As part of our review of the year, we profile the news of 2017 sticking to major issues that a particular country faced during the course of the year.
It will, however, not cut across say the sports, tech, culture and business aspects. They will be treated separately. Focus will be more on the politics, terrorism, protests, accidents etc.
Our special tab on the Africanews homepage ‘2017 Review’ is LIVE with a pool of articles and photo stories looking back at the year. We are using an alphabetical arrangement in this respect. This is the first of three parts concentrating on Algeria to Ethiopia.
ALGERIA – Local polls, issue of migration, ailing president
The north African country this year run their local elections which was won by the ruling party National Liberation Front party and its allies led by President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika.
Algeria was also in the news over issues of migration across the Mediterranean as German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited in February to try to deepen cooperation in that regard.
Despite having a scheduled meeting with Bouteflika, Merkel ended up meeting high ranking officials because the health of his host could not allow for a meeting. A cancellation of the meeting was announced by the state news outlet.
ANGOLA – Dos Santos steps down, Lourenco charting his own path
Over in Angola, the biggest news was not only of an impending election but that one of the continent’s longest serving presidents, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, was really going to step down as announced in 2016.
The ruling MPLA picked then Defense minister Joao Lourenco as its candidate but maintained dos Santos as head of the party. Lourenco will go on to win polls and be sworn in as the country’s third president.
Despite talk of him living in the shadow of his predecessor, Lourenco has moved quickly to assert his authority. Engaging more with neighbours, ordering widespread reforms in key sectors and firing warnings over corruption. He has fired dos Santos’ daughter as head of state oil firm, SONANGOL.
BENIN – ailing president, top politician in tax evasion scandal
In the West African country of Benin, a presidential move to reduce term limit was shot down by the legislature. President Patric Talon had proposed a single presidential term of six years instead of the current four years over tow-terms.
Meanwhile, president Talon joined the growing list of Africa’s sick presidents as he travelled to France to seek medical treatment outside of their country.
Unlike in the case of other African countries, the government gave full disclosure of what was wrong with the president and the procedures he had gone through whiles in France.
A political ally of president Talon, Sebastien Adjavon who was acquitted by a court of owning seized container of drugs was caught in the tax evasion net in April. Adjavon was said to have been slapped with a $300 fine.
BOTSWANA – Africa’s best police, fun-loving president
Botswana seems to have made the news for all the right reasons. Their police force was named the best on the continent in a recent report. The Bostwana police force placed 47th on the global ladder.
Unlike in other African countries where presidents hold on to power, its leader Ian Khama announced via the government social media handle that he was set to step down and handover the reigns to his deputy.
Khama, had also been a vocal critic of the Mugabe regime next door in Zimbabwe. He wrote an open letter to Mugabe in the heat of the recent political crisis that ended up toppling Mugabe after 37 years in charge.
The country also buried its former president Ketumile Masire who died in June. Botswana also got embroiled in a diplomatic spat with China over the visit of the Dalai Lama.
We also reported of President Khama showing his dancing still, of him leading the rescue of a man lost in the bush and also playing cricket.
BURKINA FASO – Terrorist attack, W. Africa’s biggest solar farm
Burkina Faso was at the end of a terrorist attack in the capital Ouagadougou after gunmen stormed a Turkish restaurant and opened fire killing 18 people, two assailants were also shot dead. The attackers were believed to be linked with terrorists groups operating in the Sahel region.
Its president Roch Marc Kabore was also in the thick of affairs during the France – Africa summit held in the Malian capital Bamako. The France-backed G5 Sahel Force has since been established and is aimed at helping combat the impact of the extremist groups.
During a recent visit by French president Emmanuel Macron, the country also opened what has been reputed as West Africa’s biggest solar farm. The $56.7m facility was built with the support of the E.U. and French development agency and is expected to produce 33 MW of power.
BURUNDI – Nkurunziza hangs on, historic ICC exit
Burundi’s internal security and humanitarian crisis continues unabated as incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza continues to hold on to power. A minister was shot dead earlier this year.
The country also made history for being the first to successfully exit the International Criminal Court (ICC) after a year elapsed since their withdrawal notice was submitted to the United Nations.
The ICC says it would go ahead with a probe into crimes that were committed prior to the exit, a position the government has vehemently opposed and criticized. Nkurunziza also made his first overseas trip in two years flying to Tanzania for a state visit.
The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate as the president has gone on to launch a fundraiser for citizens to fund elections slated for 2020. They have, however, received backing from Tanzania and Uganda who have asked the E.U. and ICC to keep off Burundi’s case.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC – Uneasy ‘calm,’ visit by U.N. chief
Despite successful elections in 2016 and the coming into office of President Faustin Archange Touadera, the security situation in parts of the Central African Republic looks fragile.
Clashes by militia groups have often led to deaths whiles displacements continue to shoot up especially internally. A number of aid workers caught in the cross fire have also lost their lives.
The U.N. chief visited the country this year, meeting with the government and other interested parties in efforts to promote peace. The government also rejected talks of genocide in the country with President Touadera calling the allegations “mere exaggerations.”
‘‘For us, genocide may be a very strong word. There is violence in communities like Bangassou who are fighting on both sides. And they are practically from the same families and according to what we know on this issue, there is no agenda and the total situation in Central African Republic varies according to the cities and the regions,” he told a U.N. human rights body in Geneva.
CAMEROON – Anglophone crisis, Boko Haram active in Far North
Cameroon’s political and security atmosphere has been charged this year. The ‘Anglophone crisis’ in the English-speaking regions has transited from a series of mass protests into a war as declared by President Paul Biya.
Secessionists under the Ambazonia State banner are now carrying out deadly attacks on security checkpoints as they claim the government forces are ‘occupiers.’ The situation has led to a humanitarian crisis where thousands are fleeing into Nigeria.
An October 1 independence declaration by the secessionists was met with security clampdown that led to deaths, arrests and injuries to others. Calls for dialogue have been ringing but there has yet to be any move in that direction.
The government also released a number of Anglophone leaders under a presidential decree in late August. It has in the wake of the armed secessionist attacks issued an international arrest warrant for over a dozen secessionist leaders.
Boko Haram continues to carry out sporadic attacks in the country’s far north region. President Biya in his address to the UNGA called for the Lake Chad basin to be saved from collapse.
CHAD – G5 Sahel anti-terrorism force, Trump travel ban
Chadian president Idris Deby handed over the presidency of the African Union early this year to Guinea’s Alpha Conde. But Chad secured the post of A.U. Commission chairperson as Moussa Faki Mahamat was chosen to replace Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Chad like Burkina Faso also played a key role in the G5 Sahel force deliberations in Bamako and it continues to play a role in the area of anti-terrorism, battling with Boko Haram and also with other extremist groups in the Sahel.
The country was, however, a surprise inclusion on the United States travel ban. When Sudan was taken off the list, Chad found itself there. Security watchers wondered why that was the situation given the U.S. – Chadian security cooperation.
The government issued a very strong response to the ban championed by President Donald Trump. Chad was also one of the countries that backed Saudi and its allies against Qatar in what became known as the ‘Gulf crisis.’
COMOROS – UNGA vote ban, UNWTO membership
Comoros made the news for the bad reason when it was reported that the country along with three others in Africa had been banned from voting at the United Nations General Assembly. The ban was connected to their failure to settle dues owed the global political bloc.
In much palatable news, Comoros gained entry into the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as the 158th Member State and 51st African country to be admitted. They were admitted along with Somalia who were the 157th Member State and Africa’s 50th entrant.
The UNWTO membership was made up of 157 countries until the recent withdrawal of Australia. There are six territories and over 500 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
CONGO REPUBLIC – Pool crisis ‘alive,’ $50 free Chinese parliament
The republic of Congo maintained relative political stability and general peace compared to the neighbouring Congo – Democratic Republic of Congo.
There continued to be issues especially confined to the restive Pool region – despite the president denying there was any such crisis. The U.N. and partners moved to raise funds for the humanitarian situation arising from the conflict.
Congo entered an agreement with the Chinese government for the construction of a new parliament building which will cost 50 million euros but will be built for free. The building, a gift from the Asian giants is to be built in the capital Brazzaville.
Local elections – first and second rounds – also took place across the country this year with the ruling party maintaining their dominance at all levels. President Denis Sassou Nguesso also hosted a meeting on the Libyan crisis, conferring with General Halifa Haftar. Congo also hosted meeting of leaders of the Great Lakes region.
DRC – Protests, 2018 poll date, jail breaks, unrest in Beni, Kasai
The Democratic Republic of Congo was by far one of the continent’s most protest ridden over 2017. Opposition groups and activists clashed with police several times over calls for Kabila to step down and for elections to be held this year.
2016 ended brightly after the Catholic church managed to broker a peace deal, they announced a breakdown in further talks over sharp disagreements between the parties. The elections body pushed elections slated for this year to 2018 sparking further protests.
Meanwhile, militia groups and other anti-government actors continue to carry out attacks in parts of the country. Ebola briefly resurfaced but was quickly dealt with but the humanitarian crisis of people fleeing into Angola and Zambia continues.
14 Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed in the most recent attack. It is not known if Kabila will seek to extend his mandate – for that matter contest when polls are next held. U.N. human rights investigators were also murdered in the Kasai region.
The government has rejected an international inquiry saying it had the capacity to bring perpetrators to book. DRC also recorded a number of jail breaks and had the deputy U.N. chief, Amina Mohammed and U.S. envoy to the U.N., Nikki Haley visiting.
DJIBOUTI – Chinese overseas base, back Saudi in Gulf crisis
By far the most stable country in the Horn of Africa region, Djibouti continued to mind its business until the Gulf crisis broke out in July 2017. Djibouti like most African countries backed Saudi and allies against Qatar.
But the bigger security issue was sparked when border tensions between them and Eritrea was ignited after Qatari troops on a disputed border area withdrew. It took international intervention to avert a possible clash over the Dumeira mountains.
Djibouti, which is about the size of Wales, is at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia also opened a Chinese military base this year, hence it now hosts U.S., Japanese, Chinese and French bases.
EGYPT – Church, mosque bombings, crackdown on media, NGOs
Egypt has also recorded a bruising year that has seen militants carry out deadly attacks especially in the Sinai region and other places. The government has also announced successes in their fight back.
Militants attacked a Coptic Church and killed scores. Christians travelling on a bus were also shot at and a number of them killed. A most recent attack was at a Friday prayer session where over 230 people were killed.
Pope Francis visited the country this year, meeting with President Al-Sisi and with the Head of the Coptic Church. The Pope stressed his call for peace and urged Egyptians to live together as one.
Government was also slammed for the passage of laws that were considered repressive of the media and civil society organizations. President Al Sisi was the first African leader to meet with President Donald Trump this year.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA – Life President, Veep jailed in France
The ruling party of the oil-rich country all but conferred on the incumbent president Theodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the title of president for life. He was voted asindefinite leader of the party at its congress.
Nguema is Africa’s longest serving president having come to power in 1979. The country’s human rights record took a further tumble following the detention of a cartoonist who is seen as critical to the government.
Meanwhile, a French court handed its judgement in a corruption trial involving the president’s son Teodorin Nguema. The court sentenced him to three years in jail, slapped a fine on him and ordered the seizure of some properties belonging to him.
ERITREA – Gulf crisis, UN arms sanctions, rare Asmara protest
Eritrea chose the United Nations General Assembly in September this year to chastise the U.N. over arms sanctions imposed on the country by the Security Council since 2009.
The sanctions have, however, been renewed by the UNSC despite a recent report by a monitoring group that there was no conclusive evidence that Eritrea was backing Somali-based insurgent group, Al Shabaab.
Asmara disputed reports of taking sides in the Gulf crisis despite the Qatari troop withdrawal having upped border tension with neighbouring Djibouti. Ethiopia continually accused Asmara of arming anti-peace forces, most of these claims Eritrea rejected flatly.
A rare protest broke out in the capital Asmara in early November after students protesting government interference in the running of a community-based school were dispersed by security forces. A number of arrests were made in what the Information Minister called a ‘small protest.’
ETHIOPIA – Security headache, Oromo protests, UNSC tenure
Ethiopia entered this year under a six-month state of emergency rule. The terms of the command post had been revised in the wake of a “return to peace” but the parliament in April 2017 voted to extend the October 2016 measure by four months.
In April, the country recorded a deadly incident at one of its biggest landfill sites in the capital Addis Ababa. A landslide at the Koshe landfill site killed scores of people leading the government to declare three days of mourning.
In August, lawmakers agreed to lift the state of emergency rule but it was not long before a fresh security crisis kicked. Deadly clashes in the country’s east between people in the Oromia and Ethiopia-Somali regional states.
The crisis has led to deaths and mass displacements of persons on both sides. Even though the government put it down to rent seekers in the regions, Oromo activists blame a paramilitary force backed by the Ethiopia-Somali region – the Liyu Police – for stoking the tensions.
The border crisis has recently escalated killing 61 people according to the government. In between this is a seeming bubbling of anti-government protests especially across the Oromia region.
The country is incidentally serving on the U.N. Security Council. They started their tenure on January 1, 2017 and held the month-long presidency in August. Ethiopia in other news, hosted the African Union Heads of State summit in January and also the elections of the Confederation of African Football.
It has hosted the United Nations refugee chief, human rights chief, secretary general and the IMF boss amongst others. Its former health and foreign affairs minister was also elected the first African Director-General of the World Health Organization.
Migration was also an issue for the country as the German chancellor met PM Desalegn for cooperation in the area. Meanwhile, it continued to host refugees fleeing the crisis in next door South Sudan, whiles having deployed forces to help Somalia combat the threat of Al-Shabaab.