It was the number of unidentified bodies bearing signs of torture arriving at the morgue that made Cherie*, a nurse at Kinshasa’s General Hospital, get involved in politics. As part of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress Party (UDPS), the main opposition party in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), she handed out leaflets and took part in protests. In December 2009, the 20-year-old was arrested after attending a memorial service for activists who had been killed. For two weeks she was kept in the detention centre of the Rapid Intervention Police (Police d’intervention rapide, PIR).
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh said a standoff with neighboring West African states over his refusal to step aside after losing December’s election will escalate into war if the alliance doesn’t back down from its stance. Speaking in a televised New Year’s address, Jammeh said a vow by the Economic Community of West African States to take “all necessary actions” to enforce the Dec. 2 election results violates a principle of “non-interference” and is “in effect a declaration of war.” He said the stance would disqualify member countries from brokering any mediation between the president and opposition leader Adama Barrow, who was declared the election winner.