John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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What We’re Watching in Africa This Week

by John Campbell
March 25, 2011


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I have been paying particular attention this past week to the following:

Nigeria

Political violence has been characteristic of Nigerian elections, and the upcoming April polls are no different. To cite a few recent examples, police killed as many as six Nigerians at a March 21 election rally for Muhammad Buhari, the presidential candidate for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Security officials used live ammunition at the Jos event, claiming that they wanted to avoid a deadly stampede similar to the February 12 disaster in Port Harcourt where as many as twenty people died. Buhari’s supporters, however, believe the use of force in Jos was politically motivated. In the coastal state of Akwa Ibom on March 23, election related violence between the ruling PDP and opposition Action Congress supporters resulted in at least twelve deaths and the destruction of considerable property. The western media has tended to ignore the escalating violence. I note, however, killings in this Nigerian electoral season appear to be comparable to the conflicts in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya. It’s time for all of us to pay more attention to what’s going on in Nigeria.

Cote d’Ivoire

There are discouraging new signs of heightened conflict in Cote d’Ivoire and fears about the subsequent instability in the region. The United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) reports that Laurent Gbabgo has acquired not only an MI-24 attack helicopter but also BM-21 rocket launchers. The number of dead and internally displaced persons (IDPs) also continues to rise: there have been 462 confirmed deaths since mid-December, and recent reports from UN employees on the ground suggest the conflict has created nearly one million IDPs. The violence in Cote d’Ivoire does not operate in vacuum, either. António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, cautions that the conflict may affect the peace process in nearby Liberia, a West African country still recovering from its two civil wars.

Burundi

The CFR International Institutions and Global Governance (IIGG) program recently profiled peace-building efforts in Burundi. The Global Governance Monitor—an online tool that includes an interactive map—demonstrates the IIGG’s exemplary work on conflict issues below the Sahara. I look forward to future reports and commentary from the IIGG.

Sudan

I have written in the past about Sudan’s post-referendum violence and the satellite imagery used to detect conflict. Unfortunately, the death toll continues to grow. Reporters from the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) constructed a succinct timeline of the violence since the January 9 vote. It’s a much needed compendium on the topic. In addition, the Satellite Sentinel Project released new imagery this week that suggests increased tensions in Abyei, as members of the Sudanese Armed Forces appear to have moved into the region.

Uganda

In a recent article on Foreign Policy’s website, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni chronicles his relationship with Muammar Qaddafi. Museveni writes about major mistakes that the Libyan leader has made on the continent but also suggests the “positive points [that] have been for the good of Africa, Libya, and the Third World.” Given Qaddafi’s use of violence against his own people, Museveni’s commentary is ludicrous and undermines his credibility. h/t to Jared Mondschein.

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