This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

From Angola to Somalia, Rwanda to Zimbabwe, conflict and poverty scar Africa. But Africans everywhere are investing huge energies in search of democratic change and social betterment. openDemocracy writers examine the new worlds of an old continent.

Burundi teeters on the brink of civil war following coup attempt

Burundi looks like it is entering a vortex of renewed violence. It's in a troubled region, we have been here before—and the president's determination to pursue an unconstitutional third term is blocking any democratic alternative.

Sudan: nodding through a dictator’s re-election

Next week sees elections in Sudan. But there’s one thing wrong—we already know the outcome.

Buhari wins—but new president of Nigeria faces enormous challenge

After the Nigerian presidential election, the new government must address the social and economic policy vacuum Boko Haram has filled if the threat from the Islamists is to be tackled.

Andargachew Tsige: Ethiopian brutality, British apathy

A UK citizen who was a refugee from the one-party state that is Ethiopia has been spirited back into its clutches. Why is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office doing so little?

Western Sahara: Africa’s last colony

As 2015 opens, the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara have been waiting for a self-determination referendum for four decades. They will wait longer due to the passivity of the international community. 

The Sahel-Sahara between 'Arab spring' and 'black spring'

The international media spotlight follows the US politico-military agenda to the Middle East but potentially transformative developments to the west in Africa deserve much closer scrutiny.

Burkina Faso: where democracy has always run on protests and coups

The military officer who has assumed power in Burkina Faso after protests dislodged its longstanding president has said civilian rule will be restored. Expect more protests if it isn't.

Forgotten South Sudan tangled in factionalism and failed politics

Most coverage of the conflict in South Sudan--in as far as there still is any--has presented it as a duel between rivals from the former seccessionist movement, reduced to cyphers for Dinka and Nuer ethnicities. There's more to it than that.

Burundi, une démocratisation génératrice de violence

La communauté internationale a indirectement contribué à faire du Burundi une démocratie de façade, aujourd’hui en proie à une crise politique, voire sécuritaire. English

Burundi: a democratisation from which violence may stem

The international community has indirectly contributed to making Burundi a facade democracy, now prey to a political and even a security crisis. Français

South Sudan’s civil war: towards a progressive analysis

The world's newest state exploded into violence at the end of 2013. The reasons are varied and defy the common, simplistic portrait of a "tribal war", says Gérard Prunier.

Mandela: explaining the magnetism

While the world stops for Nelson Mandela’s departure from it, his iconic status is unquestioned. Yet there is a more complicated underlying narrative to tell.

AQIM: Maghreb to Mali, and back

The crisis in Mali highlights the distinctive character and trajectory of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. A group forged in reactivity and ambiguity, marked by fluid leadership and unarticulated doctrine, finds itself at a crossroads, says Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou.

Saving NSCAD: Why art education could save us, but first we must save it

Art schools are vital eco-systems that both reflect and contribute to the health of the society in which they are found.  We need them more than ever.

Mali, dynamic of war

The French-led military intervention in Mali both accelerates the war in the west African country and transforms its character. The prospect is of a long-term engagement that Islamist forces far beyond the region will see as an historic opportunity

Le système éducatif tchadien en pleine décadence

91% de recalés à l’examen du baccalauréat 2012 au Tchad pour seulement 9% d’admis. Réorganiser le baccalauréat n’est pas la solution. Il faut revoir le système éducatif et sensibiliser les différents acteurs à une prise de conscience.

Education in Chad: in a state of decline

This year in Chad only 9% of students passed their high school leaving exams. Reorganising these exams is not the solution. We need to re-examine the whole education system, encouraging all those involved to wake up and take stock, says Kagbe Rachel.

North African diversities: a Moroccan odyssey

The evolution of Morocco under its monarchy makes it in many ways an exception to political trends elsewhere in the Maghreb, let alone the wider Arab world. In the latest of his series mixing personal reflection and political analysis, Francis Ghilès reflects on his years of reporting the country and interrogating its circles of power.

DR Congo: beyond the crisis-cycle

An eruption of militia-based violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo reflects a longer-term pattern of failure by national and international agencies. The effects are now being felt among diaspora communities in Europe as well as citizens in the region. The roots of violence must be addressed if the cycle is to be ended, says Andrew Wallis. Français.

DR Congo: the politics of suffering

A rise in violent tension in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, across the border from Rwanda, is the latest phase of a conflict unresolved since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The wider story it tells is one of state failure in the DRC, says Andrew Wallis.

We Are Fed Up! The power of a new generation of Sudanese youth activists

The recent protests in Sudan attest to the rise of a new generation of Sudanese youth activists. At the heart of this emerging political force is Girifna, a youth-led movement which has been using internet power, confrontational street tactics, and advocacy to stand up to the regime of Omar al-Bashir.

Mali: war, Islamism, and intervention

The advance of a radical movement in northern Mali, and its destruction of cultural treasures in the ancient city of Timbuktu, are increasing calls for a foreign military response.

Libya: tests of renewal

The impending elections in Libya are a signal of the country's progress since the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime. But the post-revolution landscape is filled with challenges - of region and ethnicity, violence and authority - that must be addressed if Libyans' future security is to be assured, says Alison Pargeter.

Mali's crisis: pitfalls and pathways

A short-lived military coup in Mali highlights the complex crisis unfolding in the country's north, where armed groups and religious networks are active among a disaffected Tuareg population. Both immediate measures and an intelligent medium-term strategy are needed to preserve the nation's unity and create new foundations for progress, says Gilles Olakounlé Yabi. 

 

Nigeria: the challenge of “Boko Haram II”

The radical Islamist group Boko Haram poses an increasing threat to the Nigerian state in the country’s north. How has it become so powerful and effective? The ingredients of an answer lie in the complex history, power-relationships and social inequalities of this marginalised region, says Morten Bøås.

Chinese companies under scrutiny in Zimbabwe

Ten years into the Look East policy, Zimbabwe is showing itself to be a not-so-satisfied customer of Chinese investment.

The journalist as terrorist: an Ethiopian story

The Ethiopian government led by prime minister Meles Zenawi uses charges of terrorism to silence and intimidate its domestic critics. The political technique is now being extended by accusing independent journalists of conspiracy. One of his targets, Abiye Teklemariam Megenta, responds.

The material stakes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo elections

Private interest, not public voice, governs the immediate future of the DRC - the Democratic Republic of the Congo

SOS from a Congolese peacebuilder: rescue the young democracy of DR Congo!

There are concrete steps the Congolese political establishment can take to avert post-election violence, if external pressure helps to engender the necessary political will.

South Africa's political duel: Zuma vs Malema

South Africa's president has outgunned his young, ambitious rival and cleared the road to re-election. But the struggle between them casts an unforgiving light on aspects of the country's governance, says Roger Southall.

Sudan’s hidden victims: an international test

A neglected humanitarian disaster is unfolding in the Sudanese border region of Southern Kordofan. The tens of thousands bombed, displaced, blockaded and starved need the world’s attention, says Gerry Simpson.

Somalia: livelihood and politics

Somalia's long civil war and political fragmentation define the country to the world. Yet the society also contains potent resources of allegiance and solidarity, says the doyen of Somali studies, Ioan M Lewis.

Mandela’s communism: why the details matter

The evidence of Nelson Mandela’s membership of the South African Communist Party in the early 1960s is clear. But what needs to be reassessed in light of it? A study of the precise chronology of Mandela’s activism and thinking at the time suggests an answer, says Tom Lodge, author of “Mandela: A Critical Life”.

Côte d’Ivoire: getting it right

A decade’s war and a election drowned by violence are a tough legacy. Côte d’Ivoire’s president must be generous to overcome it, says Rinaldo Depagne.

Egypt, the Nile and the revolution

The fate of Egypt across the centuries is indissolubly linked to the river which gives it life. Today, a range of problems - environmental, political, economic - threaten the provision and the quality of the Nile waters. They present another challenge for the young post-Mubarak order, says Vicken Cheterian 
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