As on Monday, I’m outsourcing today’s post: I’m up at World Politics Review with a piece entitled “Security Vacuum Threatens Central African Republic’s Political Transition.” I consider some of the background to and implications of the recent rebel takeover in that country. If you read the piece, please let me know your reactions here in the comments.
The Moor Next Door: “Comments on Algeria.”
Baobab has a video analysis of the London conference on Somalia.
Missed this during my hiatus in April, but it’s still relevant: Louisa Lombard‘s biography of Michel Djotodia, the rebel-turned-leader of the Central African Republic.
Amb. John Campbell: “What Next for Nigeria’s Oil Patch?”
Dibussi Tande: “President [Paul] Biya [of Cameroon] Appoints Thirty Senators.”
Roving Bandit: “So What Exactly Just Happened to the Economy of South Sudan?”
At least five suicide bombers died in northern Mali on Friday in attacks aimed at Malian and Nigerien troops which failed to inflict serious casualties on their targets, a spokesman for Mali’s army said.
One of the towns hit was Gossi, the furthest south al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels have struck in a guerrilla war launched against Malian and regional forces since the rebels were driven from their former strongholds in a French-led offensive this year.
Doctors have closed the main hospital in Nigeria’s north-eastern city of Maiduguri in protest at alleged police assaults on staff and patients.
They say officers became angry because the hospital mortuary was too full to take the bodies of colleagues killed by suspected Islamist militants.
One doctor told the BBC they would not reopen the hospital to new patients until the government provided them with security to do their work in safety.
Sudan Tribune: “Sudan Approves 22% Pay Raise for Military.”
IRIN: “Understanding the Causes of Violent Extremism in West Africa.”
VOA: “[Central African Republic] Rebels Accused of Major Rights Violations.”
RFI (French): “Areva: The Imouraren Uranium Mine Will Be Operational in Summer 2015, the President of Niger Hopes.”
Amnesty International: “Eritrea: Rampant Repression Twenty Years after Independence.”
Human Rights Watch: “Senegal: Chadian Blogger Expelled.”
Famine Early Warning Systems Network (.pdf): “Mortality Among Populations of Southern and Central Somalia Affected by Severe Food Insecurity and Famine during 2010-2012.”
Africa Research Institute: “After Boroma: Consensus, representation and parliament in Somaliland.”
Somalia Newsroom: “Toward an Economic Recovery in Somalia.”
Bruce Whitehouse: “Why Mali Won’t Be Ready for July Elections.”
Senegal and Chad signed an agreement on Friday to allow special tribunal judges to carry out investigations in Chad into former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre, ahead of his trial for war crimes.
Habre’s prosecution, delayed for years by Senegal where he has lived since being ousted in 1990, will set a historic precedent as until now African leaders accused of atrocities have only been tried in international courts.
“A French writer from Algeria,” was how a tight-lipped Albert Camus characterised himself in October 1957 on accepting his nomination as the second-youngest winner of the Nobel prize in literature. These simple words concealed a churning heart. The normally voluble Camus, then 43, was in the midst of a period of self-imposed silence.
After years of championing equal rights for Arabs in his native Algeria, Camus, the son of a Pied-Noir family descended from European settlers, found himself in the uncomfortable position of rejecting any notion of his homeland gaining independence from France.
Jacques Enaudeau: “In Search of the ‘African Middle Class’.”
Baobab: “Djibouti’s Development: Location, Location, Location.” A video with a link to a report.
Africa in DC: “Anti-Federalism, Colonial Nostalgia, and Development in Nigeria: Lagos State Governor at SAIS.”
Alkasim Abdulkadir: “After Baga, JTF Lost in a Maze of Rocks and Hard Places.”
Al Jazeera: “Jailed Boko Haram Members Seek Pardon from Nigeria.”
Reuters: “At Least Four Dead in Chad Coup Attempt.”
WSJ: “South Sudan to Resume Oil Exports.”
Magharebia: “Maghreb Minister Back Security Cooperation.”
IRIN: “A Long Road Ahead for Justice in Cote d’Ivoire.”
BBC: “Why Libya’s Militias Are Up in Arms.”
UN News Centre: “Security Council Unanimously Approves New UN Political Mission in Somalia.”
Maliweb (French): “The Government Appoints a Governor in Kidal.”
Times Live: “Ethiopia Confirms Jail Terms for Blogger, Opposition Figure [Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage].”
What other news is out there?
I’m back today from roughly a month’s hiatus, which I spent working intensively on my dissertation. I plan to maintain a regular blogging schedule through May and the summer, though some travel this week may prevent me from resuming daily blogging until the weekend.
It’s good to take a step back from this project, but I’m returning to blogging with a few more frustrations than when I left. The big advantage of what I write here is that I can react rapidly to events and add a little meaning, context, and analysis to them, with a lag of as little as a few hours in some cases. An academic journal article, in contrast, might take as long as two years from the time of submission to the time of publication. The big disadvantage of blogging is that almost all of what I write day-to-day is provisional or, at worst, inaccurate or irrelevant in light of later information. I’m simplifying, I admit; there are a slew of options and genres in between the academic article and the blog post. In general, though, longer-form, better-researched pieces take more time to craft, but offer deeper insights into trends and the long-term meaning of events. All this is merely to state the obvious, but also to say that my evaluation of the trade-offs among different media has shifted a bit. At present I’m less satisfied with the blogging medium than I used to be; I would like to find a way to present information more holistically.
In the short term, I’ll likely stick with the blogging model I’ve been using: quick reactions to events as they occur. In the medium term, I plan to start experimenting with different ways of presenting information, including visually: the Syria Files at Syria Deeply offer one model of how to make crucial contextual information available, accessible, and compelling to readers (viewers?). At the same time, I am wary of duplicating content already available at Wikipedia, BBC country profiles, etc. I welcome suggestions from you on how to make the site better and how to diversify its content without reinventing the wheel. What kind of content would someone new to the Sahel need, that is not available, or not well presented, already?
Turning to other matters, during April I wrote two pieces for World Politics Review: one on Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan (April 2), and one on Chad‘s role in (and announced withdrawal from) Mali (April 16). A few other external pieces are in the works; I’ll post those here as they come out. I should be back by Saturday at the latest with more news-based content.
On March 24, after months of rebellion and negotiations, the rebel coalition Seleka took control of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). For more background, see here, here, and especially here. This roundup attempts to capture key events and implications of the rebels’ capture of the capital:
- VOA: “CAR Leader Flees; Rebel Chief Declares Self President.”
- BBC: “CAR Rebel Head Michel Djotodia ‘Suspends Constitution’.”
- Jeune Afrique (French) has a profile of Djotodia.
- Al Jazeera: “CAR President [Francois Bozize] Seeks Refuge in Cameroon.”
- Al Jazeera: “Looting and Gunfire in Captured CAR Capital.”
- CSM: “Rebels Capture Central African Republic: Now Can They Govern It?”
- Reuters: “Regional peacekeepers said that leader of the Seleka rebel coalition, self-proclaimed president Michel Djotodia, appealed for their help in restoring order after his own men joined in a second day of looting on Monday in the riverside capital Bangui.”
- France24 reports that Seleka promises to hold elections after a three-year transitional period.
- LA Times: “African Union Suspends [CAR] After President Ousted.”
- IRIN: “CAR Coup Comes Amid Deepening Humanitarian Crisis.”
- Statements by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, US State Department, UK Foreign Secretary, and French President Francois Hollande.