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Policy and Research Papers

Zimbabwe’s ‘Coup’: Infighting and the Primacy of the People

The events in Zimbabwe over the past few days have returned to the conversation an often disregarded stakeholder: the country’s citizens. On November 18, Zimbabweans—both within the country and in the diaspora—took to the streets en masse, with a palpable excitement and of their own accord, to take a public stance. They wanted to communicate to the international community, the African Union (AU), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that as a people they can no longer be compelled to accept the leadership of President Robert Mugabe.

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Organized Crime: Fueling Corruption and Mali’s Desert War

In discussions of Mali’s chronic problems, one factor tends to be overlooked: organized crime. Illicit activities have a long tradition in remote areas across the Sahel. Mali’s vast north, an area larger than France, is sparsely populated, and historically marginalized by the Malian state. Many people survive by smuggling items like subsidized food or cigarettes. Criminal rents are how people make a living in the marginalized north, but have also funded a myriad of armed groups and corruption networks. Efforts by international actors like the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA), or by regional alliances like the G5 Sahel, increasingly recognize the threat organized crime poses to regional security, governance, and economic development. But why have their efforts fallen short?

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Mali’s National Conference: A Missed Opportunity for Reconciliation

Mali’s recently concluded Conference of National Understanding was designed as an opportunity to lay foundations for the final settlement of the country’s separatist conflict and foster reconciliation among the many parties involved. Yet a flawed preparation and a general lack of commitment to inclusiveness seem to have merely put off the necessary heavy lifting on addressing the root causes of violence and resolving a number of outstanding issues from a peace agreement signed in Algiers in 2015.

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Protecting Mali’s Peace: The Role of Civil Society

Malians voted last week to appoint 12,000 local officials. This seems to indicate progress in the conflict-afflicted country, considering that the polls have been postponed four times since 2014. Yet the effective establishment of interim authorities designated by government and the groups who signed Mali’s 2015 peace agreement continues to be delayed in northern regions. In light of this and renewed insecurity, some question the validity of going ahead with the elections, which might not deliver the necessary popular legitimacy and level of representation.

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Other Documents

Can the AU and UN Maintain Common Ground in Support of Sudan’s Transition?

Developments around Sudan’s transfer of political power demonstrate why a more strategic partnership between the African Union (AU) and the United Nations, especially at the council levels, matters. According to the author, the recent volatility shows both the fault lines and the significant opportunities for the two bodies to work together in their efforts to stabilize Sudan.

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