Last week in Africa, anti-French demonstrations were reported in several countries; electoral violence proliferated in the Ivory Coast and the Zanzibar autonomous region of Tanzania; and Allied Democratic Forces militants launched deadly attacks on civilian populations in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Anti-French demonstrations were held in the Muslim majority countries of Mali, Mauritania, Tunisia, Sudan, and Somalia. The demonstrations were held in response to recent remarks by the French President Emmanuel Macron, in which he declared Islam to be a religion “in crisis” (Al Jazeera, 26 October 2020).
The demonstrations came as the French government and the transitional government of Mali publicly disagreed over future dialogue with jihadist armed groups. Mali’s interim Prime Minister Moctar Ouane highlighted the opportunities associated with engaging in dialogue, in contrast to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who overtly ruled out dialogue (France24, 26 October 2020). During the week, French forces launched airstrikes targeting Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) militants from the Ansaroul Islam faction in an area northeast of Boulikessi, in the Mopti region. At least 26 militants were killed in the strike. They also conducted several combined air-ground operations targeting militants in the Ansongo cercle of the Gao region.
In Nigeria, Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) militants attacked a Nigerian military base in the Damboa local government area of Borno state, killing a number of soldiers. ISWAP also launched attacks on Nigerian military positions in the Abadam, Marte, Jere, and Monguno local government areas.
In the Ivory Coast, election-related outbreaks of rioting were reported across the country, coinciding with presidential and parliamentary elections held on 31 October. At last four people were killed during the violence, as rioters clashed with police and rival supporters. Rioters also targeted election infrastructure, including voting centers and local electoral commission offices. Electoral commission offices were burnt down in the districts of Bas-Sassandra, Comoe, Lacs, and Montagnes. (For more on the Ivorian elections, see the ACLED Ivory Coast Election Watch).
Election-related violence was also reported in Tanzania, centered in the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar. Police clashed with opposition supporters, also arresting leading figures in the opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT), including the party’s candidate for the Zanzibar presidency. Elsewhere, election-related rioting was reported in the Lindi region.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) fighters continued operations targeting civilian populations in the Beni territory of North Kivu. ADF militants killed dozens of civilians during attacks on the villages of Bayeti and Lisasa. Meanwhile, Congolese military forces (FARDC), in concert with United Nations peacekeepers (MONUSCO), launched operations against the Congo Liberation Army (ALC) faction of the Cooperative for Development of Congo (CODECO) in the Djugu territory of Ituri province.
Ugandan and South Sudanese forces clashed along the disputed border between Uganda’s Lamwo district and Magwi county in South Sudan. At least two South Sudanese soldiers were killed in the clash. The border has intermittently served as a flashpoint between the two countries, with violence last reported in July this year.
Finally, Somali and Afar ethnic militias fought along the border separating the Somali and Afar zones in Ethiopia. Dozens of people were killed in the violence. Meanwhile, the National Movement of Amhara staged a demonstration in Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara, against recent ethnic-based violence targeting members of the Amhara community. Government forces intervened to disperse the demonstrators.
A separate, weekly discussion of the ongoing conflict in Mozambique can be found in the Cabo Ligado project.
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