Magnus Taylor

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Can Sudan Manage Economic Discontent amid Volatile Geopolitics?

There was guarded hope in Khartoum when the U.S. government removed many of its economic and trade sanctions on Sudan in October 2017. Officials thought Washington would move forward with normalising relations, the next step being to strike Sudan from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list. That would allow the Nile basin country to obtain relief from its $50 billion international debt and attract external investment, both of which are essential for saving Sudan’s failing economy.

The economy has hit rock bottom. It remains crippled by the loss of millions in annual oil revenue since South Sudan seceded in 2011.…  Seguir leyendo »

A shop in Soroti Town memorialising the Arrow Boys for the local community. CRISIS GROUP/Magnus Taylor

Musa Ecweru’s office is on the top floor in the Office of the Prime Minister in central Kampala. He is a Member of Parliament for Amuria, a constituency in eastern Uganda, and since 2006 has been State Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees.

Ecweru’s career might have turned out quite differently if, more than a decade ago, Joseph Kony, head of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), had not directed part of his force into then peaceful eastern Uganda. The LRA was already notorious for killing and maiming civilians and abducting women and children as part of its insurgency in Uganda’s northern Acholi region since the late 1980s.…  Seguir leyendo »

Since early November, a disturbing pattern of economic protests and political arrests has emerged in Sudan. This is putting in danger the small gains made by Khartoum over the past year: the recently concluded National Dialogue; the continuing African Union-backed peace process with rebel groups; and a generally improving relationship with key international players, notably the US and UK.

While the demonstrations in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities remain peaceful, the security services have reacted with the old-style pre-emptive arrest of many opposition activists and political figures. For President Omar al-Bashir to maintain his Islamist regime’s recent progress away from international isolation, it is imperative that his government free political prisoners and above all avoid the previous tactic of violent repression.…  Seguir leyendo »

Strange fruit: campaign posters for NRM primaries for local elections adorn a tree, Kampala. CRISIS GROUP/Magnus Taylor

When I last wrote about Ugandan domestic politics, the February 2016 presidential election was still six months away. The big news was that Amama Mbabazi – the former prime minister – was running. Mbabazi had been sacked by President Museveni the year before and was seeking to forge an opposition ticket from an ambiguous position, not quite in and not quite out of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).

Mbabazi told me that his candidacy was “the biggest ever threat to Museveni’s leadership”. This seemed fanciful, and it was unclear whether a third figure on the normally polarised political scene would break open the competition.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crowds queued patiently in Jinja, a sleepy town on the shores of Lake Victoria, to vote in Uganda's third multi-party elections. Prospective voters remained at polling stations, which were often little more than open grassy spaces with a tree providing shade for election staff underneath trees Like many places in the country, voting materials were delivered late several hours late. But that didn't affect the determination of millions of Ugandans to register their vote, underlining an established belief in electoral democracy as the only method to decide the political future of the country.

On 18 February Yoweri Museveni's was re-elected as president with almost 61% of the vote, ending a dramatic few weeks that at times threatened the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) with a serious crisis.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the Horn, where cash-strapped regimes often teeter on the brink of financial survival and alliances are made and broken with bewildering regularity, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has found willing partners as Saudi-Iranian tensions escalate.

In the commercial melting pot of Dubai, where British bankers rub shoulders with Afghan carpet sellers, you would be hard-pressed to imagine that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is fighting a major war in Yemen that has sucked in several other Gulf states and four Horn of Africa countries.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two key external belligerents, have small populations and large bank accounts filled with revenue from vast oil and gas reserves.…  Seguir leyendo »

In early July, Sudan’s President Omar el-Bashir announced that the National Dialogue (ND) would restart “after Ramadan”. On August 5th President Bashir went further, stating that the ND would recommence on October 10th. Just two days earlier vice president Bakri Hasan Salih had said that the government would provide the necessary guarantees for the coalition of armed actors, the Sudan Revolutionary Force (SRF), to participate in talks within Sudan.

The African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan (AUHIP) chief, Thabo Mbeki, highly involved with the failed earlier attempts at ND, also visited the country in early August, speaking to both government and opposition representatives.…  Seguir leyendo »