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.
REUTERS/LUC GNAGO
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.