Briefing by CISSA on the Peace and Security Outlook on the Continent for the Year 2023

Briefing by CISSA on the Peace and Security Outlook on the Continent for the Year 2023

Date | 8 February 2023

Tomorrow (8 February) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold its 1138th session to receive a briefing on the peace and security outlook on the continent for the year 2023.

The session commences with the opening remark of Edward Xolisa Edward, Permanent Representative of South Africa and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of February. The AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make statement presenting reflections from the PAPS department on the peace and security outlook of the continent. The main briefing on the theme of the session is expected to be delivered by a representative of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Service of Africa (CISSA).

Tomorrow’s session is taking place in line with PSC’s decision adopted at its 1073rd session held on 6 April 2022 that requested the Commission to facilitate quarterly briefings to enhance conflict prevention. In line with this decision, the PSC in its annual indicative program of activities for 2023 has scheduled to receive such briefings in February, June, October and December.

When the PSC convened its 1073rd session on the same theme, it expressed grave concern over the ‘persistence of a myriad of threat to peace, security and stability and socio-economic development on the continent.’ In the session, a number of security threats were highlighted including political instability and electoral disputes, unconstitutional changes of government, human rights violation, violent extremism and terrorism and cybercrime.

During tomorrow’s session, the briefing by CISSA may highlight the continuation or worsening of the security threats that were witnessed in 2022. The first of such threat that is sure to receive particular attention is the persistence of conflicts involving terrorist groups and the threat of their expansion into new areas. In terms of the persistence of conflicts involving terrorism, various parts of the continent experienced more incidents of violence in 2022. Out of the 699 terrorist attacks that the African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) documented for the first half of 2022, the Sahel region recorded 179 attacks that resulted in 1,909 deaths while the Lake Chad Basin recorded 153 attacks that caused 1,229 deaths. On the other hand, the Great Lakes region accounted for 96 attacks and 1,013 deaths, and Horn of Africa region accounted for 71 attacks that resulted in 504 deaths during the period. According to the latest report from United Nations (UN) Development Programme (UNDP) on the spread of terrorism, human rights violations and abuses have become triggers of instability including in relation to the emergence and expansion of conflicts involving terrorism.

In terms of the threat of expansion of conflicts involving terrorist groups, the most worrying is the threat of expansion of conflicts involving terrorism from the Sahel to the littoral states of West Africa. In this respect, Ghana’s President warned in a meeting last November that the ‘worsening situation …threatens to engulf the entire West Africa’.

The other major source of threat to peace and security on the continent is the worsening of democratic governance deficit on the continent and the discontent and grievances this continues to breed. In countries that have not experienced change of leadership or have been dominated by one party for a long period of time, the worsening of the democratic governance deficit in the context of expanding socio-economic challenges is sure to become a fertile ground for political instability. These may take various forms including mass protests, riots and in worst case scenario, the emergence of armed militias or insurgent groups.

On the socio-economic sources of threat in 2023, attention may be drawn to the fact that the vast majority of the 50 countries in the world that are at risk of debt crisis are in Africa. This debt crisis is compounded by high levels of inflation and fast-growing rise in the price of consumer goods, including basic necessities, with the IMF reporting that consumer prices have increased in Africa by more than 20 percent on average in 2022. These severe economic pressures can have dire consequences in terms of stability not only for fragile and conflict affected countries on the continent but also for those less fragile and not affected by conflict. Accordingly, one aspect of the peace and security outlook of the continent for 2023 that requires proactive policy action relate to the threats of instability that arises from these dire socio-economic trends.

Another site of threat to stability and peace in Africa in 2023, as in the past years, involves elections. Close to twenty countries will be holding presidential, parliamentary and local elections in 2023. Some of the countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Guinea Bissau, will be holding their elections in fragile political and security contexts. In others countries, such as Madagascar, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, trust deficit in electoral institutions and processes combined with disinformation and rising cost of living and food insecurity could create flashpoints for electoral dispute and violence taking various forms including political protests, mass demonstrations, strikes and riots which are met with heavy-handed responses by security forces.

Source: Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EiSA) and Amani Africa Tracking


Developments in 2022 also suggest that the management of complex political transitions, peace processes and conflict hot spots will continue to be sites of geopolitical rivalry that in some cases may lead to reversal of progress towards resolution. As the influence and meddling of external actors on the continent intensifies in 2023, existing geopolitical rivalries over transitions and conflict settings such as in Central African Republic (CAR), Mali, Libya and Sudan are expected to persist and such rivalries could become prominent in others such as the DRC. An important consideration for the PSC in the attempt to prevent relapse of transitions into conflict or crisis or further deterioration of existing conflicts due to the impact of geopolitical rivalries, is the question of the measures that should be devised and implemented to mitigate to the minimum possible, the adverse impact of such deepening geopolitical rivalry on Africa.

Aside from the impact of geopolitical rivalry, tomorrow’s session may focus on the challenges around protracted and complex political transitions and the difficult path towards the restoration of constitutional order in these countries and the way forward. Other complex transitions are related to the slow implementation of peace agreements as witnessed in the case of South Sudan, CAR and Libya.

The threat of coups or attempted coups and other forms of unconstitutional changes of government is also expected to continue to loom large on the peace and security landscape of the continent. This may affect, as witnessed in 2022, countries that are in political transition induced by military coups, and other countries facing political, socio-economic and security challenges.

Tomorrow’s PSC session also comes after the conclusion of the 18th ordinary session of CISSA held between 29 January and 4 February under the theme ‘Food security, conflict and peace in Africa’. Hence one aspect that CISSA will likely highlight in its briefing is the link between conflict and hunger. There has been a concerning trend witnessed in the various conflicts in the continent of the use of starvation and the destruction of agricultural products and infrastructure as a tactic of war. On the other hand, the impact of drought on food and nutrition has also been devastating. In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, an estimated of 22 million people are now acutely food insecure because of drought.

The mismatch between humanitarian needs and assistance is expected to exacerbate the dire situation. While there is an expected reduction in humanitarian assistance in Somalia starting from the second quarter of 2023, more than eight million people across Somalia are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity outcomes between April and June 2023. This is due to the five consecutive seasons of reduced rainfall, a possible sixth season of below-average rainfall from March to June 2023, and exceptionally high food prices, further exacerbated by insecurity. Similarly, the number of people affected by hunger in West and Central Africa is projected to reach an all-time high of 48 million people (including 9 million children) in 2023.

A related challenge that will be particularly relevant for tomorrow’s briefing is the interplay between climate change and insecurity. Various parts of the continent particularly the Sahel and Horn of Africa have been susceptible to climate shocks including recurrent droughts and floods. Extreme whether events operate as risk multipliers in conflict affected countries. Fierce inter-communal competition and violence over depleting resources have led to deadly clashes.  Climate change induced displacement has also created tension between host and displaced communities.

Tomorrow’s session may also serve as an opportunity to follow up on the status of the requests made to the AU Commission by the PSC, including on the need to convene a meeting between the AU Commission and PSC Committee of Experts on early warning, provision of support to member states, establishment of clear communication channel with the PSC and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and elaboration of trigger mechanism.

The PSC may also reflect on how to ensure effective use of available early warning and response tools in the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF) and its tools of the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigations Strategies (CSVMS) which are critical to enhance the early warning role of the PSC. There is also the issue of more effective use of other pillars of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) particularly the Panel of the Wise, notably for enhancing preventive diplomacy.

The expected outcome is a communique. The PSC may welcome the briefing presented by CISSA. The PSC may express concern over the deteriorating peace and security, governance and humanitarian landscape of the continent. It may underline the importance of receiving regular and institutionalized briefings on peace and security outlook to enhance its early warning capacity. The PSC may express its readiness to continue and enhance its engagement with the various bodies including the Panel of the Wise for a strengthened preventive diplomacy and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to address the structural governance challenges that continue to drive insecurity in the continent. Given the concerning trends witnessed in the continent, the PSC may underline the importance of deliberating on all countries that require PSC’s attention without facing opposition on the inclusion of any item in the agenda of the PSC. The PSC may also consider to have dedicated deliberation on how to address the issue of denialism by member states on the existence of risks and the invocation of sovereignty.

Updated briefing on the situation in Sudan

Updated briefing on the situation in Sudan

Date | 6 February 2023

Tomorrow (6 February), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1137th session at a ministerial level to receive updated briefing on the situation in Sudan.

Opening remarks are expected by Dr. Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of February, followed by a statement from Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS). The representative of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as well as the representative of the United Nations (UN) are also expected to make statements.

The last time PSC met to discuss Sudan was during its 1117th session, held on 2 November last year. In that session, PSC took note of the draft constitutional document initiated by the Sudan Bar Association (SBA) and urged stakeholders that were not part of the SBA’s constitutional document to join the process and for the document to serve as basis for negotiations. PSC further stressed the need to ensure the inclusiveness of the political process for full ownership and legitimacy of the outcome by every segment of the Sudanese society.

Since then, encouraging progress has been made towards resolving the confrontation between the military that staged the 25 October military coup and the various sectors of the civilian population who led and took active part in the mobilization of mass peaceful protests demanding the end of military rule and establishment of a civilian transitional authority. On 5 December 2022, the military and the section of the civilian population organized under the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) signed a Political Framework Agreement (PFA). The Agreement was signed by more than 50 political and civil groups, including Sudan’s military leader General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, his deputy and commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) and non-FFC professional associations and civil society groups, as well as Malik Agar, an ex-rebel and former governor of Blue Nile State.

The signing of the PFA has been lauded by many partners including the AU, IGAD, and UN as a critical first step towards the restoration of a constitutional order and the formation of a credible civil, democratic, and accountable government. In a communique issued on 5 December 2022, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, welcomed the agreement while calling upon ‘the signatory parties to remain open to the political forces that have not signed the said Agreement’. The 8 December press statement by the UN Security Council also highlighted the singing of the Agreement as ‘an essential step towards the forming of a civilian-led Government and defining constitutional arrangements to guide the Sudan though a transitional period culminating in elections.’

Not withstanding the progress, the PFA marks towards achieving agreement on civilian led transitional process among Sudanese actors and the warm reception it attracted on the part of regional and international actors, it did not garner the support of all the major stakeholders. Most notably, it was greeted with opposition from the resistance committees, who organized successful protests campaigning for a civilian led transitional process and a democratic dispensation in which the military is reformed and under civilian control. The core of their grievance lies in the lack
of consultation and transparency on the part of the FFC who negotiated the PFA with the military. Additionally, some of the key former rebel leaders signatories to the Juba Peace Agreement did not extend their support to and were not also part of the PFA.

The PFA however was the framework agreement that came out of the first phase of a two phase negotiation process. The second phase of the process started on 8 January 2023 with the facilitation of the AU-IGAD-UN Trilateral Mechanism. As this second phase, which deals with very delicate issues, presents an opportunity for building on PFA and avoid the pitfalls of the first phase of the negotiations. If the PSC’s decision for ensuring inclusiveness of the process and legitimacy of the outcome by every segment of Sudanese society is to be realized as key guarantee to avoid recurrence of the collapse of the previous transition, the second phase needs to galvanise broader consensus among the key national forces and bringing non-signatories to the PFA on board. Without such consensus and full participation of non-signatories, the outcomes resulting from the process such as the creation of a new civilian government would face a legitimacy crisis and raise risk of collapse of another transitional process.

The focus of the second phase of the negotiations is the five contentious issues: the reinstatement of the Dismantling Committee (a committee established by the government of Abdallah Hamdok at the end of 2019 – with the aim to dismantle the June 30, 1989 regime and retrieve public funds – but was suspended after the 25 October military coup), security sector reform, transitional justice, implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement, and the question of Eastern Sudan. In that context, different workshops and conferences are taking place with the participation of both signatory and non-signatory parties to the PFA under the facilitation of the Trilateral Mechanism. The recommendations emerging from these engagements are expected to feed into the direct negotiations between different stakeholders to reach a final deal, which leads to the formation of a civilian government.

One of the issues for the PSC is accordingly how to support the ongoing negotiation process. Building on its decision from the November session on inclusiveness and wider public legitimacy of the outcome, the PSC may seek to find out from the briefers on what needs to be done to consolidate the gains from the PFA and expand wider public buy in the second phase of the process. This is not simply about the resumption of financial and economic support by bilateral and multilateral bodies but it is also about lifting of sanctions currently imposed on Sudan.

The other issue that would be of interest for members of the PSC to properly examine is how to mobilize organized regional and international support towards ensuring an agreement with sufficiently wide public buy in and able to produce a sustainable civilian led transitional process. Related to this is also the threat of the negotiations being entangled into regional and global geo-political rivalries and how to avoid ongoing contestations among various powers vying for dominant influence in Sudan from impeding or frustrating the negotiation process. It is thus important for PSC members to know the implications – on the willingness of the military actors to handover to the civilian led government the level of authority for it to make decisions without threat of eviction by the military – of recent initiatives such as the announcement by Israel after meeting President of the Sovereign Council Burhan that the two sides have agreed to normalise relationships between Sudan and Israel.

Regarding PSC’s sanction on Sudan, the lack of clarity and consistency in AU’s norm over the conditions that need to be fulfilled for the lifting of sanctions poses a challenge. In this connection, it is worth noting that Mali also made the request for the lifting of sanction during the 3rd meeting of the Monitoring and Support Group for the Transition in Mali (GST-Mali) last September after reaching an agreement on acceptable transition timeline. In the absence of consistent practices and lack of clarity on conditions for the lifting of sanction, developing clear benchmarks and guidelines on the matter is of strategic importance instead of responding to the requests on a case-by-case basis, that may open the PSC to inconsistency and accompany legitimate charges of double standards.

With specific reference to Sudan, it is to be recalled from the 2019 experience that at the promise of progress towards achieving agreement on establishment of a civilian led transitional authority is not enough. Even the signing of such agreement would not be enough. At a minimum and in fulfilment of PSC’s various relevant decisions since the 25 October 2021 coup, the signing of such agreement needs to be accompanied by the establishment of the civilian transitional authority that enjoys wide public support before the lifting of the suspension. Pending the establishment of common criteria on lifting of suspension from the AU, having such a minimum progress also helps to ensure consistency in how PSC deals with the transitional processes in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso & Chad.

The expected outcome is a communique. PSC is expected to welcome the 5 December 2022 Political Framework Agreement signed between the military and some political and civil groups including the FFC as the first critical step towards the establishment of a civilian transition government and ultimately the restoration of constitutional order. While also welcoming the launch of the second phase of the political process, PSC is likely to emphasize the importance of ensuring the participation of non-signatories of the PFA in the process that is aimed at reaching consensus around the five key national issues. In that regard, PSC may urge those parties that were not part of the PFA to join the second phase of the process and ensure that their concerns are fully taken on-board.  In relation to the facilitation role being played by the AU-IGAD-UN Trilateral Mechanism, the PSC may once again express its strong support to the Mechanism as the lead facilitator of the political process. It may further call up on the international community to back the Trilateral Mechanism’s facilitation role and to refrain from undertaking parallel initiatives that could undermine the negotiation process. Regarding its engagement on Sudan, it may reiterate its decision, agreed at the 1041st session, to receive a monthly update on the evolution of the situation in Sudan. Further to that it may also reiterate its decision to undertake a field mission to the country with the view to expressing its solidarity with the people of Sudan in their quest for a successful transition towards democratic, stable, and prosperous country as well as encouraging Sudanese stakeholders to successfully complete the efforts towards the restoration of constitutional order so as to pave the way for country’s reinstalment of its membership in the AU. In light of lack of clarity on conditions for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the PSC in relation to unconstitutional changes of government, PSC may take the opportunity to request the AU Commission to prepare standard guideline on the lifting of sanctions imposed on Member States that have experienced unconstitutional changes of government. The PSC may also express its wish to see the second phase succeed and culminate in the establishment of a civilian led transitional authority  in order to enable it to consider the lifting of the suspension of Sudan and to mobilize support for the transitional process under popularly supported civilian led government.



Date | December 2022

Nigeria assumed chairship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) in December. Four sessions were convened during the month and three of these had two agenda items (the 1126th, 1128th and 1129th sessions), making the total agenda items discussed during the month seven. Of these agenda items, three were committed to country/region specific situations whereas one addressed a thematic issue and the remaining three were committed to consideration of conclusions of some retreats and convening of the PSC which took place during the year.

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The Situation in Libya

The Situation in Libya

Date | 01 February 2023

Tomorrow (01 February), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC), is scheduled to convene the very first meeting of the month at its 1136th session to receive updates on the situation in Libya.

Following opening remarks by Edward Xolisa Makaya, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of February, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is expected to deliver a statement. Wahida Ayari, Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson in Libya is expected to provide update on the situation in Libya. Republic of the Congo, as Chairperson of the High-Level Committee for Libya is also expected to make a presentation. The representative of the State of Libya, as the country concerned will also deliver statement. Representatives of the Libya Contact Group and Libya’s immediate neighbouring countries, as well as representatives from Community of Sahel–Saharan States (CEN-SAD), North African Regional Capability (NARC), and Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), as relevant Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) are also expected to make statements. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) will also deliver a statement.

The last time the PSC convened a meeting to discuss the situation in Libya was at its 1091st session which took place on 29 June of the previous year. The challenges that continue hindering the conduct of general elections in Libya formed one of the main issues the PSC addressed at that session. In this regard, it is to be recalled that the PSC, while acknowledging and expressing full support to on-going political processes in Libya aimed at resolving issues impeding the conduct of elections, it urged Libyan stakeholders to reach consensus on the necessary constitutional framework and electoral laws and enable registered 2.8 million voters elect their leaders. In addition to providing general overview on the political, security and humanitarian situation in Libya, tomorrow’s session is expected to provide latest updates related to on-going efforts for the conduct of the much-delayed general elections.

One key new development with respect to processes aimed at resolving the political crisis in Libya has been the appointment of Senegalese Abdoulaye Bathily, as the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Libya and Head of UNSMIL. Since the former SRSG for Libya and Head of UNSMIL, Jan Kubis stepped down in late November 2021, the post has remained vacant while the UN chief appointed US diplomat Stephanie Williams as his Special Advisor considering her previous engagement as a UN deputy Special Representative in Libya. Since resignation of Williams in the end of July 2022, the mission has been functioning without the required leadership. Tomorrow’s session therefore presents the opportunity to welcome the appointment of Bathily to lead UNSMIL, and commend the Secretary-General and the UN Security Council (UNSC) for responding to PSC’s call for appointment of an African candidate.

Since the PSC’s last deliberation on the situation, the political impasse between the Tripoli based Government of National Unity (GNU) headed by interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh on the one hand, and Fathi Bashagha, the Prime Minister-designate nominated by the east based House of Representatives (HoR) on the other hand, persisted with little to no progress. Although talks resumed between the speakers of the HoR and the High State Council (HSC) which functions as Libya’s Senate, agreement is yet to be reached between the two institutions on the necessary frameworks for the conduct of elections. On the economic track as well, Libya’s financial institutions continue to be divided despite on-going efforts to implement reform and reunification measures for the Central Bank.

While international efforts have predominantly been focused on the holding the general elections, the current reality on the ground seems to be revealing the need for strengthening parallel approaches that aim to resolve the political impasse and dispute over executive power. Without the necessary concerted international effort to overcome the fragmentation of government institutions and achieve integration, progress in the effort for reaching agreement on the necessary legal frameworks for the conduct of the national elections is likely to remain elusive.

The launch of Libya’s reconciliation process has been a welcome development on the other hand. Preparatory meeting for the Libyan national reconciliation conference was initiated on 08 January, in Tripoli, under the auspices of the AU. From the AU’s side, in attendance were President Macky Sall of Senegal in his capacity as the AU Chair; Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat and Congolese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean Claude Gakosso, on behalf of the Chairperson of the High-Level Committee for Libya, Denis Sassou Nguesso. From the side of Libya, key actors including Head of the Libyan Presidential Council, Mohammed Menfi as well as members of the HSC and HoR tool part in the meeting. If implemented in an inclusive manner that ensures the participation and involvement of all the pertinent institutions and sectors of society including civil society actors, the national reconciliation process can potentially serve to create the conducive political and social environment that would lend societal support to the effort to bring Libyan parties a step closer towards forging unity and reaching agreement on the modalities for conducting elections and forming a legitimate government.

The security situation in Libya remains worrying. Although sporadic, incidents of clashes between supporters of the two rival governments as well as attacks against civilians have characterised the security landscape over the past year. In late August 2022, the worst fighting the country has experienced in couple years broke out in Tripoli between armed fighters backing the GNU and Bashagha’s loyalists, reportedly claiming the lives of over 30 people and injuring hundreds more. The incident occurred as supports of Fathi Bashagha attempted for a second time to gain territory within Tripoli, the first attempt already staged earlier in the year, in mid-May. Further to constituting a clear violation of the October 2020 Ceasefire Agreement, these incidents complicate and impose considerable challenge to efforts aimed at the unification of Libya’s armed forces. Added to this is the continued presence of foreign forces in parts of Libya which compounds the security challenges that confront the country.

A critical aspect that warrants a close follow-up is also the nature of geo-politics in the wider eastern Mediterranean region and the consequent impact it entails to Libya’s internal affairs. With Turkey’s demonstrated political and military backing to the GNU and the signing of an agreement between the two in early October 2022 that allows the former to explore energy resources in disputed areas of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, tensions are likely to increase between Turkey and other countries in the region that are opposed to its military and economic reach in Libya. Left unchecked and with continued lack of unity among Libyan actors, such developments have the potential to revive divided foreign support either through open or tacit backing of the two governments in Libya, threatening to plunge the country back to a full-blown conflict.

Due to the protracted political crisis and the years-long armed conflict that only came to an end very recently, public services in Libya have been weakened considerably and struggle to properly address the humanitarian needs of affected populations. The UN estimates that nearly 526,000 people (including nearly 200,000 children) will require humanitarian assistance in 2023. Migrants and refugees hosted in both state operated and non-state operated centres continue to experience serious humanitarian and protection challenges and endure grave human rights violations. According to the UN Secretary General’s report of 09 December 2022, there are 4,001 migrants as of November 2022, being held in government operated detention centres.

Tomorrow’s session also serves as an opportunity for reviewing the state of implementation of various AU and PSC decisions regarding enhancing AU’s role in the Libya peace process and with respect to addressing the plight of African refugees and migrants.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. The PSC is expected to welcome the appointment of Abdoulaye Bathily as the SRSG for Libya and Head of UNSMIL and commend the Secretary-General, African three members of the UN Security Council (A3) and the wider UNSC for supporting the appointment of Bathily, in line with previous Communiqués of the PSC. The PSC may also welcome the initiation of the Libyan national reconciliation conference and urge all Libyan parties to participate in good faith in this process. It may further call on Libyan parties to work towards reaching consensus on finalising the necessary constitutional and electoral frameworks for the conduct of national elections and urge international and regional stakeholders to fortify efforts aimed at finding diplomatic settlement for the dispute over executive power in Libya. It may urge all Libyan actors to exercise utmost restraint to avoid incidents similar to the August 2022 armed clash and to refrain from further breach of the 23 October 2020 Ceasefire Agreement in order to preserve the relative peace and security achieved since its signing. The PSC may reiterate its call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign fighters, foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya in line with the 23 October 2020 Ceasefire Agreement. It may also condemn and totally reject any external interference in the internal affairs of Libya and urge Libyan actors to prioritise unification and refrain from taking actions that will put at risk the country’s fragile stability. The PSC may take note of the continuing humanitarian and human rights crises affecting in particular migrants and refugees, and call on the relevant Libyan authorities as well as international humanitarian actors to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and protection of populations in need. It may also reiterate the call made at its previous session, regarding the ‘urgent need for the AU Commission to ensure that the AU Mission in Libya is relocated to Tripoli and is sufficiently capacitated, in order to enable it to more effectively discharge its mandate and adequately support the AU’s efforts on Libya, in line with the Decision [Assembly/AU/Dec.819(XXXV)] adopted by the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly’.

Provisional Programme of Work for the month of February 2023

Provisional Programme of Work for the month of February 2023

Date | 1 February 2023

South Africa will assume the role of the chairperson of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) for February. The draft provisional program of work for the month prepared under South Africa’s leadership envisages that the PSC will convene five sessions during the month. With the exception of one thematic session added after the adoption of the first program of work for February, all sessions are dedicated to country specific situations. According to Ambassador Edward Xolisa Makaya, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the AU, the focus of the program of the month on specific conflict situations seeks to ‘inject some urgency in the resolution of these situations’. It is interesting to note that the items placed on the program of work cover conflict situations from all regions except West Africa and Sahel and Southern Africa.

The PSC is expected to hold its sessions at all the three levels of its meetings. While there will be one session each at the level of ministers and heads of state and government, the remaining three sessions will be held at ambassadorial levels.

Apart from the five sessions, the provisional programme of work also envisages two field missions and a meeting of the PSC Military Staff Committee (MSC).

The first session of the month is expected to be held on 01 February and will be assessing updates on the situation in Libya. It is to be recalled that the PSC only held one session on Libya in 2022. The last time the PSC held a session on Libya was at its 1091st session held in June 2022. Months later and despite fortified efforts deployed by the newly appointed UN special representative to Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, no significant progress has been registered towards achieving political consensus among the rival entities on a political roadmap for ending the political paralysis and fragmentation. Further compounding already complex situation is the persistence of the meddling in of multiple and competing external actors providing support for the rival entities contesting control over the governance of the country. The upcoming session is expected to provide key updates on efforts aimed at resolving the stalemate over achieving agreement on the political roadmap that will facilitate the convening of elections and the overall political, security and humanitarian situation in the country.

On 03 February, the PSC will undertake a filed mission to Mekelle, Tigray Region of Ethiopia. This will be the first filed mission of the PSC to be conducted to the region since the outbreak of conflict in November 2020, although multiple AU visits have been undertaken under the auspices of the High Representative for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo. The field mission is taking place under South Africa’s chairship, which also played a role in hosting the negotiation and signing of the peace agreement between the warrying parties in November 2022. It is also to be recalled that South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa was the first to dispatch a high-level diplomatic team to Ethiopia early in the conflict in 2020 with a view to facilitate peace efforts.

On the same day, the MSC will have a briefing to discuss the status of AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs). This is a timely issue considering that the continent has witnessed the proliferation of ad hoc security response arrangements as opposed to those mobilized within the framework of the PSC Protocol.

The second session of the month is planned to take place at the ministerial level on 06 February and will be committed to updates on the situation in Sudan. This session will review developments since the last PSC session including notably the signing of a framework agreement between a coalition of civilian organizations and political parties and the military on 05 December 2022. While the parties continue to hold talks over the most critical issues on the transition process in Sudan including the formation of civilian transitional government, security sector reform including the future role of the army not only vis-à-vis civilian over sight but also in the economy and justice and accountability for past and recent atrocities, Sudan’s de facto authorities are seeking to leverage the 5 December agreement for securing the lifting of suspension from the AU.

The third session is scheduled for 08 February. This session is scheduled to have two agenda items. The first agenda of this session will be committed to a briefing by the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) on the peace and security outlook on the continent in 2023. It is to be recalled that the PSC, as part of the decisions it adopted at its 1073rd session on ‘continental early warning and security outlook in Africa’, it requested the AU Commission to facilitate quarterly briefings to the PSC by CISSA, among other organs relevant for ensuring prompt conflict prevention. Within this context and informed by the trends observed over the past year, CISSA’s briefing could highlight some of the concerning threats and challenges expected to confront the continent in 2023 including the increasing spread of terrorism and violent extremism, growing governance related security challenges and the potential threats in the realm of cyber security.  This session may also put a spotlight the preventive diplomacy role of the PSC particularly through identifying ways of enhancing the use of the Panel of Wise.

The second agenda items of the session is expected to consider the African Peer Review Mechanism’s (APRM) African Governance Report (AGR) 2023. The APRM prepares the AGR every two years and the 2023 AGR unsurprisingly focuses on unconstitutional changes of government in Africa.

On 10 February, the PSC will consider and adopt the provisional programme of work for the month of March 2023.

The fourth session will be convened on 17 February at Heads of State and Government level. The session will be dedicated to consider the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), that registered further deterioration recently and the deployment of Regional Force by the East African Community (EAC). It will be held in person. The session is expected to consider the situation within the framework of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) Agreement for DRC and the Region.

The second filed mission of the month is planned to take place from 23 to 25 February and will take the PSC to South Sudan. The field trip will be undertaken in line with the PSC’s decision adopted at its 1123rd session to conduct ‘a solidarity visit to South Sudan on the third anniversary of the formation of the Transitional Government on 22 February 2023’. As indicated in the Communiqué of the 1123rd session, the filed mission is expected to serve the central purpose of encouraging South Sudanese stakeholders ‘to remain resolute in pursuing the transitional tasks outlined in the 2022 Roadmap on Outstanding Issues, with a view to concluding the political transition before 22 February 2025’.

The fifth and last session of the month is scheduled to take place on 28 February. The PSC will consider and adopt the report on the findings of its field mission to South Sudan at this session. In tandem with the focus of the field visit and having regard to updates reflected in the report of key findings, the session is expected to reflect on the status of ongoing efforts to finalise the outstanding tasks in the implementation of the 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) outlined in the 2022 Roadmap of Outstanding Issues.

Inauguration of ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’

Inauguration of ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’

Date | 31 January 2023

Tomorrow (31 January), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1135th session for the inaugural commemoration of the ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’ in line with the Declaration of the 16th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU. The open session is expected to take place in a hybrid format where AU Member States and the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) attend the meeting in-person while other participants join remotely.

The Permanent Representative of Uganda and Stand-in Chairperson of the PSC for January, Rebecca Amuge Otengo, will deliver opening remarks to the session which is expected to proceed in two segments. During the open segment of the session, AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat is expected to make the lead statement while President of Angola and AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation in Africa, João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, is scheduled to provide the inaugural keynote statement for the launch of the Africa Day of peace and reconciliation. Representatives of four Member States, namely The Gambia, Burundi, Rwanda, and South Africa, are expected to share the experience of their respective countries on how they pursued the reconciliation processes. In addition, Chairperson of the AU Panel of the Wise and former President of Burundi, Domitien Ndayizeye, and Co-Chair of FemWise-Africa and former President of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza, are anticipated to deliver statements while presentations on the Peace Dividends from National Reconciliation, Dialogue and Social Cohesion could be made by an African female/Child affected by armed conflict.

This session is convened in accordance with the declaration of the 16th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly on terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government in Africa held last May in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, which decided to institute 31 January of each year as the ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’. In that Summit, the Assembly further appointed Angola’s President, João Manuel Gonçalves LOURENÇO, as AU Champion for peace and Reconciliation in Africa. It is to be recalled that the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly [Assembly/AU/Dec.501(XXII)] of February 2022 declared 2014-2024 as the ‘Madiba Nelson Mandela Decade of Reconciliation in Africa’. On the other hand, the PSC, at its 525th session held in July 2015, agreed to make the theme ‘Peace, Reconciliation and Justice’ a standing item on its indicative annual programme of activities. On 5 December 2019, during its 899th session, PSC also agreed to dedicate an annual session aimed at experience sharing and lessons learning on national reconciliation, restoration of peace and rebuilding of cohesion in Africa.

The PSC has dedicated several stand-alone sessions since 2013 to discuss the theme of peace and reconciliation. For instance, during its 383rd session, held in June 2013 at the ministerial level, PSC highlighted the critical role of national reconciliation to achieve lasting peace by overcoming divisions arising from conflict and restoring social cohesion. It was also at this ministerial session that the PSC first proposed the idea of developing an AU Framework on national reconciliation and justice, but that initiative seem to have fallen through the cracks.

PSC’s 525th session of July 2015 urged Member States to ‘show greater sense of responsibility and strong commitment to national reconciliation processes’ as part of the efforts to achieve a peaceful, integrated, and prosperous continent. The 672nd session, convened in March 2016, drew attention on the need to invest in institutions and reconciliation processes while embarking on post-conflict reconstruction. The 899th session of December 2019, convened at the initiation of Angola, then Chairperson of the PSC, took several decisions to step-up efforts in the promotion of national reconciliation in the continent, including the decision to dedicate annual session on experience sharing on national reconciliation, and develop an implementation and monitoring mechanism to take forward the various aspects of national reconciliation in post-conflict situations. Most recently in August 2022, PSC also convened lessons learning session broadly on the implementation of AU Transitional Justice Policy, though not specific to the issue of reconciliation.

The commemoration of Africa Day will complement and builds on these existing AU efforts that are aimed at raising awareness about and mobilize support for reconciliation as a vital tool to achieve lasting peace in the continent.

The continent has rich experience of national reconciliations that offer good lessons to Member States that are pursuing or intend to pursue reconciliation. As such, part of tomorrow’s program will be lessons learnt and experience sharing by three of PSC Member States (The Gambia, Burundi, South Africa), as well as Rwanda.

In the world of transitional justice, the experience that received world-wide recognition for making truth and reconciliation commissions globally popular is South Africa. The reconciliation process has successfully transformed South Africa from an Apartheid system to a constitutional democracy, but there is a growing call for addressing the socio-economic dimensions of South Africa’s past that continues to impede the structural transformation of the society and the dismantling of pervasive inequalities affecting the historically oppressed majority of South Africans.

In the case of The Gambia, the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) which was established in December 2017 with the mandate to investigate and establish an impartial historical record of human rights violations from July 1994 to January 2017, has received international prominence for its achievements in uplifting the political consciousness of the public and the high level of public interest it evoked in giving a hearing for victims and the public an opportunity for acknowledging the violations. It is to be recalled that the TRRC delivered its final report documenting violations and abuses of human rights and the government issued a white paper in May 2022 accepting almost all the TRRC’s 265 recommendations. The next critical step for The Gambia, therefore, remains the full implementation of the recommendations outlined in the TRRC report.

Burundi also pursued the reconciliation process by creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which is born out of the Arusha Agreement of 2000 for peace and reconciliation in Burundi, in 2014 and extended for four years in 2018. The Commission has made some progress in conducting investigations and identifying mass graves as well as exhuming victims. At the same time, the composition, mandate, and activities of the Commission has been subject of controversy as critics raise question about the impartiality of the Commission in interrogating acts of violence involving all conflict actors, not excluding members of the ruling party.

Rwanda’s experience on the other hand reveals the use of traditional mechanisms, the community based Gacaca courts, as a home-grown solution to achieve the twin goals of retribution and reconciliation. The Gacaca courts are lauded for its role in filling in for the formal court system that were decimated during the genocide and played instrumental role towards achieving unity and reconciliation. Reintegration of genocide convicts, unresolved cases of compensation to genocide survivors, persistence of genocide ideology and denials remain challenges for Rwanda.

Beyond exchanging best practices from these experiences to identify lessons learned, this day can also be instrumental for reflecting on existing conflicts and peace processes on the continent. Indeed, this first anniversary of the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation comes at a time when Africa is in very dire security situation. The number of conflicts has spiked in recent years. Apart from conflicts that take the form of civil wars, many countries in various parts of the continent also suffer from conflicts involving terrorist violence. The factors for the emergence and continuation of many of these conflicts involve political, socio-cultural, and developmental governance deficits exacerbated by a winner takes all approach to political power and repressive and authoritarian exercise of government power and violent response to opposition and dissent.

Indeed, the litmus test of the material contribution or value of this day as well as that of the AU flagship project of Silencing the Guns lies in how this day helps to put a spotlight on and mobilizes targeted intervention for the mitigation, if not resolution of existing conflicts from the Great Lakes Region, where the armed conflict involving armed rebel groups such as the M23 and Allied Democratic Forces is raging with the mounting tension between Rwanda and DRC reaching yet another high point last week, to the Sahel where conflicts involving terrorist violence continues to expand unabated and to the Horn of Africa battered by existing and new wars and violence. In this regard, the day may serve as an occasion for mobilising and reaffirming support for, among others, the Luanda and Nairobi processes on the conflict in Eastern DRC while calling for maximum restraint by DRC & Rwanda, the full implementation of the Pretoria peace agreement between Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the accompanying Nairobi Declaration, the peace process in Libya, implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan within the newly extended timetable and the negotiations towards civilian led transitional process in Sudan being facilitated by the Trilateral Mechanism.

The expected outcome of the session is not clear at the time of finalizing this insight. However, the outcome document is expected to welcome the inaugural commemoration of the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation. It may highlight the important role of national reconciliation towards achieving AU’s noble goal of Silencing the Guns by 2030 considering the critical role that reconciliation plays in preventing conflict relapse and laying strong foundation for sustainable peace in countries emerging from violent conflicts. In that regard, PSC may urge the Commission and other stakeholders to pay due attention to the reconciliation component while brokering peace between parties to a conflict. PSC may also reiterate those key elements of credible reconciliation process as outlined in the 383rd session and may further emphasize the importance of ensuring the participation of key stakeholders such as women and youth in the process. The PSC may also call on conflict parties to implement cessation of hostilities as good will for the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation and opportunity for resolving the conflict through mediation and negotiation. The PSC may also urge those involved in peace processes (in Eastern DRC, Libya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan) in various conflict settings to collaborate with and actively engage in the processes and take the necessary measures for implementation of commitments they made for resolving conflicts and active reconciliation.

Consideration of the Revised/Updated Policy Framework on PCRD

Consideration of the Revised/Updated Policy Framework on PCRD

Date | 24 January 2023

Tomorrow (24 January), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1133rd session to consider the revised AU Policy Framework on post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD).

Following opening statement by the month’s stand-in Chairperson, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the AU, Rebecca Amuge Otengo, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement.

At its last briefing on PCRD efforts in Africa which took place at its 1122nd session, the PSC welcomed the initiation of the review process of the 2006 AU Policy Framework on PCRD, in line with the decision of the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly [Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)] and the Communiqué of the 1047th PSC session [PSC/PR/COMM.1047(2021)], in order to ensure that the policy is adaptable to emerging peace and security challenges in the continent. One of the key outcomes of the 1122nd session was the request made for the PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) to conduct an urgent review of the draft revised policy and submit to the PSC for its consideration ahead of the Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly scheduled to take place in February 2023. Tomorrow’s session is being convened in the context of this previous decision of the PSC.

It is to be recalled that the process of revising the AU Policy Framework on PCRD was initiated through a convening of experts which took place in Accra, Ghana, from 09 to 14 September 2022. Further to enabling the consideration and reflection of new peace and security challenges that confront the continent such as terrorism, pandemics and unconstitutional changes of government within the revised PCRD Policy Framework, the review process allowed to identify best approaches for the implementation of the policy in relevant areas ranging from conflict prevention to stabilisation, early recovery and periods of transition.

In terms of substantive changes introduced in the revised version of the policy, one important aspect is the inclusion of some highlights on PCRD funding as part of the policy’s section on rationale. This is a significant addition considering that resource constraint and absence of sufficient financing has been one of the main factors that continues to challenge implementation of PCRD efforts in the continent. Introducing a paragraph on PCRD funding within the policy framework could be considered as an important step towards clarifying the need to channel available means of financing towards PCRD efforts. One such channel is the utilisation of the AU Peace Fund which envisages under its pillar for building institutional capacity (Window 2), the operationalisation and capacity building of the AU PCRD Centre and enhancement of member States’ capacity in the areas of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR). In addition to this and other existing means for financing PCRD works in Africa – such as the African Solidarity Initiative (ASI) which as noted by the PSC at its 1047th session needs to be urgently revitalised –, it is also important to look into more innovative funding approaches, including, as highlighted by the PSC at its 1122nd session, through smart partnerships between the AU and private sector ‘to ensure adequate, predictable, and sustainable financing for PCRD efforts in the continent’.

Another important substantive addition to the revised policy framework is the inclusion of humanitarian principles as part of the core values that underpin the policy. Humanitarian principles which pertain to humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence are critical not only to carryout humanitarian action during armed conflicts, but also in the post-conflict phase and need to be well integrated in all peacebuilding activities. Further to that, the emphasis drawn to the importance of strengthening the link between PCRD and humanitarian response at the 15th Extraordinary AU Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference plays a significant role in creating some clarity around the contributions of humanitarian action in transition or post-conflict situations, which hasn’t always been well-defined. While the shift in the nature of interventions is expected to change from one of life-saving to that of sustaining and stabilising, the continued engagement of humanitarian action during the post-conflict phase is fundamental to ensure ‘ability of state institutions to protect civilians and deliver adequate social services, supporting the return and reintegration of displaced populations, and helping resuscitate socio-economic activities’ as underscored in the decision of the 15th AU Extraordinary Summit [Ext/Assembly/AU/Decl.(XV)].

In addition to the review of the Policy Framework on PCRD, the AU Commission has also been engaged in efforts aimed at revitalising the overall AU Peacebuilding Architecture. Perhaps the most critical element for the effective operationalization of PCRD is the existence of the requisite level of staff complement able to design innovative PCRD interventions. Linked to this is the on-going efforts to fully operationalise the Cairo based AU PCRD Centre which was officially launched in December 2021 and forms a principal part of these efforts. But lack of resources and slow pace of recruitment of staff for the Centre mean that full operationalization of the Centre is not yet realised.

Further to seeking updates regarding the full operationalisation of the Centre since the briefing it received at its previous session, tomorrow’s session also presents the PSC the opportunity to emphasise the need to strengthen the Centre’s capacity to undertake activities aimed at addressing the psychosocial needs of trauma survivors in post-conflict settings, particularly vulnerable parts of society including children, women, elderly and people with disabilities.

The experience in AU’s PCRD work such as in the Gambia highlight the need for tailoring and deploying PCRD interventions on the basis of the transitional needs and priorities that countries in transition identified. Efficient PCRD interventions also necessitate the leveraging of the role of various entities including AU liaison offices currently crippled by staffing and other resource constraints and others with the expertise and experience of working on matters relevant to PCRD including humanitarian actors and the African Development Bank. The other lesson from AU’s engagement in peace and security including through peace support operations and mediation and peace making is the need for planning and integrating PCRD support into AU peace support operations, the mandate and expertise of AU political offices and liaison offices and its mediation and peace-making works.

In terms of making PCRD efforts more responsive to contemporary challenges to peace, security and development in the continent, the PSC may also reflect on the impacts of climate change on peacebuilding efforts in Africa. An issue which formed the central focus of the discussions between the PSC and the United Nations (UN) Peace Building Commission (UNPBC) at their 5th Annual Consultative Meeting which took place on 28 November 2022, the adverse impacts of climate change have proven to be disruptive to peace, security and development in multiple ways. In the post-conflict situations where States are only emerging from crisis and have very weak and fragile institutions as well as economic capacity to respond to climate induced disasters, there is a high likelihood for peacebuilding efforts to be easily reversed. Considering climate-sensitive planning and ensuring climate-responsive financing should therefore form part of all peacebuilding efforts implemented in the continent.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. The PSC is expected to welcome the finalisation of the Revised Policy Framework on PCRD ahead of its submission to the upcoming AU Summit and commend the CoE for its efforts in this regard. It may call on the AU Commission to diversify its partnerships in order to address the gaps and challenges faced in financing PCRD efforts. It may emphasise the importance of ensuring humanitarian financing to respond to humanitarian concerns that persist during post-conflict phase and contribute to recovery and peacebuilding challenges. It may reiterate its call for the AU Commission to develop a Policy on Psycho-Social Support to survivors of violent conflicts. Echoing the key outcomes of its 5th Annual Consultative Meeting with the UNPBC, the PSC may also emphasise the importance of predictable climate-responsive financing for peacebuilding efforts in Africa and draw attention to the importance of adopting a common African position on the nexus between climate and peace and security.  The PSC may also reiterate some of the important decisions of its previous session including its request for the AU Commission to establish a PCRD Working Group, in collaboration with the AU Development Agency (AUDA/NEPAD). It may further follow up on its calls for the urgent reactivation of the PSC Sub-Committee on PCRD and revitalisation of the Interdepartmental Task Force on PCRD. With respect to the full operationalization of the PCRD Centre, the PSC may request for a plan on the finalization of the staffing requirements of the Centre for it to start effectively delivering on its work. The PSC may also call for the planning and integration of PCRD support tasks into the design and mandates of AU peace support operations, political offices, liaison offices and mediation and peace-making processes.

Consideration of the Half Year Report on Elections in Africa: July to December 2022 and outlook for 2023

Consideration of the Half Year Report on Elections in Africa: July to December 2022 and outlook for 2023

Date | 20 January 2023

Tomorrow (20 January), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1132nd session to consider AU Commission Chairperson’s half year report on elections in Africa.

The Permanent Representative of Uganda to the AU and the stand-in Chair of the PSC for the month of January, Rebeca Amuge Otengo, will deliver opening remarks while the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to present the half year report. The representatives of Member States that held elections in the second half of 2022 and those that are expected to organize elections in the first half of 2023 are expected to deliver statements. The Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) are also among the speakers during tomorrow’s session.

The Chairperson’s half year report on elections in Africa is in line with the PSC’s decision at its 424th session of March 2014 to receive quarterly briefings on national elections in Africa. Since then, PSC has been receiving the report on a regular basis – twice a year since recent times. The last time the Chairperson presented his half year report was during PSC’s 1096th session in August last year, covering elections conducted between January and June 2022. Tomorrow’s briefing is expected to provide updates on the outcomes of elections conducted in the second half of 2022 (July to December) as well as preview of upcoming elections that are expected to take place in the first half of 2023. In addition, the report is expected to reflect on some of the key trends observed in the continent’s electoral and political governance.

Between July and December 2022, eight Member States organized presidential and parliamentary elections. Kenya, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea held general elections while Lesotho, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, and Senegal organized parliamentary elections. On the other hand, Tunisia organized a constitutional referendum on 25 July 2022, followed by parliamentary elections in December. AU deployed election observation mission (EOM) in all these countries except for Sao Tome and Principe to assess the electoral process. AU’s newly introduced integrated post-election preventive diplomacy and mediation approach was also employed in the context of Kenya’s election, which proved to be successful in Zambia and The Gambia in 2021.

One of the key positive trends likely to be highlighted by the Chairperson’s report is that all the elections during the reporting period were conducted in a relatively calm political atmosphere, evidencing the deepening and consolidation of democracy in the continent. The peaceful transfer of power in Kenya was particularly notable as it turned the page on its violent electoral history. One factor contributing to the peaceful conclusion of Kenya’s hotly anticipated Presidential election, held on 9 August, was the major shift in terms of candidates’ mobilization strategies where campaigns were largely issue-centred as opposed to ethnicity. Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s recourse to the judiciary over election dispute and his subsequent acceptance of the decision of the court that upheld William Ruto’s Presidential victory is not only a sign of political maturity but also contributed to stave off electoral violence in the country.

Majority of the elections under the reporting period were competitive. Oppositions made significant gains for instance in the parliamentary elections in Angola, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe. Angola’s MPLA ruling party was declared winner in the most hotly contested 24 August general elections, but opposition (UNITA) received 44 percent of the vote to MPLA’s 51 percent. In Senegal, the President’s coalition narrowly won the 31 July legislative election with 82 seats while the opposition gained 80 seats of the national assembly’s 165. The opposition Independent Democratic Action (ADI) won Sao Tome and Principe’s 26 September legislative elections. Similarly, the newly formed opposition Revolution for Prosperity Party (RFP) won the 7 October parliamentary elections taking 56 of the 80 seats. Yet, in some context, there is a long way to go to make the elections competitive as observed in the case of Equatorial Guinea where the incumbent President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was re-elected for a sixth term with nearly 95 percent vote.

Some Member States also leveraged technology for voter registration and transmission of results, which indeed contributed to enhance the transparency and integrity of the electoral process. A case in point is Kenya’s 9 August Presidential elections, which introduced additional voter identity verification features in the Kenyan Integrated Election Management Systems (KIEMS) kit to provide for biometric and alphanumeric identification of voters on election day. This change provided the capture and transmission of images of the duly completed presidential election results forms from the polling station to the National Tallying Centre, which made provisional results publicly accessible. Similarly, Nigeria is prepared to deploy technology from voter registration to voter accreditation and result management in the upcoming general elections, boosting public confidence over the credibility of the election. Angola also introduced diaspora voting for the first time, highlighting the importance of ensuring the participation of citizens living abroad in democratic processes.

Africa’s electoral landscape has registered considerable progress, but challenges remain. One of the main challenges observed during the reporting period has been low voter turnout as starkly manifested in the context of Tunisia’s constitutional referendum and parliamentary elections. The election in Tunisia may particularly interest members of the PSC considering the growing concern over the risk of democratic backsliding in that country. The new constitution that was put forward by the President Kais Saied for referendum is believed to provide sweeping power to the President while weakening the legislative and judicial branches of the government. The constitution was approved overwhelmingly but nearly 70 percent of Tunisians did not vote. Even more striking was the 17 December parliamentary elections (first round), witnessing a historical low turnout of 11.22 percent, according to the official figures. Sources indicate that this figure is perhaps the second lowest voter turnout ever recorded worldwide in an election since 1945. The second round is set for 20 January, but the low turnout in the first round could be seen as the harbinger of looming political crisis.

While many African countries are organizing periodic elections in accordance with their constitutions, some countries particularly those that are in political transitions have also failed to meet agreed timelines. Mali, South Sudan, and Sudan were supposed to organize elections in 2023 and complete transitions, but that could not materialize. After missing the planned 24 December 2021 general elections, agreement on alternative election timeframe is not in sight for Libyans as political impasse continued. Guinea Bissau also failed to organize its legislative elections on 18 December 2022, further complicating the political condition of the country.

In relation to election outlook for 2023, Several Member States are expected to hold presidential and/or parliamentary elections. Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Gabon are set to elect their Presidents while countries like Eswatini, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, Djibouti, Benin are expected to conduct parliamentary elections. On the other hand, Mali is scheduled to organize constitutional referendum this March and its legislative elections around October 2023 to pave the way for the February 2024 Presidential election. Most of these countries are yet to announce the exact date for the elections. However, six of them, namely Nigeria, Benin, Djibouti, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, and Sierra Leone will hold elections in the first half of 2023. The Chairperson’s half year report is likely to focus on Nigeria’s Presidential election as it is going to happen in few weeks – on 25 February. Bankole is expected to brief members of the PSC about Nigeria’s state of preparedness for the elections based on the report of the Special Pre-electoral Political Mission led by Phumzile MlamboNgcuka, former Deputy President of South Africa and Member of the AU Panel of the Wise, which was deployed by the Commission in November 2022.

Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari will stepdown after two-terms in office, further consolidating Nigeria’s democracy and setting good lessons to the region that is experiencing resurgence of coup and third-termism. Election preparation seems on the right track with a surge of new voter registrations, particularly among the youth. In a major shift to previous elections, the upcoming election is also witnessing credible presidential candidates outside the two parties that have been ruling Nigeria since the restoration of democratic rule in 1999. But security threats and the use of technology in some parts of the country are likely to remain key challenges.

The expected outcome is a communique. PSC may congratulate those Member States that successfully conducted peaceful elections during the reporting period. It may particularly welcome the peaceful transfer of power in Kenya. PSC may take note of the evolving culture of holding of regular elections in the continent. PSC is also expected to express its concern over persisting challenges, weakening confidence in elections in delivering democratic change as evidenced, for example, by low voter turnout. PSC may highlight the imperative of addressing such challenge, particularly through undertaking inclusive national dialogue. It may call on those member States preparing to conduct their elections in the second half of the year, to put their utmost efforts towards ensuring the conduct of peaceful, fair, credible, and transparent elections in accordance with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. PSC may commend the AU Commission for its continued efforts in supporting Member States to hold credible elections, including through the deployment of observation mission. It may also encourage Member States to implement the recommendations provided by the election observation missions to deepen democratic elections in their respective jurisdictions. In that relation, PSC may find it important to remind AU Commission on the need to continue the practice of what is called a ‘Return Visit’ of the election observer team to the country where they observed elections to follow up on the implementation of AUEOM recommendations, which was first employed in November 2021 in the context of Zambia.