Thursday, November 26, 2015

Mali: Germany sends troops to join French in peacekeeping mission

Following the hotel attack in Bamako, the peacekeeping mission is being expanded with the addition of 650 German troops, to join the 1500 French troops already in place.

Since it's Thanksgiving and I'm with my family, I won't spend a lot of time writing about this now, but here is an earlier post that discusses violence by Islamic Extremists in Africa generally.

Burkina Faso first post-Compaore presidential election now scheduled for this Sunday UPDATED

Burkina Faso was supposed to have a presidential election in October, and then that happened.

After the presidential guard gave up power, a new election date was set: Sunday, November 29.

Here are some of the more prominent candidates:
Fourteen candidates are vying for the presidency. The most prominent are Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, a former prime minister who split from Mr. Compaoré last year, before the uprising; Zéphirin Diabré, a businessman and former official with the United Nations Development Program; Bénéwendé Stanislas Sankara, an acolyte of Thomas Sankara (no relation), the Marxist former soldier who as president, from 1983 to 1987, changed the country’s name from Upper Volta; and a lawyer, Tahirou Barry.

 Diabre says he will propose a new constitution, will prioritize youth and women, and will leave the issue of former president Blaise Compaore to the justice system.

Here is some information about the candidates that were running for president in October.

Cote d'Ivoire election - the most interesting thing was that it wasn't that interesting

I've been behind on blogging here - I'll make a Thanksgiving resolution to get back to posting daily.

One reason I'm behind is I've done a few blog posts for the Monkey Cage, and I spend more time on those posts than I do on my own.

Here is a post I did on Cote d'Ivoire's October 25 election. 

Guinea Election - 5 things you should know

I've been behind on blogging here - I'll make a Thanksgiving resolution to get back to posting daily.

One reason I'm behind is I've done a few blog posts for the Monkey Cage, and I spend more time on those posts than I do on my own.

Here is a piece I did on the Guinea's October 11 election.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

France continues foreign aid to rebuild post-conflict Mali

Map showing the fullest extent of rebel-held territory in January 2013, before it was re-taken by Malian and French forces.
France has given Mali 300 million Euros in aid since France helped the Malian government re-take control of the country in January 2013, and is now promising another 360 million ($408 million) for 2015-2017.

This continuation of support follows the advice of Collier and Hoeffler, who argue that post-conflict aid can be helpful in restoring or initiating economic growth, but find that often foreign governments only send aid for the first few years after a conflict ends, and aid becomes more efficacious as the government rebuilds absorptive capacity in the years after the war ends. So I suspect Collier and Hoeffler will cheer France's persistence.

On the other hand, whereas Mali tends to get decent marks on democracy scores (such as Polity), it tends to get mediocre marks for quality of governance, and several studies have found that aid may only be effective if the quality of governance is sufficiently high.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Guinea's president pronounced winner of last week's election; election scheduled for same day in Burkina Faso now scheduled for November

2015 Election Map from the African Research Institute
Five ECOWAS countries had presidential elections scheduled for 2015. So far, Togo, Nigeria, and Guinea have held theirs. Cote d'Ivoire has their election scheduled for next week.

Burkina Faso was scheduled to have their presidential election on the same day as Guinea (October 11), but then that happened. The election is now rescheduled for Nov. 29.

Cote d'Ivoire Week continues at TMC - was the war caused by economics, demographics, or institutions? (Answer: Yes) And what this says about the future

There is a presidential election next week in Cote d'Ivoire. The previous election, in 2010, was sandwiched between two civil wars - the first civil war was sparked in part by events around the 2000 election and delayed the 2005 election until 2010, and the second civil war was sparked by events around the 2010 election. So political scientists are looking into the origins of these conflicts, to understand why they happened, and predict whether next week's election will be followed by peace or by violence.

Hence, it's Cote d'Ivoire Week over at the Monkey Cage (and perhaps the party will continue next week).

Yesterday, Beth Elise Whitaker and Koffi P. Charles-Hector Yao-Kouamé wrote a post that focused on the role of anti-immigrant politics, which was the result of a history of immigration (resulting in a large population of immigrants and children of immigrants) and multiparty politics (which motivated politicians to politicize anti-immigrant sentiments):
The roots of the conflict go back to the 1990s, when the transition to multiparty competition unveiled deep divisions over questions of nationality and citizenship in a country with a long history of migration, both internally and from neighboring countries.
Today, Kathleen Klaus and Matthew I. Mitchell wrote a post that begins with what might be called the conventional wisdom about the role of economic performance:
Once known as the “Paris of West Africa,” the commercial capital Abidjan and the country more generally are again benefiting from high cocoa prices and investor-friendly policies. The World Bank estimates a growth rate of approximately 8.7 percent over the last two years. Many analysts and Ivorian citizens believe (or hope) that the economic boom will help defuse political hostilities between the opposition parties ...
At first glance, it appears these scholars disagree about the origins of the conflict, and this disagreement would result in opposing predictions about next week's elections and the likelihood of violence. If the problem is a combination of immigrant numbers and multiparty politics, then we're in trouble - the immigrant population is still there, and next week is a multiparty election, which could mean another outburst of electoral violence. If the problem was poor economic performance in the 1980s - 2000s, then the current economic boom implies that next week's election will be peaceful.

Of course, Monkey Cage posters are generally a pretty intelligent bunch, so the arguments are more complex than what I've indicated in the quotes above. Demographics and economics are intertwined in Cote d'Ivoire, and both are conditioned by political institutions. As a result, Whitaker and Yao-Kouamé are more hopeful, and Klaus and Mitchell more gloomy, than you might expect at first glance.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Immigration, Politics, and the Constitution in Cote d'Ivoire

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara talks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Abidjan October19, 2015.
Cote d'Ivoire is holding a presidential election, and incumbent president Ouattara is expected to win his first (and likely only, given the Constitution and his age) re-election.

The Monkey Cage has a nice piece today with a convincing explanation for the importance of anti-immigrant politics over the past 20+ years in Cote d'Ivoire.

In fact, according to the 2000 Constitution, President Ouattara is not qualified to be president for a number of reasons, including his age and the origins of his parents. In 2004, the legislature changed the rules to enable him and other excluded to candidates to run for president (as part of the peace talks), but these changes were never voted on in a referendum, leading some of his opponents to continue declaring his candidacy invalid.

Ouattara, not surprisingly, considers the Constitution to be "outdated" and plans to push for constitutional reform if he is re-elected. Often African president seek to eliminate term limits when they are reforming the constitution, but Ouattara, who will be 78 at the end of a second term, says he has no plans to try for a third term.

Incumbent President Conde declared winner in Guinea; opposition rejects result but won't appeal [UPDATED]

Conde, pictured at a press conference last August, obtained an absolute majority in the first round of votes despite opposition claims of electoral fraud. Photograph: Cellou Binani/AFP/Getty Images
Incumbent president Alpha Condé was declared the winner on Saturday of last Sunday's presidential election with 58% of the vote, enough to avoid a run-off election.

Condé was active in the opposition under most if not all of Guinea's authoritarian rulers before he won the country's first democratic election in 2010. In that election, he came in second in the first round, to Cellou Dalein Diallo, but won in the second round. Diallo rejected that election as fraudulent before conceding when the Supreme Court ruled against him. This time, Diallo again rejected the outcome as fraudulent, but declined to formally appeal the result. Instead, he is calling on his supporters to peacefully protest. Observers declared the election transparent and valid, although with numerous logistical problems.

Following a history of single party rule and military rule (with a veneer of multiparty elections), an election in which the opposition participates, declines to appeal, and calls for peaceful protests over accusations of fraud is progress.
UPDATE: Allison Grossman points out that Diallo was not alone in rejecting the election as fraudulent; the six other opposition candidates joined with Diallo in rejecting the election results before they were announced.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Early results in Guinea indicate incumbent leading in presidential election; opposition protests

Guinea's electoral commission was criticized for problems with voter registration (BBC)
Last Sunday, "Millions of Guineans voted peacefully ... in the West African country's second free election since the West African country's independence from France nearly 60 years ago."

Incumbent president Alpha Conde, who won the country's first free election in 2010, was expected by outside observers to win re-election, although perhaps not in the first round. Eight candidates contested the election, which makes winning a majority in the first round a challenge. Conde's main rival is Cellou Dalein Diallo, the candidate of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG). Diallo was prime minister under former president Lansana Conte (who first came to power in a coup in 1984) and aligned himself with the leader of the 2009 coup, Moussa Dadis Camara. Diallo came in first place with 44% in the first round in the 2010 presidential election, but without a majority was forced to go to a second round, which Conde won.

Conde was expected to win not necessarily because of his performance - the economy is "stagnant" and the Ebola virus is still "simmering" after nearly two years - but rather because of "deep divisions within an opposition riven by ethnic and personal rivalries."

According to Reuters,
"European Union observers gave Guinea's presidential elections a clean bill of health on Tuesday despite protests by opposition supporters who accuse President Alpha Conde of rigging the vote to win a second term.
The EU observer team said that logistical problems including lack of voting materials and the late opening of polling stations did not mar the overall outcome of Sunday's ballot in Guinea, which is Africa's largest bauxite producer. 
Early results announced by radio stations showed Conde with a sizeable lead. Official figures are not expected until the end of the week. Opposition leaders on Monday rejected the results and called for the ballot to be reorganized. 
After nightfall, residents in outlying neighborhoods of Conakry, the coastal capital, reported hearing gunfire following clashes earlier in the day between security forces and opposition supporters."
As an example of the division in the opposition, "the deputy head of Diallo's UFDG party ... said on Tuesday it was too early to reject the election before the official results had been announced." The final result is expected in the next few days.

Monday, October 12, 2015

President "Baba Go Slow" Buhari submits second list of cabinet names

The Economist reports that although Buhari did name an initial list of cabinet ministers by the end of September, as promised, he has not yet named their portfolios, except for oil minister (himself). Nonetheless, there has been a "Buhari effect," as bureaucrats and other officials fearful of his strict standards have improved power supplies, oil refinery production, and diplomatic relations. As an example of his crackdown on corruption, the former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, was arrested in London for money laundering.

Reuters reports that Buhari has now submitted a second list of 15 names to the Senate for approval, to satisfy a constitutional requirement that each of the country's 36 states be represented in the Parliament.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The shift of power from military to civilians in Burkina Faso

The Economist argues that Burkina Faso's coup failed because "power in Burkina Faso is steadily shifting away from the army to civilians."

While this is certainly true to a large extent, it doesn't mean that the military has left politics completely. The coup also failed because it was led by one faction in the miltary (the presidential guard) but was not supported by another faction (the regular army). As Landry Signé notes,
"the transitional body was a hybrid of civilian and military rule, and not exclusively civilian. The military initially stole the transition after civil society and popular protests drove Compaoré from power, and the military managed to keep considerable power even after the appointment of a civilian president."
During the coup, Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida was arrested by the Presidential Guard. Prime Minister Zida himself is a military man, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. So the military still has a fair amount of power in Burkina Faso. 

Nonetheless, it is promising that an important faction in the military took sides with civilian protestors over the junta. The next step is for civilians to run the country's political system without relying on allies in the military.

More Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria & Niger

Reuters: "Suspected Islamist militants from Nigeria's Boko Haram group killed three civilians and a soldier in a double suicide attack across the border in Niger on Sunday, security sources said. Four attackers also died in Niger's southeastern region of Diffa and authorities were searching for two more suspects, a security official said."

Reuters: "Militants claiming loyalty to Islamic State said they were behind suicide bombings (on Friday in two suburbs) near the Nigerian capital Abuja which killed at least 15 people, a statement on Twitter said on Sunday."

From the map above, this appears to be the first attack in or near Abuja in 2015. 

Some earlier and more substantive posts on Boko Haram here, here, and here.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Guinea Bissau crisis update: national unity government talks break down

After one prime minister was dismissed the president and another resigned in response to an outcry from parliament, elder statesman Carlos Correia (pictured above) became Prime Minister (all 3 PMs were from the ruling party, the PAIGC).

To reduce the instability and potential of internal rebellion, Correia tried to bring the second largest party, the Party of Social Renewal (PRS), into the cabinet. Talks broke down over how many ministries the PRS would receive.

The PAIGC has enough seats to approve the cabinet without the PRS (in the 2014 election, PAIGC won 57 of 102 seats with 48% of the vote), but Correia was hoping for a "national unity government" with the PRS, which holds 41 seats.

Buhari makes his own deadline to appoint cabinet ministers

In July, President Buhari said he would wait until September to appoint cabinet ministers, so that new rules of conduct and good governance could be put into place.

Today is the last day of September, and Buhari submitted the names of his nominees today to the senate for approval.

From a quick Google search, I'm not sure what the new rules of conduct and good governance are, and whether they've been put into place, except for this: "a directive that all federal revenue-generating institutions, including the opaque state oil company, begin paying their revenues into a single Treasury account instead of a web of largely untracked private bank accounts." The oil industry is probably the main source of corruption in Nigeria, so his reforms in that sector are important. Buhari is also keeping the oil portfolio for himself rather than appoint an oil minister, which would ordinarily sound worrisome, but Buhari does have a "clean" reputation.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cote d'Ivoire opposition wants new electoral commission; some still question president's nationality

Supporters of President Alassane Ouattara when he arrived in Daloa, Ivory Coast, September 27, 2015.AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO
Reuters reports that some of Cote d'Ivoire's opposition is still complaining that the Elecotral Commission is biased in favor of the government (President Ouattara is running for his first re-election). Estimates of attendance at an opposition rally today range from 300-700, including 5 of the 10 presidential candidates.

The same article mentions that protestors question Ouattara's nationality. Unlike America birthers, these protestors don't necessarily question whether Ouattara was born in Cote d'Ivoire - his Ivoirité is questioned based on the birthplace of his parents. In 1994, an Electoral Code was adopted that required not only the presidential candidate to be born in Cote d'Ivoire, but also BOTH of his or her PARENTS. I'm not sure if it's known where Ouattara was born - he himself was reportedly born in 1942 near what is today the political capital, Yamoussoukro, almost 20 years before Cote d'Ivoire's independence. It is rumored that at least one of his parents was born in modern-day Burkina Faso. Most people believe this new rule was adopted to prevent Ouattara from running.

In 2000, this exclusionary rule was enshrined in a new constitution. In December 2004, the National Assembly abolished the need to have Ivorian parents to be president (according to the Political Handbook of the World, p. 347, the new law required just one parent to be Ivorian). I suppose a case could be made that if the constitution wasn't amended, then a law passed by the National Assembly is not enough to change the criteria to serve as president. But of course I'm not a constitutional scholar.

In any case, although it sounds crazy to say that a president who is finishing his first term and is running for a second was never legally qualified to run for president in the first place, there does seem to be an arguable foundation for that argument.

Nonetheless, Ouattara probably doesn't need a biased electoral commission to win re-election. GDP has been growing at 9% annually for the past three years and Ouattara is heavily favored to win re-election.

Burkina Faso Presidential Guard stepped down but refuses to disarm

Presidential guard soldiers are seen on the grounds of the Laico Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Sept. 20, 2015
VOA reports that the Presidential Guard (RSP) that launched a coup 12 days ago and then stepped down last week in response to pressure from the people, the regular army, and the international community is now refusing to disarm.

This is not terribly surprising that the RSP does not want to disarm. It stepped down in exchange for the safety of its members and their families. Protestors are calling for leaders of the coup to be executed. One reason military governments are willing to negotiate their exit, as the RSP did, is because they can enforce conditions such as amnesty for the coup because the military holds weapons. Geddes notes that "Militaries can enforce compliance with amnesties and other deals, but only if they can make credible threats to respond with violence if the new government reneges."

If the RSP disarms, it will be relying on the words of last week's agreement. Since the RSP, whose mission is to protect the president, instead overthrew the (interim) president and put him in prison, they likely put little stock in the constraints of mere words.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Burkina Faso coup defeated; interim government back in charge

Between holidays and classes starting I haven't had a chance to blog since Tuesday, and a lot has happened in Burkina Faso since then.

The coup against the interim government happened on Wednesday, September 16, as the country prepared for elections in October. The day after the coup, my prediction was that "It is unlikely that the military will remain in power for long. ... There will likely be a transition to civilian rule in the not-too-distant future, and elections. The CDP will not likely be excluded from those elections. In fact, parties who attempted to ban the CDP may be banned themselves .... Perhaps the best we can hope for is that the military will negotiate some prerogatives and protections for itself (such as military control over the military budget and amnesty for the events of 1987 and this latest coup) ..."

So I was right about the coup not lasting long and the return of elections, but I didn't appreciate at the time the lack of support the presidential guard had from the regular army, so the . The regular army turned against the presidential guard coup leaders and took control of the capital on Monday and so yes the coup leaders negotiated an exit, as I expected, but they didn't negotiate from a position of strength and so didn't get much - it looks like all they got was safety for themselves and their families. The day after the coup leader claimed he was still in power (on Tuesday), the interim president was back in office (on Wednesday).

The Guardian has good English language coverage, and provides an analysis of how the coup was defeated. Credit goes first to the people of Burkina Faso, who rose up and deposed a dictator (Compaore) last year and rose up again against the coup. The second major factor was the regular army, who rather than joining with the presidential guard, pushed the guard to return to the barracks. The third major factor was condemnation by the international community, including the African Union and ECOWAS.
"Ecowas played a highly significant role that demonstrates the potential for effective regional intervention,” said Frank Charnas, CEO of risk analysis firm Afrique Consulting. Charnas said that the Senegalese president, Macky Sall, had initially led the efforts to resolve the situation. But when civil society groups questioned his apparent willingness to grant immunity to the coup leaders, the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, took the lead."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Burkina Faso is a reminder that successful democracies need more than just multiparty elections

Landry Signé provides his insightful analysis on the Burkina Faso coup in this morning's Monkey Cage (I added a link to one of my posts that he must have forgot☺):
Even if observers in the international community were surprised by what some have called a “disaster for Africa,” this unconstitutional seizure of power was predictable, and if it didn’t happen before the elections, it could have happened after the elections. My research suggests this “disaster” is a result of weak horizontal accountability during the transition. Simply put, horizontal accountability is the ability of government institutions to check abuses by other branches of government and a system in which government institutions are independent and no agency or branch becomes too powerful compared to the others. Some may refer to this system as one with “checks and balances.” ...
Even before the coup attempt by the presidential guard, the legitimacy and impartiality of the transition was a concern for three reasons in particular. First, the transitional body was a hybrid of civilian and military rule, and not exclusively civilian. The military initially stole the transition after civil society and popular protests drove Compaoré from power, and the military managed to keep considerable power even after the appointment of a civilian president. Second, the transition process has been exclusive, despite the facade of inclusion of civil society leaders and organizations. In fact, candidates associated with the previous regime were systematically banned from the legislature and presidential candidacy, generating concerns about the fairness, inclusiveness and meaningfulness of the process. Finally, the presence of an excessively powerful and self-interested presidential guard has contributed to the failed transition.
Signé goes in depth into each of these three issues, and then makes a similar prediction to what I wrote yesterday: "A draft agreement offers amnesty to coup conspirators in exchange for a return to civilian rule; there are also expectations that the elections will be more inclusive and will be postponed to November."

He also includes an important prescription for future success - the importance of including more than just elections to ensure democratic stability: "Even as events continue to unfold, the instability since Compaoré’s reign began to falter has shown that focusing only on vertical accountability without ensuring suitable horizontal accountability can jeopardize sustainable democratic development in Burkina Faso."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Burkina Faso army orders coup leaders back to barracks; dueling focal points in battle of the sexes

Source: AFP
In my first post on last week's military coup in Burkina Faso, I predicted that "It is unlikely that the military will remain in power for long."

However, I'll be the first to admit I had no idea the coup would end the way it seems to be ending.

Quick background:

President Compaore's 27-year rule ended on Halloween last year in response to street protests when he and his ruling party, the CDP, tried to remove the term-limits so Compaore could run for another term as president. An interim government planned for elections in October 2015, but a new electoral code banned the CDP and its allies from running. The CDP appealed to the ECOWAS Court, and that Court said the ban violated the former ruling party's human rights, but the Burkina Faso Constitutional Court ignored that ruling and enforced the electoral code, banning the CDP. Meanwhile, a commission of the interim government recommended disbanding Compaore's elite presidential guard (RSP), and was investigating the assassination of Thomas Sankara, who was overthrown by Sankara's friend Compaore and Gilbert Diendéré, among others. Diendéré was one of Compaore's top military men, and when the RSP was recommended to be disbanded, Diendéré led the RSP into a coup against the interim government, with the stated goal of holding more inclusive presidential elections.

For a longer summary of recent events (before today's action by the army), see this excellent Monkey Cage post by Molly Ariotti and Naunihal Singh.

One important point Ariotti and Singh make is that last week's coup was launched by the (rather small) presidential guard, and not by the larger regular military. However, the coup leaders attempted to send a signal that the coup was launched by the military larger military. "The officer appeared in the uniform of the regular armed forces rather than the so-called “leopard” print of the RSP, implying that the coup was the action of the united military rather than one faction."

People often don't think of the military as being made up of different factions, but this is often the case in developing countries, particularly those with a history of the military getting involved in politics. The dynamics of military coups are sometimes described as what is known in game theory as a "Battle of the Sexes" - one spouse wants to pursue one activity (ballet or takeover of the government), another spouse wants to purse a different activity (baseball or remaining in the barracks), but both want to be doing the activity together. So there are two possible equilibria - both at the ballet/in government, or both at the baseball game/in the barracks. Where the couple (or the military) ends up depends on the "focal point."

The RSP tried to make take over of the government into the "focal point" by describing the coup as a fait accompli after jailing the interim government and making broadcasts on the national TV stations wearing a regular army uniform, and although some civilians were killed, no one in the military was.

However, today's actions show that the regular military is not going along with the RSP's focal point, and is pushing for a focal point in the "return to the barracks" equilibrium outcome.

One can imagine that there may have been some resentment in the regular military against the elite presidential guard. As Ariotti and Singh note, "Members of the RSP were given better accommodations and higher wages, as well as better weapons than the rest of the armed forces, and were chosen for their loyalty to the president." Following the logic of the Battle of the Sexes, the regular military is striving to maintain internal cohesion in the armed forces even as it marches on the RSP-held capital. In the statement from the chiefs of the armed forces, "We demand that they put down their weapons and rejoin Camp Sangoule Lamizana," If members of the RSP follow those orders, the statement says, "They and their families will be protected."

My guess is that the RSP will step down, perhaps after negotiating some amnesty for both their activities last week and any role in the death of Sankara in 1987. I would guess the negotiations would also include changes to the electoral code, so the CDP can participate. What seems less likely is the continuation of the presidential guard (RSP) in its current form. Elite and loyal presidential guards, as a counterweight to the regular military, is a common and generally successful coup-proofing technique, but this particular guard has demonstrated that it is loyal to its former boss (Compaore) and not to successors from his opposition.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Updates on Burkina Faso

The Economist has a good summary:
IN A small African country, soldiers seize the president they are meant to be protecting and dissolve the government. More take control of the TV and radio stations. A burly man in a military uniform issues a statement on TV and radio to explain that for the sake of democracy and the state of the nation, the army has intervened to stop the despotic, immoral government. International outrage follows, as do protests at home. A curfew is imposed; the airport shut down; people shot in the streets. Few are quite sure what is happening.
It is clichéd stuff. But it keeps happening, ... On September 17th the drama unfolded in Burkina Faso, a landlocked country of 17m in West Africa. Michel Kafando, the interim president since last October, and several other members of his government, were arrested by the presidential guard. A spokesman, complete with awkward uniform, appeared on television to announce that the “National Council for Democracy” has decided it necessary to put to an end the temporary government. A general, Gilbert Diendéré (pictured), declared himself the country’s new leader. Protests were put down, with three people apparently killed after a curfew was imposed last night.
The proximate cause for the upheaval in Burkina Faso is presidential power and term limits. Mr Diendéré is a close ally of the former president, Blaise Compaoré, who was eased aside last October after 27 years in power. Mr Compaoré had attempted to introduce a law abolishing Burkina Faso’s two term limit, which would have made him ineligible to run in the 2015 elections. The attempt sparked protesters to set fire to the parliament building and to seize the state television station. The military (as distinct from the presidential guard) then intervened against Mr Compaoré, persuading him to resign and promising elections within a year.
These were scheduled for 11th October, but now seem unlikely to happen. The coup on September 17th seems to have been prompted in part by a law passed by the transitional government in effect forbidding assembly members who had voted to abolish term limits—and so many members of Mr Compaoré’s government—from running. As a Crisis Group briefing published in June warned, this was a recipe for instability, “injecting the poison of political exclusion into a country that is attached to multi-party politics and dialogue.” Instead of resorting to lawsuits and appeals, the excluded parties seem to have gone for the gun. ...
Since the coup, the military has released the arrested interim president, and the African Union has suspended Burkina Faso's membership.

Although the new military government emphasizes the electoral code and its exclusion of the former ruling party and its allies, the other proximate causes were:
(1) A commission's recommendation on Tuesday to dismantle the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP). A good interview about the RSP and its role in Burkina Faso and the coup is HERE.
(2) Ballistic reports from an investigation into Thomas Sankara's death were supposed to be published yesterday. Diendéré (as well as former president Compaore) is rumored to be among those who assassinated the popular Sankara in 1987.

ECOWAS and Carlos to the rescue in Guinea-Bissau

From Reuters last Saturday:
West Africa's ECOWAS regional bloc on Saturday extended a security force in Guinea-Bissau into 2016 to help protect state institutions amid a political crisis that has left the country without a government.
Senegal President Macky Sall, who heads the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), called the extraordinary summit to discuss a political crisis in coup-prone Guinea-Bissau sparked when President Jose Mario Vaz dismissed the prime minister a month ago.
He later replaced him with a new premier but a Supreme Court ruling this week deemed the new appointment unconstitutional and cabinet was dissolved.
"Given the fragility of the political situation in the country, the conference decided to extend the mandate of ECOMIB for six months from January to June 2016," ECOWAS said in a statement, referring to its 600-strong force. Mediation efforts by the bloc will continue, it added.
The former Portuguese colony has suffered nine coups or attempted coups since 1980. But after a peaceful election in 2014, former prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira helped convince donors to pledge over 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion)in financial assistance to the poor cashew exporter.
More on Guinea-Bissau HERE and HERE. When the Reuters article says "no government," it doesn't mean there was no functioning bureaucracy - the president is there, and the bureaucracy, but the president's recent choice for prime minister stepped down, and the prime minister is head of government in that semi-presidential system. 

Burkina Faso just had a coup the other day. The warning signs were there. Guinea-Bissau is also at risk - it is a low income country with a history of coups, many of which resulted from conflict between the president and the prime minister. Hopefully the ECOWAS intervention will help stabilize the situation.

Yesterday, a new prime minister was appointed: octogenarian Carlos Correia (pictured above), who has been prime minister three times in the past and originally refused yesterday's nomination because of health issues, but he is rising to the occasion. This is likely to help stabilize the situation as well.

To his health!

Signs of possible success in US-Niger collaboration against Boko Haram

Niger soldiers provide security for an anti-Boko Haram summit in Diffa city, Niger September 3, 2015.
Excerpts from Reuters article:
The Diffa meeting was a modest success not just for its mutually suspicious tribes but for a small team of fewer than 20 U.S. Special Operations Forces conducting an experiment that is part of President Barack Obama's new counter-terrorism strategy.
The soldiers, who encouraged the meeting and helped provide a ring of security, do not go into combat, or even wear uniforms. They are quietly trying to help Niger build a wall against Boko Haram's incursions and its recruitment of Diffa's youth.
A Reuters reporter was the first to visit the detachment, which is among about 1,000 U.S. Special Operations Forces deployed across Africa.
In Chad, Nigeria, Niger and elsewhere, they are executing Obama's relatively low-risk strategy of countering Islamic extremists by finding local partners willing to fight rather than deploying combat troops by the thousands....
In Niger, there are signs of success against Boko Haram, although progress will likely be slow in a years-long effort, ...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Meet the 8 candidates in Guinea's presidential election (UPDATED)

Eight candidates  will be on the ballot in Guinea's presidential election on October 11 (7 men and one woman). This is a sharp reduction from the 24 candidates in 2010. Five of the eight, including incumbent Alpha Condé (RPG), contested the 2010 election.

Alpha Condé (not to be confused with former president Lansana Conté), in his first bid for re-election, is the front-runner. His main opposition is Cellou Dalein Diallo, candidate for the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) party and former prime minister (2004-2006, under former president  Conté). Diallo came in second place in the 2010 presidential election, with 47% of the vote in the runoff. That election has been described as "controversial."

Another major opposition candidate is Sidya Toure, candidate for Union of Republican Forces (UFR), also a former prime minister (1996-1999, under former president Conté). Toure came in 3rd in the 2010 election, with 13% of the vote.

My previous post on Guinea's upcoming election is HERE.

UPDATE: Good article from Reuters on why Condé is likely to win re-election ("Despite a stagnant economy and an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus still simmering after nearly two years, Conde is a strong favorite thanks largely to deep divisions within an opposition riven by ethnic and personal rivalries.")
More on the eight candidates (from Jeune Afrique via the African Elections Project Blog) after the jump:

Yesterday's coup in Burkina Faso was tragically predictable. What happens next?

(UPDATE: To be clear, I'm not claiming that I predicted with certainty this coup would happen, but I and others noted recently that the interim government was making decisions that increased the risk of a coup.)

In July, I noted some similarities between Burkina Faso and Egypt - an uprising against a president who had been in power since the 1980s, followed by talk of putting the former president on trial for treason. Now, another similarity has emerged; just as Egypt's transition to democratic rule was interrupted by a military coup, yesterday there was a military coup against the interim government, which was preparing for elections next month.

The coup d'etat should not be a surprise. In their preparations for next month's election, Burkina Faso was excluding the party of former president Compaore and his allies from participating in the election. Political elites don't like to be excluded from elections, and often respond violently. As I wrote in August,
One problem with the new (electoral) code was that it attempted to ban supporters of Compaore's attempted constitutional amendment to run for president. These types of exclusions can be problematic. For example, in Ghana the CPP banned opposition parties and then was overthrown in a coup by officers who in turn banned the CPP. Three years after the CPP-less election, another coup removed the government. A more recent example of party-exclusion followed by political instability is the the de-Baathification policyimplemented in Iraq after Saddam's overthrow in 2003.
Burkina Faso, despite adopting the problematic electoral code, had an opportunity to avoid the risks of exclusion when the former ruling party (the CDP) and its allies appealed to the ECOWAS Court of Justice, who ruled that the ban was a violation of CDP supporters' human rights. The Constitutional Court of Burkina Faso ignored the ECOWAS Court's ruling, however, and banned legislative and presidential candidates from contesting next month's election. The CDP and its allies had no intention of taking this exclusion lying down, and called for their supporters to launch a campaign of civil disobedience.

It is little surprise that CDP allies in the military decided to launch a campaign of uncivil disobedience instead. In their statement justifying the coup, the military said their goal was peaceful and inclusive elections.

The dangers of Burkina Faso's exclusionary electoral policies were clear to many before the coup.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Meet the 10 candidates for Cote d'Ivoire's October presidential election

Jeune Afrique has some charts summarizing characteristics of the 10 candidates for president of Cote d'Ivoire (23 of the 33 candidates were invalidated by the Constitutional Court). 

8 of 10 are men. 3 of the 10 are in their 70s (including incumbent Ouattara). 7 are Christian and 3 (including Ouattara) are Muslim. Most are from the southern half of the country (not surprising, since most of the population is in the south; "Northerner" Ouattara was born near Yamoussoukro). 4 are members of a political party, 3 are independents, and 3 were members of a political party but left (the PDCI supported Ouattara, leading some members to run independently). 

Almost half (4 of 10) have degrees in Economics, including Ouattara and Charles Konan Banny (former Prime Minister and PDCI member).

In addition to Charles Konan Banny, Essy Amara and Kouadio Konan Bertin are former PDCI members. Pascal Affi N’Guessan is the candidate of the main opposition party, the FPI.

Ouattara is favored to win, given 3 years of strong (9%) economic growth and support from both his current party (RDR) and his former party (PDCI).

Hague judges deny release for former Ivory Coast president Gbagbo

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday rejected a request for the temporary release of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo weeks before the start of his trial.

Gbagbo, 70, is accused of plunging his country into civil war rather than relinquishing power after losing a presidential run-off election in 2010. His trial is due to begin Nov. 10. ...
In June, judges confirmed four counts of crimes against humanity against Gbagbo for post-election violence in which around 3,000 people were killed.

Read background to Cote d'Ivoire's election here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Guinea Bissau Prime Minister appointed against will of ruling party steps down following court decision

Last month, Guinea Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz dismissed his prime minister, Domingos Simões Pereira, to resolve what was described as a "deepening power struggle." Vaz said his fallout with Pereira stemmed partly from the appointment of a new armed forces chief, a key post in the small nation known as a hub in drug trafficking between South America and Europe.

Vaz and Pereira are both members of the ruling party, the PAIGC. When the "unified executive" emerged last year, it was predicted that the political decision process was "likely to run smoothly," but that apparently wasn't the case.

President Vaz appointed Baciro Dja to replace Pereira, and Dja was sworn in, but this was against the will of the PAIGC, who renominated the party leader Pereira. A PAIGC party official said the PAIGC "will never accept a constitutional coup d'etat. Neither the party nor the people of Guinea-Bissau will accept the nomination of Baciro Dja."

The Guinea Bissau Supreme Court agreed, and ruled Dja's appointment unconstitutional. Today, Dja announced he would submit a letter of resignation to the president.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Buhari focus on corruption and security has its costs

A man holds a framed portrait of Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari outside the venue of Buhari's inauguration in Abuja May 29, 2015.

Nigeria President Buhari won the election against Goodluck Jonathan in large part because of corruption and security concerns. In the 100 days since he took office, Buhari has been focused on fighting Boko Haram (including new leadership for the military) and corruption (including cleaning house in the state oil company). One of his anti-corruption moves was to delay appointing a cabinet until corruption reforms have been put in place.

But as this Reuters piece points out, having no cabinet carries costs. Nigeria has not developed a policy response to its economic challenges, including low oil revenues from the oil price crash.

Boko Haram leader says reports of his death were much exaggerated. Observers speculate he is a zombie

From The Economist:

HOW many times can one man die? At least four, in the case of Abubakar Shekau, the slippery leader of Boko Haram. Nigerian security forces celebrated his demise in 2009, 2013 and 2014, only for him to pop up again, disconcertingly animate, on camera. When Chad’s president said in August that his troops had killed Mr Shekau, the jihadist was resurrected once again, this time with a voice recording. “Woe unto liars that had claimed I am dead,” said the voice. “Nobody can kill me.”

Former ruling party candidate banned by court from running in Burkina Faso presidential election

Léonce Koné, président du directoire du CDP, ex-parti au pouvoir
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — A court in Burkina Faso on Saturday rejected the chosen presidential candidate of the former ruling party, prompting threats of a boycott of the vote in October.
The presidential and legislative elections scheduled for Oct. 11 are intended to end one year of transitional rule imposed after longtime President Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising triggered by his attempt to alter rules that would have prevented him from seeking a third term.
The candidate list published Saturday included 16 of the 22 proposed candidates. The list is still provisional and appeals can be filed until Sept. 6. Most of the rejected candidates were disqualified for failing to pay the necessary fees. 
But Eddie Comboigo, the chosen candidate of Compaore's Congress for Democracy and Progress, was barred under a new electoral code passed earlier this year that disqualifies candidates who supported Compaore's bid to stay in office. Earlier this week, the court rejected more than 40 candidates for the legislative vote including former ministers and lawmakers close to Compaore.
The United States has expressed concern about the code, which was denounced by a regional court. The country's interim leader, Michel Kafando, initially said the country would abide by the regional court's ruling, but transitional authorities have more recently called for the High Court's decisions to be respected.
Compaore's party will boycott the elections "and resort to civil disobedience" if its candidates are blocked from running, said Jonathan Yameogo, a communications official with the party.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Opposition party in Cote d'Ivoire split over participation in October's election

Former Ivory Coast prime minister Pascal Affi N'Guessan, leader of Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo's party, speaks during an interview with Reuters at his residence in Abidjan August 14, 2015.
Reuters wrote about Cote d'Ivoire's upcoming election again today.  As expected, President Ouattara's main opposition candidate is Pascal Affi N'Guessan of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), the party of Laurent Gbagbo, which didn't hold an election in 2005 because of the civil war over disenfranchising the north by banning candidates such as Ouattara. In 2010 when the election was finally held, most agree that the FPI attempted to steal the election won by Ouattara (more on that below).

Since Ouattara took the presidency in 2011 (after a second civil war caused by Gbagbo and the FPI refusing to recognize Ouattara's electoral victory), the FPI has been boycotting elections, which has only resulted in Ouattara and his party dominating the legislature. Oattara's leadership is going well for the country -- GDP has been growing at 9% annually for three years -- so the FPI's boycott seems to be hurting no-one but themselves.

N'Guessan has come to the same conclusion. "We cannot remain eternally absent from political competition or we risk disappearing," the 62-year-old N'Guessan told Reuters. "If a party doesn't participate in elections, it has no reason to exist," he told Reuters.

But some of his compatriots in the FPI don't agree. A faction led by former foreign minister Aboudramane Sangare are part of the National Coalition for Change (CNC) that is threatening to boycott the election. A spokesman for this faction that sees N'Guessan as Ouattara's strawman describes Ouattara's election in 2010 as a "coup d'etat."

He's right, there was a coup d'etat in 2010. But Encyclopedia Brittanica (and most international observers) would disagree with the FPI about who launched that (auto)coup:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Opposition group, led by President's estranged friend, threatens to block October elections in Cote d'Ivoire

Former Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, who says he was a friend to President Ouattara for over 30 years, isn't feeling so friendly anymore.

Banny is not happy that the former ruling party (PDCI) is joining with the president's party (RDR) to support Ouattara's re-election. Banny is joining with other opposition members (including PDCI dissidents and FPI hardliners) in the National Coalition for Change (CNC) to complain about the insecurity and the electoral commission. The CNC says that insecurity in some parts of Cote d'Ivoire will hampber voting in the October elections, and that the electoral commission's voting registry is biased in favor of the government. The CNC threatens to block elections unless the government meets to address their concerns.

Some of those concerns may be sincere, but many suspect that their are some self-interested motivations as well (which would be shocking). "Some see the CNC's move as an effort by its members to win political prominence ahead of October's election, and possibly cabinet places after the vote.Jeune Afrique notes that at age 72, this election may be Banny's last chance to run for the country's top office.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Beninois presidential candidate for every card in the deck

I updated my post on the Benin election, to add Prime Minister Zinsou to the top of the list, and then I noticed a friend of mine shared a post from Henri N'dah-Sekou with all 52 candidates. One for every card in the deck!

Here's the content from his post (I bolded the names that were in my earlier post):

2016 comme jamais! 
Plus de 50 candidats pour la présidentielle.
Une vraie brochette.
Un pur casse tête pour la CENA. 
Un vrai labyrinthe pour les électeurs.
Les 15 millions de caution fixés par le code électoral seront ils suffisants pour dissuader certains? 
1 Ake Natonde 
2 Karimou Chabi Sika 
3 Patrice Talon
4 Pascal Irénée Koupaki 
5 Abdoulaye Bio Tchane
6 Celestine Zannou 


Sierra Leone's success against Ebola helped by local chiefs

Tribal politics are often blamed for many of Africa's troubles, including the response to Ebola. The multitude of mother tongues posed problems for the response to Ebola since many of the communications about the disease and how to avoid it were in English or French and only 20% of the affected countries' populations speak either of those languages. Some traditional healers were reluctant to refer patients to hospitals. 

However, local tribal leaders also played an important role in the effective response to the disease in Sierra Leone, where the last person known to have Ebola in Sierra Leone was discharged on Tuesday.

According to The Economist, Ebola in Sierra Leone struck Sierra Leone first in the east side of the country. But the disease was controlled in the south-east earlier than it was in the north-west (see map), despite the north-west receiving more aid. The explanation given in the article is that two doctors connected to the local chief called for a meeting early in the epidemic; many local leaders attended the meeting, and laws were passed (such as a ban on taking in sick relatives) to contain the spread of the disease. 

In the north, on the other hand, government-appointed officials pushed aside local leaders, which led to a lack of cooperation. Only later, with the army manning checkpoints and more cooperation between the government and local leaders, was the disease contained in the north.  

The episode is a reminder that many African governments suffer from a lack of perceived legitimacy, because of the mismatch between local authority and central authority. But it is also a hopeful reminder that if central governments are willing to work together with local authorities, this can lead to greater effectiveness in tackling their countries' problems. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Former ruling party banned (again? still? to a lesser degree?) in upcoming election in Burkina Faso

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the electoral code adopted in April banned Burkina Faso's former ruling party, the CDP, and some of its allies from competing in the upcoming election. The banned parties appealed to the Constitutional Court, who turned them down in May because of inadequate signatures. The banned parties appealed to the ECOWAS Community Court, and in July that court ruled that banning those parties was a violation of their human rights. So the CDP registered to compete in the election, along with some aligned parties and parties made up of former CDP members.

Now the Constitutional Court of Burkina Faso has ruled that the electoral code IS constitutional, and the banned parties are banned. Or at least some of their candidates are. The CDP held a press conference about it yesterday, and are calling for their supporters to launch a campaign of civil disobedience if they are not allowed to participate in the election.

When they were in the opposition, CDP's opponents boycotted elections in 1991 and 1998 because of the CDP's tactics, and now I guess the shoe is on the other foot. But it would be best for Burkina Faso's future, I think, to avoid tactics such as banning parties outright (or banning candidates based on their party affiliation).

UPDATE: Thanks to @mkevane for clarifying that the more recent ruling applies to some candidates and not the whole party. I added "to a lesser degree?" to the post title.)

UPDATE 2: The Supreme Court decision to exclude the CDP candidate for president seems pretty sweeping after all.