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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Senegal: Background and U.S. Relations


Alexis Arieff
Analyst in African Affairs

Senegal, a small, semi-arid nation on West Africa’s Atlantic coast, has long been viewed as one of the region’s most stable democracies. Political trends under former President Abdoulaye Wade (in office 2000-2012) raised concerns among analysts and policymakers over possible democratic “backsliding,” particularly in connection with Wade’s attempt to win a third term in office in elections held on February 26, 2012. Popular anger over Wade’s candidacy sparked demonstrations and rioting, leading analysts to question Senegal’s stability and the potential for a free and fair vote. To many observers’ surprise, voting was peaceful, and Wade lost to opposition candidate (and former protégé) Macky Sall in a run-off vote held on March 25. Wade did not contest the results, instead calling Sall to concede. Sall was sworn in on April 2, becoming Senegal’s fourth president since independence in 1960. The election results and Wade’s concession were internationally hailed as a victory for democracy in an often troubled region.

The State Department refers to U.S.-Senegalese relations as “excellent.” U.S. bilateral engagement has increased in recent years. Bilateral assistance, estimated at $98.8 million in FY2011, is focused on public health, food security, democratic governance, economic growth, rural development, and military professionalism. In addition, the United States signed a $540 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact with Senegal in 2009. The United States has viewed Senegal as an anchor of regional stability and a potential partner in combating transnational security threats, such as terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and maritime piracy. Senegal is a significant contributor of troops to international peacekeeping missions, and thousands of Senegalese peacekeepers have received U.S. training through the State Department’s Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program. During the later years of Wade’s presidency, senior U.S. officials expressed concerns over negative governance trends and over Wade’s decision to run for a third term, while Wade publicly objected to what he views as outside attempts to interfere in domestic politics.

Congress plays a role in guiding U.S. policy toward Senegal through its authorization, appropriation, and oversight of foreign assistance and executive branch policies. Some Members of Congress expressed concern regarding the decision to award Senegal an MCC compact in light of concerns over corruption and political trends under Wade. In the conference report accompanying P.L. 112-74, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012, appropriators directed the allocation of at least $50 million in development aid to Senegal, while also expressing concern over Senegal’s failure, to date, to bring to justice former Chadian president Hissène Habré, who lives in Senegal and has been accused of crimes against humanity.



Date of Report: April 11, 2012
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R41369
Price: $29.95

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Guinea: Background and Relations with the United States


Alexis Arieff
Analyst in African Affairs

Guinea, a former French colony on West Africa’s Atlantic coast with a population of about 10 million, is rich in natural resources, but its citizens are afflicted by widespread poverty. The past four years have seen a series of dramatic political changes for a country that had previously had only two presidents in the first 50 years after independence in 1958. In late 2008, a military junta took power following the death of longtime president Lansana Conté. Amid growing popular opposition to the junta’s rule, the military violently cracked down on peaceful protests in September 2009, sparking widespread condemnation and increased international isolation. Two months later, junta leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara was shot and wounded by his own bodyguard, and his departure paved the way for a military-led transitional government.

In 2010, Guineans voted in their country’s first presidential elections organized by an independent electoral commission and without an incumbent candidate. Longtime opposition leader in exile Alpha Condé, who had never served in government, was declared the winner. Condé’s inauguration brought an end to two years of military rule and could potentially enable political and economic reforms viewed as prerequisites for private sector growth and increased respect for human rights. Yet political, security, and socioeconomic challenges remain stark. The authority and capacity of state institutions remain badly eroded, the underlying causes of military involvement in politics and the economy have not been fully addressed, and Condé has been accused by opposition parties of attempting to delay and manipulate planned legislative elections.

International policy makers view Guinea as central to preserving security gains in neighboring Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Côte d’Ivoire, whose populations have numerous cross-border links with Guinea. While Guinea has experienced regular episodes of internal political turmoil since independence in 1958, it has been considered a locus of relative stability during much of the past 25 years, during which time each of its six neighbors suffered armed internal conflicts. Since the military coup of 2008, however, Guinea has been seen as a potential vector of insecurity, particularly as its role as a hub in the transnational narcotics trade has grown.

U.S. engagement in Guinea has focused on democratization and good governance; counternarcotics issues; security sector reform; regional peace and stability; U.S. investment issues; and socioeconomic and institutional development. Following the 2008 military coup, the United States identified Guinea’s political transition as a key policy goal in West Africa and made significant financial and diplomatic contributions toward the success of Guinea’s election process. Selective U.S. bilateral aid restrictions, which were imposed in connection with the coup, have been lifted in the wake of the successful transfer of power to a civilian-led administration. Congress may play a role in guiding U.S. engagement with Guinea through the authorization, appropriation, and oversight of U.S. programs and policies.

The FY2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 112-74) continues restrictions, contained in previous annual appropriations bills, on Guinea’s ability to receive certain forms of State Department-administered security assistance. The FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112-81) authorizes Guinea, among several West African countries, to receive Defense Department-administered counter-narcotics assistance. Guinea-focused legislation introduced during the 111th Congress included H.Res. 1013 (Ros-Lehtinen) and S.Res. 345 (Boxer).



Date of Report: March 29, 2012
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R40703
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Lord’s Resistance Army: The U.S. Response


Alexis Arieff
Analyst in African Affairs

Lauren Ploch
Specialist in African Affairs


The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, is a small, dispersed armed group in central Africa that originated 24 years ago in Uganda. Its infliction of widespread human suffering and its potential threat to regional stability have drawn significant congressional attention. Campaigns by U.S.-based advocacy groups, using social media and other methods, have also spurred policymakers’ interest. Despite its Ugandan origins, the LRA currently operates in remote regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan. When the LRA was based in northern Uganda, the United States provided humanitarian relief and other aid for the war-torn region. As the LRA has moved across central Africa, the United States has taken on a more expansive role in countering its impact. Since 2008, the United States has supported regional operations led by the Ugandan military to capture or kill LRA commanders. The United States has also extended humanitarian aid, pursued regional diplomacy, and pushed for “early-warning” systems and multilateral programs to demobilize and reintegrate ex-LRA combatants. Growing U.S. involvement may also be viewed in the context of Uganda’s role as a key regional security partner. The LRA is on the State Department’s “Terrorist Exclusion List,” and Kony is a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.”

In May 2010, Congress enacted the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act (P.L. 111-172), which required the Obama Administration to submit to Congress a “strategy” to “guide future United States support ... for viable multilateral efforts to mitigate and eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability” posed by the LRA. The Administration’s policy response, submitted in November 2010, emphasizes the protection of civilians, the “removal” of top LRA commanders, the promotion of LRA desertions, and the provision of humanitarian relief. On October 14, 2011, the President reported to Congress, “consistent with the War Powers Resolution,” that he had authorized the deployment of approximately 100 U.S. military personnel to serve as advisors to “regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield.” The Administration has portrayed this decision as consistent with congressional intent as expressed in P.L. 111-172 and subsequent consultations.

The U.S. approach to the LRA raises a number of policy issues, some of which could have implications far beyond central Africa. A key question, for some, is whether the response is commensurate with the level of threat the LRA poses to U.S. interests, and whether the deployment of U.S. military personnel could lead to unintended consequences. More broadly, decisions on this issue could potentially be viewed as a precedent for U.S. responses to similar situations in the future. Other issues for Congress include the timing and rationale for U.S. action; the role and likely duration of U.S. deployments in the region; the benchmarks for success and/or withdrawal of U.S. forces; funding levels for counter-LRA activities and for potential future humanitarian aid and related commitments; and the relative priority of counter-LRA activities compared to other foreign policy and budgetary goals. Other possible policy challenges include regional militaries’ capacity and will to conduct U.S.-supported operations, and these militaries’ relative level of respect for human rights. Congressional oversight may also focus on the appropriateness of the Administration’s LRA policy approach, as outlined in November 2010; the status of its implementation; interagency coordination; and the role of other donors. Related draft legislation includes H.R. 4077, H.R. 895, H.Res. 465, H.Res. 583, S.Res. 402, and S.Res. 412. Provisions relevant to U.S. counter-LRA efforts are also included in P.L. 112-74 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012) and P.L. 112-81 (National Defense Authorization Act of 2012).



Date of Report:
April 11, 2012
Number of Pages:
23
Order Number: R
42094
Price: $29.95

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http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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