaders who tried to seize control for themselves, these revolutionaries have begun the task of undoing three decades of misrule. It is a race against time: Within three years, the transitional authorities face the challenge of instituting accountable, inclusive governance for the first time in Sudan’s history, while organizing elections and completing a democratic transfer of power. These challenges are compounded […]

A group of children freed by policemen after they raided a building where hundreds of boys were held in dehumanizing conditions, in Daura, Nigeria, Oct. 14, 2019 (AP photo by Saddiq Mustapha).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about education policy in various countries around the world. In a raid last month in Katsina, the capital of Katsina state in northern Nigeria, police freed 67 men and boys from what news reports called an “Islamic school.” The captives, who ranged in age from 7 to 40 years old, had been held in degrading conditions that included being shackled at the feet and suffering regular beatings and abuse. Hundreds more had escaped from the center in the weeks preceding the raid. In September, a police raid in neighboring Kaduna […]

Tunisian President Kais Saied, second from left, inspects an honor guard upon his arrival at Carthage Palace after his swearing-in ceremony, Carthage, Tunisia, Oct. 23, 2019 (DPA photo by Khaled Nasraoui via AP Images).

A retired law professor with no prior experience in government won by a landslide in Tunisia’s presidential runoff in mid-October. Kais Saied’s victory, with more than 70 percent of the vote, was widely seen as a sign that the electorate is fed up with the country’s political establishment. In parliamentary elections held between the first and second round of the presidential race, no party won more than 19 percent of the vote. Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party, won a plurality of 52 seats but is likely to face difficulty assembling a coalition government in the 217-seat parliament. In an email […]

A Tanzanian woman walks past a billboard for then-presidential candidate John Magufuli, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Oct. 26, 2015 (AP photo by Khalfan Said).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. The space for dissent in John Magufuli’s Tanzania is closing rapidly. Amnesty International issued a report this week accusing Magufuli, who was elected president in 2015, of creating a “climate of mounting fear with growing restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.” Magufuli, who earned the popular nickname “the Bulldozer” from his time as minister of public works, was elected promising to reform Tanzania and end corruption. Instead, his administration has steadily trimmed the rights of opposition […]