Items of Interest: September 6

Côte d’Ivoire oppositional alliance meetings, the International Court of Justice postponing its Kenya-Somalia hearing to November 4, and the passing of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe are actions from September 6 that may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa.

Côte d’Ivoire: Oppositional parties the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire and the Ivoirian Popular Front will meet September 14 to adopt electoral alliance strategies. 

Significance: That representatives of Côte d’Ivoire’s principal opposition parties met together September 6 in Abidjan and agreed on a date for formal alliance strategizing effectively renders null any reconciliatory initiative that might have been hoped for in the September 4 reshuffle of the President Alassane Ouattara administration. With roughly thirteen months between now and Côte d’Ivoire’s next presidential election, political campaigns will become increasingly drawn between campaigns emphasizing continuity of economic growth versus sentiments of ethnopolitical exclusion.  

Kenya, Somalia: The International Court of Justice has postponed to the week of November 4 its hearing on the maritime boundary dispute between Kenya and Somalia.  

Significance: The International Court of Justice hearing was scheduled to begin September 9 and run until the 13th, receiving arguments from representatives of the Kenyan and Somali governments. The ICJ accommodated a request by the Kenyan government for more time to assemble a new legal team. The postponement means the ICJ may deliver its ruling on the sovereign jurisdiction of the disputed waters between the two countries by November 22. A ruling in favor of Somalia would permit the Somali government in Mogadishu to proceed with an auction of offshore oil and gas blocks in the waters in question, which the Kenyan government strongly opposes. Though the Kenyan parliament has called on Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to consider a full range of options to advance its interests with Somalia, diplomacy and legal mechanisms are Kenyatta’s approaches thus far.    

Zimbabwe: Former President Robert Mugabe died at the age of 95. 

Significance: President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the death (by natural causes) of Mugabe, who had been receiving medical care in Singapore. Mugabe had governed Zimbabwe since independence from the United Kingdom in 1980 until his overthrow by the Zimbabwe Defense Forces in November 2017, a palace coup that saw Mnangagwa appointed (and subsequently elected) the country’s new leader. Condolences are arriving in Harare and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) is gathering to make arrangements for a state funeral that will undoubtedly receive significant continental participation. Though Mugabe gained controversy for presiding over political and economic decision-making that by the 2000s resulted in the nation’s economic collapse, he was previously known his liberation-era leadership which was only upstaged by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela following the latter’s release in 1991 from prison and Mandela becoming South African president in 1994. The Zimbabwean economy has not materially improved since the transition from Mugabe to Mnangagwa, nor is it clear that political space in the country has improved, factors which continue to constrain the normalization of diplomatic and economic ties between Zimbabwe and the West.   

Other items of note:

-Guinea’s National Front for the Defense of the Constitution stated their opposition to President Alpha Condé’s call for constitutional consultations saying there will be no consultation, no referendum, and no third term mandate. 

-Democratic Republic of the Congo Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba will meet members of the lower house of parliament to respond to their questions on government priorities and the composition of the new cabinet

-Mozambique National Resistance military junta leader Mariano Nhongo accused the country’s defense and security forces of conducting an invasion and attack on its guerrillas in Chipindaumwe. 

-Nigerian Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila rebutted South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor’s derogatory description of Nigerian nationals in South Africa.

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