Horn of Africa and East Africa

Sudan

The most influential political power in Sudan is the centralist and islamist National Congress Party (NCP) under the leadership of President Al Bashir, the President of Sudan since 1989. Following the separation of South Sudan in 2011 and the resulting loss of a major part of its oil revenue, Sudan is facing significant challenges, which has led at times to considerable  social unrest.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) pressed charges against President Al Bashir - amongst others - for severe violations of human rights and international humanitarian law as well as for genocide, and issued international arrest warrants (not a single one has been executed to date). Sudan still refuses to cooperate with the ICC.

After President Al Bashir’s  re-election as leader of the National Congress Party at its General Conference in October 2014 he was confirmed as president at the presidential elections (April 13th to April 16th, 2015) and sworn in on June 2nd the same year. At the parliamentary elections, which took place at the same time and saw low voter participation of around 30%, the NCP won a majority of seats (323 out of 426). The Democratic Unionist Party, which is also part of the Government, won 25 seats.

In 2004 UN Security Council Resolution 1556 imposed an arms embargo on the Darfur region and in 2005 UNSC resolution 1591 provided for travel bans and economic sanctions against several members of the regime. US-sanctions, which went beyond those of the UN and entailed a complete trade embargo including the financial sector, were provisionally suspended in January 2017. A decision to lift these sanctions is still outstanding.

The Darfur region is affected primarily by a precarious humanitarian situation (about 2.6 million internal displaced people). However, the security environment in most of Darfur has improved considerably since 2016. The conflict’s regional dimension makes it particularly complex. The UN and AU hybrid operation (UNAMID) has been deployed in the region since 2007.  In the wake of UNAMID reports about mass violations by Sudanese troops in North Darfur in 2014, the Sudanese Government ordered the suspension of UNAMID’s Human Rights office in Khartoum.

In Abyei, the UN Interim Security Force for Abeyi (UNISFA) acts as a peacekeeping force along the border with South Sudan. The European Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, Alexander Rondos, coordinates EU activities in Sudan.

South Sudan

Following independence in 2011, since the end of 2013 the Republic of South Sudan has been engulfed by a civil war between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president and rebel leader Riek Machar. An August 2015 peace treaty and the establishment of a government of national unity including the conflicting parties proved unsuccessful.  In July 2016, the violent conflict erupted again.

The armed conflict has also developed along ethnic lines, particularly between the Nuer and Dinka tribes. South Sudan has been particularly affected by civil war and the drought in the region. Around 2 million people had to flee South Sudan, of which about one million of are now in Uganda.  Two million people are internally displaced. 

In July 2016, the UN-Security Council decided to send a 4,000 strong Regional Protection Force (RPF) to South Sudan with the objective of supporting the UN-Mission UNMISS and to contain violence against the civilian population. Lengthy delays by the government meant that the first troops could only be deployed from August 2017.

A US proposal for an arms embargo against South Sudan was vetoed by China and Russia in the UN-Security Council.  

Somalia

Mohamed Abdulahi Farmajo won the presidential elections on February 8th 2017 with a majority of 56 % of the votes. The election took place in a joint sittingof both chambers of the parliament. There were accusations of vote rigging and corruption, but the election was carried out peacefully. The first fully democratic, free and equal elections are planned for 2021.

The domestic situation in Somalia is fundamentally fragile. It is particularly important for the further development of the country, how the new president and the new government in Mogadishu establish themselves vis-à-vis local and regional administrations. The islamist terror militia Al Shabaab is continuing to play a destabilising role in South- and Central Somalia through suicide attacks and bombings. 

The humanitarian situation is a significant challenge for Somalia (6.2 % million people depend on humanitarian assistance). Reform of the security apparatus is also a priority for the new president and the new government, if the government is to guarantee security in Somalia. The UN peacekeeping mission AMISOM, whose deployment will end in 2020, remains crucial in the fight against Al-Shabaab.

The EU is involved in three CSDP missions in the Horn of Africa. These missions pursue the following objectives:

·         Training of Somalian armed forces (EUTM Somalia)

·         Securing the maritime trading routes on the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden (EUNAVFOR Atalanta)

·         Supporting the development of maritime capability in Djibouti, Kenya, the Seychelles, Somalia and Tanzania (EUCAP Nestor).

Ethiopia

Since Hailemariam Desalegn took over office as Prime Minister, the Ethiopian Government is striving to project unity and continuity. The Ethiopian foreign policy remains shaped by its role as a regional power in the politically sensitive region of the Horn of Africa. The shift of foreign policy interests from traditional western donor countries towards the BRICS-states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) continues. The opening-up of the market for international companies and the lease of land is part of the so called “Growth and Transformation Plan“ (GTP) launched by the government in 2010. It is the basis for the Ethiopian development and economic policy, which seeks to create a modern and productive agricultural sector with higher technological standards. There is criticism that national efforts to boost economic growth run against the political and civil interests of the population. As a consequence violent clashes frequently brake out in the affected regions.

Because of clashes between different ethnic groups Ethiopia is facing criticism for not upholding Human rights. Recent protests were triggered by expropriation of agricultural land by the government in favour of international investors (“land grabbing”). Thousands of people were detained and hundreds lost their lives or were injured during protests during the 10 month long state of emergency announced in October 2016.

Ethiopia is a priority country for Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC). The Austrian engagement is focused on poverty reduction, rural development and food safety. The empowerment of women and the development of democratic institutions are also important.  The ADC is also involved in university partnerships, the promotion of NGOs, multilateral projects as well as humanitarian assistance and economic partnerships.

For Ethiopia, the EU is not only the most important trading partner but also the biggest financial donor.

Ethiopia stands accused of human rights violations, including restrictions on the freedom of press, persecution of journalists and opposition figures as well as arbitrary detention of protesters under the umbrella of the antiterrorist law.

Kenya

Uhuru Kenyatta was the winner of the presidential elections held on August 8th, 2017. The elections were not entirely peaceful but were not marred by incidents of extreme violence such as those of the 2007 elections, when violent clashes and mass protests left 1,300 people dead and more than 300,000 people displaced.  The election process was on the whole praised by international election observers.

However, the presidential elections were contested by the main opposition group under Raila Odinga and were annulled by the Supreme Court in September due to irregularities during the election process.

Since December 2011, Kenia supports the AU peace keeping mission AMISOM in Somalia with a deployment of 5.000 troops. AMISOMS’s objective is to re-establish stability and security in Somalia. As a consequence of this deployment, Kenya has become a preferred target of terrorist attacks by the islamist terror militia Al Shabaab.

The coastal region, where the main tourist resorts can be found, has witnessed an increase in radicalisation, with a large proportion of Muslim youth turning towards Salafist-jihadi ideology.