A year ago today, 42-year old reformist politician Abiy Ahmed became prime minister of Ethiopia. Abiy came to power during a deep political crisis with widespread grievances across this country of over 105 million people, and quickly began to enact political reforms. USIP’s Aly Verjee and Payton Knopf discuss Abiy’s year as prime minister and identify the challenges that lie ahead for eastern Africa’s most populous country.
On March 9, Nigerians return to the polls to elect governors and state legislators. The balloting follows the presidential elections held February 23, which saw the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, re-elected for another four-year term. USIP’s Chris Kwaja and Aly Verjee discuss how Buhari’s victory may impact the state elections, Nigerians’ seeming disenchantment with voting, and how to avert potential violence.
As the U.S. House of Representatives continues to adapt to the leadership of a new speaker, 6,000 miles away, the legislature of the Central African Republic (CAR), the National Assembly, has also recently elected a new leader. However, a change of leadership will not be sufficient to overcome the many challenges and weaknesses faced by this parliament, as the country continues to face rebel groups, communal violence, corruption, and intransigent poverty. The responses of many representatives to recent interviews with USIP raise a more fundamental question: given the context of the CAR, what is a parliament for?
On Saturday, over 84 million eligible Nigerian voters are set to go to the polls to elect their next president and members of the National Assembly, with state-level elections to be held on March 2. Among the 73 presidential candidates, incumbent Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar are the top two contenders. As Africa’s most populous country with its biggest economy and democracy, Nigeria is a bellwether for the continent and these elections will be widely watched by the region and international community. USIP’s Oge Onubogu, Chris Kwaja and Aly Verjee look at why these elections matter, security challenges surrounding the polls, and how the U.S. can support Nigeria beyond the elections.
In the last five years, international monitors in South Sudan have documented more than 100 violations of the country’s numerous cease-fire agreements. A new analysis of the monitors’ data published from April 2014 to August 2018 demonstrates how the conflict changed as the government’s military position strengthened.
On November 7, the U.S. Department of State announced long-awaited plans outlining a path to better relations with Sudan, “designed to expand our bilateral cooperation, facilitate meaningful reforms to enhance stability in Sudan, and achieve further progress in a number of areas of longstanding concern.” USIP’s Aly Verjee and Payton Knopf discuss the initiative, and identify where broader U.S. regional objectives could cohere, including in the war in Yemen.
Eighty-five-year-old Paul Biya, president of Cameroon since 1982, was sworn in for his seventh term in office on November 6, after complaints arising from multiple allegations of electoral irregularities in polls held a month earlier were dismissed by Cameroon’s constitutional court. An intercommunal crisis in Cameroon has seen violence increase substantially since 2017, and the conduct of these elections—which saw a partial boycott—has added to grievances. In this analysis of the official election results, USIP’s Aly Verjee and Jude Mutah examine the data, and discuss the prospects for Cameroon after the election.
On November 7, the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar, a country larger in area than California and more populous than Florida, goes to the polls to elect its next president. With a history of political crisis and fraught elections, the 2018 polls have seen renewed acrimony as no less than four former presidents of Madagascar seek the country’s highest office. USIP’s Aly Verjee and Jonas Claes discuss what’s at stake, the challenges ahead and how election disputes and violence can be mitigated.
On September 12, after nearly nine months of talks, the warring parties in South Sudan signed a “revitalized” peace agreement, superseding a 2015 accord and bringing an end to the High Level Revitalization Forum. But fighting has continued in the days since the deal was signed, and many remain skeptical that this agreement will succeed. USIP’s Aly Verjee discusses the deal.
In February 2019, Nigerians go to the polls to elect the country’s next president, parliament and state governors. Nigeria’s elections have historically been tense, and as the campaign gets underway there are concerns the upcoming process will see new violence. USIP’s Chris Kwaja, Oge Onubogu and Aly Verjee discuss the significance of the vote, what has changed since the 2015 elections, and suggest what can be done to mitigate risks of violence.