Sudan: Protests continued this week in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere in the country despite President Omar al-Bashir’s state of emergency declaration last Friday and subsequent orders to ban public gatherings and rallies. On Tuesday, Bashir reshuffled his top military staff, signing off on moves that a military spokesman framed as “normal, routine changes that happen from time to time.” The changes drew criticism from the U.S., Britain, Norway and Canada, which said Tuesday in a joint statement that the “return to military rule does not create a conducive environment for a renewed political dialogue or credible elections.” Richard Downie examined the protests in Sudan in a briefing for WPR in January, writing that even if Bashir is vulnerable, “the path toward a democratic transition in Sudan will be long, uncertain and fraught with danger.”
Senegal: President Macky Sall has been elected to a second term, winning 57 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff, election officials announced on Thursday. His four challengers issued a joint statement saying they “reject” the results but do not plan to challenge them. In an election preview for WPR, Anna Pujol-Mazzini described how some of Sall’s most prominent would-be challengers were barred from running, and how some voters lacked confidence in the fairness of the ballot process.
Nigeria: President Muhammadu Buhari earned 56 percent of the vote in last weekend’s election, fending off a challenge from Atiku Abubakar, who finished with 41 percent. Abubakar vowed to mount a legal challenge against what he described as a “sham” election, but Buhari was already looking ahead to his second four-year term, promising a renewed focus on the security and economic goals he has failed to meet so far. In a recent briefing for WPR, Alex Thurston wrote that Buhari is unlikely to “bring any further resolution to the country’s fundamental challenges.”
Democratic Republic of Congo: Two Ebola treatment centers were attacked in the east of the country this week. On Sunday, unidentified assailants set one of the centers on fire, forcing Doctors Without Borders to close it. And on Wednesday, armed assailants targeted a center where nearly 40 people were being held; four patients confirmed to have Ebola were unaccounted for following the attack. “The identity and motive of the assailants were unclear,” Reuters reported, while noting that “aid workers have faced mistrust in some areas.” The current Ebola outbreak, Congo’s deadliest, has killed more than 500 people. In October, we wrote about how insecurity in eastern Congo was hampering efforts to bring it under control.
Gabon: President Ali Bongo, who has been receiving medical treatment in Morocco since reportedly suffering a stroke last year in Saudi Arabia, has again returned to Libreville, though officials won’t say how long he’ll be staying. In November, we wrote about how Bongo’s poor health and the uncertainty over his future were destabilizing Gabonese politics.
Zimbabwe: The United Nations says Zimbabwe needs $234 million in emergency aid to respond to a drought that has hammered crop yields, notably maize. It’s the latest challenge that could compound an already bleak economic situation, potentially threatening President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s hold on power. As James Hamill wrote in a January briefing for WPR, “Each stage of economic decline will increase the likelihood of greater upheaval, whether in the form of a new mass exodus to neighboring states, principally South Africa, or violence, ungovernability and even a low-intensity civil war.”
Somalia: Nearly 30 people were confirmed dead in the latest al-Shabab attack in Mogadishu, an operation targeting a hotel that bore some resemblance to January’s strike in Nairobi. The attack began Thursday night and continued Friday. Earlier in the week, on Monday, the extremist group killed nine civilians who were cleaning the streets in a Mogadishu suburb. A local official told Voice of America that the militants “do not want the people to clean the streets because they use the garbage, trees and undergrowth to disguise their improvised explosive devices.” That same day, the U.S. said it had killed 35 al-Shabab fighters in an airstrike near the border with Ethiopia. In a recent briefing for WPR, Ilya Gridneff wrote about the persistent security threat posed by al-Shabab in Somalia and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa.
Chagos Islands: The International Court of Justice ruled this week that the U.K. should transfer control of the Chagos Islands to Mauritius. “Although advisory, the ruling will increase pressure on Britain to cede the islands to Mauritius, from which it split the territory, and will be taken as a sign of the U.K.’s declining diplomatic influence since the Brexit vote,” the Financial Times reported.
Seychelles: Albert Rene, who took power in a coup in 1977 and stayed on as president until 2004, died on Wednesday. “Supporters credit him with introducing a socialist development program that included free health care and education,” the BBC noted. “Critics say he ran an oppressive regime that crushed dissent in the country.” Reuters said Rene’s death could hurt the political fortunes of his party, United Seychelles, which was already on the decline.