Could sub-Sarahan Africa prove fertile ground for an uprising?
Andrew Mwenda, Ugandan political analyst, offers an interesting opinion on why Uganda, despite having “a long-serving president with potential for a family succession; an increasingly educated and urbanised yet unemployed youth; a dominant ruling party backed by the military; a government increasingly seen as corrupt, nepotistic and incompetent,” is not fertile ground for an Arab-Spring style uprising.
Canadians weigh in on security in the DRC
John Baird, Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs said this week that Canada is “deeply concerned” about the worsening of security in the Eastern DRC and that Canada is “encouraging all neighbouring countries to work with regional and international partners in support of peace…efforts in DRC.”
Another high-profile Canadian commenting on the DRC is President of the International Crisis Group (ICG) and former Canadian Supreme Court Justice, Louise Arbour. Arbour sent an open letter to the United Nations Security Council, criticizing the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo (MONUSCO) for failing to protect civilians during the new wave of violence, and ignoring the root and local causes of conflict such as land ownership. Most disparagingly though, was Arbour’s claim that by providing logistical and technical assistance to the DRC for the extremely controversial November 2011 presidential elections without addressing key issues of governance, MONUSCO “risks entrenching an unaccountable government and undermining its own eventual rule of law and peacebuilding efforts”.
… meanwhile, according to The Economist…
In contrast, an article about UN peacekeeping in this week’s edition claims that, thanks to UN peacekeeping missions, “Africa is at its most peaceful for decades”. That said, the piece also characterizes the Congo mission, one of the most expensive in the world, as “the biggest mess of them all”.
Important contributions to the conversation about sexual violence and violence against women
Association des Femmes des Medias-Sud Kivu (AFEM-SK), a local Congolese female-led media advocacy group based out of South Kivu is going to publish two documentaries about sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
Also on the topic of sexual violence, over at the Council for Foreign Relations, several experts on sexual violence in armed conflict debunk common misconceptions about rape perpetrated by armed groups. The analysis is accessible but substantive, and definitely worth the time to read.
The Acholi Times has published a story on the struggles of women who were abducted by the LRA, particularly with respect to the lack of land rights for children born in captivity. Ketty Anyeko, of the Justice and Reconciliation Project and Evelyn Amony of the Women’s Advocacy Network are quoted.
More on the M23 movement
After a month-long hiatus, Laura Seay of the popular blog Texas in Africa posts about how we need to challenge two assumptions about the M23 movement: Firstly, that the Kinyarwanda/Tutsi community in the Congo is unified, and secondly, that the mutiny was caused by rumours that Bosco Ntaganda was to be arrested and handed over to the ICC. Also, her must-read new piece at Warscapes, examining the effects of the new wave of violence on the citizens of Goma, the supposed political grievances behind the rebellion, and the history of resentment towards Congolese of Rwandan descent can also be found here.
Reflections on Uganda’s Amnesty Act
In light of the lack of female and Northern voices in the conversation regarding the expiration of Uganda’s 2000 Amnesty Act, the Gulu-based Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP) has carried out a briefing resulting from focus-group consultations with local communities in northern Uganda (specifically in the West Nile, Lango, Acholi, and Teso sub-regions) about the Act. The briefing provided for mixed reviews of the act, and analyzes how different experiences with armed groups by communities shaped perspectives. The consultations conclude a general consensus among community members that despite their disagreements, they supported renewing the act, under which over 26,000 people have demobilized.
In other Amnesty Act news, Mark Schenkel at Justice in Conflict, speculates as to why the Ugandan government took the very unexpected decision against renewal. There is also rumours of a new ‘transitional justice bill’ which the government hopes to present next year and that will give amnesty to lower-ranking rebels.
And finally – A changing of the guard at the ICC
In international criminal justice news, on Friday Gambian native and former Deputy Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda was officially sworn in as the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, replacing the first ever prosecutor, Argentinean Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Ocampo’s nine year term resulted in only one conviction, that of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, and was characterized by controversy, particularly with respect to the cases of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and Joseph Kony, among others. Bensouda is the first African and the first woman to hold the job. Bensouda has rejected accusations of the court having an ‘African bias’.Her candidacy for the position was unanimously supported by the African Union (AU), suggesting that the AU had more of a problem with Ocampo’s handling of African cases than with the court as an institution.The ICC currently has cases open in the DR Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, Darfur, and Cote D’Ivoire.