New Developments in Drone Proliferation: How Africa was Deployed to Rescue Drones, by Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

Debates on global drone proliferation tend to assume that adoption and adaptation of drones follow a universal logic and that the drone industry is a singular thing, geographically concentrated in the Global North. In this blog post I argue that these assumptions make it difficult to critically assess the growth in drone use across Africa. I suggest that one way to think about African drone proliferation is by considering the way drones and Africa are being construed as solutions to each other’s problems: drones are seen as a game changer for develop­ment and security, while in return Africa inspire new and innovative use of drones. The percep­tion of Africa as being in need of external drone intervention dovetails with the drone industry’s efforts to identify and promote good uses for drones — efforts that are central to increasing the legitimacy of drones in the eyes of a skeptical global public. Here I want to highlight three key issues related to drone proliferation in Africa. Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, Drones, Humanitarian aid, Peace Keeping, Security | 2 Comments

Burundi, I, and the year of 2015, by Gudrun Sif Fridriksdottir

“I miss dancing” a friend of mine says sometime in late June. “What?” I reply, thinking I must have misheard him. “I miss dancing”, he hesitates a bit “…and information [independent media]”. I can’t help laughing “Well one is very important for democracy, the other … not so much” I claim. But then again he has a point. At this stage Bujumbura has been in turmoil for almost two months, he lives in a turbulent neighbourhood, I don’t, but we are all already very tired. People just want their regular lives back, and being able to enjoy life, not just live it. Unfortunately this is not to happen in 2015. Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, Conflict economies, Election violence, Excombatants, Governance, Popular Uprisings, Urban issues, Violence | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Ties that Bind: Ex-Military Command Structures as a Foundation for Peace or Source for Insecurity? by Anders Themnér

The presence of large groups of ex-combatants is often seen as a major challenge to post-civil war stability. Experiences of ex-fighters engaging in different forms of violence have prompted policy-makers and scholars (and to be frank, at times also myself) to ‘securitize’ the ex-combatant issue. This has particularly been true concerning the phenomenon of informal military networks. The sight of ex-fighters interacting with their former commanders, often on a daily basis, is commonly seen as a direct threat to the post-war order, especially since such ties should – according to official disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) jargon – cease to exist. It is true that ex-combatant networks can, and have been, employed for detrimental purposes. Officially dismantled command structures have, for instance, been used for wartime purposes in Macedonia, Mali, the Republic of Congo and Tajikistan; electoral violence in Aceh (Indonesia), Niger Delta (Nigeria) and Sierra Leone; riots in Liberia and Mozambique; and organized violence in Columbia, Mozambique and Sierra Leone. However, recent research has also highlighted how ex-command structures provide vital social services that can further peace and stability. Informal military networks do, for instance, constitute an important source of employment, friendship and security for many ex-combatants. Continue reading

Posted in Big Men, Conflict, Conflict economies, Excombatants, Governance, Informal networks, Mid-Level Commanders | Tagged | 3 Comments

Closed fists of Ebola, by Diana Szántó

The arrival is always a shock. When the door of the aeroplane opens, there is a sudden rush of heat, of odours and colours. It does not take too long to get used to it. When I am outside of the airport, it is as if I had never been gone. The last time I was here was before the Ebola. I remember, one of my friends called me one week after my return, speaking of an Ebola case in Kailahun. Since then the country had had more than 12 000 cases and have counted more than 3000 deaths. These are the official numbers, although I have always found these statistics strange, knowing that Ebola kills with a 50% probability, as health experts affirm. The numbers suggest that or too many people got identified who finally were not sick, or Salone has a secret method of treating Ebola with a better success rate than all the others. Also, the epidemics drew a special curb here compared to the two other countries affected. While in the beginning Liberia seemed to be the most vulnerable of the three, Sierra Leone soon caught up and experienced a sharp increase of cases in the middle of the year, when elsewhere the disease seemed already to be withdrawing. It would be interesting to find out what factors shaped the statistical curbs in the three countries in this particular way and what accounts for the difference in the development and the soothing of the epidemics. Today Sierra Leone is Ebola-free, and the whole country is counting down to the 7th of November when the 2 times 21 days with no new case will be reached – as everybody hopes. Now new cases are reported only from neighbouring Guinea and people pray that the virus does not cross the border. Continue reading

Posted in Ebola | Tagged | 2 Comments

A Burkina Faso where “nothing should be as before”: presidential and legislative elections in perspective By Sten Hagberg

On Sunday 29 November, Burkina Faso organized successful presidential and legislative elections. They marked the end of a one-year-political transition and a step in consolidating the country’s democratic achievements over the last year. There are now opportunities for a veritable democratic breakthrough.

The favorite Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Mouvement du Peuple pour le Progrès (MPP) won 53,49% of the votes cast, followed by Zéphirin Diabré of Union pour le Progrès et le Changement (UPC) who scored 29,65%. The losing candidates were soon to recognize their defeat and congratulate the newly elected president. Most importantly, Diabré accepted the result and did not contest the elections.

In this article written just days after the elections, I put the elections in perspective and discuss opportunities for the newly elected president Kaboré and his government, as well as for the National Assembly. Continue reading

Posted in Election violence, Elections, Popular Uprisings, Social protest, State violence | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bujumbura Burning, Part II: Misrepresentations of the Burundian Crisis and their Consequences, by Jesper Bjarnesen

Since April, Burundi’s capital of Bujumbura has been the scene of violent confrontations between security forces and civilian protesters who deplore president Pierre Nkurunziza’s candidacy in July‘s presidential elections. Both his candidacy and his overwhelming electoral victory have been denounced by the African Union, the European Union, the UN and a range of governments around the world but Nkurunziza has so far succeeded in calling the bluff of the international community and continuing his authoritarian leadership. For the past several months, assassinations have been reported on a regular basis, alongside reports of attacks against the security forces by, as of yet, unidentified armed actors opposing the regime. Continue reading

Posted in democratisation, Election violence, Governance, politics, Popular Uprisings, Social protest, State violence, Violence | Tagged | Leave a comment

“We Are With You” – Musicians and the 2016 general elections in Uganda, by Nanna Schneidermann

In Uganda, the campaigns for the 2016 elections are on. On the 16th of October president Yoweri K. Museveni was the guest of honor at a dinner party comprising of a dozen of the country’s most popular singers, as they revealed their song Tubonga Nawe (luganda for We Are With You) supporting the president and his party The National Resistance Movement (NRM) for another term. Amidst intense press coverage, the president also donated 400 million shillings to a fund to promote the development of the music industry.

The song has sparked passionate discussions about the proper relationship between politics and popular music among media elite, the aspiring urban cool, as well as on the streets of Kampala. Are popular musicians obligated to praise the political elite? Or do they have a special responsibility to protest injustice because of their popularity? Continue reading

Posted in Elections, Music, Youth | Tagged | Leave a comment