South Sudanese President Salva Kiir signs a peace deal, Juba, South Sudan, Aug. 26, 2015 (AP photo by Jason Patinkin).

How much clout does the U.S. wield over African leaders? Over the past month, the Obama administration has turned up the heat on South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, pressuring him to commit to a deal to end his country’s 20-month-old civil war. Kiir did all he could to avoid signing the agreement, which involves a power-sharing arrangement with rebel leader and former Vice President Riek Machar. He backed out of a ceremony to sign it in the middle of last month and only gave in last week after the U.S. threatened him with United Nations sanctions. Last week, the Security […]

Shopping in the Toi Market, Nairobi, Kenya, May 7, 2015 (Flickr photo by ninara licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

More than five years in the making, the ambitious African trade agreement known as the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), officially launched in June, aims to bring together three key African trading blocs—the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)—to create a common market spanning the continent from Cairo to Cape Town. With a huge free trade zone encompassing a region of more than 626 million people and a total gross domestic product of $1.2 trillion—equivalent to 58 percent of the continent’s entire GDP—the deal hopes to […]

An opposition demonstrator holds a sign in French reading "No to a third term" next to a burning barricade, Bujumbura, Burundi, June 3, 2015 (AP photo by Gildas Ngingo).

On Tuesday, a prominent human rights activist and critic of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza was shot and seriously injured by gunmen on motorbikes in the capital, Bujumbura. The attack comes days after a powerful general and close ally of Nkurunziza was shot and killed Sunday. These are just the latest events in what has been a tense and often violent several months following Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in April. Many in Burundi deemed that move unconstitutional, and breakaway members of the military attempted a failed coup in May. As many observers predicted, Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a […]