Africa: Conflict and governance July 2021-

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Africa: Conflict and governance 2018-June 2021

African democracy in 2022: 3 elections to watch
Danielle Resnick, David M. Rubenstein Fellow – Global Economy and Development
(Brookings) Over the last 12 months, Africa’s democratic trajectory has been extremely volatile, ranging from protests in Eswatini (Swaziland) demanding an end to the country’s absolute monarchy, a peaceful turnover of power in Zambia, and a military coup in Sudan that undercut the country’s fragile political transition.
In 2022, developments in three key countries—Angola, Kenya, and Senegal—will provide an important bellwether for where the continent is heading. All three countries face important local and national elections. The outcome of these elections will significantly impact prospects for reversing democratic erosion, the extent to which civil society and countervailing institutions can keep leaders accountable, and the future range of tactics that incumbents employ to retain power. (29 December 2021)

Kenya election 2022: Were results sheets altered as Odinga claims?
(BBC) William Ruto was declared the winner of Kenya’s presidential election over two weeks ago with 50.5% of the vote, but his opponent Raila Odinga is challenging the result, claiming it was fraudulent.
Mr Odinga’s lawyers have highlighted more than 40 polling locations where they say the vote totals were tampered with to increase Mr Ruto’s tally and tip it over the threshold of 50% required to win.
1 August
Kenya’s two-and-a-half presidential horse race
On Aug. 9, Kenya’s 22 million registered voters will go the polls to pick a successor to the outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is barred from reelection by term limits. They will also select new national- and county-level lawmakers and county governors. For the presidential contest, Kenyans are presented with a batch of familiar faces to choose from. Yet even by the standards of the country’s ultra-transactional, unpredictable politics, this year’s electoral playing field is an unusual one.

Ethiopia, Eritrea forces launch new offensive in Tigray: TPLF
Troops from the two countries have attacked fighters in the northern Adayabo area, a Tigrayan rebel spokesman says.
The conflict resumed last week after a five-month lull, with clashes on the ground and air raids over Tigray dashing hopes of peacefully resolving the nearly two-year war.
Ethiopia forces accused of deadly attack as Tigray war escalates
Witnesses say a kindergarten in the Tigrayan capital Mekelle was hit by an air strike and four civilians were killed, but the federal government denies the reports. Both sides have blamed each other for breaking a four-month-old ceasefire between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the TPLF, the group that controls Tigray.

30 August
Angola election: The MPLA defeats Unita in closest-ever election
(BBC) Angola’s long-dominant party has won another five years in power, but with a much-reduced majority, the electoral commission has announced.
The MPLA, under President João Lourenço, took 51.2% in last week’s election. Its closest rival, Unita, had its best-ever result with 44%.
Unita previously said it was considering contesting the outcome.
The MPLA, in power for nearly five decades, has faced criticism over high levels of poverty and unemployment.

4 August
U.N. experts: Rwanda has intervened militarily in eastern Congo
(Reuters) – A United Nations Group of Experts said it has “solid evidence” that Rwandan troops have been fighting alongside the M23 rebel group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and providing it with weapons and support.
The findings were contained in a confidential report seen by Reuters on Thursday.
Rwanda has previously denied accusations by Congo’s government that it supports the M23 and that it has sent troops into the country. The M23 has denied it receives Rwandan support.
Since May, the M23 has waged its most sustained offensive in years, killing dozens and displacing tens of thousands of people. By July, it controlled a territory almost three times as large as it did in March, the U.N. group said.
The M23’s resurgence has inflamed regional tensions and spurred deadly protests against the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, which civilians accuse of failing to protect them

2 August
How do Global South politics of non-alignment and solidarity explain South Africa’s position on Ukraine?
Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Chief Executive – South African Institute of International Affairs
(Brookings) The war in Ukraine is often described by Western analysts as a turning point in international relations that has upended the post-Cold War international order. In the Global South, the war is equally historic, reinvigorating foreign policy autonomy and non-alignment as geopolitical tensions rise between the West and Russia (and China).

28 July
‘New Cold War’: Russia and West vie for influence in Africa
(AP) — Russian, French and American leaders are crisscrossing Africa to win support for their positions on the war in Ukraine, waging what some say is the most intense competition for influence on the continent since the Cold War.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron are each visiting several African countries this week. Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, went to Kenya and Somalia last week. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, will go to Ghana and Uganda next week.
“It’s like a new Cold War is playing out in Africa, where the rival sides are trying to gain influence,” said William Gumede, director of Democracy Works, a foundation promoting good governance.
Lavrov, in his travels across the continent where many countries are suffering drought and hunger, has sought to portray the West as the villain, blaming it for rising food prices, while the Western leaders have accused the Kremlin of cynically using food as a weapon and waging an imperial-style war of conquest — words calculated to appeal to listeners in post-colonial Africa.

21 June
The Congo rebellion inflaming regional tensions
(Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s army has been locked in heavy fighting since late May with the M23 rebel group, which is waging its most sustained offensive since a 2012-2013 insurrection that seized vast swathes of territory.
The conflict has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Congo and neighbouring Rwanda, which Kinshasa accuses of backing the rebels, including by sending its own troops into eastern Congo. Rwanda denies any involvement.

13 April
Trade Trumps Human Rights for Trudeau in Ethiopia’s Civil War
By Zecharias Zelalem, award-winning journalist covering Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa
Disparity between Canada’s response to Ukraine and Ethiopia shows that not all lives matter.
(Open Canada) …Ethiopia’s civil war, now in its seventeenth month.
Researchers who recently spoke to the Globe and Mail estimate that the war, and a famine exacerbated by it, may have caused as many as half a million deaths in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, the epicenter of fighting for much of the war.
Compounding the siege is the Ethiopian government’s severing of the region’s communications and banking services. While African Union-mediated negotiations between Tigray forces and the Ethiopian government are said to be centered around eventually restoring these services, the policy of weaponizing them in the first place would be in contravention of international law.
Dr. Getachew Assefa, a Professor of Sustainable Design at the University of Calgary, hosts the UMD Ethiopian panel discussion show where guests dissect Ethiopian current affairs, including the ongoing civil war. Of Tigrayan descent himself, Dr. Getachew said “The ‘feminist foreign policy’ is but a paper tiger if Canada fails to act when tens of thousands of women in Tigray have been subjected to weaponized rape.”

8 April
Tigray has been the scene of ‘ethnic cleansing’, say human rights groups
(The Guardian) Ethiopian paramilitaries have carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes using threats, killings and sexual violence, according to a joint report by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
The rights groups accuse officials and paramilitaries from the neighbouring Amhara region of war crimes and crimes against humanity in western Tigray, in northern Ethiopia.

8 February
Russia’s Wagner Group in Africa: Influence, commercial concessions, rights violations, and counterinsurgency failure
Federica Saini Fasanotti, Nonresident Senior Fellow – Foreign Policy, Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology
(Brookings) Russia is intensifying its competition with the United States in Africa. In its asymmetric race, Russia uses nominally private, but in fact
state-linked actors such as the private security company the Wagner Group and the infamous St. Petersburg “troll farm” the Internet Research Agency (IRA). Both are a major threat to democracy and rule of law in Africa and beyond.
In its African strategy, the Kremlin is motivated foremost by a desire to thwart U.S. policy objectives, almost irrespective of their substance. Considering Africa “one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities,” Russian President Vladimir Putin also seeks to create African dependencies on Moscow’s military assets and access African resources, targeting countries that have fragile governments but are often rich in important raw materials, such as oil, gold, diamonds, uranium, and manganese. Russian private security companies such as the Wagner Group purport to redress complex local military and terrorism conflicts with which African governments have struggled. They also offer to these governments the ability to conduct counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations unconstrained by human rights responsibilities, unlike the United States, allowing African governments to be as brutish in their military efforts as they like. In turn, Russia seeks payment in concessions for natural resources, substantial commercial contracts, or access to strategic locations, such as airbases or ports.

2 February
The evolution of global poverty, 1990-2030
Homi Kharas and Meagan Dooley
(Brookings) … In Africa, poverty has been rising steadily, thanks to rapid population growth and stagnant economic growth. Exacerbated by a pandemic-induced rise in poverty of 11%, African poverty shows little signs of decline through 2030.
By 2030, sub-Saharan African countries will account for 9 of the top 10 countries by poverty headcount. Sixty percent of the global poor will live in fragile and conflict-affected states. Many of the top poverty destinations in the next decade will fall into both of these categories: Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Somalia. Global efforts to achieve the SDGs by 2030, including eliminating extreme poverty, will be complicated by the concentration of poverty in these fragile and hard-to-reach contexts.
By 2030, poverty will be associated not just with countries, but with specific places within countries. Middle-income countries will be home to almost half of the global poor, a dramatic shift from just 40 years earlier. Nigeria is now the global face of poverty.

26 January
Airships could boost internet coverage and help close the digital divide in Africa – and beyond. Here’s how
Blimps (airships) are providing internet coverage to two islands in sub-Saharan Africa.
The aerial signal connects with terrestrial Wi-Fi to boost download speeds.
The system could be rolled out to other remote communities, helping to close the digital divide between high- and low-income countries.
(WEF) …while network coverage has been growing steadily across sub-Saharan Africa, in 2019 less than 30% of the continent’s population had online access.
Less than 10% of households in low-income countries are fixed broadband subscribers, compared with 70% in middle-income and close to 90% in high-income countries, according to the World Economic Forum’s Accelerating Digital Inclusion in the New Normal report.  And slow download speeds restrict more than half of subscribers in low-income countries, limiting prospects for online business activity and economic development.
But connectivity is only part of the challenge. Weak digital literacy is one of the biggest barriers to internet access for remote communities in developing countries

Sudanese protest against UN talks to resolve post-coup crisis
(Al Jazeera) Protesters in Khartoum demand the expulsion of the UN, which has begun talks to try to solve Sudan’s political crisis.
Sudan pro-democracy faction agrees to UN-brokered talks
The Forces of Freedom and Change says it will take part in UN-sponsored talks to end months of political deadlock. (16 January)

25 January
Pro-coup supporters rally in Burkina Faso as UN condemns takeover
(Al Jazeera) Several hundred people have gathered in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou in support of a military takeover that a day earlier deposed President Roch Kabore, as France and the UN condemned the West African country’s latest coup.
Officers detained and deposed democratically-elected Kabore in the volatile state on Monday amid deepening anger at his handling of violence by armed groups. The Sahel country now lies in the hands of the Patriotic Movement for Preservation and Restoration (MPSR), the name of a group led by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.
Kabore’s downfall came amid deepening anger at the government’s failure to stem Burkina Faso’s security crisis. Kabore’s downfall came amid deepening anger at the government’s failure to stem Burkina Faso’s security crisis.About 2,000 people have died, according to an AFP tally. In a country of 21 million, some 1.5 million people are internally displaced, according to the national emergency agency CONASUR.
Bloody attacks on the army, police and a volunteer civilian militia mounted throughout 2021, and accounts of negligence or indifference by top commanders sparked particular anger.

10 January
West African nations sever links with Mali over election delay
(Reuters) – West African nations will close their borders with Mali, sever diplomatic ties and impose tough economic sanctions in response to its “unacceptable” delay in holding elections following a 2020 military coup, the 15-state regional bloc said on Sunday.
The fresh measures from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) represent a significant hardening of its stance towards Mali, whose interim authorities have proposed holding elections in December 2025 instead of this February as originally agreed with the bloc.
Sanctions-hit Mali facing isolation as neighbours cancel flights
Biden raises concerns over air strikes in call with Ethiopia’s Abiy
(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden raised concerns about air strikes in the conflict in northern Ethiopia and about human rights issues during a call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday, the White House said.
Thousands have died and millions have been displaced since war broke out in the northern Tigray region in November 2020 between Abiy’s federal forces, backed by regional allies, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that governs the region.

7 January
Ethiopian government says it will begin dialogue with political opposition
(Reuters) – Ethiopian government said on Friday that it will begin dialogue with political opposition figures after announcing a list of prominent opposition leaders to be released from prison.

2 January
Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, Resigns
Sudan’s prime minister, who was ousted in a military coup but reinstated over a month ago, resigned on Sunday, in the latest upheaval to disrupt the country’s shaky transition to democracy from dictatorship. The decision by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok came as widespread protests gripped the northeast African nation. Protesters denounced not just the coup that unseated Mr. Hamdok in October but also the deal that returned him to power in November. Opposition political groups and other major political forces rejected it as an unacceptable concession to the military, which has controlled Sudan for most of its history since it became an independent state more than six decades ago. In a televised address on Sunday evening, Mr. Hamdok said that repeated mediation attempts had failed in recent days and that the country needed to engage in a new dialogue to to chart a path toward a democratic, civilian state.

2021

28 December
2021, the year military coups returned to the stage in Africa
This year, there were four successful military takeovers across the continent – in Chad, Mali, Guinea and Sudan – up from one in 2020
(Al Jazeera) In the second part of the 20th century, military coups in Africa were used as a common means of changing the political order in the wake of decolonisation. Between 1960 and 2000, the overall number of coups and coup attempts stood at an average of four per year, according to a study by Jonathan Powell, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida, and Clayton Thyne, a professor at the University of Kentucky.
However, as calls for democratic reforms and constitutionalism grew with the new century, military coups decreased to two per year until 2019.
… The recent surge in the militarisation of politics, analysts say, is influenced by a mix of external drivers, including the increasing and diverse number of international actors who are active in the continent prioritising their interests, and internal factors, such as widespread public frustration against corruption, insecurity and poor governance.

19 November
How digital espionage tools exacerbate authoritarianism across Africa
Recent reporting reveals that spyware tools like Pegasus—one of the most advanced pieces of cyber espionage software ever invented—are being used by African governments for international espionage. Nathaniel Allen and Matthew La Lime discuss how these tools can worsen authoritarianism on the continent and stress the importance of effective oversight to combat misuse.
(Brookings) Earlier this year, an international reporting project based on a list of 50,000 phone numbers suspected of being compromised by the Pegasus spyware program revealed just how widespread digital espionage has become. Pegasus, which is built and managed by the Israeli firm NSO Group, turns mobile phones into surveillance tools by granting an attacker full access to a device’s data. It is among the most advanced pieces of cyber espionage software ever invented, and its targets include journalists, activists, and politicians. Of the 14 numbers belonging to world leaders on the list of numbers suspected of being targeted, half were African. They included two sitting heads of state—South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI —along with the current or former prime ministers of Egypt, Burundi, Uganda, Morocco, and Algeria.

17 November
Hundreds go missing in Burkina Faso amid extremist violence
(AP) Islamic extremist violence is ravaging Burkina Faso, killing thousands and displacing more than 1 million people.
And people are going missing. Reports of missing relatives quadrupled from 104 to 407 between 2019 and 2020, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which defines a missing person as someone whose whereabouts cannot be accounted for and requires state intervention.

16-17 November
Top US envoy appeals for preservation of democracy in Africa
In a lengthy private meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and other top officials, Blinken hailed Kenya’s role in seeking to ease the conflict in Ethiopia and cited Kenya as an example of a vibrant, inclusive democracy despite challenges it has faced in its own recent elections.
The State Department said Blinken spent 90 minutes with Kenyatta in a session scheduled for only 10 minutes and that the talks were wide-ranging. The precise topics and any potential developments were not immediately clear.
“We continue to see atrocities being committed, people suffering, and regardless of what we call it, it needs to stop and there needs to be accountability,” Blinken later told reporters. He said he will make a determination on whether the situation in Ethiopia is genocide “once we get all the analysis that goes into looking at the facts.”
… All the while, China has pumped billions into African energy, infrastructure and other projects that Washington sees as designed to take advantage of developing nations. Blinken and Omamo met in a Nairobi hotel in a conference room with an expansive view of an as-yet incomplete, Chinese-financed elevated expressway.
Blinken to Africa to boost US response to regional crises
(AP) Blinken is looking to boost thus-far unsuccessful U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve deepening conflicts in Ethiopia and in Sudan and counter growing insurgencies elsewhere. His three-nation tour — to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal — follows months of administration attempts to ease both situations that have yet to bear fruit despite frequent lower-level interventions.
“Our intensive diplomacy there is ongoing, and through the trip, we would like to demonstrate that our commitment to African partnerships and African solutions to African challenges is enduring and will continue while we continue our intensive efforts with our African partners and likemindeds to address the difficult challenges in Ethiopia and certainly Sudan,” said Ervin Massinga, a top U.S. diplomat for Africa.
Blinken begins his tour in Kenya, a key player in both neighboring Ethiopia and Sudan and currently a member of the U.N. Security Council. Kenya also has deep interests in Somalia, which it borders and which has been wracked by violence and instability for decades.
conflict in Ethiopia has escalated between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the leaders in the northern Tigray region, who once dominated the government, with rebels now advancing on the capital amid increasingly dire warnings from the U.S. and others for foreigners to leave.
Those tensions, which some fear could escalate into mass inter-ethnic killings in Africa’s second-most populated country, exploded into war last year, with thousands killed, many thousands more detained and millions displaced. …the Biden administration has moved toward sanctions, announcing the expulsion of Ethiopia from a U.S.-Africa trade pact and hitting, at least at first, leaders and the military of neighboring Eritrea with penalties for intervening in the conflict on Ethiopia’s behalf. Sanctions against Ethiopian officials, including Abiy, a Nobel Peace laureate, are possible.
Ethiopia has condemned the sanctions and stepped up its criticism of “meddling” in its internal affairs. And in Addis Ababa, the headquarters of the African Union, and elsewhere, there is skepticism and hostility to U.S. pressure for an immediate cease-fire and talks despite America being the country’s largest aid donor.
As [Biden’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeff] Feltman has shuttled between Nairobi and Addis Ababa with an eye toward easing tensions in Ethiopia, he and the administration have also been confounded by developments in Sudan, where a military coup last month toppled a civilian-led government that was making significant strides in restoring long-strained ties with the U.S.
Just last week, coup leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan tightened his grip on power, reappointing himself as the chairman of a new Sovereign Council.
The top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Molly Phee, met on Tuesday with [civilian Prime Minister Abdalla] Hamdok and with Burhan. Burhan said the leaders of Sudan were willing to engage in dialogue with all political forces without conditions, according to a statement from the newly appointed Sovereign Council.
Mediation efforts, however, have stumbled, with Burhan and his supporters insisting on forming a technocratic government and pro-democracy advocates calling for a return to pre-coup power-sharing arrangements, freeing Hamdok and other officials from house arrest and negotiations on broad reform.
From Kenya, Blinken will travel to Nigeria to meet Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss West African security arrangements amid a surge in Islamist extremist violence. Also on tap for Blinken are talks on climate change, clean energy, sustainable development and the pandemic, and a speech on the Biden administration’s Africa strategy.
Blinken will wrap up the trip in Dakar, where he’ll discuss similar issues with Senegalese President Macky Sall, who will soon take over the chairmanship of the African Union.

14 November
Kenyatta visits Addis Ababa as AU urges ceasefire in Ethiopia war
Visit by Kenyan president comes as AU envoy Olusegun Obasanjo appeals to warring sides to halt military operations.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has arrived in Ethiopia amid growing international efforts for a cessation of hostilities in the country’s war, as African Union (AU) envoy Olusegun Obasanjo expressed hope dialogue can end the conflict but warned “such talks cannot deliver” without an immediate ceasefire.

9 November
Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict explained: How a year of bloodshed has sparked fears of a wider civil war
Thousands killed, more than 2 million people displaced
(CBC) Observers say the fighting threatens to destabilize the Horn of Africa region and could worsen an ongoing famine in Tigray, while the United Nations warned that the risk of Ethiopia spiralling into a widening civil war is “only too real.”

26-28 July
Tunisia’s Saied moves on economy and COVID-19 after dismissing govt
(Reuters) – Tunisia’s president said on Wednesday he was addressing the dire economic and COVID-19 situation and probing widespread corruption after invoking emergency powers on Sunday to seize control of government in a move his foes called a coup.
Tunisia crisis prompts surge in foreign social media manipulation
Social media propaganda emanating from Saudi Arabia and the UAE seeks to justify Tunisian president’s actions.
Influential voices in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE celebrate Tunisia turmoil as blow to political Islam
Tunisians are struggling to make sense of their country’s ongoing political crisis after the president abruptly dismissed the prime minister and suspended parliament Sunday night.
(WaPo) For some in Tunisia, the Arab Spring’s sole surviving democracy, the moves against institutions led or supported by Ennahda, a moderate Islamist party, amount to a coup. Others praised the sidelining of political leaders they saw as dysfunctional and repressive. Civil society groups remained on the fence. President Kais Saied, meanwhile, has insisted that the measures are lawful.
But the narrative emerging from key players in the Arab world for which Tunisia’s Arab Spring legacy presents a clear challenge — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt — was far more univocal: The events in Tunisia marked the death knell for political Islam in democracy.
Newspapers, television commentators and social media influencers in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt hailed Saied’s move as the triumph of the popular will over Ennahda. The three countries — as well as Tunisian opponents of Ennahda — have for years sought to link the party to the transnational Muslim Brotherhood and accused it of abetting terrorism. Ennahda long ago disavowed connections to the Brotherhood.
What we know so far about Tunisia’s political crisis
Tunisia faces political, economic turmoil again as President Saied removes PM Mechichi, suspends Parliament.
(Al Jazeera) Parliament speaker Rached Ghannouchi, who heads Parliament’s biggest party, Ennahdha, accused Saied of launching “a coup against the revolution and constitution”.
The presidency said the parliament would be suspended for 30 days, though Saied told reporters the 30-day period can be extended if needed “until the situation settles down”.
Saied based his decisions on Article 80 in the constitution, which allows the president to take extraordinary measures if there is “imminent danger threatening the nation”.
The move came following mass demonstrations in several Tunisian cities earlier on Sunday.
Protesters demanded the government’s removal after a spike in COVID-19 cases that aggravated economic troubles. Offices of the Ennahdha party were also attacked.
Throwing stones and shouting slogans, the protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and the dissolution of Parliament.
Sharan Grewal: Kais Saied’s power grab in Tunisia
(Brookings) On July 25, Tunisian President Kais Saied froze the parliament, dismissed the prime minister, and announced he will temporarily rule by decree. Flanked by military and security officials, Saied also rescinded parliamentary immunity, threatening to subject corrupt parliamentarians to the law “despite their wealth and positions.” On July 26, he also issued a nationwide curfew for 30 days.
Saied’s power grab represents a major test for Tunisia’s young democracy, as serious as the protests in 2013 that nearly derailed its initial transition. How Tunisian and international audiences react to Saied’s announcement will likely shape whether the country remains the world’s only Arab democracy, or falls to what political scientists call a “self-coup” or incumbent takeover.
In Egypt, the only other Arab Spring country to transition to democracy, the Muslim Brotherhood performed well in the polls — only to be ousted in a military coup in 2013 that quickly won support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Egyptian coup scared Ennahda, which entered into alliances with secular parties.
But its popularity has declined since then, and anger toward the party has mounted over the past year as the pandemic ravaged the country and its economy and a movement against police brutality gained steam. Calls grew for the dissolution of parliament, which is helmed by Ennahda’s highly unpopular leader Rachid Ghannouchi.

22 July
Fighting in Ethiopia’s Afar forces 54,000 people to flee, official says
Tiksa Negeri, Maggie Fick
(Reuters) – Attacks from Tigrayan forces in Ethiopia’s Afar region have forced more than 54,000 people from their homes, an official said on Thursday, as the eight-month-old conflict appeared to be spreading beyond Tigray in the north.
Tigrayan fighters seized control of three districts in Afar this week, according to Afar regional spokesperson Ahmed Koloyta.
The region is of strategic importance because the main road and railway linking Addis Ababa, landlocked Ethiopia’s capital, to the sea port of Djibouti run through it.

20 July
Events of last six months show fragile countries must remain priority for the US and its allies
Alexandre Marc and Bruce Jones
(Brookings) In Africa, Mozambique has seen renewed violence by an Islamist group connected to Somalia’s al-Shabab and the Islamic State. Palma, a major economic hub for natural gas extraction, was occupied for nearly 10 days, causing Total to suspend a $20 billion gas project, a major economic blow to the country. In April, fighting erupted once again in the streets of Mogadishu, because of a political crisis ignited by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi’s decision to delay elections, a major step back after many years of improvement in both governance and security in Somalia. In Ethiopia, internal and cross-border fighting in the Tigray region has seen large-scale denial of humanitarian access, killings of civilians, and the imminent threat of famine.
The Sahel has seen multiple crises over the first six months of 2021, making the situation in this large region increasingly precarious. President Idris Déby Itno of Chad, the country with the strongest army in the region, which has been an essential asset in the war against jihadis, died in a fight with rebels coming from Libya, creating strong risk of instability in the country. On May 24, Mali’s government was overthrown in a military coup — the second in less than a year — leaving the country in turmoil.

13-16 July
Bloomberg Politics: Peering into the abyss
It’s been a week from hell for South Africa.
Riots and widespread looting have claimed at least 117 lives, cost billions of rand in damages, and left some areas facing food and medicine shortages. Soldiers are on the streets and business confidence in an economy already weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic is shot.
What lit the fuse was the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma for defying a court order to testify before a graft inquiry. He was due to respond to allegations he’d facilitated and been party to endemic corruption.
Zuma’s supporters, particularly in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, cry victimization; his critics say it’s a case of justice finally being served. The jury is still out on whether Zuma and his backers stirred up the unrest as political payback.
The carnage has undermined the authority of President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose government’s response was lethargic. It’s also highlighted the faction-fighting that’s called into question the capacity of the African National Congress to govern after ruling for a quarter-century.
This couldn’t have come at a worse time for southern Africa — with Mozambique fighting an Islamic State-linked insurgency, Zimbabwe perennially in economic crisis, and a tense standoff between pro-democracy activists and Africa’s last monarch following weeks of protests in Eswatini.
South Africa is a fragile state: The “rainbow nation” democracy that emerged when Nelson Mandela took office in 1994 has always struggled to deal with the deep ethnic, racial and class divisions left behind by apartheid.
This week’s violence has stretched the social fabric to breaking point and left the economic powerhouse of the continent on a knife-edge. — Karl Maier 
Worst violence in years spreads in South Africa as grievances boil over
(Reuters) – Crowds clashed with police and ransacked or set ablaze shopping malls in cities across South Africa on Tuesday, with dozens of people reported killed, as grievances unleashed by the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma boiled over into the worst violence in years.
Protests that followed Zuma’s arrest last week for failing to appear at a corruption inquiry have widened into looting and an outpouring of general anger over the hardship and inequality that persist 27 years after the end of apartheid.
Poverty has been exacerbated by severe social and economic restrictions aimed at blocking the spread of COVID-19.
Security officials said the government was working to halt the spread of the violence and looting, which has spread from Zuma’s home in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province to the country’s biggest city Johannesburg and surrounding Gauteng province, and to the Indian Ocean port city of Durban.
Ethiopia: Tigray forces push south as Amhara militias mobilise
The fresh fighting follows a vow by the region’s ruling party – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – to retake all territory within Tigray’s borders it lost in conflict that broke out between the TPLF and Ethiopian federal forces in November.
The war pits Tigrayan forces – both formal and irregular – against the Ethiopian military and its allies from Amhara and the neighbouring nation of Eritrea. Thousands have died, more than 4 million people depend on emergency food aid, and nearly 2 million have been displaced since the conflict began

Africa Will ‘One Day Have a Common Currency’ Says Secretary General of African Continental Free Trade Area
In the meantime, the report also quotes Mene sharing some new details about the proposed Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) whose pilot phase commenced in June 2021. According to Mene, this trial stage enables “trading within the free trade area to be done in the local currencies of each member state.” On why such a payment system is needed, the secretary-general explained:
“We have 42 currencies in Africa. The cost of converting currencies amounts to $5 billion a year. This is a very big amount of money that can be seen as revenue foregone. So we want to reduce and eliminate this cost to converting currencies in Africa for the purpose of trading.”

11 July
The news from South Sudan over the past 10 years has been relentlessly grim. The joy and celebrations that marked independence on 9 July 2011 have been replaced by reports of sexual violence, conflict, economic instability and hunger.
The Covid-19 pandemic has added to the country’s problems. A report earlier this year predicted that thousands of people will die of hunger in 2021 as the economic fallout of the pandemic and the effects of the climate crisis take their toll. This week, the UN food report said more than 60% of South Sudan’s population are now considered severely food insecure.
The light that failed: South Sudan’s ‘new dawn’ turns to utter nightmare
Simon Tisdall
Nearly 400,000 have died since it won independence 10 years ago. Now violence looms again, within and beyond its borders
South Sudan, which marked its 10th birthday on Friday [9 July], came late to Africa’s independence party – the product of a complex 2005 deal to end Sudan’s decades-old civil war. Barack Obama, seeking the credit, waxed lyrical. “Today is a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible,” he declared.
Yet by most measures, that dawn proved false. South Sudan is an experiment that flopped – “the light that failed”, to co-opt the title of Rudyard Kipling’s first novel, which was partly set in Sudan. In 2013, two years after independence, rival ethnic factions plunged the country into war, just as vice-president Riek Machar, a Bradford University-educated Nuer warlord, had threatened to do when he spoke to me in Juba in July that year.
Machar wanted Salva Kiir, South Sudan’s president and a leader of the Dinka people, to stand down. Kiir had other ideas. In the ensuing five-year war, nearly 400,000 people died and millions were displaced. Now, amid escalating inter-communal violence and rising political tensions, the UN is warning of a “return to large-scale conflict”.

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