COUNTRY CRISIS WATCH

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MEDIUM

Burkina Faso

In late October 2014, spontaneous mass violent demonstrations erupted in Ouagadougou after the ruling party attempted to push for the cancelation of the presidential terms limit to allow President Compaore to run for a third term and continue his 27-years rule. After three days of protests during which, demonstrators set fire to the parliament building, city hall, the ruling party headquarters and homes of several parliament members, Compaore resigned and fled to neighboring Ivory Coast. The head of the Burkinabe army, General Honore Traore-- a Compaore loyalist---quickly announced himself as head of a transitional government. His announcement was challenged by Lieutenant Colonel Issaac Zida-- the second in command of the elite presidential guard-- who assumed control as the head of the country. Pressured by the international community and the African Union, who threatened with sanctions, Zida agreed to transfer power to civilian rule. In mid September 2015, days after the National Reconciliation and Reform Commission (CRNR) –a body nominated by the transitional government to restore the national unity--called on the dissolvent of the- 1300 man elite RSP regiment, the commanders of the unit carried out yet another coup d'etat and detained the members of the transitional government including interim President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Lieutenant Colonel Issaac Zida. Following an ultimatum, which was not respected by the RSP, the military seized control of their base and dissolved the unit. In November 2015, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was elected president after he won a majority in the first round of voting. Given the political tensions and divisions within the military, another coup cannot be ruled out.

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MED-HIGH

Burundi

Since mid-April 2015, opposition supporters demanding that President Nkurunziza will drop his candidacy for a third term in office have been holding near daily demonstrations in the capital, Bujumbura. While the opposition claim that Nkurunziza’s candidacy violates the country’ constitution and undermines the peace deal that ended the civil war between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis in 2005, the ruling CNDD-FDD claimed that Nkurunziza’s first term in office should not be counted as he was appointed to the position by the parliament and not by a popular vote.  Taking advantage that Nkurunziza was in Tanzania for talks about the political crisis, a former general declared a coup in mid-May. Lacking support within the military, the coup failed and the rebellious military leaders were arrested. Following the failed coup, police increased its crackdown on the opposition and its supporters. Despite pressure by regional leaders and the international community to retract his nomination, President Nkurunziza ran and won the July 2015 disputed elections, which were banned by the opposition. His reelection saw an escalation of violence, which could plunge the country into a new wave of ethnic based violence between the ethnic Hutu majority and Tutsi minority.

Flag central african republic
HIGH

Central African Republic

In mid-December 2012, the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition group launched an offensive against the Centrafrican government army. The rebels, which claim that President Francois Bozize's government has not abided by terms of earlier peace deals, easily over-ran the ill-equipped and poorly-trained army and captured a third of the country before halting their push within short distance of the capital Bangui. In late March 2013 the rebels announced the cancellation of the peace accord and resumption of the hostilities. Days later, the rebels seized the presidential palace and took control of Bangui after President Bozize fled the capital to neighboring Cameroon. The rebels’ leader, Michel Djotodia, suspended the constitution and dissolved the parliament. He nominated himself as President until "credible and transparent" elections could take place. In mid-September 2013, he dissolved the Seleka Coalition rebel group after rebel fictions engaged in clashes with the military and turned into criminal activity.  In early December 2013, defiant Christian militias, locally known as anti-balaka, attempted to retake Bangui. According to the UN at least 1000 people were killed in two days of fighting and mutual massacres. In respond to the violence France sent additional troops to the CAR and the African Union increased its peacekeeping forces to 6000 by January 2014. Amid growing international pressure President Djotodia stepped down and left to neighboring Benin. In late January 2014, Catherine Samba-Panza was elected as the CAR interim president. In late-August she formed a new unity government, which included representatives from both the anti-balaka and Seleka rebels and appointed Mahamat Kamoun--a Muslim--as the CAR’s new prime minister. It is yet to be seen if the sides will accept the government and halt the fighting. The deteriorating security situation in the country prompted the UN to caution that the CAR could become a failed state, further threatening the already volatile region. According to the UN a third of the country's 4.6 million people need assistance with food, shelter, healthcare or water.

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MED-HIGH

Chad

Chad's political situation remains unstable; the government faces rebellions in the north and the east of the country. Though the northern rebels have been relatively inactive, rebellion in the east is becoming worse, especially due to the Janjaweed militia crossing the border with Sudan. Large parts of eastern and northern Chad fluctuate continually in and out of army control. Internally, President Deby is facing splits within his Zaghawa ethnic group and by defections and desertions in the military. He was almost toppled in April 2006, when rebels attacked the capital. Rebels again stormed the capital in February 2008, but they were beaten back by government forces backed by French warplanes and troops offering logistic, intelligence, and security support.

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MED-HIGH

Egypt

Long-standing public resentment against the regime of President Mubarak and deep concerns over economic woes was sparked into massive demonstrations and riots in January 2011. The uprising was inspired by the popular revolt in Tunisia, and saw unprecedented violent protests and clashes with authorities in many of Egypt’s major cities. On February 11th he resigned and given his powers to the military Supreme Council. In late June 2012, following delays and a runoff, Mohammad Morsi--the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) candidate---was declared the winner of the country first democratic presidential election. In late June 2013, on Morsi’s first anniversary as president, mass demonstrations took place in Cairo and other cities throughout Egypt. Accusing Morsi of advancing his Islamists MB agenda in preference to tackling the country economic and security problems, the demonstrators called for his resignation. Taking advantage of the mass demonstrations--knowing that Morsi will not resign-- the Egyptian army gave Morsi a 48-hours ultimatum to compromise with the opposition or faces a military intervention. As Morsi rejected the ultimatum--despite calling for a temporary unity government--the military carried out a coup on 3 July. The MB, which continue to claim that Morsi is the democratically elected president called on its millions of supporters to defy the military. In mid-August, the military cleared two MB protest camps where thousands of Morsi supporters gathered, killing over 600 MB supporters. Following the coup MB youth as well as members of Salafist groups, within the Islamists bloc, abandon the mainstream politics and turn to armed conflict.

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HIGH

Gambia

In early December 2016, Adama Barrow the leader of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) party was announced the winner of the presidential elections affectively ending incumbent President Yahya Jammeh 22 year erratic and authoritarian rule. While initially conceding his defeat on a national radio, Jammeh, later rejected the outcome of elections citing gross electoral abnormalities and called for new elections to be held. Troops were deployed throughout the capital Banjul where they erected checkpoints at strategic locations. Despite increasing domestic, regional and international pressure, Jammeh refused to accept defat and warned of any show of dissent. The tense political crisis, led to many Western governments to issues travel warnings to The Gambia. As precaution, the United States evacuated families of diplomats and embassy personnel. In mid –January Adama Barrow moved to neighboring Senegal for his own protection, where he was sworn into office as the Gambia new president at the Gambian embassy. Hours after his inauguration, Senegalese and Nigerian troops crossed the border into Gambia to intervene on his behalf to unseat former President Yahya Jammeh.

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MEDIUM

Lesotho

In late August 2014 army troops carried out a coup during which they took over key governmental buildings and the main headquarters of the police force, which is loyal to Prime Minister’s Thomas Thabane who fled to neighboring South Africa. At least one police officer was killed and four others were injured during the clashes. Political tensions have been high in the country since Thabane suspended the parliament in June amid disagreement within his two-year-old coalition government. The army, loyal to Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing--who had vowed to form a new coalition that would oust Thabane--carried the coup after Thabane fired the army chief. Shortly after the coup, Metsing has taken charge of the government. Though initially South Africa rejected military intervention and set a meeting between the two leaders who agreed to reinstall the parliament, in early September armed South African Police Service (SAPS) units escorted Prime Minister Thabane back into the country and oversaw the local police force return to its headquarters in Maseru. SAPS units were deployed to guard the prime minister and other key officials at their residences, including the newly appointed LDF chief who survived an assassination attempt soon after Thabane appointed him to replace the sacked commander.  

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HIGH

Libya

Inspired by the popular revolt in Tunisia and Egypt, in mid-February 2011 thousands of opposition protestors revolted in Benghazi and other eastern cities. Claiming that Gadhafi’s air force and artillery repeatedly attacked civilians, in mid-March the United Nations Security Council's (UNSC) approved a no-fly zone over Libya, authorizing U.N. air forces to down Libyan aircraft and target Gadhafi’s forces on the ground. In late August 2011 rebels from the National Transitional Council (NTC)- the de facto government during the civil war--captured most of Tripoli including Gadhafi’s Bab al-Azizya compound declaring an end to his four decades regime. In late October, Gaddafi was captured and executed by NTC fighters near his hometown Sirte. In 2013 the NTC held elections and was replaced by the General National Congress (GNC). Parliamentary elections were held in 2014. Pressured by the Islamist factions, who lost the elections, the Supreme Court annulled the elections. The elected parliament, which is recognized by the international community, announced it will not comply with the court ruling, effectively created two governments in Libya, which are now caught in a power struggle. 

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HIGH

Mali

In late-March 2012, Malian soldiers, angered by the way the government was handling the Tuareg-led rebellion, launched a coup d’état. The coup, which came less than a month before presidential elections were due to take place, effectively ended two decades of democratic rule. In response to the coup the African Union has suspended Mali from the organization while the United States, France and the European Union have cut off all but essential humanitarian aid to the country. Pressured by the sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and international community, the junta agreed to step down and allow a transition to civilian rule. In return, the sanctions were lifted and an amnesty was granted to the junta members. Despite the transition to civilian rule, the junta is unlikely to be sidelined by the civilian administration nor will it allow it to control the army. Taking advantage of the chaotic situation in Bamako, the NMLA coalition fighters effectively took control of the entire northern region (locally known as Azawad) and declared independence. Fearing the Islamists militants will destabilize the entire region, in mid-November 2012, West African regional leaders have agreed to deploy 3,300 soldiers to retake northern Mali. The troops would be provided mainly by Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso will be deployed after the UN approves the military plan.

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VERY HIGH

Somalia

The weak interim government currently in power is the 14th government since 1991, and the main figures left office in late 2008. It is best described as a transitional federal government with a parliament as the central feature. Other institutions that normally constitute a functional government are still in the nascent stage. A consolidated judicial system is absent, and its proxy is a number of Sharia and secular courts based on Somali customary law. There is little effective central rule over the disparate social and political units that constitute Somalia, while the government is battling Islamic insurgents with the help of the African Union peacekeeping mission. Ethiopian troops supporting the government began withdrawing in January 2009, and Islamists took over their Mogadishu bases immediately. The insurgents are putting up a firm struggle; the foreign peacekeepers are unpopular with many local residents.

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HIGH

South Sudan

Gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan is facing enormous challenges stemming not only from Sudan, which is going to be hostile to the newly created state, but also internally. The newly founded state lacks the basic infrastructure and social services needed to create a viable and stable state. South Sudan is also plagued by ethnic tension that threatens to undermine the newly created state. The country is home to over 60 different ethnic or linguistic groups, suffering deep divisions following decades of war with the north, during which some of the tribal groups turned on each other. In mid-December 2013, soldiers loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar staged a coup in an attempt to topple President Kiir. The coup came after months of power struggle between the president and his deputy who was dismissed from his position along with the entire cabinet months earlier. The fighting soon turned into ethnic conflict between the majority Dinka and minority Nuer communities in which nearly 10,000 people were killed and over 700,000 were displaced. Despite a signing a ceasefire agreement in neighboring Ethiopia in January 2014 clashes continued. After several round of talks, another peace agreement was reached in 2015. Major clashes broke out again in July forcing Machar—who returned to Juba as Vice President-- to flee the country and seek medical treatment in South Africa. General Taban Deng Gai replaced him as vice president. Machar’s absence might lead to reconciliation talks with other leaders of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO).

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VERY HIGH

Sudan

ONGOING: In late 2018 large-scale public demonstrators erupted throughout the country after the government ended the wheat and fuel subsidies, causing a spike in food prices and gas shortages. The protests quickly turned into broader anti government protest. Despite a countrywide state of emergency announced by President Al Bashir, the creation of special courts to deal with protestors and violent crackdown on protestors by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the demonstrations continued. In mid-April 2019 after the persistent protests turned deadly when NISS fired at demonstrators, the army carried out a bloodless coup and ousted President al-Bashir. The military established military council and promised to work with opposition to form a civilian government, though no specific steps have been announced.