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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Zimbabwe: The Transitional Government and Implications for U.S. Policy

Lauren Ploch
Analyst in African Affairs

The U.S. government, which has expressed concerns regarding the rule of law in Zimbabwe for over a decade and which has long been critical of President Robert Mugabe, has been cautious in its engagement with the country’s three-year-old power-sharing government. That government, which includes members of the former opposition, has improved economic and humanitarian conditions during its ongoing transitional rule. However, significant concerns about the country’s political future remain. Zimbabwe’s March 2008 elections resulted in the party of long-serving President Mugabe losing its parliamentary majority for the first time since independence. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai received more votes than Mugabe in the presidential race, but fell short of the needed margin for victory. Tsvangirai later withdrew his name from the ballot days before the required runoff, amid widespread political violence. Mugabe was thus declared the winner. In September 2008, after weeks of negotiations, Tsvangirai and Mugabe reached an agreement to form a unity government, with Mugabe remaining head of state. Tsvangirai became prime minister and cabinet and gubernatorial positions were divided among the parties. Disputes delayed implementation of the agreement until February 2009, when members of the opposition were sworn in alongside former rivals as ministers in a new government.

The parties to the power-sharing agreement have faced significant challenges in working together to promote political reconciliation and in addressing serious economic and humanitarian needs. The high level of political violence and repression that followed the 2008 elections has subsided, but serious human rights abuses continue. The nascent recovery of the economy, which effectively collapsed in 2008, is tenuous. Zimbabwe is in debt distress, and the official unemployment rate remains over 90%. Humanitarian conditions have improved in the past three years, but localized food insecurity and high chronic malnutrition rates persist. Poor water and sanitation conditions led in 2008 to a nationwide cholera outbreak that killed over 4,000 people, and despite improvements, one-third of rural Zimbabweans still lack clean drinking water. Deteriorating conditions in the country over the past decade led many Zimbabweans to immigrate to neighboring countries, and these economic and political migrants continue to place a substantial burden on the region.

International donors welcomed the power sharing agreement, but have been cautious in reengaging the government. They have predicated a resumption of significant donor aid on additional political reforms. Many remain skeptical that true power sharing exists in the government, which includes several officials from the previous administration. Some question the commitment of the former ruling party, seen as autocratic and repressive by critics, to reform. Foreign investors also remain wary, amid uncertainty regarding the timetable for new elections, tentatively expected in 2012. Substantial movement on outstanding reforms is unlikely at least until after the elections are held.

The U.S. government has been critical of Mugabe and members of his former regime for their lack of respect for human rights and the rule of law, and has enforced targeted sanctions against top government officials and associates since 2002. The United States has, at the same time, provided substantial humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe. Congress articulated its opposition to the Mugabe government’s undemocratic policies in the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (ZDERA; P.L. 107-99) and subsequent legislation. Some in Congress have proposed policy changes in recent years, suggesting that U.S. sanctions be modified to reflect Zimbabwe’s current political construct, while others remain unconvinced that sufficient reform has occurred. Debate on the future of U.S. relations with Zimbabwe is ongoing.

Date of Report:
October 27, 2011
Number of Pages:
Order Number: R
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy

Christopher M. Blanchard
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs

After more than 40 years of authoritarian repression and eight months of armed conflict, fundamental political change has come to Libya. The killing of Muammar al Qadhafi on October 20 and the declaration of Libya’s liberation by the interim Transitional National Council on October 23 marked the end of the Libyan people’s armed struggle and the formal beginning of the country’s transition to a new political order. Overcoming the legacy of Qadhafi’s rule and the effects of the recent fighting is now the principal challenge for the Libyan people, the TNC, and the international community. The transition period may prove to be as complex and challenging for Libyans and their international counterparts as the recent conflict. Immediate tasks include establishing and maintaining security, preventing criminality and reprisals, restarting Libya’s economy, and taking the first steps in a planned transition to democratic governance. In the coming weeks and months, Libyans will face key questions about basic terms for transitional justice, a new constitutional order, political participation, and Libyan foreign policy. Security challenges, significant investment needs, and vigorous political debates are now emerging.

The U.S. military continues to participate in Operation Unified Protector, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military operation to enforce United Nations (U.N.) Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorizes “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians. On October 23, NATO leaders indicated that the military operation would draw to a close on October 31, barring any unforeseen developments that require its continuation. U.S. officials express confidence that nuclear materials and chemical weapons components that are stored in Libya remain secure and state that remote monitoring will continue. The proliferation of military weaponry from unsecured Libyan stockpiles—including small arms, explosives, and shoulderfired anti-aircraft missiles—remains a serious concern. The Obama Administration is implementing a program with the TNC to retrieve and disable certain weapons and has reiterated that it has no intention of deploying U.S. military forces on the ground in Libya. The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli has reopened with a limited staff. Congress may consider proposals for further assisting Libya’s transitional authorities or supporting security efforts.

The U.N. General Assembly has recognized the TNC as Libya’s U.N. representative, and the Security Council adopted Resolution 2009, creating a three-month mandate for a U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to assist Libyans with public security and transition arrangements. The resolution also sets conditions for the sale of arms and training to the Libyan government and partially lifts the U.N. mandated asset freeze for certain purposes. The TNC continues to call for the release of Libyan assets seized pursuant to Resolutions 1970 and 1973. Transfers of assets have begun from multiple governments, including $1.5 billion in previously blocked assets that the U.S. government has arranged to support Libyan humanitarian, fuel, and salary needs. U.S. Treasury Department licenses now authorize the release of assets belonging to some Libyan entities and allow some transactions with some Libyan state institutions, including oil companies.

A TNC stabilization team is leading Libyan efforts to deliver services; assess reconstruction needs; and begin to reform ministries, public utilities, and security forces. The TNC has issued orders concerning security and established a high security council to coordinate volunteer forces. Initial reports from Libya suggest that local militias and some emergent political groups may oppose certain TNC policies and seek to replace certain TNC personalities. TNC officials remain confident in Libyan unity, and an interim government is expected to replace the TNC executive authority within a month. As Libyans work to shape their future, Congress and the Administration will have the first opportunity to fully redefine U.S.-Libyan relations since the 1960s.

Date of Report: October 2
5, 2011
Number of Pages: 3
Order Number: RL3
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Republic of South Sudan: Opportunities and Challenges for Africa’s Newest Country

Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs

In January 2011, South Sudan held a referendum to decide between unity or independence from the central government of Sudan as called for by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the country’s decades-long civil war in 2005. According to the South Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC), 98.8% of the votes cast were in favor of separation. In February 2011, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir officially accepted the referendum result, as did the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, the United States, and other countries. On July 9, 2011, South Sudan officially declared its independence. In July 2011, South Sudan was admitted as the 193rd member of the United Nations.

The Obama Administration welcomed the outcome of the referendum and recognized South Sudan as an independent country on July 9, 2011. The Administration sent a high-level presidential delegation led by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice to South Sudan’s independence celebration on July 9, 2011. In August 2011, President Obama nominated Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Susan Page as U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan.

South Sudan faces a number of challenges in the coming years. Relations between Juba, in South Sudan, and Khartoum are poor, and there are a number of unresolved issues between them. The crisis in the disputed area of Abyei remains a contentious issue, despite a temporary agreement reached in mid-June 2011. The ongoing conflict in the border state of Southern Kordofan could lead to a major crisis if left unresolved. The parties have yet to reach agreements on border demarcation, citizenship rights, security arrangements, and use of the Sudanese port and pipeline for oil exports. South Sudan also faces various economic, government capacity, and infrastructure challenges (see “Development Challenges”).

The United States maintains a number of sanctions on the government of Sudan. Most of these sanctions have been lifted from South Sudan and other marginalized areas. However, existing sanctions on the oil sector would require waivers by the executive branch. The U.S. Congress is likely to face these issues in the coming months.

Date of Report: October 18, 2011
Number of Pages: 28
Order Number: R41900
Price: $29.95

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