West Africa

Senegal

During the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2012, Senegal was able to confirm its position as a democratic exception in the unstable setting that is West Africa. Senegal is the only West African state that has not undergone any coups since reaching independence. The 2012 elections saw the first-ever implementation of the law of parity, more than doubling the share of women MPs from 18% to over 43%. The priorities of President Macky Sall include fighting the budget deficit, reducing administrative and representational expenditure and increasing the support for young people, women and rural areas (including agriculture).

The rebel movement "Mouvement des Forces démocratiques de la Casamance (MFDC)" has spent the last 30 years fighting for independence. Towards the end of 2004, a ceasefire between the rebels and the government was agreed upon, but no further negotiations have taken place. The peaceful resolution of the conflict surrounding the independence of the Casamance region is one of President Sall’s prime goals.

Mali

On 10 January 2013, Islamist terror groups and movements that had already brought the northern provinces of Mali under their control in 2012 pushed further towards the south of the country. At Mali’s request, France intervened on 11 January 2013 with "Operation Serval", dispatching specialised forces and troops to put a stop to the Islamist advance. After several weeks, the occupied territories were again brought under government control. At first, soldiers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) supported the Malian army as part of operation AFISMA (African-led International Support Mission to Mali). In April 2013, the UNSC resolved to convert AFISMA into the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) by resolution 2100 (2013), with up to 11,200 military and 1,440 police staff. MINUSMA replaced AFISMA in summer 2013.

In addition to the ECOWAS intervention, a military CSDP operation was dispatched on 18 February 2013 to provide training and support for the Malian army (EU Training Mission; EUTM). Austria participates in the EUTM with nine doctors/paramedics.

Winner of the presidential elections that took place in August 2013 was former Prime Minister (1994-2000) Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The priorities of the government are to bring about a reconciliation of the north with the Malian institutions, to fight corruption and impunity and to rebuild state structures. Following the second round of parliamentary elections that took place on 15 December 2013 in which the President’s coalition achieved a two-third majority, Mali now also has a democratically elected parliament.

The situation in the north of the country remains explosive, with several assassinations and armed skirmishes having taken place between terrorists and intervening troops. Although Malian and international troops were able to secure the larger, urban centres in the north, they have not gained control over all of the country. Due to the difficult situation, the Malian administration has so far been unable to return to the north of the country.

During the international donor conference that took place in Brussels on 15 May 2013, the international community allocated funds to the amount of 3.25 billion Euro to Mali, 1.3 billion of which will be provided by the EU and its member states. In 2013, Austria provided a total of 1.95 million Euro and has earmarked another 1.3 million Euro for 2014. 

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso has taken an active role in the conflict in Mali, and President Blaise Compaoré once more lived up to his reputation as an excellent mediator in the region. Burkina Faso is particularly affected by the unstable situation in the Sahel region and has so far taken in 34,000 refugees.

In 2013, Burkina Faso set up a second parliamentary chamber despite protests from the opposition, who regarded this step as reinforcing the President’s position. Protests in the country were primarily aimed at social plight and were largely peaceful. Burkina Faso is one of the focal countries of the Austrian Development Cooperation, which also has an office in Ouagadougou.

Guinea-Bissau

The transition government that was set up after a coup in April 2012 was not recognised by the international community, with the exception of the ECOWAS member states. The former President of Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta, had a mediating role as the special envoy of the United Nations Integrated Peace-Building Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). The presidential and parliamentary elections to create democratically legitimate institutions were postponed twice, with the first round finally taking place on 13 April 2014. José Mario Vaz, candidate of PAIGC (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde), also the most successful party during the parliamentary elections, emerged victorious from the second round of the presidential elections on 18 May 2014.

Côte d’Ivoire

Tangible economic successes were achieved during the government of President Alassane Ouattara, while progress to improve the security situation in the country and foster the reconciliation process with the followers of former President Laurent Gbagbo (currently under arrest at the International Criminal Court in The Hague) has been halting at best.  Local elections took place in April 2013; however, they were boycotted by the FPI party that is loyal to Gbagbo. A gesture of reconciliation was made towards Gbagbo’s followers when several prisoners were released (among them Gbagbo’s son).

The UNSC has extended the regime of sanctions from resolution 1572 from 2004 with resolution 2101 (2013) as well as the UN operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) by resolution 2112 (2013). The sanctions contain the following measures towards Côte d’Ivoire: arms embargo, embargo on the provision of arms-related technical training and support, travel restrictions and financial sanctions.

Cabo Verde

The special partnership between the EU and Cabo Verde that was initiated in 2007 continues, as does the political dialogue with Cabo Verde, also reflected in visits to Brussels by President Jorge Carlos Fonseca and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves in 2013.  Following the ratification of a visa facilitation agreement, a readmission agreement with the EU was signed on 18 April 2013. Cabo Verde continues its efforts to improve competitiveness and fight poverty.

Nigeria

As the country with by far the largest population in Africa, Nigeria is a leading political and economic power in Sub-Saharan Africa. The three large ethnic groups (Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo), their historically different leadership structures (caliphate, kingdoms, tribal chiefdoms) and religious orientations as well as their conflict-driven relations continue to characterise the country to this day. The distribution of oil profits as well as appointments within the state apparatus and party hierarchies are determined according to these factors of influence, contributing to the all-pervading corruption (144/175 TI Index), which in turn feeds poverty and violence in the country.

The Human Rights situation has improved since 1999; however, in 2013, some of this progress was undone. After a de-facto moratorium of the death penalty since 2006, four convicts were executed in June 2013. Since the ratification of the "Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act" in January 2014 by President Jonathan, the situation of LGBTI minorities has deteriorated further. 

The escalation of the conflict with Islamist sect Boko Haram and other Salafist terror organisations in the north of Nigeria, where terror attacks, ambushes and kidnappings occur on a daily basis, have caused a state of emergency to be declared in three of the Northern provinces. 

Nigeria had already been elected as a non-permanent member of the UNSC for the period 2010/11 and was re-elected for 2014/15, with Austria supporting the decision. 

The privatisation of the energy sector that was recently initiated gives reason to hope that the energy shortages caused by the current investment climate in the country will be dealt with in the medium term.

Following the visit of Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger to Nigeria in June 2012, Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru came to Vienna in April 2013 to sign an investment protection treaty. The opening of the Nigerian Business and Investment Forum in Vienna by Minister of the Interior Abba Moro in June 2013 and the visit to Nigeria of Christoph Leitl, President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, in September 2013 are signs that trade between Austria and Nigeria is gaining momentum.

Ghana

Following the confirmation by the courts of the tight election results of the presidential elections that took place in December 2012, the government under President John Dramani Mahama has been focusing on getting the country’s huge debts under control without putting Ghana’s attractiveness as an economic location in West Africa at risk – a reputation that Ghana has earned based on its democratic maturity and high level of economic growth. The Austrian economy is also increasingly interested in intensified trade relations, as reflected in the visit of Christoph Leitl, President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, in September 2013.

Central African Republic (CAR)

After the Seleka rebel movement seized power in the country in March 2013, law and order completely collapsed, with severe human rights violations becoming commonplace. Large parts of the population have fled and famine can only be relieved by means of massive international aid efforts. The increased presence of international troops in the country was required to prevent the situation from escalating.

The African Union (AU) has dispatched a 6,000 man peacekeeping mission (AFISM-CAR / African-led International Support Mission in the CAR and MISCA / Mission internationale de soutien à la Centrafrique sous conduite africaine). France dispatched a bilateral French military operation (Operation Sangaris) in September 2013, which is present in the capital of Bangui with 2,000 troops. On 1 April 2014, it was resolved to launch the CSDP operation EUFOR RCA, which is scheduled to include 1,000 troops in total. On 15 September 2014, a United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission is planned for the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

Austria has reacted to the precarious humanitarian situation of the civilian population by providing immediate aid to the amount of 500,000 Euro from its Foreign Disaster Relief Fund in January 2014. In its foreign policy towards CAR, Austria is focusing on the promotion of human rights, the fight against impunity, the initiation of an interdenominational national dialogue and the creation of respect for the foundations and principles of the rule of law in the Central African Republic.