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Washington Needs a Better Message in Africa Than ‘Don’t Trust China’

Foreign Policy

November 2021

Chinese leaders are meeting this week with Africa’s political, military, and civil elites in Dakar, Senegal, for the eighth gathering of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). More African leaders have chosen to attend FOCAC than did the United Nations General Assembly, drawn to the former’s emphasis on cultivating partnerships based on national agendas.

For a long time, the United States’ main message to African countries was “We’re not Europe,” but since at least the early 2000s, China’s message to Africa has been “We’re not the United States.” China has made significant process in Africa by speaking loudly and carrying a small stick. Its public diplomacy campaigns focus on relationship-building with African counterparts and broad media coverage of all forms of cooperation, while simultaneously keeping sanctions and security engagements minimal. [...] 

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Senegal’s violent protests reveal that its long-stable democracy is fragile, after all

The Washington Post 

April 2021

[...] Senegal has long been considered one of the most stable countries in sub-Saharan Africa and has probably been the most stable in a volatile West African region. It is the only West African country that has never had a military coup since gaining independence from France in 1960. In 2020, then-U. S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo chose Senegal for his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa. In 2013, President Barack Obama also chose Senegal for the first leg of a three-country African tour. The tour also included South Africa and Tanzania, two strong democracies with which the United States wished to strengthen economic ties.

Senegal’s legacy of stability and democracy has been widely celebrated and praised as its neighbors have suffered endemic political and social instability. That reputation may suffer unless the current government tackles the democratic reforms demanded by its citizens. [...] 

Chad: President Déby’s Death Leaves Vacuum in Volatile Region

United States Institute of Peace

April 2021

Now, the West must grapple with the loss of a longtime regional ally in counterterrorism as Chad’s political stability is in question

[...] Déby’s death does not immediately change deep-rooted patterns of political and military violence in Chad, which despite considerable mineral resource wealth — including gas — and a modest-sized population, remains very poor. Déby himself came to power by force, overthrowing President Hissène Habré in December 1990. Habré also came to power by force. There are thus deeply entrenched trends of military strongmen ruling Chad with their own narrow agendas; it is unclear that this will now change, even if Déby is gone.      [...]

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It Is Time to Rethink U.S. Strategy in the Sahel

United States Institute of Peace

April 2021

If Washington wants to play an effective role, it needs less counterterrorism, better diplomacy. Here are four ways to get there.

[...] The United States' foreign policy apparatus is not currently organized properly to deal with the humanitarian, development and security issues of the Sahel. For the problems of the Sahel to not outrun Washington’s reactive efforts as they have in the past, the United States needs to change the way foreign policy bureaus conduct business.       [...]

« Le G5 Sahel et l’appel aux Nations unies : un vœu pieux ? »

Jeune Afrique 

Février 2021

[...]Le chapitre VII de la Charte des Nations unies définit les pouvoirs du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU dans le cadre du maintien de la paix et de la sécurité internationales à travers des actions militaires ou diplomatiques. Sans aucun doute, la mise sous chapitre VII confèrerait au G5 Sahel une légitimité internationale et un cachet politique qui pourraient, en théorie, lui faciliter l’obtention de financements additionnels et la concrétisation effective et rapide des promesses de ses bailleurs.[...]

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ECOWAS’ Peace and Security Shattered by Unconstitutional Coups

Woodrow Wilson Center

Africa Year in Review 2020

January 2021

[...] In the recent past, ECOWAS had been more successful in preventing unconstitutional changes of power. For example, in 2017, the regional organization was the main actor making Gambian President Yaya Jammeh relinquish power after he had lost elections. This was a big win for ECOWAS. That same year, Morocco applied for ECOWAS membership, and Mauritania signed a new associate-membership agreement 17 years after having left the organization. ECOWAS also led successful peacekeeping operations in Liberia, Guinea Bissau, and Mali, and its mediation efforts led to peaceful elections in Mali (2013) and Nigeria (2015). [...]

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Mali : « Sortir de la caricature et faire un constat lucide »

Le Point Afrique
1er Février 2018

TRIBUNE. Les crises sécuritaire et politique que traverse le Mali depuis 2011 sont à leur paroxysme. En dépit du rôle joué par la France dans la résolution de la crise, l'avenir politique du pays reste entre les mains des Maliens. 
Au Mali, l'état de la gouvernance, qu'elle soit politique ou économique, reste à parfaire. Des analystes, experts et politologues maliens, tout comme moi, ont très souvent pris d'assaut les journaux, les télés et les radios maliennes, françaises et internationales pour exprimer leurs inquiétudes et lister tous les maux du pays au grand public.

« La France doit rompre avec la rhétorique martiale qui prévaut au Sahel »

Le Monde Afrique
21 Février 2018

Tribune. « Nous avons gagné cette guerre », déclarait en septembre 2013 à Bamako un François Hollande triomphant au terme d’une intervention militaire française menée au pas de course pour déloger les mouvements djihadistes au Mali. Quatre ans plus tard, dans une région sahélienne à la dérive, les mots de l’ancien président de la République résonnent de façon tragique. Le Mali a sombré dans un état de délitement inquiétant. Au nord, les groupes politico-militaires se disputent toujours le contrôle des territoires et des trafics. Au centre, l’Etat a reculé dans les zones rurales où prospèrent milices communautaires, bandes criminelles et insurgés se revendiquant du djihad.

Expert Briefing on Mali's 2018 Presidential Elections

Africa Research Institute
January 2018

Mali gained independence from France in 1960. Eight years later, a bloodless coup led by General Moussa Traoré succeeded in setting up a 14-member Military Committee for National Liberation (CMLN). Traoré banned all political activity and remained in charge of the country until he was deposed in a 1991 coup. In 1974, the government introduced a new constitution and organised single-party presidential elections five years later which automatically granted Traoré a six-year term as president. He was re-elected in 1985, standing as the sole candidate. Following a series of violent popular protests in 1991, Traoré was removed from power by a bloodless coup and was succeeded by a transitional government led by Lt. Col. Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT).

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The G5 Sahel: A Homegrown Response to Terrorism in the Sahara

The Wilson Center

Africa Year in Review 2017​

[...] Why should the Sahel and its G5 matter to the United States? What seemed to have been of remote importance to the U.S. 10 years ago now presents major threats to its interests in Africa and beyond. Terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Islamic State have demonstrated, through highly sophisticated methods, how African and international interests as well as officials and citizens—including those from the U.S.—can become easy targets in the region. For example, the 2015-2016 terrorist attacks in the capital cities of Mali and Burkina Faso resulted in the death of two American citizens, including one USAID worker. In addition, the morphing of State Department designated terrorist organizations such as ISIS,...

Zimbabwe: A Quick Primer

FPI (Foreign Policy Interrupted) Interview
November 17, 2017

FPI: What is happening in Zimbabwe? 


Kamissa Camara: On Wednesday, senior officials of the Zimbabwean army took control of the state broadcaster ZBC as well as the Harare International airport. The military also blocked access to government offices in what looks like a successful military coup.

At the heart of the matter: Mugabe’s life presidency aspirations. He’s been in charge for 37-years and is the oldest African president. He wanted to extend his hold over Zimbabwe through his wife, Grace Mugabe. Mrs. Mugabe is widely unpopular in the country – citizens spurning her arrogance and lavish lifestyle. Zimbabwe’s vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, emerged as a possible candidate to thwart Mrs. Mugabe’s ascendancy. He was sacked on November 6, following a rally in which Mrs. Mugabe was booed. Mnangawa’s relationships within the military have been strong and the military takeover is clearly a direct consequence of this month’s events.

En Afrique de l'Ouest, les révisions constitutionnelles ont-elles contribué à la consolidation de la paix et de la démocratie ou l'inverse?

Africa Research Institute
October 18, 2017

In West Africa, it seems that the time for coups is over and that cherub-like constitutional revisions are in fashion. The heads of state have learned their lesson: they no longer seek to cling to power but to “modernize” it. In Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali, constitutional revisions propose to contribute to lasting peace and to consolidate democracy. Still modernization, brought by this inflation of new Constitutions, should not be rejected by a restive political-social context.

After helping solve Gambia's political crisis, Senegal needs an exit strategy

World Politics Review

April 2017 

[...] Under Jammeh’s regime, both Gambia and Senegal experienced decades of strained relations that made it impossible to find common ground. Now that their ties are restored with Barrow in power, thanks to Senegal’s support, the Senegalese government should continue to back Gambia’s new authorities in this fragile transition period—by leaving. For the new Gambian leaders to fully take charge of their country’s security and political developments, Senegal needs an exit strategy out of Gambia. [...]

The Gambia's Shaky Democratic Transition

Woodrow Wilson Center

Africa Year in Review 2016

January 2017 

[...] As world leaders were commending the Gambia’s election and President Jammeh for leading the way for stability and prosperity in his country, the Gambia’s outgoing president went on national television yet again to reverse the election results because of alleged fraud with the IEC’s vote tabulation. “Too good to be true” some said about Jammeh’s initial acceptance of election results. Too good or not, it looks like Jammeh will not get away with it this time. [...]

« Les municipales auront permis à Bamako de créer de la légitimité là où son autorité est la plus contestée »

Le Monde Afrique

24 Novembre 2016

L’analyste politique Kamissa Camara décrypte la situation politique malienne après les élections locales qui se sont tenues le 21 novembre.

Côte d'Ivoire Expert Briefing - 2016 Legislative Elections

Africa Research Institute

November, 2016

Although the 2011 legislative elections were peaceful, participation was exceptionally low at 35% of registered voters. This was in stark contrast with the 81.12% voter turnout in the presidential election held less than a year earlier. According to the president of the electoral commission, Youssouf Bakayoko, legislative elections decoupled from presidential elections fail to generate significant enthusiasm in Côte d’Ivoire (and elsewhere). Only 31.5% of the electorate participated in the previous parliamentary vote on 10 December 2000. The low turnout in 2011 can be attributed to multiple factors. [...]

« Un retour de Nicolas Sarkozy au pouvoir serait une menace pour l’avenir du Mali »

Le Monde Afrique

17 Octobre 2016

Kamissa Camara, chercheuse d’origine malienne, s’indigne des propos du candidat à la primaire de droite sur l’intervention française en 2013.

'Til Death do us Part On Gabon's Bongo Dynasty

Africa is a Country 

September 2016

[...] Ali Bongo’s path to power was smoothed by a constitutional amendment in 1997 by Omar Bongo that removed the country’s run-off system, replacing it with a single round of voting in presidential, legislative and senatorial elections. Omar Bongo won that 1998 election before he was elected in 2005 to a sixth term. All these elections were marred by irregularities and violence, which allowed Omar Bongo to stay in office even while he was losing ground to the opposition.. [...]

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Violent protests have erupted in Mali. Here’s what is driving them.

The Washington Post 

August 15, 2016

On July 12, young protesters from Mali’s northern region of Gao clashed with police forces as they demonstrated against the nomination of former armed rebels as interim local government authorities. As part of the 2015 Algiers Peace Agreement to end a period of conflict in Mali, these former fighters will replace elected local officials in Gao and other northern regions of the country, pending new local elections.

A Year After Algiers Accords, Flexibility is Key to Durable Peace in Mali

World Politics Review

June 06, 2016

[...] The three terrorist attacks that have hit Bamako, Mali’s capital city, since the signing of the agreement dramatically illustrated how the security landscape on which the Algiers Accords were based have changed. The attacks were claimed by groups affiliated with AQIM, planned from afar and carried out by non-Malians. The Algiers agreement, however, focused exclusively on internal threats, overlooking the external risks that could cause a derailment of the peace process. In addition, the attacks demonstrated that the security crisis is no longer exclusively confined to the north of the country, but has become an existential threat to Mali and also to its neighbors in the Sahel. [...]

Gabon Expert Briefing - 2016 Presidential Elections

​Africa Research Institute

January, 2016


Incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba was elected in 2009, just four months after the death of his father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, who served as president for almost 42 years. At the time of his death, Omar Bongo was the longest-serving ruler in the world, royalty aside.


After one term in office, President Ali Bongo seems intent on preserving family rule and remaining in power beyond 2016. The Bongo family has ruled Gabon for 49 years to date.

A successful DDR is the key to Mali’s long-term peace

The Broker Online

July 10, 2015

In May 2015, the government of Mali signed a peace agreement – also called “Algiers Accords” – with rebel movements from the country’s northern half. The long awaited agreement ceremony was held three years after the start of the 2012 Tuareg rebellion. It also marked the three-year anniversary of the military coup, which toppled democratically elected president Amadou Toumani Touré. Most importantly, the Algiers Accords officially settled the fourth Tuareg rebellion Mali has known since its independence from France in 1960. Symbolically, the Accords reaffirmed the high returns of internationally backed domestic efforts, laying the groundwork for improved development, security and peace in the challenged Sahel region.

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 Kaka Nguesso, Republic of Congo's Puppet Master

Good Governance Africa

July 2015

While elections in the Republic of Congo are a year away, Brazzaville, its riverside capital, is awash with rumours that the president will amend the constitution, again, to remain in power.

Mali’s Azawad Problem: is peace without victory possible? – By Kamissa Camara

African Arguments

June 4, 2015

15 May 2015 marked the official signing of the long awaited peace and reconciliation agreement between Mali’s government and the Arab and Tuareg rebel groups. These are the same groups who in 2012 took up arms against the central state in a rebellion, claiming an independent northern territory called “˜Azawad.’

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Mali’s moment of truce

Al Jazeera

May 27, 2015

On May 15, Mali hosted 22 heads of state to witness the signing of the long-awaited peace agreement between its government and insurgency leaders. Arab and Tuareg militants rebelled against the government in 2012, unilaterally declaring an independent state, Azawad, in northern Mali. The revolt triggered a military coup that put an end to 20 years of democracy and stability. The peace accord follows strong international pressure to end the violence.

Mergers and Insurrections. Mali's Risky Rebel Integration Process

Good Governance Africa

May 2015

The next round of peace talks in Algeria between Mali’s government and six armed rebel groups—mostly composed of Tuaregs, the fabled blue-robed men of the desert—was scheduled for January 2015, as this magazine went to press. The third round finished inconclusively on November 27th 2014.

Term-Limit Tensions Raise Stakes for Togo's Presidential Ballot

World Politics Review

March 23, 2015


On April 15, exactly 18 days before the end of President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe’s second term in office, Togo will go to the polls to elect its next head of state. In power since the death of his father, Gen. Eyadema Gnassingbe, in 2005, Gnassingbe will be running for a third term as president. 

After Compaore, Burkina Faso Struggles to Rid Army From Politics

World Politics Review

February, 2015

Late last month, the transitional government of Burkina Faso officially announced that presidential and legislative elections would take place in October. That came after two months of lengthy negotiations between the new government and the Independent National Electoral Commission, known by its French acronym, CENI, along with political leaders and civil society. The elections will formally conclude a consensus-based but nevertheless precarious political transition. It will also mark the one-year anniversary of popular protests that forced the resignation of Blaise Compaore, who ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years.

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Terror and other challenges in the Sahel: Don’t ignore the local

African Arguments

February 14, 2014

“The challenges faced in the Sahel do not respect borders and, therefore, neither can the solutions,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has correctly observed. Narcotics and weapons seep across Sahelian borders effortlessly, as do some of the baleful consequences, especially population displacement, humanitarian crises and environmental stress.

Guinea’s Fragile Transition to Democracy

World Politics Review

October 4, 2013


Guineans at home and abroad finally went to the polls on Sept. 28 to elect 114 members of parliament. Despite multiple delays and a series of demands from the opposition for fair political competition, preliminiary results suggest that President Alpha Conde’s ruling Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) party won a relative majority, thus solidifying the gains made during Conde’s first three years in power and further intensifying the rivalry between the country’s different political factions. 

Mali’s Return to Democracy Will Not End Tuareg Crisis

World Politics Review

September 3, 2013


TIMBUKTU, Mali—The ancient desert town of Timbuktu, like much of northern Mali, is struggling to recover from the effects of a yearlong rebel occupation. Banks, schools, gas stations and other public services in the “city of 333 saints” are still inoperative but are expected to resume full operation as soon as Mali’s new head of state is sworn in on Sept. 4. The inauguration will nominally end the political drama of the past year and a half, but the deep-rooted crisis that gave birth to a self-declared independent state in Mali’s north will remain.

Guinea: Ethnicity, Democracy and Opposition

Think Africa Press

October 23, 2012


On October 2, close to two years after the election of Alpha Condé as the first democratically-elected president of Guinea, the so-called 'water castle' of Africa celebrated its 55th anniversary of independence from the French.

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