Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Senegal President Macky Sall shake hands prior to their meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 26, 2018 (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal this week, returning to the African continent just months after his most recent four-day, three-nation tour last October, as well as the Third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, which was held in December in Istanbul. The Turkish leader, who has visited more than 30 African countries since becoming prime minister and then president, has devoted considerable effort to cultivating relations with his African counterparts and expanding his country’s presence across the continent. In a WPR article written after Erdogan’s October tour of Angola, Nigeria and Togo, I noted the steps Ankara has […]

Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga arrives at a rally of his supporters to declare his 2022 presidential bid, Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 10, 2021 (Sipa photo by Donwilson Odhiambo via AP Images).

Over the course of the next two and a half years, voters in several of Africa’s largest and most populous countries will be going to the polls, with a lot riding on the outcomes. This year, Kenya and Angola will both elect a president and national legislature to five-year terms. In 2023, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, two of Africa’s four most-populous countries, are scheduled to hold general elections that include keenly anticipated presidential races, as are Zimbabwe and Madagascar. The following year, Egyptians, Rwandans and South Africans will cast ballots in elections that will ostensibly determine the […]

Parked trucks block lanes of traffic during a protest against pandemic restrictions in Ottawa, Ontario, Feb. 14, 2022 (AP photo by Ted Shaffrey).

For the first time in half a century, Canada’s federal government has declared a national emergency. The move was in response to continuing demonstrations in major cities and at several points along the Canada-U.S. border, where truckers and other protesters have blockaded major commerce routes and crossings for the better part of a month. The protests, which paralyzed Canada’s capital city Ottawa for weeks, were sparked by a national COVID-19 policy requiring truck drivers to be vaccinated in order to cross into Canada from the United States. The movement has since expanded to give voice to a wider variety of […]

Ursula von der Leyen, Macky Sall, Emmanuel Macron, Charles Michel and AU Commission Chairperson Mahamat Moussa Faki pose for a photo in Brussels, Feb. 18, 2022 (AP photo by John Thys).

African leaders have assembled in Brussels, Belgium, this week to meet with their European counterparts for the sixth edition of the African Union-European Union summit. The two-day gathering, which kicked off yesterday, is taking place against the backdrop of deepening tensions between Africa and Europe, in large part due to Europe’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic, including the EU’s discriminatory travel bans slapped on South Africa and its neighbors after the initial identification by South African researchers of the omicron variant, as well as what several African Union leaders have referred to as “vaccine apartheid.” The summit also comes as established […]

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives for an EU-AU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Feb. 17, 2022 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Seventy presidents and prime ministers from Europe and Africa are gathered today in Brussels for a long-awaited European Union-African Union summit, the sixth such summit between the two blocs. But ahead of that gathering, Europe’s 27 leaders huddled together for an emergency meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The emergency meeting was called by European Council President Charles Michel to brief the bloc’s leaders on the latest developments in the crisis, including a reported shelling of a kindergarten in eastern Ukraine, which occurred as the meeting of EU leaders was taking place. The EU leaders also heard a presentation […]

Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi at the Elysee Palace, Paris, April 27, 2021 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

Last week, the United Nations’ top court ordered Uganda to pay the sum of $325 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo for the East African country’s role in the brutal war there at the turn of the century. The International Court of Justice, or ICJ, ruled on Feb. 9 that Uganda had violated international norms as an occupying force between 1998 and 2003, and was responsible for the deaths of up to 15,000 people in Congo’s eastern Ituri region. Ugandan troops were also found to have looted precious gold, diamonds and timber from Congo. The case is both an […]

The family portrait at a joint African Union and European Union ministerial meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, Oct. 26, 2021 (Belga/Sipa photo by Hatim Kaghat via AP Images).

The sixth leaders’ summit between the African Union and European Union will finally take place this week in Brussels, following several postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally occurring every three years, the summit was initially scheduled for 2020. The AU-EU summit is often touted as the ideal venue for European and African elites to discuss issues of mutual concern. But this one is particularly significant, as it provides the opportunity for both sides to unpack the new EU strategy directed toward Africa, which was launched in 2020. Beyond the strategy, however, the EU also just launched the 300 billion euro Global Gateway initiative […]

Anthony Shadid during a talk at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in Oklahoma City, April 7, 2011 (AP photo by Sue Ogrocki).

The nature of Anthony Shadid’s work is sometimes misunderstood. After his death 10 years ago this week, he was celebrated as one of the greatest journalists of his era, which he most certainly was. On multiple occasions he was recognized as one of the best at his craft, but he was so much more. Better understanding what Anthony did in his lifetime can help those of us who are still endeavoring to make narrative sense of a world in constant flux. Anthony was a brilliant thinker, reporter, writer and storyteller who, during a critical decade of history from 9/11 to […]

African heads of state gather for a group photograph at the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Feb. 5, 2022 (AP photo).

The African Union leaders’ summit took place last weekend at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The two-day gathering, which kicked off Feb. 5, was held against the backdrop of the continent’s ongoing struggles with the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic—including its persistently low vaccination rates—as well as growing fears of democratic erosion amid a spate of military coups. The summit also marked the passing of the AU’s rotating leadership baton, with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi handing over the ceremonial chair to his Senegalese counterpart, Macky Sall. Setting out his priorities for the coming year in his inaugural […]

People chant slogans during a protest in Khartoum, Sudan, Oct. 30, 2021 (AP photo by Marwan Ali).

When Myanmar’s anti-coup uprising kicked off in February 2021, it had three demands that look quite simple in retrospect. First, the protesters said, the military and its leader, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, must end their takeover of power. Second, they must restore the democratically elected government they had unseated. And third, they must release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National Democratic Union party, which had come out on top in the country’s competitive, albeit flawed election in November 2020. By the time I spoke to Thinzar Shunlei Yi, a leading Myanmar activist, in late September […]

A woman buys tomatoes and onions from street-sellers in Lagos, Nigeria, April 13, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Given the enormous impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global public finances, it is hardly surprising that cash-strapped governments across Africa—from Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon to Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe—are experimenting with a range of tax increases to broaden state revenues. That, in turn, has put the spotlight on tax collection across Africa more broadly.  A recent Financial Times article discussing Nigeria’s paltry formal revenue collection rates is emblematic of the usual coverage of the issues involved, which are recurring topics of discussion on social media and in other public arenas,  including among prospective candidates in Nigeria’s upcoming presidential election. But while the question of […]

Syrian Democratic Forces soldiers hold a position in Hassakeh, northeast Syria, Jan. 27, 2022 (AP photo by Baderkhan Ahmad).

The Islamic State, or ISIS, made global headlines recently on account of two significant developments in Syria: a prison uprising in Hasakeh in late January and the raid by U.S. special operations forces a week later, on Feb. 3, that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. Both events have focused attention on the Islamic State’s capacity to wage insurgency and mobilize militants in its former territory. But another factor that is potentially more important in assessing the group’s future prospects is the large number of ISIS members and sympathizers languishing in detention nearly four years […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with President Joe Biden at the Villa la Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

In the weeks since Russia began its military buildup on Ukraine’s border, the U.S. and its allies have scrambled to respond quickly and forcefully. According to U.S. intelligence officials, the more than 100,000 Russian troops amassed so far would be capable of launching a full-scale invasion. And with NATO gathering troops of its own in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, it is clear that escalation is a real possibility.  And yet, Russia’s strategic decisions from the past decade—in Ukraine but also worldwide—have made it very difficult to successfully respond to its aggression. The recent buildup is the clearest expression of Russian military ambitions […]

Guinea-Bissau's president Umaro Sissoco Embalo addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, Sept. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Eduardo Munoz).

Guinea-Bissau has launched a commission of inquiry into an armed attack widely believed to be a failed attempt to overthrow President Umaro Sissoco Embalo. Heavily armed men wielding assault rifles and machine guns surrounded and attacked government buildings Tuesday in the capital, Bissau, where Embalo was attending a Cabinet meeting along with Prime Minister Nuno Gomes Nabiam. The assault was followed by an hours-long siege at the complex that houses the prime minister’s residence as well as national ministries. Eleven deaths have been reported by a government spokesperson, a figure that reportedly includes members of the presidential guard.  Embalo later […]

A supporter holds a placard in French reading “Long live the transition,” outside the swearing-in ceremony of the post-coup transitional president and vice president, both of whom were later deposed by a second military coup, Bamako, Mali, Sept. 25, 2020

The 1980s are usually recalled as a decade of one-party rule in Africa, and beyond that, of the receding tide of civilian-led government in the face of military takeovers in one country after another.  Having covered the phenomenon while working as a freelance journalist based in West Africa for a little more than the first half of that decade, I recall my excitement when I returned as a reporter for The New York Times at the start of the 1990s, which are often remembered for quite the opposite: the rebirth of democratic politics on the continent. This time around, I […]

Malawi's newly elected President Lazarus Chakwera greets supporters after being sworn in in Lilongwe, Malawi, June 28 2020 (AP photo by Thoko Chikondi).

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera’s decision to reshuffle his Cabinet last week after graft allegations surfaced against several of his ministers highlights intensifying public disillusionment with the country’s direction since he took office in June 2020. Chakwera had also been facing increasing pressure from within his ruling Tonse Alliance coalition, with many of its smaller members accusing the dominant Malawi Congress Party, or MCP—the country’s oldest political party, which Chakwera heads—of corruption and nepotism.  In recent weeks, street protests have sprung back up across the country, in response to a call from Bon Kalindo, a former parliamentarian and political activist, to resume […]