AfricaSource Strategic Insight on the New Africa

Italy’s coastguard and navy rescued more than 10,000 primarily African migrants from capsized, sinking, or distressed vessels in the Mediterranean Sea in the last week, and more than four hundred people are presumed dead after their overloaded boats capsized. These shocking numbers have become daily occurrences, and highlight the crisis facing Europe as migrants from across Africa flee turmoil in their home countries.

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Joseph Kabila continues to underscore the irony of the official name of the country he has misgoverned for more than a decade, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As I noted previously, Kabila—in power since 2001 when, at the ripe old age of 29, he succeeded his warlord father after the latter was shot dead by his own bodyguard—continues to narrow the political space as he searches for a way around a strict two-term limit in the constitution that admits no amendment.

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On Wednesday, the US embassy in Kampala, Uganda warned US citizens of a possible attack on Westerners in the city by the Somali terrorist organization al-Shabaab. On March 19, the US embassy in Djibouti closed for several days to “review its security posture;” the embassy did not provide further details, but the closure was likely also due to concerns about al-Shabaab. And the embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, last year cut its staffing levels, also citing the threat from the Somali terror group.

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One year after the disputed referendum to join Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula to Russia, the Kremlin is increasingly finding in Africa a welcome break from what has otherwise been its continued international diplomatic and economic isolation as a result of its aggression against its Eastern European neighbor.

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While it was the first of France’s African colonies to achieve independence, democracy came rather late to Guinea. The country’s first president, Ahmed Sékou Touré, who ruled with an iron grip from 1958 until his death in 1984, turned out to be a Marxist ideologue who aligned his country with the Soviet Union, ruining the economy with ideas imported from the Eastern bloc and clapping the Roman Catholic archbishop of the capital and tens of thousands of other Guineans into an African gulag.

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Transcript of Interview with Professor Attahiru M. Jega, OFR
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
Federal Republic of Nigeria
 
March 19, 2015

J. Peter Pham: For those who do not follow Nigeria closely, could you briefly give us an overview of the sheer scale of what is involved in organizing general elections in the Federal Republic in general and in this particular election cycle in particular?

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The incumbent regime ruling the rather ironically-named Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to narrow the political space in the country as it approaches elections which are supposed to be held next year, going so far this past weekend as to arrest a US diplomat who was detained along with other participants at a press conference organized by pro-democracy activists.

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Al-Shabaab, the terrorist organization that controls stretches of Somalia, made a splash February 21 when it released a video featuring a masked spokesman calling for attacks on malls in England, Canada, and the United States. This is the group that in 2013 attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya with terrible result, giving its threat an additional air of menace.

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Two weeks ago, I wrote about the near- and long-term consequences of the Nigerian refugee crisis as tens of thousands of Nigerians flee across borders from the violence the terrorist group Boko Haram is meting out in the northeastern part of the country. I wrote that the world needs to surge resources into the area to care both for the current refugees and those that would surely be coming in the future. Failing to do so will further destabilize the region for years to come.

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Buried at the bottom of page A8 of Thursday’s New York Times was a brief Associated Press report that Armel Sayo, Minister of Youth and Sports in the transitional regime of the Central African Republic (CAR), who had been abducted more than two weeks earlier, had been freed. According to the account, the exact circumstances of the official’s release “were not immediately clear.” However, what one can be certain of is that the fact the man in question is a “minister” in what passes as a “government” for the conflict-ridden country underscores the incredible challenges facing both its people and the international community that has intervened with a blue-helmeted force in an attempt to stop the violence.

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