African countries seek democracy, development amid chaos

While parts of Africa faced sectarian violence and uprisings in 2015, democracy and international cooperation improved in other parts of continent

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jan 1, 2016

Some countries in Africa experienced a year of instability with incidents such as terror attacks, coup attempts and civilian uprisings, while others across the continent progressed.

Countries like the Central African Republic witnessed sectarian and religious violence which killed hundreds, while Burundi witnessed an opposition uprising against the governing party, leading to the death of more than 100 people.

Also, Boko Haram stepped up its suicide bombings in Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger. Meanwhile, Burkina Faso elected its new president after decades, a sign of progress in the country's road to democracy. The China-Africa Summit 2015 also set the momentum for the growth of the African economy.

Terror attacks in Kenya, Mali, Nigeria

The Somalia-based Al Shabab group, which carried out frequent terror attacks in Kenya in recent years with the intention of trying to force Nairobi to pull its troops out of Somalia, carried out a deadly attack at the Garissa University College University in April, killing at least 148 people.

Also a militant group affiliated with Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for killing at least 27 people and wounding several others in November at a Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital Bamako.  

In July, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari pledged a $100 million to form a regional force to fight against Boko Haram.

Buhari promised to tackle terrorism “head on” following his election in May, making a strong five-nation regional force of 8,700 troops to tackle the group.  

“Our campaign against Boko Haram must be seen within the wider context of the global war against terror,” he told reporters in the capital, Abuja.

President Buhari gave a three-month deadline to the military commanders to end Boko Haram's terror attacks.

"Nigeria's reinvigorated, well-equipped and well-motivated armed forces and security agencies (will) overcome Boko Haram very soon," Buhari said.

The Nigerian Army rescued more than 1,000 abducted victims and destroyed dozens of Boko Haram camps. However, Boko Haram stepped up attacks such as suicide bombings in Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger.

The setbacks came as Nigeria's government conceded it cannot tackle Boko Haram's attacks by December. Six years of fighting between the group and the Nigerian government claimed the lives of some 20,000 people.

UN: Burundi closer to civil war

On Dec. 11, at least 87 people had been killed in clashes between protesters and police in Burundi.

Violence had been escalating since the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces announced Pierre Nkurunziza, could run for a third term as president.

More than 300 people had been killed and nearly 215,000 people had fled the country since April.

UN special adviser Adama Dieng on Dec. 9 said, "We're concerned about the rhetoric and the patterns of killing straying toward an ethnic sort of agenda, and this is something that I think the countries of the region as well as ourselves fear very greatly."

On Nov. 12 the United Nations adopted a resolution to call urgent negotiations in Burundi between political factions and deployment of troops from the United Nations or the African Union to stop the violence in Burundi.

Referendum amid violence in Central African Republic

In December, people in Central African Republic went to polls to vote for a constitutional referendum, which was seen as a crucial step for ending violence and stabilising the country.

The approved constitution is expected to elect a new government and restore democracy and peace across the country.

Since 2013, the Central African Republic has been suffering from religious conflict between Muslim Seleka and Christian Anti-Balaka militias. Seleka –mainly Muslim- overthrew president Francois Bozize who has been highly criticised for corruption and abuses of human rights.

After Seleka came to power and took control of the whole country, a mainly Christian militia group called Anti-Balaka started fighting against Seleka and carried out large scale attacks against Muslims in Central African Republic.

China-Africa Summit

On Dec. 4, Chinese President Xi Jinping told African presidents at the China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, that his country promises to provide $60 billion in 10 chapters for the development of the African continent.

Xi, who is the co-president of the FOCAC, also indicated that China wanted to set up a relationship of equals with African countries.

“China decides to provide a total of $60 billion of funding support that includes $5 billion of grants in zero interest loans (and) $35 billion in preferential facility and export credit loans and concessional loans,” he said.

With the latest developments, China's trade with African countries has now left behind Europe and the United States' trade with Africa.

The African continent has massive underground resources of minerals such as gold, silver and uranium. World powers, particularly China, have continued to pursue opportunities to access these reserves.

Free Election in Burkina Faso

On Dec. 1, Roch Marc Kabore was proclaimed the winner of the presidential election in Burkina Faso and became the country's first new leader in decades.

The election was delayed from Oct. 11 to November due to a failed coup.

In September 2015, General Gilbert Diendere, an intelligence chief and right-hand man of former leader Blaise Compaore plotted a short-lived coup, in which soldiers detained Interim president Michel Kafando and Lieutenant Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida, the interim prime minister.

During the anti-coup protests, many people were killed and at least 250 were injured.

The coup failed and the elite presidential guard was immediately disbanded.

Although Diendere sought refuge at the Vatican Embassy, he was arrested and charged with murder and threatening state security. He remains in detention.

Burkina Faso was ruled for 27 years by Blaise Compaore. Last year he was forced to resign due to a massive nationwide uprising when he sought to change the constitution to stay in power for longer.