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Conflict trends (no. 26): Real-time analysis of African political violence, May 2014

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In the May 2014 edition of ACLED’s Conflict Trends Report, CCAPS researchers Clionadh Raleigh and Caitriona Dowd examine unrest in Algeria and Tunisia, the ongoing crisis in central Africa, and the run up to elections in Malawi and South Africa. In addition, Raleigh and Dowd also discuss the recent events in Nigeria, drawing parallels between Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

Algeria has seen an increase in conflict activity since the re-election of President Bouteflika, which has largely divided the population. Although negative sentiment has been popular since the election, the majority of social movements in 2014 have remained non-violent, reflecting a trend among the population to see incremental, comprehensive reform rather than full-scale revolution. The violent conflict that has occurred between Islamist militants and security forces has been concentrated in the Kabylie region of Northern Algeria.

The number of violent non-state opposition groups in the DR-Congo has remained steady—violent actions from 64 groups were reported in January while April saw violence from 57 groups. Organizations responsible for these violent events include M23 rebels, FDLR, various Mai-Mai groups of the East, and the Nduma Defense of the Congo. The Central African Republic has seen a return to full-fledged civil war after a temporary respite since the end of January. The Seleka have been accused of attacking aid workers while the Anti-Balaka has continued its attacks against the Muslims—the group has reportedly captured over 10,000 Muslims in Boda.

In an attempt to provide insight and possible trajectories of future violence, Raleigh and Dowd draw parallels between Boko Haram and the Lord’s Resistance Army. They examine the tactics, geographic similarities, and the socio-political environments in which both groups operate. The hope is that by comparing and contrasting these two organizations, local government forces and the international community might be able to predict the group’s next move and curb its active violence, particularly against young school children.

In conclusion, Raleigh and Dowd discuss the May elections in Malawi and South Africa. While politics have been known to cause social unrest in both countries, they expect the events surrounding the national elections to remain largely non-violent.