News in Africa- Week of November
By Andrew Allen
International Relations of African Nations
(Central African Republic) France pledges weapons and financial aid for Central African Republic, The Defense Post, November 2, 2018
France announced that it will provide the Central African Republic with arms – in the form of over 1,000 assault rifles – and €24 million, in efforts to support the nation as it reels from an ongoing civil conflict that has resulted in over 700,000 internal displacements. The CAR has been the recipient of aid or interest in the same from several different nations. A U.N arms embargo was lifted in 2017 to allow Russian weapons to flow into the CAR, while Russian military officials have been engaged in providing training to CAR forces.
(General Africa/Kenya/Nigeria) Why Donald Trump is popular in Africa, The Economist, October 24, 2018
A recent Pew survey has found that Donald Trump is more popular in Africa than in any other region. Nigeria and Kenya lead all other nations in this regard, with 59% and 56% of people in the respective nations indicating that they believe Trump to be a “positive force in the world”. Some experts attribute the positive outlook to ignorance or a similarity between Trump’s rhetorical style and that of many historical and present African leaders. However, the approval could be the result of an overall favorability towards United States across the continent as a whole.
On October 29 and 30, protesters gathered in the Nigerian capital of Abuja in support of the imprisoned Islamic cleric, Ibrahim Zalaky. The cleric has been imprisoned since 2015, after being at odds with the government for several years. The Nigerian police used tear gas on the protestors, who responded by throwing rocks, at which point the police opened fire. The protestors allege that 18 were killed on Monday, while the military contends that the death toll was four.
(Nigeria) Nigeria’s army cites Trump to justify shooting Shia protesters, BBC World News, November 2, 2018
After a tense protest that saw Nigerian police open fire on Shia-Nigerian protesters, the Nigerian military tweeted a clip of U.S President Donald Trump to defend its actions. In the clip, Trump makes reference to the caravan of migrants slowly approaching the U.S border, stating that if “they want to throw rocks at our military, [then] our military fights back”. The tweet came in response to accusations of human rights violations by the international NGO Amnesty International.
(South Sudan) South Sudan rebel leader Machar back in Juba after two years, Al-Jazeera, October 31, 2018
Riek Machar, the former vice president and rebel leader returned to South Sudan from exile in order to attend a peace ceremony. Machar fled the country after the collapse of a 2016 peace deal. The former vice president was at the center of the nation’s entrance into the current civil war, when he was accused of plotting a coup by the then-president of South Sudan. Although previous peace deals have collapsed, this development represents an opportunity for peace to progress and become stronger in the embattled nation.
(Mali) Two UN peacekeepers killed in Mali attacks, Al-Jazeera, October 28, 2018
Two Burkina Faso nationals were killed in their capacity as U.N peacekeepers in Mali in an attack that involved rocket launchers, machine guns, and more. On the same day, several more peacekeepers were wounded after their vehicle drove over an improvised explosive device. The MINUSMA U.N peacekeeping mission is the most fatal in the world, as Mali has sought to regain control after several years of struggles with al-Qaeda related groups.
(Zimbabwe) Oil discovery: Not so fast, Invictus tells Zimbabwe, Fin24, November 2, 2018
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that Australian company Invictus Energy had discovered natural gas and oil deposits in the country’s Mashonaland Central Province. However, the Australian firm declared that a mistake in communication had occurred, and that their report had merely indicated the potential for oil and natural gas. The discovery would be important for Zimbabwe, where such sources of energy are rare and which is passing through a period of economic turmoil.
Elections and Democracy
Cameroon’s longtime President Paul Biya was elected to his seventh consecutive term in an election characterized by controversy and violence. Although Biya was declared the winner with more than 70% of the vote, overall turnout was 54% less than in previous elections. Many attribute depressed turnout to fear, especially in English-speaking regions of the country where turnout was less then 15%. The Anglophone region is home to separatists who resist the Biya regime, and has been plagued by violence as the Biya regime seeks to crack down on those who oppose it.
The former second-in-command of al-Shabab in Somalia, Mukhtar Robow, has announced his intention to run for a regional presidency in his native Southwest region. The former terrorist is technically still the subject to U.S sanctions that were enacted in 2008 as a response to his illicit activities, and has been told by the federal government that he cannot run. However, the central government in Somalia is weak and disconnected from regional governments to a sufficient extent that it may not be able to enforce its decision to bar. Many within and without of the government express concerns about the lack of punishment for Robow’s past, while others suggest that to bar the former terrorist would be to remove incentives from other high-level terrorists who wish to defect.
(Democratic Republic of the Congo ) Waiting for Democracy in Congo, Foreign Affairs, August 17, 2018
In August of 2018, current Congolese President Joseph Kabila announced that he will not be seeking a third term in the country’s upcoming elections. Kabila had previously delayed elections and avoided stepping down, despite ruling past the nation’s constitutional two-term, ten-year limit. Despite the announcement, concerns about a truly democratic transition remain. His replacement candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, has a history of allying himself with the dictatorial Kabila, and is fiercely loyal.