South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, left, swears in opposition leader Riek Machar as his first deputy, Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 22, 2020 (AP photo by Charles Atiki Lomodong).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. South Sudan finally has a transitional government, though the country’s citizens and neighboring leaders are watching anxiously to see if this coalition will hold together longer than a previous attempt, which collapsed after only three months. President Salva Kiir swore in opposition leader Riek Machar as his first deputy last weekend, just ahead of a twice-delayed deadline to form a unity government. Kiir also installed three additional vice presidents—two from the government and one from the opposition; a fifth, drawn from another […]

Mercy Wambua, the CEO of the Law Society of Kenya, protesting outside the Supreme Court, after the government deported an opposition politician in defiance of a court order, Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

In a historic ruling earlier this month, Malawi’s Constitutional Court overturned President Peter Mutharika’s victory in the country’s presidential election last May. The court criticized the Malawi Electoral Commission for failing to organize a credible vote; in some cases, ballots had reportedly been altered with correction fluid. The presiding judges also ruled that the country’s first-past-the post electoral system—which had allowed Mutharika to secure a second term with a plurality of only 38.5 percent of the vote—was unconstitutional, and ordered new elections to be held within 150 days. The following week, the court rejected an appeal by Mutharika and the […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks to the BRICS Business Council prior to the BRICS Summit in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

South Africa assumed the annually rotating chair of the African Union earlier this month, its second term since serving as the organization’s inaugural chair following its founding in 2002. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa took over the role from his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, on Feb. 8 at the AU’s annual summit in Addis Ababa. The position adds to South Africa’s already deep engagement in multilateral organizations. It is currently in the middle of its third two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and is a member of both the G-20 and the BRICS […]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame speaks at a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Compact with Africa summit in Berlin, Germany on Nov. 19, 2019 (Photo by John MacDougall for AFP via AP Images).

In a country where political opponents and outspoken critics of President Paul Kagame have a tendency to turn up dead or disappear, the official explanation of the death of a popular Rwandan gospel singer last week was immediately met with skepticism. The singer, Kizito Mihigo, had been arrested at the border earlier this month for allegedly trying to flee the country illegally and join armed rebels in neighboring Burundi. Three days later, he was found dead in his cell; the police say he committed suicide. Some of Mihigo’s songs run counter to the government’s preferred narrative about the Rwandan genocide, […]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a joint press conference with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 18, 2020 (Pool AFP photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds via AP).

If there is one good foreign policy decision Congress has made over any other in the past 20 years, it is arguably its investment in building up the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM. All but shutting down AFRICOM, which the Trump administration is considering, would be one of the worst decisions it could make this year, although it’s a crowded field. Which is why it was heartening when reports surfaced this week that those mooted Pentagon plans are meeting with strong headwinds in Congress. As always with the Trump White House, it’s anyone’s guess whether logic will ultimately prevail or […]

A farmer walks through swarms of desert locusts feeding on her crops, in Kitui county, Kenya, Jan. 24, 2020 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Swarms of desert locusts that have already razed pastures and croplands across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya continue to spread throughout East Africa, jeopardizing the food security of up to 20 million people. Just a small swarm of the insects can eat as much food as 35,000 people daily. The swarms, which can contain as many as 80 million adult locusts and travel up to 80 miles each day, have now moved south and west into Tanzania, Uganda and war-torn South Sudan, while […]

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok speaks at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Feb. 14, 2020 (DPA photo by Bernd von Jutrczenka via AP Images).

When Sudan’s military brass removed the country’s longtime strongman, President Omar al-Bashir, 10 months ago, skepticism about their intentions was the order of the day. The demonstrators on the streets of Khartoum were the most skeptical, and their massive pro-democracy protests that had forced the military’s hand did not stop. Four months later, and against all odds, the protesters achieved another impressive victory: a power-sharing agreement with the military, establishing a transitional ruling council. Yet even then, not everyone was convinced that a country accused of committing serial genocide under Bashir was on its way to fully rejoining the community […]

President Donald Trump and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the White House, Feb. 6, 2020, in Washington (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

Across Africa and beyond it, there is widespread agreement among governments and policymakers that economic integration would give a critical boost to growth and development on the continent. Yet when he visited Washington earlier this month, Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, pledged alongside President Donald Trump to launch negotiations toward a bilateral trade deal. The two leaders’ motivations are likely quite different, and the odds of a successful negotiation are uncertain at best. But, like the European Union’s own ad hoc trade deals throughout Africa, a U.S.-Kenya free trade pact would create new barriers to intra-African trade, rather than reducing them, […]

Sudan’s former president, Omar al-Bashir, speaks at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, Sudan, Feb. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Mohamed Abuamrain).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Sudan’s transitional government appears prepared to hand former President Omar al-Bashir over to the International Criminal Court to be tried for war crimes and genocide allegedly committed during his regime’s long, scorched-earth campaign in the country’s Darfur region. The decision is reportedly part of a potential peace agreement with rebel groups still operating in Darfur. It could be an unexpected boon for the beleaguered ICC, but only if the military members of the transitional government in Khartoum don’t renege on the deal. […]

Comoros’ president, Azali Assoumani, arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 22, 2019 (photo by Pierre Villard for Sipa via AP Images).

Legislative elections in Comoros last month were dominated by President Azali Assoumani’s party, the Convention for the Renewal of Comoros, or CRC. Opposition parties boycotted the vote, arguing it was rigged against them, and the CRC-led coalition won 19 of the 24 seats that were contested. Runoffs will be held later this month for constituencies where no candidate took a majority of the vote. But last month’s results alone have already made the legislature “no more than a rubber stamp” for Assoumani’s agenda, says Simon Massey, a senior lecturer in international relations at Coventry University. In an email interview with […]

Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama speaks next to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 4, 2020 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

The Trump administration provoked another international outcry when it announced late last month that it was adding six new countries to its list of nations that face broad travel restrictions to the United States: Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. The expansion of the travel ban, which President Donald Trump first issued as an executive order just days after his inauguration in January 2017, will take effect on Feb. 22. The inclusion of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and its largest economy, generated immediate outrage among many observers. But the reaction from the Nigerian government was more muted than […]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, front center, poses for a photo with African leaders at the U.K.-Africa Investment Summit in London, Jan. 20, 2020 (pool photo by Ben Stansall of AFP via AP Images).

The United Kingdom may have officially left the European Union, but the terms of its exit are still being worked out, including what British trade policy will look like post-Brexit. During the current transition, which lasts until at least the end of the year, the U.K. will continue trading under EU rules while negotiating new arrangements with Brussels. Once that is done, the British government will be free to negotiate new trade terms with the rest of the world. While a potential free trade deal with the U.S. gets all the attention, development advocates are watching to see how the […]

Opposition party supporters celebrate after Malawi’s Constitutional Court unanimously annulled the results of last May’s disputed presidential election, Lilongwe, Malawi, Feb. 3, 2020 (AP photo by Thoko Chikondi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Malawi’s Constitutional Court, citing irregularities that included visibly altered return sheets, took the unprecedented step this week of unanimously annulling the results of last May’s disputed presidential election and calling for a rerun within 150 days. President Peter Mutharika, who was narrowly declared the winner of that election, has vowed to appeal the court’s decision. Mutharika, who first took office in 2014, received 38.6 percent of the vote last year, followed by opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera at 35.4 percent. Saulos Chilima, who […]

Men fish in boats on the Nile river, Manfalut, Egypt, Jan. 29, 2020 (Photo by Lobna Tarek for dpa via AP Images).

At first glance, the Nile valley at Wad Ramli, an hour’s drive north of Khartoum, looks as lush and fertile as ever. Date palms sag, heavy with fruit along the banks. Neat rows of barley await harvesting in the heat. With thousands of miles of unbroken desert to the west and many hundreds to the east, this narrow, green strip—at points only 200 meters wide—still closely resembles the life-giving refuge from a hostile environment that it has been for millennia. But ask the farmers, fishermen or anyone else who depends on the river for their livelihood, and they’ll tell you […]