A power struggle between former President José Mário Vaz and Guinea-Bissau’s ruling Party for the Independence for Guinea and Cape Verde plunged the country into a series of political and institutional crises following the dismissal of Prime Minister Domingos Simões Pereira in August 2015. From the beginning ECOWAS took an active role in resolving the impasse, embarking on several rounds of mediation missions led by former and current regional heads of state, as well as a delegation of regional ministers. The culmination of these efforts resulted in the October 2016 Conakry Accord, a 10-point roadmap for resolution designed to foster political stability and cooperation among the country’s governing members. ECOWAS’s sustained engagement in Guinea-Bissau provides a blueprint for future political and institutional crises in the region.
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Drug trafficking in West Africa has increased dramatically over the last two decades, with nearly a quarter of all of Europe’s cocaine being trans-shipped through the region at one point. An essential locale in this trafficking was Guinea-Bissau, often called a “narco state.” In reality, however, the trafficking stemmed from a small politico-military elite that worked in conjunction with independent entrepreneurs. The institutional entanglement implied by the term “narco-state” was not there.
Addressing Guinea-Bissau's challenges requires fundamental reforms to the presidency, a top-heavy military, and international counter narcotics cooperation.
China’s party-army model, whereby the army is subordinate to a single ruling party, is antithetical to the multiparty democratic systems with an apolitical military accountable to elected leaders adopted by most African countries.
ECOWAS’ reputation for upholding democratic norms is facing strain as a growing number of West African leaders alter rules to consolidate power and resist stepping down at the end of their mandated terms.
Given its fragile public health systems and close ties to China, Africa is vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus, highlighting the continent’s centrality to global health security.
The struggle to institutionalize legitimate and resilient democracies in Africa will be further shaped by the 2019 elections – with direct consequences for security.
Drug trafficking is a major transnational threat in Africa that converges with other illicit activities ranging from money laundering to human trafficking and terrorism.
Conflicts of interest within Africa's fisheries sector enable unsustainable exploitation by foreign fishing firms and undercut the political will needed to build more robust surveillance and prosecutorial capacity.
The distinction between legitimate and illicit business in Africa is fluid due to the significant size of informal trade on the continent. At the same time, globalization has allowed organized criminal groups to link up with international networks, including violent extremists.
Africa currently hosts over 100,000 peacekeeping personnel. Contributions by African nations are rising and are more diversified—with some big exceptions.