Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s campaign rally in Dodoma, Tanzania, Oct. 27, 2020 (AP photo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Africa Watch by email every week. Tanzanian President John Magufuli claimed an overwhelming if dubious victory in a general election this week that was heavily slanted in his favor. But opposition leaders have rejected the results of Wednesday’s polls, which showed Magufuli winning a second five-year term with 84 percent of the vote, according to the country’s National Electoral Commission. The opposition has called on their supporters to stage peaceful anti-government protests, even as […]

Zambian President Edgar Lungu shakes hands with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, Sept. 1, 2018 (pool photo by Nicolas Asfouri via AP).

With its economy in trouble from a high public debt burden as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, Zambia’s government recently suspended interest payments on some sovereign bonds. The country is already in arrears on some of its debt—including $183 million in official bilateral loans from other countries and $256 million from commercial banks—and has asked for a six-month suspension on interest payments from the holders of its $3 billion in Eurobonds, which are denominated in foreign currencies. These bondholders are due to make a final decision on Zambia’s request in mid-November, but a substantial portion of them have so far […]

People demonstrate against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, Oct. 20, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

On Oct. 20, Nigerian security forces opened fire on two groups of unarmed demonstrators in the sprawling metropolis of Lagos, reportedly killing at least a dozen people. The victims had been part of a weeks-long civic uprising to demand more accountability from law enforcement and an end to rampant police brutality in Nigeria. In the wake of last week’s shootings, the direction and future of the protest movement remain unclear. Several states, including Lagos, have implemented curfews due to increased violence and pockets of unrest, much of it targeting the peaceful protesters. In the aftermath of last week’s shootings, several […]

A worker burns cables and other parts of old electrical devices at the Agbogbloshie scrap yard in Accra, Ghana, June 12, 2018 (Photo by Gioia Forster for dpa via AP Images).

In Agbogbloshie, a commercial district in Accra, Ghana, around 10,000 of the poorest people in the country sort through much of the world’s electronic waste. With no other way of making a living, they use crude methods to dismantle electronic devices—burning them or dousing them in acid—which expose them to toxic emissions and substances that often lead to acute and long-term health problems. In 2014, Agbogbloshie was deemed one of the 10 most polluted places on Earth, with lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium found in the air, water and soil at concentrations 100 times higher than safe levels. Agbogbloshie has […]

President Donald Trump on a phone call with the leaders of Sudan and Israel, announcing their normalization deal, in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Oct. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Editor’s Note: Welcome to WPR’s new weekly newsletter, Middle East Memo. Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best local news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week. When is a peace deal not all it’s chalked up to be, even if it ends a formal state of hostility? The Trump administration’s race to pressure Arab countries to normalize their ties with Israel, goaded by promises of American financial assistance and weapons, isn’t really changing the […]

Police face supporters of Guinean opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo in Conakry, Guinea, Oct. 21, 2020 (AP photo by Sadak Souici).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Africa Watch by email every week. Preliminary election results in Guinea show President Alpha Conde headed for a landslide victory, likely securing a controversial third term despite months of violent protests. Clashes between opposition supporters and security forces have continued since Sunday’s vote, leaving at least eight civilians and two police officers dead, according to the government. Conde’s main opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo, has escalated tensions by prematurely claiming victory and accusing the ruling […]

Burundian refugees arrive back in Gasenyi, Burundi, Aug. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Berthier Mugiraneza).

For the first time since fleeing their country five years ago, Burundian refugees living in Rwanda are returning home. But while the government sees this as a significant step in uniting a nation torn apart by political violence, activists and aid workers are treating it with caution. Tens of thousands of Burundians remain fearful of returning to a country where human rights abuses are still rampant. The East African nation has been reeling since it was thrown into turmoil when late President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to seek a controversial third term in 2015. When thousands of Burundians took to the […]

People protest against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, Oct. 20, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

One of the rare times I made it through the international airport in Lagos with nary a request for a bribe, I was left feeling spooked. After all, during previous visits to Nigeria, I had had valuables seized right before my eyes under false pretenses; I had been detained in a cell awaiting ransom; and I had even once watched in alarmed disbelief as uniformed men with guns boarded my flight and extorted money from passengers, along with bottles of champagne from the crew, right there on the tarmac. This time, as I exited the terminal, just as I was […]

Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar joins a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in Athens, Jan. 17, 2020 (AP photo by Thanassis Stavrakis).

Nearly a decade into Libya’s grinding civil war, it seems next to impossible to imagine stability, let alone a political settlement. The country is as torn as ever between the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli, which is backed militarily by Turkey, and the rival forces loyal to Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s breakaway Libyan National Army, backed by a motley crew of Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and France. Libya, which before the war was among the world’s top oil-exporting countries, with billions in hydrocarbon reserves, is today oil-rich, revenue-poor and teetering on the brink of irretrievable collapse. The […]

People hold banners as they demonstrate on the street to protest against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, Oct. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. A campaign to get the Nigerian government to shut down a notoriously corrupt police unit has evolved into the most significant protest movement in Nigeria in decades, with demonstrators across the country calling for sweeping police reforms and an end to human rights abuses by security forces. President Muhammadu Buhari has tried to quell the protesters by promising to meet their demands, even as security forces have responded with a brutal crackdown, including the use of live ammunition, killing at least 10 […]

Members of the House of Representatives walk down the steps of Capitol Hill after passing a coronavirus rescue package, Washington, March 27, 2020 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

The global economy is gradually healing from the economic blows dealt by the coronavirus pandemic, but the recovery remains fragile and halting. Reduced trade is more a symptom than a cause of those trends—and what governments do in terms of additional fiscal stimulus will do far more to determine the shape of the recovery in the United States and other countries. Still, trade policy could be a factor, supporting or undermining the nascent recovery. President Donald Trump’s trade wars have already complicated the direct response to COVID-19 infections—by making imports of some critical products more expensive or harder to find—and […]

Former Defense Minister Bah N’Daw, right, is sworn in as transitional president, and Col. Assimi Goita, left, head of the junta that staged the August coup, is sworn as transitional vice president, in Bamako, Mali, Sept. 25, 2020 (AP photo).

The United States has mostly avoided in Africa the costly mistakes it made in Afghanistan and Iraq. If that is to continue, a good understanding of internal developments and issues in African countries will be crucial. Until now, the United States’ primary concern in Mali has been the jihadist insurgency in the northern and central parts of the country. A secondary priority was the promotion of democracy, which translated into an emphasis on regular, credible elections. With the military coup this summer—Mali’s second in less than a decade—and with mounting attacks by jihadists, that policy is not working. The current […]

A man casts his vote in a local election in Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region, in Ethiopia, Sept. 9, 2020 (AP photo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Ethiopian lawmakers voted to sever ties with leaders of the northern Tigray region this week in a move that one Tigrayan official called “tantamount to a declaration of war.” The decision by the upper house of Ethiopia’s national parliament, the House of Federation, is the most severe in a series of tit-for-tat provocations between Tigrayan leaders and federal officials and puts Tigray at risk of losing up to $281 million in federal budget subsidies. Tensions between the two sides arose early in […]

President John Magufuli hands in his nomination form to the chairman of the National Electoral Commission, in Dodoma, Tanzania, Aug. 25, 2020 (AP photo).

At a jubilant rally one recent evening in the town of Geita, in northwestern Tanzania, Tundu Lissu sang along to Bob Marley’s “One Love” as he looked out on the sun setting over a sea of cheering supporters. The opposition firebrand is running to replace incumbent President John Magufuli in a general election later this month; he has been on the campaign trail since late August, drawing massive crowds at each stop. “Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve looked people in the eye,” Lissu told World Politics Review in an interview. “Everywhere I’ve gone, people are so happy. It’s unbelievable, and it’s […]

Party members have their temperature checked and sanitize their hands as a precaution against the coronavirus at the national congress of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party in Dodoma, Tanzania, July 11, 2020 (AP Photo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Three African countries are gearing up for fraught presidential elections this month that have raised fears of violence and disrupted democratic norms. In Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea, incumbents are seeking constitutionally questionable third terms, while in Tanzania, the government appears to be restricting the opposition’s ability to even compete. In Guinea, where rallies against a third term for President Alpha Conde have been ongoing since last year, Amnesty International reported this week that security forces killed at least 50 protesters between October […]