Zambia’s president-elect, Hakainde Hichilema, in 2020. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Hakainde Hichilema has won Zambia’s presidential election in a decisive victory over incumbent President Edgar Lungu, the electoral commission announced on Monday. The official results, with 156 of 157 constituencies reporting, show Hichilema received 2.81 million votes against Lungu’s 1.81 million, out of 7 million registered voters. Hichilema, a perennial candidate, has run for president unsuccessfully five times in the past. This time, on his sixth attempt, he won by the largest margin of victory in a Zambian presidential election in the last quarter century.

Recent events

Lungu, a member of the Patriotic Front (PF) party, has been in office…

Riek Machar (middle left) at his swearing-in as Vice President of South Sudan with President Salva Kiir (middle right) in Juba on 22 February 2010. (Source: UNMISS/Flickr)

Fighting erupted in South Sudan on Saturday between rival factions of the SPLM-IO military wing. The SPLM-IO is one of the country’s two major political parties along with the SPLM. The clashes, in which dozens of soldiers have reportedly been killed, broke out after three generals attempted to oust Vice President Riek Machar as party leader last week. The violence poses a threat to South Sudan’s fragile peace process, which began in 2018 with the signing of a power-sharing agreement between the SPLM-IO and the ruling party, the SPLM, after five years of civil war.

A new parliament

The recent…

A COVID-19 testing station in Madagascar. (Source: World Bank/Flickr)

As the highly contagious Delta variant drives a global surge of COVID-19 cases, Africa is being hit especially hard. On July 15, the World Health Organization reported that the continent recorded one million new cases in the past month, its fastest increase since the start of the pandemic and part of “a uniquely steep and unbroken nine-week surge.” As of July 30, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa reached 6.6 million, with the worst-affected countries being South Africa (2.4 million), Morocco (607,000), Tunisia, (583,000), Egypt (284,000) and Ethiopia (280,000).

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2021. (Source: GovernmentZA/Flickr)

When the Washington Post and 16 other media outlets published the findings of their Pegasus Project investigation last week, the results were shocking: thousands of activists, journalists, lawyers and opposition political figures were targeted by authoritarian governments using spyware technology. The software, Pegasus, can be installed covertly on Apple and Android devices and is capable of extracting text messages, emails and photos, recording calls and activating microphones.

The spyware’s developer, an Israeli company called NSO Group, says its technology is intended only for tracking criminals and terrorists. Nonetheless, the Pegasus Project found a list of over 50,000 phone numbers identified…

Mozambican soldiers participate in a US-led training exercise in Pemba in 2019. (Source: US Navy/Flickr)

On June 23, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed to deploy troops to Mozambique to combat the growing jihadist insurgency in the country’s northern province of Cabo Delgado. The decision came after months of deliberation and disagreement among the bloc’s 16 members — and four years after the conflict, which has killed 3,000 people and displaced over 750,000, began in 2017.

Last weekend, Rwanda threw its hat into the ring, announcing it had sent 1,000 troops to fight insurgents in northern Mozambique. The speedy approval of Rwanda’s intervention caused tension between SADC and Mozambique, which has delayed permission for…

A South Sudanese man at the independence celebrations in Juba in 2011. (Source: United Nations/Flickr)

On July 9, South Sudan marked ten years of independence but with little to celebrate. After a decade of self-rule, South Sudan faces extreme poverty, corruption, insecurity, a lack of development, and is rated among the world’s unhappiest countries. It did not have to be this way. At independence in 2011, South Sudan faced a myriad of challenges, including deep poverty and insecurity — but it also possessed abundant natural resources, including vast swathes of arable land and oil reserves estimated at 5 billion barrels. These assets, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remarked at the 2011 independence ceremony, could transform…

South African President Jacob Zuma at the World Economic Forum on Africa in 2009. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

On 29 June, former President Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court by South Africa’s highest court. Zuma is the first South African leader to receive a prison sentence, and still faces more charges — 16 total, including fraud, graft and racketeering — related to a 1999 arms deal. Zuma’s legal challenges are nothing new — his first criminal charge was in 2005 for rape, while he was serving as vice president (he was ultimately aquitted). …

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa in 2018. (Source: Government of Ethiopia/Flickr)

On June 21, Ethiopia held national elections in what will be a key test of democracy under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who entered office in 2018 and promised reform. In 2019, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating an end to Ethiopia’s decades-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea. But two years later, Abiy has had to campaign against a backdrop of internal conflict, emerging famine, rising ethnic violence and a regional dispute over Ethiopia’s Blue Nile dam project, all which have intensified under his leadership. …

President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Faustin-Archange Touadéra of the Central African Republic at the Russia-Africa Summit in 2019. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

On June 15, CNN published a report implicating Russian private military contractors in a wide range of human rights abuses in the Central African Republic. Dozens of victims and witnesses spoke of summary killings, rape and torture, and indiscriminate violence against civilians, including the burning of homes. These testimonies are supported by a confidential United Nations report, obtained by CNN, which stated that “FACA [the Central African military] and bilateral forces, especially Russians… may have committed war crimes, especially in executing civilians and other individuals who were not taking part in hostilities.”

While the conduct of Russian private contractors has…

President Muhammadu Buhari at a World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan in 2019. (Source: World Economic Forum)

On June 4, Nigeria announced it would indefinitely ban Twitter from operating in the country, with Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed accusing the social media company of being used for activities “capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” The decision came two days after Twitter deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari that seemed to threaten violence against Biafran secessionists blamed for attacks against government targets in southeastern Nigeria. 40 million Nigerians use Twitter, and the country has one of the highest rates of internet usage in Africa.

The move sparked immediate outcry and resistance eight months after the…

Center for International Policy, Africa Program

The Center for International Policy Africa Program analyzes U.S. foreign policy toward the nations of Africa to promote greater positive U.S. engagement

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