Africa Blog Roundup: South Sudan Violence, Algerian Protests, AQIM, and More

A lot of commentators were writing this week about the protests in North Sudan and the violence in South Sudan. On the North, here are some links:

  • Amanda Hsiao writes, “The violent government response to peaceful protests in Sudan last week is an alarming reminder that without external engagement, the Sudanese government is likely to continue a ruling strategy that has so far led to more conflict than peace in the country’s history.”
  • Spencer Ackerman mocks Sudanese President Omar al Bashir for “instruct[ing] his government to expand rural electrification efforts ‘so that the younger citizens can use computers and Internet to combat opposition through social networking sites such as Facebook’.” I share Ackerman’s view that Bashir will have a hard time using Facebook to stop the protest movement, but Bashir’s comments reveal where he sees part of his political strength lying – namely, in rural areas and among constituencies who will reject the political viewpoints of urban students.

And here are some pieces on the South:

  • Baobab: “[The shooting of Jimmy Lemi Milla, minister for co-operatives and rural development]  is unlikely to be the start of a sustained campaign of violence or an attack on secessionist leaders more generally. But it does make clear how far South Sudan is still from having a fully functioning state.”
  • Elizabeth Dickinson: “Over the last several days, as many as 140 people have been killed in clashes in Southern Sudan, pitting the army against a break-off rebel faction. The deaths raise the ominous scepter of conflict in a region that has tried hard for unity in recent weeks, as it voted in a referendum to secede from greater Sudan. Now, as Southern Sudan becomes an independent state, it’s worth remembering that north-south violence isn’t the only type to fear.”

Kal and Andrew Lebovich take a look at the protests in Algeria. Aaron Bady rounds up accounts of protests across the Arab world as he ponders the connections between them.

Aaron Zelin reviews an article on AQIM’s propaganda.

Reuters Africa Blog questions the African Union’s approach to political crises on the continent:

[The] question lies in whether the AU’s decisions — passed almost always with a twinge of nationalist sentiment — are working. From the electoral crisis in Zimbabwe to the one in Kenya and now Ivory Coast, the AU’s “African solutions” have failed to reap yields, exposing a lack of muscle on the bloc’s side.

In Zimbabwe and Kenya, the organisation stuck with its favoured stance of mediating a deal and forming power-sharing governments, forcing uneasy coalitions in which government business is stymied by feuding rivals sitting at the same table.

Some analysts believe unless a tougher stance is taken on leaders who flout the will of voters, African elections will continue to be routinely abused.

Finally, it is interesting to see how the State Department’s vision of the ambassador is changing. The role of American ambassadors is on many people’s minds because of the Wikileaks cable dump, and it is also something I am thinking about in light of the impending replacement of Michael Ranneberger by Scott Gration (both of whom are high-profile and controversial diplomats) in Kenya.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

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