Tag Archives: diplomacy

As S. Sudan’s rainy season ends, more aid for the displaced – but more fighting

For the past six months, South Sudan’s rainy season brought misery to the nearly 2 million civilians displaced by the 10-month civil war. In crowded United Nations camps, tens of thousands lived ankle-deep in latrine overflow; and for those in the countryside, survival meant eating water lilies and drinking from rivers as the land transformed into marshy islands.

The rains are petering out, and should cease this month. But the change in weather hardly means respite: The end of the wet season means the start of the fighting season. Read more…

Photo: A rebel soldier patrols through a flooded area near the town of Bentiu, South Sudan on Sept. 20, 2014. Matthew Abbot/AP

US sanctions tread lightly on Uganda’s ‘odious’ anti-gay laws

 

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni gestures after signing a new anti-gay bill in Entebbe, Uganda, Feb. 24, 2014. Rebecca Vassie/AP/File

A loud cry rose from the West early this year when Uganda passed an anti-homosexuality law that would put “repeat offenders” in prison for life.

European countries slashed aid to Uganda and gay rights activists loudly condemned the legislation, which came at the same time that Nigeria also cracked down on homosexuals with similarly draconian laws.

The “odious law,” as US President Barack Obama called Uganda’s initiative, would “complicate” the US partnership with Kampala. He ordered a review of the largely military US-Uganda relationship, with the intent of imposing sanctions.

Those sanctions got announced last week. They are the toughest actions taken against anti-gay laws overseas by the Obama administration, and include the redirecting of US aid to Uganda to its NGOs, the cancelling of a planned hospital, the cancelling of a military exercise, and the dropping of some police funding.

In the US, Vice President Joseph Biden and US Secretary of State John Kerry touted the sanctions as significant during June Pride Month.

But the sanctions also represent a conundrum for the US as it tries to affirm some of its own values and viewpoints abroad at a time when its leverage is lower.

Many human rights activists say the Uganda sanctions are too little, too late – even as some foreign affairs specialists say a US single-issue focus on gay rights actually strengthens a new “anti-West” narrative in parts of Africa and an attendant crackdown on civil society.  Read more…

AU Summit: Money for Mali, but Diplomatic Delays on DRC and Sudans

The African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photograph by Jason Patinkin.
The African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photograph by Jason Patinkin.

 

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: The African Union (AU) has raised over $450 million in pledges from the international community for an African-led force to fight against militants in northern Mali. The donations were the major outcome of a week-long African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which saw no similar advances regarding ongoing conflicts in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and between Sudan and South Sudan.  Read more…

High stakes for Sudan and Mali at the African Union Summit

South Sudan’s chief negotiator Pagan Amum speaks during a press conference in Khartoum on December 2, 2012. EBRAHIM HAMID/AFP/Getty Images
South Sudan’s chief negotiator Pagan Amum speaks during a press conference in Khartoum on December 2, 2012. EBRAHIM HAMID/AFP/Getty Images

Addis Ababa – African leaders gather this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the annual African Union Summit, marking the 50th anniversary of the Pan-African body. AU commission chairperson Nklosazana Dlamini Zuma of South Africa opened the week-long event Monday with a speech focusing on development challenges, but major conflicts in the Sudans and Mali are sure to dominate the agenda as heads of state begin to arrive tomorrow.  Read more…