Kenya is one of the most politically and economically developed countries in Africa and on Tuesday conducted its second presidential election since a political unrest in 2007-8 over disputed election results. Since this instability powers have been devolved away from Nairobi and the country has embarked on some measures of electoral reform in order to tackle corruption and defend the integrity of the country’s elections. The elections were predicted to be a flashpoint for violence but so far there only been a few examples of tensions boiling over into physical confrontations, and nothing on the scale of the 2007-8 political crisis.
Tunisia is often portrayed as the poster-child of the Arab Spring as the revolution was peaceful and a relatively open democracy has been formed by the Tunisian people. As with many countries in North Africa, a key problem that has dogged their societies has been how women have been treated by regressively-minded citizens and conservative figures of authority. However a democracy can only truly function if all members in that society are free to express themselves without fear of repercussions. This requires a raft of civil liberties that are inalienable and defended by the judiciary and so long as women are subject to coercion and prejudice, Tunisia will not represent the views of all its citizens. Thankfully action has been taken.
Nigeria is a significant power in West Africa and what happens in the country is noted by people in other parts of the region, especially when it comes to Nigerian culture. But an area where Nigeria is similar to other parts of Africa is in its society’s anti-LGBT attitudes. Christian and Islamic conservatism in Nigeria has largely been peddled because of fundamentalists traveling to the country to reinforce existing anti-LGBT views with theological justifications. In Nigeria it is socially acceptable to persecute LGBT people and this is illustrated by the news coming out of Lagos state this week when 42 men were arrested for having homosexual sex.
Yesterday I wrote a piece about the tentative ceasefire that had been signed in the Central African Republic, but I cautioned that it was highly possible that it may not hold. Specifically I had written: “I fear that a lack of action [by the international community] will allow hostilities to restart in the near future”. Although I wasn’t especially expectant that the peace accord would hold for long, I must confess that we won’t know if my prediction would be correct or not because there was no time for the international community to get involved. After around 24 hours armed groups opened fire on one another and the peace agreement broke down.
The Central African Republic has been dealing with a civil war since 2012 which has culminated in ongoing sectarian violence between different ethnic and religious groups. Aside from the government, the main factions in this conflict are the Séléka, an alliance of militia groups that are predominantly Muslim, and the Anti-balaka, who are mostly Christian. Both sides have been accused of heinous crimes such as deliberately targeting civilians and forcibly converting people to their religion. The latest development is that 13 of the 14 armed groups in CAR along with the national government have signed a peace agreement brokered by the Catholic organisation Sant’ Egidio. It is unclear however if it will hold.
After the oppressive rule of former President Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia has decided to move on, and this is in part down to the will of the Gambian people. The Gambian government has announced that the country will establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in the mould of that of post-Apartheid South Africa, to investigate the abuses of power during Yahya Jammeh’s rule. The Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou made the announcement in Banjul a few weeks ago adding that Jammeh’s finances would also be subject to investigation. However the new administration has been further bolstered by parliamentary elections that will rekindle a democratic political culture in the country.
The ANC have been governing South Africa since 1994, but they have not been doing so alone. The ANC stands for election as an independent political party but it is also a member of the Tripartite Alliance, which sees it supported by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). However the increasingly erratic behaviour of President Jacob Zuma, and the numerous and longstanding allegations of corruption, have alienated many within COSATU and the SACP. COSATU General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali has said that the current ANC leader is not the “right person” to lead the country. Zuma needs to be removed, and this move shows that the labour movement may well be the ones to do it.