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Africa in the News: The U.S.-African Leaders’ Summit Announced, New Leader in CAR Elected, and Cease-Fire Agreement Signed in South Sudan

New parliamentary-elected interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza sits prior to her swearing-in ceremony at the National Assembly in the capital Bangui

The White House Gives Dates for Upcoming African Leaders’ Summit

This week, the White House announced the official dates for the U.S. African Leaders’ Summit; it will be scheduled for August 3-5, 2014. The concept of the leaders’ summit developed from Obama’s trip to Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa in 2013, and its agenda will focus on trade, investment and democratic development in Africa. As Brookings Africa Growth Initiative Director Mwangi Kimenyi mentions in a recent blog post, the move by the Obama administration to focus on trade and investment at this summit rather than aid is a welcome gesture.

For this summit to be successful, as Kimenyi emphasizes, African leaders will need to come to Washington with clear, unified goals that benefit both the continent and the United States.  On the U.S. side, the White House will face some practical challenges in the organization of the meeting:  The final invite list may be difficult to create due to the sensitive relations the U.S. has with some African leaders, e.g., Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir. 

For more on how the U.S. can be involved in improving the commercial environment in sub-Saharan Africa, follow the link to the Africa Growth Initiative’s previous November 2013 Africa Policy Dialogue on the Hill.

Catherine Samba-Panza Elected New Interim Leader in the Central African Republic

Catherine Samba-Panza was elected by the Central African Republic’s parliament to take over as the interim president. The prior interim president, Michel Djotodia, was removed due to his inability to control instability, which has mainly taken the form of violence between Christians and Muslims. Samba-Panza is the former mayor of Bangui (elected after the Séléka coup d’etat that dislodged President Bozize), and she is popular among the residents of Bangui. Samba-Panza is not affiliated with the Séléka rebels and is seen by some analysts as having the potential to unify the political elites.

South Sudan Government and Rebels Sign a Cease-Fire Agreement

After fighting for more than a month, the South Sudan government and rebels reached a cease-fire agreement. The agreement was reached under mediation by the regional body, the International Government Authority on Development, an eight-country trading bloc in East Africa. The agreement already appears tenuous:  Today, rebels claimed that the government attacked them after the agreement was signed. In addition to this claim, United Nations food stores for displaced persons were looted.

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