• The Kenyan Elections: Too Soon to Relax

    Though incumbent Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has won the 2017 presidential election, the country remains on edge due to allegations of voter fraud by his opponent, Raila Odinga, which could plunge the country into post-election violence.

    In 2007, a horrific spasm of post-election violence swept across Kenya when Odinga, who has made four bids for the presidency, contested his defeat, claiming the vote was rigged. Every few years since then, Africans and Africanists abroad have watched the approach of elections in Kenya with dread. Taken off guard by the violence that occurred in 2007, and then over-pessimistic about the next elections that occurred in 2013, the international community seems unable to correctly predict whether significant bloodshed will occur, turning every Kenyan election into a nail-biting event. This year’s elections have upheld that pattern.

    According to the official results of the election, announced August 11, Kenyatta secured 54.27 percent of votes, while Odinga won 44.74 percent.  

    Even before the final result was announced, Odinga’s opposition party announced that it would reject the results of the August 8 election if he did not win. Despite pressure from the international community, he has not yet conceded, claiming the votes were manipulated and urging supporters to stay home from work in protest. Odinga has provided no evidence for this claim – but he may not have to. Though the Western nations and international observers denied it at the time, the 2007 election was certainly rigged, and so the current denials by the same groups of officials are likely to ring hollow to Odinga's supporters. Amid the controversy surrounding election results and allegations of inaccuracies, post-election violence is a looming threat with historical precedents.

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  • Bruton Joins VOA to Discuss the Future of Democracy in Africa

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  • Kenya’s Fake News Problem

    Fake news has reared its ugly head in elections again—this time in Kenya. As East Africa’s most tech-savvy country went to the polls on August 8, its citizens were inundated with fake news that colored the campaign season and now threatens hard-won gains to prevent post-election violence.

    Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his primary challenger, Raila Odinga, maintained large followings throughout the campaign season, and went to the polls with a razor-thin margin of popular support between them. As of August 10, Kenyatta claimed a strong lead, though Odinga casts doubt on those numbers.

    An overwhelming majority of Kenyans encountered inaccurate news about both candidates during the run-up to the elections, one recent poll found, and nearly all Kenyans surveyed reported that the inaccuracies were deliberate.

    In light of Kenya’s history, the aftermath of the country’s elections is arguably more important than the contest itself—in 2007, violence erupted after the results were announced, continuing for nearly two months and leading to more than 1,100 deaths. Now, the waiting begins, and early reports bear a concerning likeness to 2007: at least three people were killed by police amid opposition protests across the country.

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  • A Constitution That Doesn’t Protect Rights and Freedoms: Libya Writes Its Constitution

    On July 29, forty-three members among a sixty-member Constituent Assembly in Libya, voted in support of the Libyan constitution draft. This voting has concluded a long and complicated process of debate that has been continued for more than three years to write a constitution that has the support of a two-thirds plus one majority among the member of the Constituent Assembly which was elected on February 20, 2014. Following this approval, the parliament should call for a popular referendum on this draft. According to the existing constitutional declaration, two-thirds of the voters should approve the draft and ultimately, enforced as a new constitution for the country.     

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  • The Failure of Libya’s EU-Backed Coastguard

    On May 25, a Libyan coastguard unit opened fire on Europe-bound boats full of refugees while rescue attempts were under way. Two Libyan coastguards were also accused of looting the boats, taking phones, money, and other belongings from the passengers. The incident raised serious concern over the basic rights of migrants and refugees and the role of foreign partners responsible for building Libyan state capacity. Since then, the European Union (EU) held its Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on July 17, but efforts focused on stemming the tide of migrants and targeting human smugglers rather than addressing the causes of migrant mistreatment, adherent to international law regarding refugees, or holding Libyan coastguard units accountable for their conduct.

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  • Charai in the Huffington Post: A King’s Introspection, a People’s Hope

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  • France, Italy, and Libya’s Crisis

    In a major development in Libya’s ongoing conflict, head of the internationally recognized Libyan government Fayez al-Serraj and strongman Khalifa Haftar met in Paris this week, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, to discuss a way out of the country’s current crisis. The meeting between Serraj and Haftar is the second in three months and follows talks in Abu Dhabi in May. Similar to the meeting hosted by the Emiratis, the points discussed in Paris are unlikely to produce much progress on the ground towards a peaceful transition. While Serraj and Haftar both formally agreed to a joint declaration aimed at reaching a political solution in Libya, the meeting left many questions unanswered regarding a political path out of the ongoing conflict. While the United States has indicated that it does not want to take up the mantle of leadership in Libya, it should not cede such a role to France or any other actor with proxy interests in Libya. Such a decision would embolden spoilers and further imperil the prospects for ending the conflict.

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  • Libya’s Haftar Comes Out on Top

    Diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the chaos that has prevailed in Libya since 2011 have legitimized Khalifa Haftar, a former Libyan general whose forces have been accused of torture and executing prisoners, according to the Atlantic Council’s Karim Mezran.

    Haftar met Fayez-al-Serraj, the prime minister in Libya’s United Nations-backed government, in Paris on July 25. The fact that this meeting occurred in the first place was a recognition of the reality that Serraj’s government—the Government of National Accord (GNA)—has been unable to unite the country and that Haftar has an indispensable role in any solution to the crisis, said Mezran, a resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

    “Haftar is the big victor,” he added.

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  • Fifty Years On, a Defeat at Israel’s Hands Haunts Egyptian Military Veterans

    Staggering and confused from the heat and the rapid capitulation of the Egyptian army during the short lived Six Day War, Ibrahim El Sayed was dumbfounded when the Israeli soldier who was to capture him as a prisoner of war spoke to him flawlessly in an Egyptian Arabic accent.

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  • Atlantic Council Featured in Sudan Vision on Troika and EU's Joint Statement on South Sudan

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