There is failure all around East Africa; it is simply too much

As we end the year… Burundi projects stability…but one maintained by increasing authoritarianism. The government has thumbed its nose not only at the East African Community-led political dialogue, but also at the rest of the international community.

Despite Rwanda’s ostensible retreat, reports still exist as to activities of the armed opposition — such as it is — across the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Authoritarianism, this disdain for regional and international efforts to build an inclusive political dialogue and the continued threat of an armed offensive do not, in the long-term, stability make. We shall see.

Meanwhile, the constitutionally prescribed presidential term has come to an end in the DRC. But the president seems to be going nowhere.

Nor does he seem able or willing to provide a timetable that would lead to elections sooner than the ridiculous 2018 date agreed to by the African Union-based political dialogue — immediately dismissed by the main political opposition.

Was taken aback

That political opposition was taken aback by the announcement of a new Cabinet. The political opposition has not yet responded.

But Congolese youth have taken to the streets. Given the communications shutdown, reports coming in of deaths as the security services respond, are hard to confirm.

Armed group activity is also up in the east. The Congolese can look forward to yet more turbulence in the year ahead.

As for Somalia… all that can be said is that the Emperor-Has-No-Clothes situation continues.

South Sudan degenerates by the day.

Sexual violence

The violence ever-more ethnicised, with sexual violence reaching levels parallel to those in eastern DRC. The president remains intransigent, and unbothered and unhelpful.

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development doesn’t seem to know what to do — the outcomes of its political dialogue discredited by the situation on the ground.

Sudan tries to brush off the meaning of the civil disobedience — the stay-away — in the capital. It is too busy trying to normalise its international standing.

Despite the persistence of the armed opposition in Blue Nile, Darfur and South Kordofan. Despite the utterly ruthless manner in which the state responds to this armed opposition.

Lies beyond

That is all just in our neighbourhood.

We cannot even contemplate the chaos that lies beyond. It is too much. It is simply too much. Especially as — in our neighbourhood at least — it is almost all down to incumbents that will do anything, anything, to their citizens as long as they retain their incumbency.

We could go on and on about the failure of the neighbours, the failures of the region, the failures of the rest of the world.

Own populations

But the more fundamental question is why the neighbours, the region, the rest of the world should need to do anything at all?

The problem is one of the ethics and morals of incumbents — their absolute contempt for notions such as the citizenstate compact. Their absolute willingness to run their countries completely to the ground — economically as well as through literally razing the countries to the ground.

While we tip-toe around them, evoking notions such as sovereignty that enable their continued eradication of their own populations.

L. Muthoni Wanyeki is Amnesty International’s regional director for East Africa. the Horn and Great Lakes

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