Conflict trends (no. 27): Real-time analysis of African political violence, June 2014
ACLED Releases June 2014 Conflict Trends Report In the June 2014 edition of ACLED’s Conflict Trends Report, CCAPS researchers Clionadh Raleigh and Caitriona Dowd profile the ongoing unrest in the Central African Republic; the latest in a long series of attempted peace agreements in Mali; the highly anticipated presidential election in Malawi; student protests in Senegal; the status of a ceasefire in South Sudan; and the continuation of violence in Nigeria as well as an intensification of violence in Kenya.
While violence levels in the Central African Republic fell in May, Raleigh and Dowd write that the conflict has entered a new phase. The central government’s lack of control throughout the country continues to persist, allowing rebel groups to operate largely unrestrained. In an effort to reorganize an already fragmented operation, the Séléka rebel group recently decided on a new leader in Joseph Zindeko. This combination of ineffective government control, regrouping among rebel factions, and reluctance among the international community to intervene means that the conflict is likely to see a surge in violence in the coming months.
In Malawi, Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Peace Party won the presidential elections with 36% of the vote in what was celebrated as a peaceful transition of power. While the second and third place candidates—Chakwera and incumbent President Banda, respectively—protested the results, the election outcome was upheld by the Supreme Court. Raleigh and Dowd note this transition of power among Malawi presidents should be lauded as an example to the democratic nations of Africa, where opposition parties often find it difficult to prevail in presidential elections.
As Boko Haram continued to hold the abducted schoolgirls in captivity, the group has launched a new wave of violence in Nigeria, all the while becoming the focus of increased international attention. In drawing some conclusions on the latest activity of the group, Raleigh and Dowd stress that Boko Haram central command is most active and most violent in the northeast of the country and that their use of high-intensity violence against civilians appears to be the result of calculated, temporal decisions. By examining these patterns of activity among Boko Haram’s central command structure, Raleigh and Dowd hope to identify conditions in which civilians are most vulnerable.
Since the start of 2014, Senegal has seen as many student protest events as the entire period between 2010-2013. Reasons for the protests include the government’s nine-month delay in paying student grants and a lack of access to graduate level courses, something that the government has traditionally selected for students. While the protests began as peaceful events, there has been an uptick in more violent confrontations, including several instances in which students and police have clashed. Based on these trends and an absence of potential resolutions to the students’ concerns, there is likely to be an increase in more violent student activity, perhaps stretching into a wider protest movement across the country.
In addition to these country-specific profiles, Raleigh and Dowd also assess the increase in violence in Kenya, the status of a peace agreement in Mali, and the prospect for a recently agreed upon ceasefire in South Sudan.