One of the reasons for the increase from eleven to twenty-six provinces was to break up Katanga and deprive its governor, key Kabila opponent Moïse Katumbi, of his provincial base. Beyond such political expediency, however, this policy’s main effect has been to create ethnically homogeneous provinces. As Alma Bezares Calderon, Lisa Jené, and I write in a recent report for the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium, up to eleven of Congo’s provinces are made up primarily of a single ethnic group. This is an increase from three provinces with a single ethnic group prior to this policy.
In October 2017, a little-known Islamist insurgency by the name of “Ahlu Sunna wa-Jama” or “Swahili Sunnah,” attacked the town of Mocimboa da Praia in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province. The attack began a campaign of terror that has paralyzed Mozambique’s northern coast and threatened $30 billion in offshore natural gas projects, a key lifeline for Mozambique’s future development. As casualties rise and civilian displacement continues, the government’s heavy security response has not effectively countered the Islamist group, which has already been compared to the early stages of the Boko Haram insurgency in northeastern Nigeria. However, it should be cautioned that information on the group is difficult to find and separating fact from speculation is harder still. The below timeline, compiled from open sources, seeks to catalogue and differentiate confirmed and unconfirmed reports on the Islamist group’s emergence, ideology, and development in northern Mozambique.
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.
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 release of hundreds of high-profile political prisoners.
A rapid pivot is the best hope for the ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to preserve prospects for long-term peace in Ethiopia.