Charles Onyango-Obbo

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The average monthly pay of Burundian soldiers serving as peacekeepers in Somalia soared from about $20 to $750. Credit Abdi Dakan/AU-UN IST, via Agence France-Presse

As I thought about the recent violence in the Central African nation of Burundi, I recalled a trip I made there three years ago. I realized that something I’d seen in 2012 was a key to why the coup attempt in May by a group of army officers had failed.

The capital city, Bujumbura, is bordered by hills that roll down toward Lake Tanganyika. At first sight, the lake, which is estimated to be the second largest freshwater body in the world, is stunningly beautiful. But the illusion of a paradise soon ended when I visited the beaches. They were littered with garbage, the shoreline so polluted that fishermen had to venture far from shore to catch fish.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kenya is reeling from the shock of the massacre, early on Thursday, of 147 people in an attack by Somali militants on a college. At least four Shabab gunmen stormed Garissa University College, about 200 miles northeast of the capital, Nairobi, before dawn. They took students hostage and continued their assault until late in the evening, when Kenyan security forces ended the siege.

A Kenyan worker for an international aid agency, Reuben Nyaora, told Agence France-Presse: “I have seen many things, but nothing like that. There were bodies everywhere in execution lines, we saw people whose heads had been blown off, bullet wounds everywhere, it was a grisly mess.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Share the Pork, Be President for Life

The Republic of Congo’s ruling party just joined the long list of regimes in Africa that are pushing to change constitutions to alter term limits and permit sitting leaders to extend their stays in office. The country’s 2002 Constitution limits the number of presidential terms to two. Now the Congolese Labor Party has had second thoughts, and is seeking to amend the law so that, the opposition says, President Denis Sassou Nguesso will be able to run for a third term.

In January, Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the giant country next door, tried a similar fiddle — and lost.…  Seguir leyendo »