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Category: Africa

High stakes as West Africa prepares military action against Gambia’s Jammeh

In further escalation of the post-election crisis in The Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh declared a state of emergency just a day before his official mandate was due to come to an end. The announcement followed reports that a Nigerian warship was deployed off the Gambian coast while a regional military force was being assembled in neighbouring Senegal for possible military intervention. The events are the clearest signs that the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) could act militarily to remove Jammeh from power. Abdul-Jalilu Ateku examines the prospects for intervention in Gambia.

Why Boko Haram is the world’s deadliest terror group

Written by Vincent Hiribarren.

On Christmas Eve 2015 the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, was publicly confident that his country had “technically won the war” against the Islamist group Boko Haram. Less than two months into 2016, and the group is still wreaking havoc across northern Nigeria and beyond.

Since the beginning of the year, the group has killed more than 100 people and continued to drive many more from their homes as they flee for their safety. Its most recent atrocity was the February 10 suicide attack on a refugee camp near Maiduguri that killed 58 people.

President Nkurunziza of Burundi still has a choice: war criminal or peace bringer?

Written by Catherine Gegout.

A leaked UN memo to the Security Council has warned that a peacekeeping force in the African nation of Burundi would be unable to stop large-scale violence should it erupt in an ongoing crisis caused by president Nkurunziza’s election for a third term.

However it is not too late for Nkurunziza to choose his legacy: either be remembered as a war criminal facing prison or death, or renowned for solving a dangerous political situation. A new round of peace talks is due to take place this month but Burundi’s government recently announced there had been “no consensus” on a date.

2015: the year in elections

The following short articles come from academics with the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) and discuss the 2015 elections in Nigeria and Poland.  These blog posts form part of a wider series from The Conversation that discussed all major elections that year.

Nigeria: matters of urgency

Written by Catherine Gegout.

When Muhammadu Buhari was elected president of Nigeria in March, he certainly had his work cut out. Nigeria’s economy badly needs to be diversified; petroleum exports revenue represents more than 90% of total export revenue, even as only half of all Nigerians have access to electricity. Education is in a dismal state, especially in the north, where only 6% of children have primary education.

There have already been some promising moves. Buhari has renewed Nigeria’s beleagured fight against corruption, including oil corruption and both he and his deputy took a symbolic pay cut. He must now start honouring his promise to improve gender representation in politics. Currently, only 16% of cabinet members are women, and only 6% of senators and members of the House of Representatives.

Why the world can’t stand by as Burundi becomes a failed state

Written by Patrick Muthengi Maluki.

The unfolding human tragedy in Burundi needs urgent intervention from the international community before it is too late. The seemingly hands-off attitude by the East African Community, African Union and even the United Nations raises many questions.

The crisis has been characterised by sporadic violence, assassinations, intimidation, and the grouping of militias along ethnic lines. The situation is eerily reminiscent of the start of the 1993-2006 civil war in which an estimated 300,000 people died. The underlying issues of ethnic balance of power, corruption and poor governance linked to that conflict appear to be re-emerging.

The current crisis began in April with multi-ethnic protests by the opposition and civil society against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to vie for a third term.

Six lessons from the initial failed international response to Ebola

By Catherine Gegout

The Ebola virus has killed more than 9,000 people – about 2,000 in Guinea, 3,000 in Sierra Leone and 4,000 in Liberia. The outbreak started in Guinea in December 2013, but the Ebola crisis really started in April 2014 when it began to spread.

The initial international response was deemed “totally inadequate” by British MPs. Since then efforts have improved, but here are six lessons that can be learned from the problematic initial response – from the problems highlighted by the MPs – and especially pertinent to those states that have the capacity to react to epidemics.

How and why is North Africa depicted by the US and EU as the ‘next Afghanistan’?

The recent intervention in Mali and hostage-taking in Amenas, Algeria have caused North Africa to dominate the headlines and increased speculation and discourse on whether North Africa will become the ‘next Afghanistan’. The GWOT (Global War on Terror) however, is not a new phenomenon to North Africa. Despite Al-Qaida being the current threat emanating from North Africa, the most extreme terrorist attacks by Al-Qaida in African history, the bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998 and the fatal bombings in Casablanca, Morocco in 2003 were quickly forgotten. The attack in Amenas adds to a long list of kidnappings, attacks on international symbols and transnational terrorism which plagues North Africa. In 2009, there were seven separate kidnappings of European citizens including the controversial murder of a British citizen as well as an attack against the French embassy in Nouakchott.