CategoryConflict

Fragile Security or Fatale Liaisons? Reflections on 2 March 2018 Attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, by Sten Hagberg

On Friday 2 March 2018 around 10 o’clock, two coordinated of terrorist attacks took place in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. The first attack involved gunmen seeking to enter the Embassy of France, exchanging fire with soldiers from Burkinabe and French special forces. Four gunmen were killed in the attack against the Embassy, and no casualties among the special forces. The second attack took place a few minutes later. A vehicle stuffed with explosives detonated at the Chief of Defence staff’s headquarters (État-major des Armées), followed by shootings between attackers and Burkinabe defence forces. Eight Burkinabe militaries were killed together with another four attackers. Moreover, there were many wounded in the headquarters. The car bomb seems to have targeted a high-level meeting of senior military staff of the G5 Sahel Joint Force. The blast destroyed the room where the meeting would have taken place had it not been relocated shortly before the attacks.

In total, the attacks led to 16 deaths, including eight assaulters. The number of wounded people amounted to some 80 persons. Yet in the afternoon the same day, French media outlets held that as many as 30 people had been killed. While this information was rejected by Burkinabe public authorities, and soon turned out to be false, it did fuel rumor and speculation, fear and anxiety. Continue reading

The New Gambia, by Niklas Hultin

pres-barrow

President Adama Barrow greeting the people. Photo by Katarina Höije

It finally became clear on January 21, 2017, that Yahya Jammeh, the long-serving autocratic president of The Gambia would step down and leave the country. The road to this point was a twisty one. Jammeh had lost the December 1, 2016, election to Adama Barrow (who represented a coalition of opposition parties). Although Jammeh, much to everyone’s surprise, initially conceded the election he quickly reverted to form and suggested that the election was not valid and called for a new one to be held–a position rejected by the opposition and the international community. Most notably, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) took a firm line and recognized Barrow as the legitimate president and suggested that they might use military force to oust Jammeh. As negotiations between the parties remained inconclusive,arrow and his associates travelled to Senegal where, on January 19 he took the oath of office at the Gambian High Commission in Dakar. Meanwhile, ECOWAS forces, consisting primarily of Senegalese troops with Nigerian air and naval backing, mobilized to enforce the election results. After a tense period that saw ECOWAS forces briefly enter the country only to pull back, Gambians–and West Africans–could breath a sigh of relief as the by now completely isolated Jammeh agreed to go into exile with not a drop of blood shed. In the evening of January 21, Jammeh boarded a plane for Equatorial Guinea. Continue reading

How John Richardson Joined the NPFL: Charles Taylor’s Confidant Speaks on Liberian Politics and American Warmongering, by Brooks Marmon

One of Charles Taylor’s best known and most eloquent defenders is John T. Richardson, a Liberian architect, who continues to speak with the former Liberian President two to three times a week. Richardson, an American trained architect who launched his career in the 1970s, winning contracts from the African Development Bank, USAID, and the World Bank to construct rural schools and hospitals across Liberia, became an international pariah several decades later when he was placed on a UN travel ban during the last years of the Taylor administration, which he served in various capacities.

Today, Richardson operates from a cramped but well decorated office in a gated compound just off Tubman Boulevard, the main thoroughfare of Monrovia. His father, Nathaniel Richardson, was one of Liberia’s greatest historians of the era when the country was dominated by the True Whig Party (TWP) and the descendants of black American immigrants (in which both Taylor and Richardson have their roots).  Although the younger Richardson states, “I have no ambitions politically” he came, as a result of a self-described humanitarian impulse, to play a major role in the calamitous struggle to shape post TWP Liberia, serving as a loyal adviser to Taylor throughout Liberia’s 14 years of armed conflict. Continue reading

Prevention and militarization in Africa’s security governance by Linnéa Gelot

At the 27th African Union Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, member states adopted a new funding model. The proposal by Dr Donald Kaberuka to institute an import levy of 0,2% on ‘eligible’ imports’ is widely hailed as a historic step forward for the organization and its ambitions to become independent and self-reliant. If implemented as expected, the Kaberuka model will fund the AU general budget and its programmes and is expected to raise approximately USD 1,2 billion beginning in 2017. Starting in 2017, each of the continent’s regions have committed to paying USD 65 m into the AU Peace Fund, which will enable Africa to fund 25% of the costs of AU peace operations. While this decision is imperative, I would like in this article to reflect on some of the broader challenges and trends in Africa’s security governance.

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New Developments in Drone Proliferation: How Africa was Deployed to Rescue Drones, by Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

Debates on global drone proliferation tend to assume that adoption and adaptation of drones follow a universal logic and that the drone industry is a singular thing, geographically concentrated in the Global North. In this blog post I argue that these assumptions make it difficult to critically assess the growth in drone use across Africa. I suggest that one way to think about African drone proliferation is by considering the way drones and Africa are being construed as solutions to each other’s problems: drones are seen as a game changer for develop­ment and security, while in return Africa inspire new and innovative use of drones. The percep­tion of Africa as being in need of external drone intervention dovetails with the drone industry’s efforts to identify and promote good uses for drones — efforts that are central to increasing the legitimacy of drones in the eyes of a skeptical global public. Here I want to highlight three key issues related to drone proliferation in Africa. Continue reading

Burundi, I, and the year of 2015, by Gudrun Sif Fridriksdottir

“I miss dancing” a friend of mine says sometime in late June. “What?” I reply, thinking I must have misheard him. “I miss dancing”, he hesitates a bit “…and information [independent media]”. I can’t help laughing “Well one is very important for democracy, the other … not so much” I claim. But then again he has a point. At this stage Bujumbura has been in turmoil for almost two months, he lives in a turbulent neighbourhood, I don’t, but we are all already very tired. People just want their regular lives back, and being able to enjoy life, not just live it. Unfortunately this is not to happen in 2015. Continue reading

The Ties that Bind: Ex-Military Command Structures as a Foundation for Peace or Source for Insecurity? by Anders Themnér

The presence of large groups of ex-combatants is often seen as a major challenge to post-civil war stability. Experiences of ex-fighters engaging in different forms of violence have prompted policy-makers and scholars (and to be frank, at times also myself) to ‘securitize’ the ex-combatant issue. This has particularly been true concerning the phenomenon of informal military networks. The sight of ex-fighters interacting with their former commanders, often on a daily basis, is commonly seen as a direct threat to the post-war order, especially since such ties should – according to official disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) jargon – cease to exist. It is true that ex-combatant networks can, and have been, employed for detrimental purposes. Officially dismantled command structures have, for instance, been used for wartime purposes in Macedonia, Mali, the Republic of Congo and Tajikistan; electoral violence in Aceh (Indonesia), Niger Delta (Nigeria) and Sierra Leone; riots in Liberia and Mozambique; and organized violence in Columbia, Mozambique and Sierra Leone. However, recent research has also highlighted how ex-command structures provide vital social services that can further peace and stability. Informal military networks do, for instance, constitute an important source of employment, friendship and security for many ex-combatants. Continue reading

Burkina Faso: “The return of the Phantoms of the past”, By Sten Hagberg

In the afternoon on Wednesday 16 September 2015, soldiers of the infamous Regiment of the president’s security forces – Regiment de Sécurité Présidentielle (RSP) – entered the Presidential Palace Kosyam where the Government Council meeting was ongoing, and took the government in custody. This is the fourth time during the less than one-year-transition that the RSP threatens and assaults the Transition regime. This time, just a few weeks prior to the presidential and general elections scheduled on 11 October 2015, the RSP’s intervention is an outright attack on the painstaking paths towards a veritable democracy in Burkina Faso. Continue reading

Whither Burundi? Violence, protest and the post-Arusha dispensation? By Angela Muvumba Sellström

The current political situation in Burundi poses significant challenges for organizing credible elections in 2015. Thousands have fled to neighbouring Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Tanzania. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), what started as a trickle of a frightened few has grown into a swell of over 50,000 in a matter of weeks. After two weeks of demonstrations in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, the government decided to dismantle barricades that were blocking movement in the city’s outer neighbourhoods. The first thing to happen was a surge of 200 women marching into the city centre on Sunday, 10 May. Their non-violent protest almost made it to Independence Square. But not quite. They too were stopped. Many are. Well over a dozen people have been killed and hundreds injured in the political protests. Continue reading

Brinkmanship in Bujumbura: a struggle for power at all costs? by Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs

 On Saturday 25 April, the ruling party in Burundi, the CNDD-FDD (The National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy) – a formerly armed group turned political party after the end of the civil war – held its much awaited party congress at the party headquarters in the capital of Bujumbura. As widely anticipated, the party officially designated the sitting President Pierre Nkurunziza as their presidential candidate in the upcoming elections on 26 June this year. The announcement became the triggering event for the escalation of protests and demonstrations in several suburbs surrounding the city center [for more on the street protests see blog post by Jesper Bjarnesen here]. During the week that followed, similar protests were reported from other urban centers in the country too. A coalition of civil society organisations officially took the lead in organising the post-announcement protests, but in cooperation with several political parties in opposition. The ruling party responded heavy-handedly by closing down several radio stations, blocking social media networks, and banning participation in the protests. In the last few days, tensions have increased and violence escalated between the protesters and the police. Continue reading

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