The Week in Review


This week France retooled its security policy in the Sahel, the U.S. upped its efforts to find the kidnapped Nigerian girls, and warring parties in South Sudan came no closer to ending their ongoing conflict. 

United States peace and security policy in Africa

  • In remarks made to the United Nations Security Council, Ambassador Samantha Power expressed concern over reports of “unfettered Lord’s Resistance Army activity in the northeastern parts of the Central African Republic (CAR)” and the possibility that Joseph Kony had again found “safe haven in Sudanese-controlled areas of the Kafia Kingi enclave.” Power also called on MINUSCA peacekeepers in the Central African Republic to work closely with MISCA, French, EU forces, and the AU Regional Task Force in order to ensure citizen security, political stability, and access to humanitarian relief efforts.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, and urged both camps to adhere to the cease-fire signed on May 9th and to reaffirm their “commitment to stop the fighting, make progress toward a transitional government, and allow humanitarian access”.  The comments followed reports that fighters from both sides violated the Addis Ababa agreement shortly after it was signed.  Washington has called for a deployment of African troops from neighboring countries to safeguard the ceasefire.  The U.S. is also seeking U.N. action to ensure the force is in place as “quickly as possible”.  
  • Gen. David Rodriguez, head of the U.S. Africa Command arrived in Nigeria on Monday as the U.S. confirmed that it is flying manned and unmanned surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance aircraft over the country to help search for the over 270 schoolgirls that were abducted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram on April 14.  The U.S. also revealed that it is sharing commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerian government. 
  • State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki emphasized that the Nigerians continue to “be in the lead,” as the U.S. and other international partners play a supporting role in the search for the over 270 abducted girls.  The U.S. currently opposes any deal to release imprisoned Boko Haram members in exchange for the kidnapped girls, and continues to press for “additional multilateral action” and sanctions against Boko Haram in the United Nations Security Council. 
  • The Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs held a hearing entitled “#BringBackOurGirls: Addressing the Threat of Boko Haram” on Thursday, during which the Pentagon’s director for Africa Affairs criticized the Nigerian government’s policy on Boko Haram and for being too slow in their response to the kidnapping.
  • The White House issued an Executive Order declaring a state of national emergency in the Central African Republic. The administration ordered personal sanctions against ex-CAR presidents François Bozizé and Michel Djotodia, prominent Seleka leaders Nourredine Adam and Abdoulaye Miskine, and Levy Yakété, a leading coordinator of the Anti-Balaka militia force. The United Nations Security Council sanctioned three of these five men on similar charges last Friday. By levying these sanctions the White House said that it wished to send the message  “that impunity will not be tolerated and that those who threaten the stability of the CAR will face consequences.”
  • The Department of Defense has moved roughly 200 Marines to Naval Air Station Signolla in southern Italy so that they would be able to respond to what the Pentagon sees as “a deteriorating security situation in North Africa.” 

 Security related news from across Africa

  • After “Operation Serval” in Mali ends this month, France plans to take on a more regional approach to security in the Sahel, and will station some 3,000 soldiers between Mali, Niger, Chad, and Burkina Faso.  RFI reports that France also hopes to build “a regional security center based in Dakar and the Gabonese capital, Libreville”.
  • Over 1,500 Malian soldiers who underwent state-administered advanced training returned to their units this week. Defense Minister Soumeylou asked that graduates pay special attention to respecting human rights and defending the homeland.  The Malian military plans provide another 4000 soldiers with similar training before the end year.
  • Residents of Kalabalge in Nigeria’s Borno state have taken security matters into their own hands, killing and capturing ‘scores’ of Boko Haram fighters thought to be planning an upcoming attack.  Bands of anti-Boko Haram vigilantes have been forming recently over frustration that the Nigerian government and military have not been doing enough to counter the attacks and restore stability to the region.  
  • Heads of state from Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Benin, and Nigeria will all meet in Paris on May 17th to discuss how they can jointly reinforce regional security cooperation, and effectively deal with the increasingly international threat that Boko Haram poses.  
  • President Idriss Deby has announced that Chad’s southern border will remain closed “until the crisis in Central African Republic is resolved."  Amnesty International has pressed the Chadian govenrment to reconsider the move for the good of refugees fleeing the ongoing conflict.   
  • Twenty-six-year-old French photojournalist, Camille Lepage, was found dead in a vehicle that was being driven by members of the Anti-Balaka forces in the western region of Bouar in CAR this week.  Her death highlights the violent nature of the conflict in the central African country, and the dangers journalists face reporting there.
  • Think Africa Press published an article by Hilary Matfess that challenges the notion that the current conflict in South Sudan stems from ethnic tensions. Instead, Matfess highlights defects in the country’s political system and constitution as key causal factors behind the fighting.
  • UK NGO, Conflict Armament Research (CAR) mapped “the precise flow of conflict weaponry” all over Africa.  So far, CAR has published studies documenting the types of weapons and ammunition used by rebel forces in northern Mali and has also done work tracing the distribution of Iranian ammunition in Africa.  CAR is currently conducting a similar study on weapons provenance in the DRC.