Emerging Threats and Implications for Regional Peace and Stability
Mali is already faced with increased terrorist and violent extremist attacks, ethno-religious violence, inter and intra communal clashes as well as Tuareg separatist insurgencies, especially in the Northern provinces. The growing insecurity in the Sahel continues to have adverse impact on the country’s stability. This is in addition to the economic hardship confronting its citizens and further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The uprising and demonstrations triggered by disputed parliamentary elections of March 2020, the kidnapping of Soumaila Cissé, a leader of the opposition parties and insecurity reinforced the eroded public confidence and demand for President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign. Despite ECOWAS diplomatic and mediation attempts, the rejection of an inclusive government of national unity has led to the political impasse that birthed the overthrow of government by the Malian Armed Forces.
In Cote d’Ivoire, the rising political disagreement and violence as a result of the announcement of President Alassane Ouattara to run for another term in the October 2020 presidential elections is heightening polarization and potential relapse of instability in Cote d’Ivoire.
Following the death of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the nominated presidential candidate of the ruling coalition -RHDP, the party has pulled its weight behind President Ouattara as its candidate for the upcoming elections. This is amidst complaints by opposition parties and groups that have led to recent violent demonstrations in Gagnoa and Daoukro resulting in the death of five persons which included four security personnel. The continued exile of GuilIaume Kigbafori Soro and the arrest warrant issued by the Government is another source of concern. Both Soro and former President Laurent Koudou Gbagbo have been disqualified from contesting by the Electoral Commission, an action seen by stakeholders as politically motivated. Soro’s support in the army and his ability to mobilize forces within and outside the country could constitute another risk factor for the country’s stability.
Disagreement over the electoral processes among key political stakeholders and COVID-19 pandemic also have the potential to affect political participation and risk of ethnic violence in the lead up to the elections.
The series of violent protests witnessed in Guinea within the first half of the year 2020 are symptomatic of protracted political disagreements and tensions in the country. The move by the ruling party, Rally of the Guinea People to support a third term bid by President Alpha Conde in the October 18 2020 presidential election, following the amendment of the 2010 Constitution and a national referendum held on March 22, 2020 has been criticized by opposition parties and civil society organizations. This is likely to escalate ethnic motivated violence between the major indigenous groups comprising the Malinkés, the Peulh or the Fulanis.
In Ghana, there is mistrust and lack of confidence by the main opposition party, National Democratic Congress (NDC) and some civil society groups on the capacity of the Electoral Commission (EC) to conduct a transparent and fair election in the December 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections. This is evident in the recently concluded new voter register
exercise. Despite the ruling of the Supreme Court in favour of the EC to conduct the exercise, opposition parties and groups have accused the Commission of bias amidst reports of inter party violence at some registration centres. The hostile communication and threats are potential risks for escalation of violence during the December elections.