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Africa Politics Under The Radar

Uganda Seeking Inroads to Compete for Regional Influence

The continued closure of key border crossings between Rwanda and Uganda has prompted both nations to seek alternative trade prospects and influence amongst their neighbours. For Uganda, recent efforts have centred on Burundi and the DRC, with infrastructure agreements and plans for military cooperation directed at offsetting Rwanda’s recent diplomatic gains with their eastern neighbour. 

Africa Security

Can the US’s New Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Set a New Policy Direction?

The US’s Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, returned from his first visit to the region last week. The newly created post which brought Feltman, a veteran of the UN and the State Department, out of semi-retirement, shows the strategic importance of the region to Biden’s foreign policy priorities and his desire to mark a clear break with the Trump era. What is less clear is whether Biden represents a policy shift from longer term American approaches to conflict and security in Africa.

Africa Politics

Chad – Death of Chad’s President Leaves Vacuum in the Heart of the Sahel

On 20th April Chad’s President, Idriss Déby Itno, was killed inspecting troops fighting a rebel insurgency in the North of the country. A close ally of Western powers, his death has left a vacuum at the center of power in Chad, potentially threatening security in the wider Sahel region. In the wake of a swift military transition, Chad now stands at a crossroads as protesters call for democratic elections and international allies appear to flounder in their policy towards the country.

Africa Politics

Kenya: Camp Closures Weaponised as Relations with Somalia Sour

The maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia has dragged diplomatic relations between the two neighbours to a new low, with the most likely outcome favouring Somalia. In threatening to close Dadaab and Kakuma, Kenya may be seeking a new source of pressure to apply to Mogadishu through deploying the prospect of thousands of returnees as leverage. 

Africa Politics

New Cabinet Signals Tshisekedi’s Tightening Grip on Power

On Monday 12th April Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), announced a new cabinet representative of President Felix Tshisekedi’s ruling coalition. Tshisekedi’s “Sacred Union” coalition has had figures appointed to key posts including finance minister, mining minister and interior minister. The previous government had a majority of ministers loyal to former president Joseph Kabila and was headed by a pro-Kabila Prime Minister. The replacement of all but ten of those figures represents the changing balance of power in Congolese politics.

Africa Covid-19 Politics

Heightened Human Security Concerns in South Sudan May Lay the Foundations of Great Power Competition in North Africa

A South Sudanese famine, exacerbated by recent large-scale flooding, is threatening to deal a shattering blow to the world’s youngest state. Wracked by domestic instability and with a government refusing to acknowledge the danger faced by its people, the potential for a humanitarian disaster is enormous. Now is the chance for the UN and the West to reaffirm its commitment to stability in North Africa. 

Africa Natural resources and energy

UK Supreme Court Approval of Shell-Bodo Case: Could This Be a Step Towards a More Equitable Future?

A British Supreme Court ruling has brought to a head a 13-year-old battle to hold Royal Dutch Shell accountable for massive oil spills in the Niger Delta in 2008 and 2009. This creates a precedent for taking multinational corporations to trial in the home countries of their parent companies. This may mark the beginning of a more regulated global environment, in which subsidiary companies responsible for human rights abuses happening abroad could be held more accountable. Whether this will be an effective solution remains to be seen. 

Africa Politics

What does the Duclert Report Mean for French-Rwandan Relations?

Contention over the extent of France’s involvement in the Rwandan genocide (1994) has been straining relations between Paris and Kigali for over 25 years. In order to address this and attempt to regain some credibility both in Rwanda and across Africa French president Emmanuel Macron ordered an investigation to be carried out by a commission of French historians, led by Vincent Duclert (hereafter referred to as the Duclert Report), in 2019. The report concluded that France did not take an active role in carrying out the genocide, but does bear “heavy and overwhelming responsibilities” due to its “failure” of policy in supporting the Hutu-led government. The conclusions represent a step in the right direction for French-Rwandan relations, but likely do not go far enough on their own.

Africa Security

Hundreds of Nigerian Students Kidnapped… Again: Is Nigeria a Failed State?

The NY Times reported another kidnapping in northern Nigeria this past Friday. Armed men abducted 317 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara state. One police officer was killed during the attack. 

This is the second mass abduction in as many weeks and part of an alarming trend going back to 2014, when the violent extremist organization (VEO) Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from a school in Chibok, Borno state. 

Africa Politics

Elections called in a Contested Ethiopia

The political crisis in the North of Ethiopia is currently one of the most notorious humanitarian disasters in global affairs. The tragedy and ferocity of the conflict has sometimes distracted from it’s trigger: the delay of the 2020 federal & regional elections. Now, one year since their postponement, Ethiopians head to the polls to contest the leading Prosperity Party’s grip on power. Whether this will prove to be an opportunity to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions or a gateway to further crises remains to be seen.