During the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2012, Senegal was once more able to confirm its position as a democratic exception in the unstable region that is West Africa. Senegal is the only West African state that has not experienced any coups sinceeq independence. The 2012 elections saw the first-ever implementation of the law of gender equality, more than doubling the number of women MPs from 18% to over 43%. President Macky Sall’s main priorities are addressing the budget deficit, reducing administrative and representational expenditure and increasing 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, but there were no further negotiations. The peaceful resolution of the conflict regarding Casamance’s independence is one of President Sall’s prime goals.
On 10 January 2013, Islamist terror groups pushed further towards the south of the country, having already brought the northern provinces of Mali under their control in 2012. At Mali’s request, France intervened on 11 January 2013 with "Operation Serval", deployed special forces and aircrafts to put a stop to the Islamist advance. After several weeks, the occupied territories were again brought under government control. At first, soldiers from 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 UN Security Council decided to convert AFISMA into the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) through resolution 2100 (2013), which provided for 11,200 military and 1,440 police staff. MINUSMA replaced AFISMA in the summer of 2013.
A military CSDP operation was deployed on 18 February 2013 to provide training and advice for the Malian army (EU Training Mission EUTM). Austria participates in the EUTM with sixteen members of the Federal Ministry for Defence and Sports.
The winner of the August 2013 presidential was former Prime Minister (1994-2000) Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The priorities of the government are to bring about a reconciliation of the north with Malian institutions, to fight corruption and impunity and to rebuild state structures. Following the second round of parliamentary elections on 15 December 2013, in which the President’s coalition achieved a two-third majority, Mali has a democratically elected parliament.
The situation in the north of the country remains fragile, with several assassinations and armed skirmishes between terrorists and the deployed forces. Although Malian and international troops were able to secure the larger, urban centres in the north, they have not gained control of the whole country.
The international community, the European Union and Austria support the peace process for Mali and the Sahel, for which Burkina Faso, Mauretania, Niger and Chad are priority countries along with Mali.
Burkina Faso has taken an active role in the conflict in Mali. Burkina Faso is particularly affected by the unstable situation in the Sahel region and has so far taken in a great number of refugees. Jihadist attacks such as that of 15thJanuary 2016 in Ouagadougou remain a cause of concern.
The peaceful and transparent presidential and parliamentary elections of 29thNovember 2015 go down in history, bringing to an end the year of transition, as well as 27 years of a one-man/one-party system. Under President Roch Marc Christian KABORÉ a civilian heads the state for the first time since 1966.
Burkina Faso is one of the focal countries of Austrian Development Cooperation, which also has an office in Ouagadougou.
The successful parliamentary and presidential elections of 13th April and 18thMay 2014 (second round) brought to end the transitional era following the coup of 2012. The political landscape continues to be determined by the former Party of Unity PAIGC (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde). Since December 2015 the country faces a power struggle between President José Mario Vaz and the PAIGC. The United Nations maintain a presence through the Integrated Peace-Building Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) as well as a political mission and various development programmes and funds.
Tangible economic successes were achieved during the government of President Alassane Ouattara, including improvements in the security situation in the country. The President’s objectives include reconciliation with followers of former President Laurent Gbagbo and economic growth.
Côte d’Ivoire will host the 5th Summit of the African Union (AU) and the EU, due to be held end of November 2017 in Abidjan. The mandate of the 2004 UN operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) came to an end in June 2017. UN-sanctions (arms embargo, targeted sanctions such as travel ban, freezing of assets of certain individuals) were lifted in April 2016. In April 2015 the prohibition of trade in rough diamonds was lifted upon meeting the requirements of the Kimberley Process. Since May 2013 Côte d’Ivoire complies with the standards of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (ITIE).
The special partnership between the EU and Cabo Verde that was initiated in 2007 continues to be implemented and further developed through annual meetings at Ministerial level. A visa facilitation agreement and a readmission agreement with the EU are in force since 1st December 2014. Cabo Verde continues its efforts to improve competitiveness and fight poverty.
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), with their historically different leadership structures (caliphate, kingdoms, tribal chiefdoms) and religious orientations, as well as relations shaped by conflict continue to characterise the country. The distribution of oil profits and jobs within the state apparatus and party hierarchies are determined by these factors of influence, contributing to the all-pervading corruption (136/176 TI Index), which in turn feeds poverty and violence in the country.
Presidential elections in March/April 2015 led to the victory of the opposition party candidate ’All Progressive Congress (APC)’ Muhammadu Buhari. The priorities of the government nominated in November 2015 include improving the security situation, fighting corruption and diversifying and reviving the economy.
The human rights situation has improved since 1999; however, some of this progress was undone lately. After a de-facto moratorium of the death penalty since 2006, executions were conducted in June 2013 and in December 2016. Since the adoption n of the "Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, the situation of LGBTI minorities has deteriorated further.
The ongoing conflict since 2009 with the Islamist Terror Organisation Boko Haram in the north of Nigeria, has led to approximately 20.000 fatalities and more than 2.7 million individuals being internally displaced in the Lake Chad Basin region. After retreating into impassable terrain and the pledge of allegiance of a splinter group to the so-called “Islamic State”, Boko Haram returned to its original guerilla tactics with attacks on remote villages and suicide attacks often using female attackers.
The start of privatisation of the energy sector gives hope that the energy shortages caused by the current investment climate 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. A bilateral readmission agreement entered into force on 18th August 2012.
In the often fragile West African region, Ghana stood out during the last decade for its high economic growth and success in fighting poverty. Blessed with raw materials and recent oil production, Ghana shows a per capita income twice as high as other West African countries.
Presidential elections in December 2016 led to the victory of Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). The government’s objectives are promoting economic growth and inward investment, as well as job creation.
The Austrian Foreign Trade Center in Lagos carried out a trade mission to Ghana in March 2017. About 20 Austrian companies seized the opportunity of the trip to initiate concrete transactions with local businesses and authorities and to meet economic and political decisionmakers.
Since 2015, an Austrian officer is seconded to the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra as part of the cooperation with ECOWAS.
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 commonplace. Large parts of the population have fled and famine could only be relieved through significant international aid efforts. The increased presence of international troops in the country was required to prevent the situation from escalating.
Elected president Faustin Archange Touadéra took office on 30th March 2016 and the appointment of a new government on 2nd April 2016, heralding the start of normality. Yet tensions between Ex-Seleka rebels and Anti-Balaka militias continue. The main challenges are security, medical supplies, return of refugees and displaced persons, food security, promotion of agriculture and reconciliation.
At time of publication, the EU military CSDP mission EUTM RCA, a training and advisory mission for the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence, is deployed. Since 15th September 2014, a United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission (MINUSCA) is operating with 10,750 members to protect civilians in the Central African Republic.
Austria reacted to the precarious humanitarian situation of the civilian population by providing 500,000 Euro of immediate aid from its Foreign Disaster Relief Fund in January 2014. Austria’s foreign policy towards CAR focuses 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.