Items of Interest: September 9

Burkina Faso and expanding militant attacks and Côte d’Ivoire dueling diplomacy are actions from September 9 that may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa.

Burkina Faso: Two attacks on two civilian vehicle convoys resulted in twenty-nine deaths.

Significance: The twin incidents in north-central Burkina Faso on September 8 reveal a shift in the pattern of Islamist militant attacks that had largely been focused on Burkinabé defense and security forces on patrol or in encampment. The strategic intent of the Islamist militant targeting selection must be to deny freedom of movement not only to the country’s armed forces but to civilian populations as well and throughout the breadth of the country, from the west to north to the east. Militants allied to Al Qaeda in the Islamist Maghreb have extensive freedom of movement in Mali (to Burkina Faso’s north), and bringing into jeopardy sovereign control in Burkina Faso would undermine security and stability not only for the Kaboré administration in Ouagadougou but for allied forces in Mali using Burkina Faso supply chain connectivity.     

Côte d’Ivoire: President Alassane Ouattara met in Jeddah with the Saudi King while former President Henri Konan Bédié met in Paris with former Ivoirian Speaker and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro. 

Significance: The Ivoirian president led a delegation to Saudi Arabia that included his defense, foreign affairs, petroleum, and planning ministers. The two countries don’t have particularly crucial bilateral relations, but the visit fits into a set of geostrategic interests each government holds separately. Saudi diplomatic outreach in Africa is intended to counter perceived Qatari aggression, and Ouattara’s specific visit is to balance one the Ivoirian president made to Qatar roughly a year ago (Ouattara’s visit to Saudi Arabia also comes at the very same time Qatar is hosting Angolan President João Lourenço). For its part the Ivoirian government is seeking diplomatic and economic support as it gears up for a presidential election in October 2020 that will be divisive and, for the incumbent president, very uncertain as to his reelection likelihood. That former President Bédié and former Ivoirian Speaker of the National Assembly Guillaume Soro met in Paris reveals a consolidation of oppositional alliance formation, whose ethnopolitical constituents would appear to be far superior in number to the incumbent president’s platform.  

Other items of note:

-Democratic Republic of the Congo Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba was formally sworn into office on September 7, a day following the swearing in of his cabinet

-Tanzanian President John Magufuli pressed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to facilitate efforts to see the East African Crude Oil Pipeline between the two countries be built. 

-A state funeral for former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will be held September 14, followed by a burial service on September 15. 

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