Items of Interest: September 16

The ECOWAS pledge of $1 billion for counterterrorism, Côte d’Ivoire’s inaugural opposition coalition rally, and a visit by Congo’s Tshisekedi to Belgium are actions from September 16 that may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa.

Burkina Faso/ECOWAS: Leaders of the fifteen-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) pledged $1 billion over 5 years for counter-terrorism initiatives. 

Significance: The $1 billion in funding to be derived from internal resources was pledged at the ECOWAS summit that concluded in Ouagadougou on September 14. A follow-on ECOWAS session will be held in the Nigerian capital of Abuja in December to adopt a plan of priority actions and a budget for the proposed funding that is to be spread out from 2020-2024. The scale of the funding pledge is significant and exhibits an effort to take internal financial responsibility for political and military operations happening in member states across the Sahel sub-region which are largely (under)funded by external donor governments and agencies. Following through and converting West African government pledges into actual funding is not going to be for certain given the economic stress most member governments of the economic bloc are facing, though should funding be implemented, it would represent a notable successful application of the African solutions to African problems tenet.  

Côte d’Ivoire: Opposition political parties held an inaugural national coalition rally. 

Significance: The sports stadium in the Abidjan suburb of Treichville saw on September 14 senior representatives of Côte d’Ivoire’s major opposition political parties lead a presidential election campaign rally exhibiting their national coalition intentions. The Coalition for Democracy, Reconciliation and Peace (CDRP) brought together the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, the Ivoirian Popular Front, and representatives of the Political Committee movement supporting former President of the Ivoirian National Assembly Guillaume Soro. A follow-on rally is to be held in the Plateau central business district of Abidjan which the opposition parties intend to use to gain national and international prominence for their emerging coalition. The opposition coalition is still a work-in-progress in terms of roles and definitions for the parties and their principals, and while it is not yet determined who will become the opposition coalition’s presidential election nominee, it is clear all are working together formally or informally to unseat the incumbent President Alassane Ouattara of the Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP). 

Democratic Republic of the Congo: President Félix Tshisekedi departed for an official visit to Belgium. 

Significance:Tshisekedi’s formal September 17-20 visit to Belgium is his second bilateral visit to a Western country since becoming the Congo’s president on January 24. Tshisekedi’s first bilateral presidential visit was to the United States from April 3-7. Belgium, the Congo’s former colonizer, continues to hold meaningful influence among the Congo’s government and industry. The formal agenda for Tshisekedi’s visit to Belgium includes discussions of military cooperation, deepening exchanges and ties with each other’s Chambers of Commerce, and talks on diamond as well as agriculture sector cooperation. The latter two areas comply with Tshisekedi administration priorities of expanding and diversifying the nation’s economy, while the former two sectors comply with Congo government interests to assert more effective and efficient lines of governance over state or para-state institutions.  

Other items of note:

-The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) opposition party is holding a party leadership primary election.

-Legislative elections in Guinea have now been scheduled for December 28. 

-Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi stated his government is ready to meet alleged Islamist militants once the militants are ready to identify themselves. 

-Zimbabwe’s parliament is to resume sitting on October 1. 

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