Kelsey Lilley

  • Burundi’s Flawed Constitutional Referendum

    Burundians will go to the polls on Thursday, May 17 to vote in a constitutional referendum set to allow Pierre Nkurunziza, president since the end of the country’s civil war in 2005, an opportunity to stay in power until 2034. 

    The vote takes place amid a fragile domestic situation, and it is likely to deepen Burundi’s existing climate of fear, raise the likelihood of mass atrocities, and further accelerate regional democratic backsliding.

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  • Bringing Sudan In From The Cold

    After decades of frozen relations with the United States, Sudan is poised to come in from the cold. Following the October 2017 relaxation of longstanding sanctions, Sudan appears eager to continue US engagement. However, since October, momentum for next steps toward improving the bilateral relationship has slowed.

    The US-Sudan relationship is imperfect, and there are many enduring obstacles to full normalization—including Sudan’s need for greater political freedoms, economic reforms, and genuine peace in areas of the country long beset by conflict. Though daunting challenges remain, the best chance to achieve further progress is more and deeper US engagement, not less.

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  • Trump’s Tough Approach to Ethiopia

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Ethiopia this week to underscore US support for a crucial partner that finds itself in a crisis.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned unexpectedly on February 15 in the wake of violent anti-government protests. The government then imposed a nationwide state of emergency that lawmakers endorsed earlier in March.

    While Tillerson urged Ethiopian citizens to be patient with their government and refrain from violence, he also unequivocally condemned the state of emergency.

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  • US-Sudan Relations: What's Next?

    On Thursday, March 8, the Atlantic Council’s Sudan Task Force launched three new issue briefs that make recommendations for the next phase of a measured reengagement strategy for the United States with the Republic of the Sudan. The papers covered three critical, related areas: governance and political reform; economic reform and impediments to investment; and prospects for greater cultural engagement.

    Dr. J. Peter Pham, Atlantic Council vice president and Africa Center director, welcomed guests and introduced the new papers, which came out of a task force delegation to Sudan in January 2018, the third such visit in two years.

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  • Lilley Joins CGTN America to Discuss Ethiopia's Economy


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  • Ethiopia’s Counterproductive State of Emergency

    Following Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s sudden resignation on Thursday, Ethiopian authorities announced a six-month country-wide state of emergency (SOE), effective yesterday. This order, the country’s second in two years, imposes draconian restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, while granting extended powers to the country’s already powerful security services.

    This decision is counterproductive to the government’s stated goals of political reform and inclusive governance. It undercuts Ethiopia’s security by emboldening those who believe that violence is the only way to achieve fundamental political reform in Ethiopia, but it also negates the national and international goodwill generated by the country’s unprecedented recent...

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  • Ethiopian Dam Stokes Regional Tensions

    Over Egypt’s vocal dissent, Ethiopia is forging ahead with final construction on its ambitious Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River, the lifeblood of nearly 500 million Africans. As the region’s population is expected to double to a whopping one billion people over the next three decades, the dam will become more of a flashpoint in an already volatile region, and the rising political tension bodes poorly for East Africa’s future stability.

    In November, after months of disagreement over the release of an environmental impact study, Egypt...

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  • Lilley Quoted in Foreign Policy on Egypt-Sudan Spat


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  • Lilley Quoted in the National on the New US-Sudan Openness


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  • Lifting of US Sanctions on Sudan Seen as Positive Step Toward Re-engagement

    The United States’ decision to lift the sanctions on Sudan, citing progress made on counterterrorism and humanitarian efforts, indicates Washington’s understanding that cooperation with Khartoum will best serve the interests of both countries, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

    “This decision reflects the conviction that engagement, rather than isolation, is more likely to advance US interests—and the welfare of the Sudanese people—on a range of governance, humanitarian, economic, and security issues,” said Mary Carlin Yates, an Atlantic Council board director, former senior director for African affairs at the US National Security Council, and US chargé d’affaires to Sudan from 2011-2012. However, Yates added, “there is still much work to do.”

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