Showing posts tagged as "africa"

Showing posts tagged africa

11 Apr
Guinea-Bissau: the challenge of economic recovery | RFI
Lamine came to drink tea with his old friend Felix. At Diolo their neighborhood, there is no water or electricity. Poverty is everywhere. It’s harder every day. ”  I was married, I worked in boats. When there was the coup (in April 2012, ed) , the boss, a Spaniard, stopped its activities. Now we are unemployed. So I find myself here to beg, I’m doing door to door for the whole family. It’s not easy.  ”
Today, nearly two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Since the coup of April 2012, international donors have suspended most of their cooperation. Even trade cashew first income countries is in crisis.
FULL ARTICLE (RFI)
Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

Guinea-Bissau: the challenge of economic recovery | RFI

Lamine came to drink tea with his old friend Felix. At Diolo their neighborhood, there is no water or electricity. Poverty is everywhere. It’s harder every day. ”  I was married, I worked in boats. When there was the coup (in April 2012, ed) , the boss, a Spaniard, stopped its activities. Now we are unemployed. So I find myself here to beg, I’m doing door to door for the whole family. It’s not easy.  ”

Today, nearly two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Since the coup of April 2012, international donors have suspended most of their cooperation. Even trade cashew first income countries is in crisis.

FULL ARTICLE (RFI)

Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

10 Apr
South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name
Addis Ababa/Juba/Nairobi/Brussels  |   10 Apr 2014
Refocusing international engagement as well as the peace negotiations is essential to stop South Sudan’s raging civil war from claiming ever more lives. 
South Sudan’s four-month civil war has displaced more than a million and killed over 10,000; an escalating humanitarian crisis threatens many more. In its latest report, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name, the International Crisis Group looks at the longstanding political and military grievances behind spiralling violence and examines the steps necessary for peace and reconciliation. Communal conflicts cannot be separated from political disputes, and resolving both requires sustained commitment from South Sudanese and international actors.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
The dispute within the governing Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) that led to the conflict was primarily political, but ethnic targeting and communal mobilisation quickly led to appalling levels of brutality against civilians. As peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A in Opposition stalled, both sides sought gains on the battlefield to strengthen their position in negotiations.
Peace talks and reconciliation efforts must expand considerably beyond deals between political elites to include other militarised actors as well as community-based organisations, religious groups, women’s associations and others.
To address the rapidly growing humanitarian crisis, armed actors must permit unconditional humanitarian access to civilians in areas they control. Aid providers must prepare to scale up humanitarian service delivery to prevent an avoidable famine.
Plans by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy a Protection and Deterrent Force raise the prospect of even greater regional involvement. IGAD should only do so with a clear mandate that supports a political resolution of the conflict. 
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is called upon to be an impartial actor in conflict-affected areas and to carry out state-support tasks in others. This dual mandate creates confusion and should urgently be amended to focus on the protection of civilians, human-rights reporting, support for IGAD’s mediation and logistical help to the African Union Commission of Inquiry.
“Many communities are aligning themselves with military factions, giving the conflict a dangerous ethno-military nature”, says Casie Copeland, Consulting South Sudan Analyst. “To prevent further catastrophe, South Sudan’s leaders and its international partners need to consider a radical restructuring of the state. New constituencies have to be admitted to a national dialogue, including armed groups previously not included, civil society actors and disaffected communities”.
“The conflict that broke out on 15 December 2013 was decades in the making. Resolving it requires not a quick fix but sustained domestic and international commitment”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “The democratic space that was closed after independence in July 2011 must be reopened to enable peace and reconciliation processes to take hold”.
FULL REPORT

South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name

Addis Ababa/Juba/Nairobi/Brussels  |   10 Apr 2014

Refocusing international engagement as well as the peace negotiations is essential to stop South Sudan’s raging civil war from claiming ever more lives. 

South Sudan’s four-month civil war has displaced more than a million and killed over 10,000; an escalating humanitarian crisis threatens many more. In its latest report, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name, the International Crisis Group looks at the longstanding political and military grievances behind spiralling violence and examines the steps necessary for peace and reconciliation. Communal conflicts cannot be separated from political disputes, and resolving both requires sustained commitment from South Sudanese and international actors.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

The dispute within the governing Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) that led to the conflict was primarily political, but ethnic targeting and communal mobilisation quickly led to appalling levels of brutality against civilians. As peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A in Opposition stalled, both sides sought gains on the battlefield to strengthen their position in negotiations.

Peace talks and reconciliation efforts must expand considerably beyond deals between political elites to include other militarised actors as well as community-based organisations, religious groups, women’s associations and others.

To address the rapidly growing humanitarian crisis, armed actors must permit unconditional humanitarian access to civilians in areas they control. Aid providers must prepare to scale up humanitarian service delivery to prevent an avoidable famine.

Plans by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy a Protection and Deterrent Force raise the prospect of even greater regional involvement. IGAD should only do so with a clear mandate that supports a political resolution of the conflict. 

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is called upon to be an impartial actor in conflict-affected areas and to carry out state-support tasks in others. This dual mandate creates confusion and should urgently be amended to focus on the protection of civilians, human-rights reporting, support for IGAD’s mediation and logistical help to the African Union Commission of Inquiry.

“Many communities are aligning themselves with military factions, giving the conflict a dangerous ethno-military nature”, says Casie Copeland, Consulting South Sudan Analyst. “To prevent further catastrophe, South Sudan’s leaders and its international partners need to consider a radical restructuring of the state. New constituencies have to be admitted to a national dialogue, including armed groups previously not included, civil society actors and disaffected communities”.

“The conflict that broke out on 15 December 2013 was decades in the making. Resolving it requires not a quick fix but sustained domestic and international commitment”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “The democratic space that was closed after independence in July 2011 must be reopened to enable peace and reconciliation processes to take hold”.

FULL REPORT

8 Apr
Voter anger, parties’ disarray could bring change in Bissau | Bate Felix and Alberto Dabo
Disarray in Guinea-Bissau’s political parties and frustration among voters could open the way for a Harvard-educated political outsider to win a presidential election next week aimed at turning the page on years of coups and crime.
Guinea-Bissau - a transit route for South American cocaine into Europe which has been dubbed Africa’s first ‘narco-state’ - was plunged into chaos two years ago when soldiers stormed the presidential palace days before an election for that post.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

Voter anger, parties’ disarray could bring change in Bissau | Bate Felix and Alberto Dabo

Disarray in Guinea-Bissau’s political parties and frustration among voters could open the way for a Harvard-educated political outsider to win a presidential election next week aimed at turning the page on years of coups and crime.

Guinea-Bissau - a transit route for South American cocaine into Europe which has been dubbed Africa’s first ‘narco-state’ - was plunged into chaos two years ago when soldiers stormed the presidential palace days before an election for that post.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

Guinea-Bissau: Elections, But Then What?
Brussels  |   8 Apr 2014
Guinea-Bissau’s elections are an important first step, but to address its economic and political fragility, the country needs strong international help, as well as political and military will for reform.
In its latest briefing, Guinea-Bissau: Elections, But Then What?, the International Crisis Group examines the bumpy road to the 13 April 2014 elections and the challenges a new government will face. Redistributing power and resources in a country where participation in government has been the main method for acquiring wealth will threaten a fragile balance of forces.
The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:
International pressure and a crippled economy have finally forced the military and its political allies – two years after the April 2012 military coup – to hold legislative and presidential elections. But much like in 2012, they are concerned with a potential hegemony of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). They could be tempted to resort to violence again, should their access to the formal and informal benefits associated with power be removed.
Peaceful elections and, more broadly, the fate of the ongoing transition, will depend largely on the leverage of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has supported the transition authorities from the start but is tired of paying the bills for a regime that is close to bankruptcy.
The elections are only the first stage of a long-term effort to solve problems that have undermined progress for years. Given the country’s fragility, the political stakes in play, a suspicious military and a weak economy, real transformation will only be possible with strong international involvement, political and financial.
The international community should closely monitor the crucial post-elections period. It should use the lifting of individual sanctions on coup makers as an incentive to cooperate. Donors should be ready to help the government pay immediate expenses, including public sector wages, provide long-term funding for development programs and push for improved economic governance.
The new authorities will need to promote consensus as well as ethnic and political pluralism. This includes passing the proposed amnesty law for the coup makers agreed during the transition.
“The new government will have to call into question the privileges enjoyed by senior military officers and carefully resume the security sector reforms that prompted the army to stage the coup” says Vincent Foucher, West Africa Senior Analyst. “This time round, the government should proceed with caution and seek compromise to avoid a violent reaction from the army”.
“The election winners will face numerous challenges”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “Nonetheless, this is an opportunity for a new generation of politicians, who are more willing to compromise internally and internationally and are able to manage the country well enough to allow the re-legitimisation of the state and convince the military to consent to the modernisation needed”.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Guinea-Bissau: Elections, But Then What?

Brussels  |   8 Apr 2014

Guinea-Bissau’s elections are an important first step, but to address its economic and political fragility, the country needs strong international help, as well as political and military will for reform.

In its latest briefing, Guinea-Bissau: Elections, But Then What?, the International Crisis Group examines the bumpy road to the 13 April 2014 elections and the challenges a new government will face. Redistributing power and resources in a country where participation in government has been the main method for acquiring wealth will threaten a fragile balance of forces.

The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:

International pressure and a crippled economy have finally forced the military and its political allies – two years after the April 2012 military coup – to hold legislative and presidential elections. But much like in 2012, they are concerned with a potential hegemony of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). They could be tempted to resort to violence again, should their access to the formal and informal benefits associated with power be removed.

Peaceful elections and, more broadly, the fate of the ongoing transition, will depend largely on the leverage of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has supported the transition authorities from the start but is tired of paying the bills for a regime that is close to bankruptcy.

The elections are only the first stage of a long-term effort to solve problems that have undermined progress for years. Given the country’s fragility, the political stakes in play, a suspicious military and a weak economy, real transformation will only be possible with strong international involvement, political and financial.

The international community should closely monitor the crucial post-elections period. It should use the lifting of individual sanctions on coup makers as an incentive to cooperate. Donors should be ready to help the government pay immediate expenses, including public sector wages, provide long-term funding for development programs and push for improved economic governance.

The new authorities will need to promote consensus as well as ethnic and political pluralism. This includes passing the proposed amnesty law for the coup makers agreed during the transition.

“The new government will have to call into question the privileges enjoyed by senior military officers and carefully resume the security sector reforms that prompted the army to stage the coup” says Vincent Foucher, West Africa Senior Analyst. “This time round, the government should proceed with caution and seek compromise to avoid a violent reaction from the army”.

“The election winners will face numerous challenges”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “Nonetheless, this is an opportunity for a new generation of politicians, who are more willing to compromise internally and internationally and are able to manage the country well enough to allow the re-legitimisation of the state and convince the military to consent to the modernisation needed”.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

3 Apr
Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency
Abuja/Dakar/Nairobi/Brussels  |   3 Apr 2014
In an environment of poverty, injustice and lack of political will for reform, Boko Haram’s growing strength and dissemination is increasingly putting local and regional stability at risk.
In its latest report, Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency, the International Crisis Group examines the emergence, rise and evolution of a movement whose four-year insurgency has killed thousands, displaced close to a million, destroyed public infrastructure and weakened the country’s already poor economy, particularly in the North East. The government’s failure to provide security and basic services makes poor youth, in particular, an easy recruitment target for anti-state militias. As Boko Haram’s network expands into Cameroon and Niger, a military response is not enough. Only deep political and socio-economic reform can ease the injustices that fuel the insurgency.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Boko Haram’s evolution since 2002 is strongly linked to failed governance, economic hardship, rising social inequality, corruption and impunity. Most Nigerians are poorer today than at independence in 1960. Poverty is most dire in the north, where Boko Haram, the latest of many northern fundamentalist movements, has tapped into Muslim revivalism and hopes to establish an Islamic state.
Since 2010, the group’s campaign has grown, targeting not only security forces and politicians, but also civilians, traditional and religious leaders, public institutions, the UN presence and schools. It is more dispersed than ever, with many leaders in Cameroon and Niger, both of which are poorly equipped to address an armed Islamist threat. Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, seems to have little control over its factions, including Ansaru, which focuses on foreign targets.
Insecurity in much of the north may also worsen political violence and undermine the credibility of the 2015 elections, further damaging government legitimacy.
Federal and state governments must end impunity by prosecuting crimes by security services, government officials and Boko Haram members alike, and urgently develop and implement a socio-economic intervention program for the North East region.
Civic education to halt politicisation of religions, effective development and anti-corruption efforts, and police who are seen as partners to citizens are all vital.
“Boko Haram’s insurgency is tapping into governance, corruption, impunity and underdevelopment grievances shared by most people in the region” says EJ Hogendoorn, Deputy Africa Program Director. “It’s a serious challenge and a manifestation of more profound threats to Nigeria’s security. Yet, the government’s response is largely military”.
“Radical reform of governance and political culture is a big agenda, one some Nigerian elites have not yet demonstrated they have the will to address”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “But if they do not, Boko Haram, or groups like it, will continue to destabilise large parts of the country”.
FULL REPORT

Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency

Abuja/Dakar/Nairobi/Brussels  |   3 Apr 2014

In an environment of poverty, injustice and lack of political will for reform, Boko Haram’s growing strength and dissemination is increasingly putting local and regional stability at risk.

In its latest report, Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency, the International Crisis Group examines the emergence, rise and evolution of a movement whose four-year insurgency has killed thousands, displaced close to a million, destroyed public infrastructure and weakened the country’s already poor economy, particularly in the North East. The government’s failure to provide security and basic services makes poor youth, in particular, an easy recruitment target for anti-state militias. As Boko Haram’s network expands into Cameroon and Niger, a military response is not enough. Only deep political and socio-economic reform can ease the injustices that fuel the insurgency.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

Boko Haram’s evolution since 2002 is strongly linked to failed governance, economic hardship, rising social inequality, corruption and impunity. Most Nigerians are poorer today than at independence in 1960. Poverty is most dire in the north, where Boko Haram, the latest of many northern fundamentalist movements, has tapped into Muslim revivalism and hopes to establish an Islamic state.

Since 2010, the group’s campaign has grown, targeting not only security forces and politicians, but also civilians, traditional and religious leaders, public institutions, the UN presence and schools. It is more dispersed than ever, with many leaders in Cameroon and Niger, both of which are poorly equipped to address an armed Islamist threat. Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, seems to have little control over its factions, including Ansaru, which focuses on foreign targets.

Insecurity in much of the north may also worsen political violence and undermine the credibility of the 2015 elections, further damaging government legitimacy.

Federal and state governments must end impunity by prosecuting crimes by security services, government officials and Boko Haram members alike, and urgently develop and implement a socio-economic intervention program for the North East region.

Civic education to halt politicisation of religions, effective development and anti-corruption efforts, and police who are seen as partners to citizens are all vital.

“Boko Haram’s insurgency is tapping into governance, corruption, impunity and underdevelopment grievances shared by most people in the region” says EJ Hogendoorn, Deputy Africa Program Director. “It’s a serious challenge and a manifestation of more profound threats to Nigeria’s security. Yet, the government’s response is largely military”.

“Radical reform of governance and political culture is a big agenda, one some Nigerian elites have not yet demonstrated they have the will to address”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “But if they do not, Boko Haram, or groups like it, will continue to destabilise large parts of the country”.

FULL REPORT

1 Apr
The Security Challenges of Pastoralism in Central Africa
Nairobi/Brussels  |   1 Apr 2014
Sensible, inclusive regulation of pastoralism that has mitigated tension in parts of the Sahel should be extended to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR), where conflicts have worsened with the southward expansion of pastoralism.
In its latest report, Central Africa: The Security Challenges of Pastoralism, the International Crisis Group Group analyses an under-reported human security problem: violent conflicts related to the expansion of pastoralism southward from the Sahel. This dynamic is problematic because pastoral ecosystems transcend borders and transhumance creates new settlement fronts and sources of friction in Central Africa.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Pastoralism generates wealth and economic interdependence but also causes tensions, usually over water or pasture. In the last few years, conflicts have intensified because of growing insecurity and small-arms proliferation; climate change and the southward shift of cattle migration; the multipli-cation of transhumance roads, especially transnational routes; expansion of cultivated areas into traditional grazing lands; and growing cattle herds
In Chad, the government should reinforce regulation of cattle migration by deploying staff from the livestock ministry to improve marking and organisation of transhumance roads and of cattle resting areas and to provide services along roads and next to cattle markets.
In CAR, even before the ongoing crisis, violent clashes between Chadian herdsmen and the local population caused thousands to flee their homes during the past years. Ahead of the migration sea-son, the regional organisation in charge of pastoralism (CEBEVIRAH) should organise a meeting with the CAR and Chad governments to establish monitoring mechanisms and reduce tensions. Af-ter CAR is stabilised, both countries need to negotiate clear regulations together with pastoralists and farmers to prevent future conflict.
In the DRC, tensions between the migrant Mbororo community – from the Peul ethnic group – and local farmers in Orientale Province could be calmed by giving Mbororo pastoralists official permission to remain, monitoring them, establishing mediation committees and developing economic interactions between them and the local population.
“Conflicts linked to pastoralist movements from Chad to CAR or into north-eastern DRC take place in deeply rural areas” says Central Africa Analyst Thibaud Lesueur. “Despite a growing death toll, they are invisible and neglected by the governments”
“Pastoralism needs to be regulated effectively in this region”, says Central Africa Project Director Thierry Vircoulon. “But regulation cannot be imposed: it must be negotiated between state and non-state actors and must foster economic interdependence between pastoralists and farmers”.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Security Challenges of Pastoralism in Central Africa

Nairobi/Brussels  |   1 Apr 2014

Sensible, inclusive regulation of pastoralism that has mitigated tension in parts of the Sahel should be extended to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR), where conflicts have worsened with the southward expansion of pastoralism.

In its latest report, Central Africa: The Security Challenges of Pastoralism, the International Crisis Group Group analyses an under-reported human security problem: violent conflicts related to the expansion of pastoralism southward from the Sahel. This dynamic is problematic because pastoral ecosystems transcend borders and transhumance creates new settlement fronts and sources of friction in Central Africa.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

Pastoralism generates wealth and economic interdependence but also causes tensions, usually over water or pasture. In the last few years, conflicts have intensified because of growing insecurity and small-arms proliferation; climate change and the southward shift of cattle migration; the multipli-cation of transhumance roads, especially transnational routes; expansion of cultivated areas into traditional grazing lands; and growing cattle herds

In Chad, the government should reinforce regulation of cattle migration by deploying staff from the livestock ministry to improve marking and organisation of transhumance roads and of cattle resting areas and to provide services along roads and next to cattle markets.

In CAR, even before the ongoing crisis, violent clashes between Chadian herdsmen and the local population caused thousands to flee their homes during the past years. Ahead of the migration sea-son, the regional organisation in charge of pastoralism (CEBEVIRAH) should organise a meeting with the CAR and Chad governments to establish monitoring mechanisms and reduce tensions. Af-ter CAR is stabilised, both countries need to negotiate clear regulations together with pastoralists and farmers to prevent future conflict.

In the DRC, tensions between the migrant Mbororo community – from the Peul ethnic group – and local farmers in Orientale Province could be calmed by giving Mbororo pastoralists official permission to remain, monitoring them, establishing mediation committees and developing economic interactions between them and the local population.

“Conflicts linked to pastoralist movements from Chad to CAR or into north-eastern DRC take place in deeply rural areas” says Central Africa Analyst Thibaud Lesueur. “Despite a growing death toll, they are invisible and neglected by the governments”

“Pastoralism needs to be regulated effectively in this region”, says Central Africa Project Director Thierry Vircoulon. “But regulation cannot be imposed: it must be negotiated between state and non-state actors and must foster economic interdependence between pastoralists and farmers”.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

28 Feb
Nigeria: Boko Haram’s Deadly School Attack 
What happened?
In the early hours of Tuesday 25 February, about 50 gunmen from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram stormed a co-educational, federal government boarding school in Buni Yadi, Yobe State, about 65km from the state capital, Damaturu. The attackers locked a dormitory and set it on fire, killing many students inside. Students who tried to escape were shot or knifed to death. In all, there were 59 fatalities; all killed were males; some female students were abducted, others ordered to quit school and go get married or be killed in future attacks. The school’s 24 buildings were completely burned down.
What has been the government’s reaction?
President Goodluck Jonathan has called the attack “a callous and senseless murder … by deranged terrorists and fanatics who have clearly lost all human morality and descended to bestiality”. A military spokesman in Yobe State, Captain Lazarus Eli, said troops were “in pursuit of the killers”, but military authorities offered no further details. Many commentators on social media and radio/television talk programs dismiss these reactions for being insufficient.
What is the local reaction?
This incident, and several other attacks this month, are seen as further examples of the failure of the government and the military to protect Nigeria’s citizens. The rising casualties from recent attacks are fuelling an already considerable anger, not only in the north east, which is worst hit by the violence, but across the country.
Why are the militants increasingly targeting civilians?
Because they are soft targets. The militants accuse communities – especially those with significant Christian populations – of collaborating with government security forces. Their terror tactics are intended to compel compliance with their ideology. (For more on the historical and ideological roots of the movement, see our 2010 report Northern Nigeria: Background to Conflict.)
Why are they targeting schools?
They say secular, state schools are the main conduits through which Western values, which they consider un-Islamic and therefore corrupting, are being transmitted to the local society.
President Jonathan declared a state of emergency in 2013 and launched a military offensive in May to crush the rebels. Why is this not working?
The military operation has been difficult for several reasons. First, this is an unconventional, asymmetric war (in which the attackers generally avoid direct combat but attack soft targets like schools and remote villages). Second, the military initially had little or no capacity (training, equipment, special units, etc.) for operations against such insurgents. Lastly the terrain is vast and difficult. The three states where Boko Haram is most active (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, all covered by the state of emergency) total 154,000 sq km: larger than the U.S. state of Georgia and nearly two thirds the size of the UK. The number of soldiers deployed would need to be considerable to provide adequate protection to all possible targets, especially remote communities. Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Geidam and Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima have recently criticised the military’s performance, insisting more resources are needed to defeat the increasingly well-armed and apparently emboldened insurgents. The military’s performance has been compromised by rivalries with other security agencies. There are indications of possible sabotage by military elements who support, or are sympathetic to, Boko Haram’s demand for an Islamic state to counter the corruption and dysfunction of the current government. Military authorities also suggest they are not getting maximum cooperation from the security forces of neighbouring countries, particularly Cameroon.
What are the implications for the 2015 elections?
The Independent National Electoral Commission warned in December 2013 that it might not be able to conduct elections in the three states (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) under emergency rule if the attacks continue into next year. These states are among sixteen in which the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is quite strong. Some opposition politicians are already alleging that Jonathan is allowing the poor security situation to persist, or even deteriorate, in order not to hold polls in those states. A general or presidential election that leaves out these three states could give Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) a significant advantage at the polls. If Jonathan wins re-election that way, the opposition will likely vigorously challenge his victory; the 2011 post-election violence in the north killed more than 1,000.
However, conversely, there are those who believe the government’s management of the conflict reflects poorly on the Jonathan administration and therefore continued attacks could dim the president’s chances of re-election.
Boko Haram recently said it will strike oil installations in the Niger Delta and assassinate leading political figures nationwide. How serious is this threat?
Security sources say they do not underestimate Boko Haram’s capacity for wreaking havoc. In 2011, Boko Haram carried out suicide-bomb attacks on the national police force headquarters as well as the complex housing all UN agencies in Abuja, the Nigerian capital – about 850km away from the attackers’ base in Borno State. (See our commentary at the time.) No target anywhere in the country is entirely secure. Boko Haram cells have been uncovered in the south, including Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. Some suspected members were arrested recently in Port Harcourt, the largest city in the Niger Delta and hub of the country’s oil industry. The possibility of the group striking oil facilities cannot be ruled out.
If the group is planning to attack oil installations in the Niger Delta, would they do this on their own or possibly in collaboration with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND)?
Collaborating with MEND is highly unlikely. The two groups have strikingly opposing ideologies, interests and goals. Boko Haram views MEND as part of the “infidel” southern Nigeria; MEND views Boko Haram as part of a “Hausa/Fulani/Islamist” plot to dominate the country (especially the oil-producing areas) for its own purposes.
crisisgroupblogs.org
PHOTO: AFP

Nigeria: Boko Haram’s Deadly School Attack

What happened?

In the early hours of Tuesday 25 February, about 50 gunmen from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram stormed a co-educational, federal government boarding school in Buni Yadi, Yobe State, about 65km from the state capital, Damaturu. The attackers locked a dormitory and set it on fire, killing many students inside. Students who tried to escape were shot or knifed to death. In all, there were 59 fatalities; all killed were males; some female students were abducted, others ordered to quit school and go get married or be killed in future attacks. The school’s 24 buildings were completely burned down.

What has been the government’s reaction?

President Goodluck Jonathan has called the attack “a callous and senseless murder … by deranged terrorists and fanatics who have clearly lost all human morality and descended to bestiality”. A military spokesman in Yobe State, Captain Lazarus Eli, said troops were “in pursuit of the killers”, but military authorities offered no further details. Many commentators on social media and radio/television talk programs dismiss these reactions for being insufficient.

What is the local reaction?

This incident, and several other attacks this month, are seen as further examples of the failure of the government and the military to protect Nigeria’s citizens. The rising casualties from recent attacks are fuelling an already considerable anger, not only in the north east, which is worst hit by the violence, but across the country.

Why are the militants increasingly targeting civilians?

Because they are soft targets. The militants accuse communities – especially those with significant Christian populations – of collaborating with government security forces. Their terror tactics are intended to compel compliance with their ideology. (For more on the historical and ideological roots of the movement, see our 2010 report Northern Nigeria: Background to Conflict.)

Why are they targeting schools?

They say secular, state schools are the main conduits through which Western values, which they consider un-Islamic and therefore corrupting, are being transmitted to the local society.

President Jonathan declared a state of emergency in 2013 and launched a military offensive in May to crush the rebels. Why is this not working?

The military operation has been difficult for several reasons. First, this is an unconventional, asymmetric war (in which the attackers generally avoid direct combat but attack soft targets like schools and remote villages). Second, the military initially had little or no capacity (training, equipment, special units, etc.) for operations against such insurgents. Lastly the terrain is vast and difficult. The three states where Boko Haram is most active (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, all covered by the state of emergency) total 154,000 sq km: larger than the U.S. state of Georgia and nearly two thirds the size of the UK. The number of soldiers deployed would need to be considerable to provide adequate protection to all possible targets, especially remote communities. Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Geidam and Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima have recently criticised the military’s performance, insisting more resources are needed to defeat the increasingly well-armed and apparently emboldened insurgents. The military’s performance has been compromised by rivalries with other security agencies. There are indications of possible sabotage by military elements who support, or are sympathetic to, Boko Haram’s demand for an Islamic state to counter the corruption and dysfunction of the current government. Military authorities also suggest they are not getting maximum cooperation from the security forces of neighbouring countries, particularly Cameroon.

What are the implications for the 2015 elections?

The Independent National Electoral Commission warned in December 2013 that it might not be able to conduct elections in the three states (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) under emergency rule if the attacks continue into next year. These states are among sixteen in which the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is quite strong. Some opposition politicians are already alleging that Jonathan is allowing the poor security situation to persist, or even deteriorate, in order not to hold polls in those states. A general or presidential election that leaves out these three states could give Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) a significant advantage at the polls. If Jonathan wins re-election that way, the opposition will likely vigorously challenge his victory; the 2011 post-election violence in the north killed more than 1,000.

However, conversely, there are those who believe the government’s management of the conflict reflects poorly on the Jonathan administration and therefore continued attacks could dim the president’s chances of re-election.

Boko Haram recently said it will strike oil installations in the Niger Delta and assassinate leading political figures nationwide. How serious is this threat?

Security sources say they do not underestimate Boko Haram’s capacity for wreaking havoc. In 2011, Boko Haram carried out suicide-bomb attacks on the national police force headquarters as well as the complex housing all UN agencies in Abuja, the Nigerian capital – about 850km away from the attackers’ base in Borno State. (See our commentary at the time.) No target anywhere in the country is entirely secure. Boko Haram cells have been uncovered in the south, including Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. Some suspected members were arrested recently in Port Harcourt, the largest city in the Niger Delta and hub of the country’s oil industry. The possibility of the group striking oil facilities cannot be ruled out.

If the group is planning to attack oil installations in the Niger Delta, would they do this on their own or possibly in collaboration with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND)?

Collaborating with MEND is highly unlikely. The two groups have strikingly opposing ideologies, interests and goals. Boko Haram views MEND as part of the “infidel” southern Nigeria; MEND views Boko Haram as part of a “Hausa/Fulani/Islamist” plot to dominate the country (especially the oil-producing areas) for its own purposes.

crisisgroupblogs.org

PHOTO: AFP

25 Feb
Central African Republic: Making the Mission Work | Thierry Vircoulon and Thibaud Lesueur
By failing to engage when Crisis Group and others warned that the Central African Republic had become a phantom state, the international community has now had to become much more heavily involved, at much greater expense, after horrifying loss of life and massive displacement, with much greater odds of failure. The new CAR government (the third in one in a year) looks promising and the capital, Bangui, enjoys slightly more security. Yet the international response continues to be riven by divisions, most notoriously between the African Union and the UN. CAR’s new president has called for a UN peacekeeping mission and Chad, an important regional player which initially opposed this option, now agrees. The Security Council has itself approved a European Union mission, soon to be deployed. But peacekeepers (EU and otherwise) must be guided by a stabilisation strategy that is coherent, comprehensive and meets the needs of CAR not just in the short-term but over the long haul.
crisisgroupblogs.org
PHOTO:REUTERS/Camille Lepage

Central African Republic: Making the Mission Work | Thierry Vircoulon and Thibaud Lesueur

By failing to engage when Crisis Group and others warned that the Central African Republic had become a phantom state, the international community has now had to become much more heavily involved, at much greater expense, after horrifying loss of life and massive displacement, with much greater odds of failure. The new CAR government (the third in one in a year) looks promising and the capital, Bangui, enjoys slightly more security. Yet the international response continues to be riven by divisions, most notoriously between the African Union and the UN. CAR’s new president has called for a UN peacekeeping mission and Chad, an important regional player which initially opposed this option, now agrees. The Security Council has itself approved a European Union mission, soon to be deployed. But peacekeepers (EU and otherwise) must be guided by a stabilisation strategy that is coherent, comprehensive and meets the needs of CAR not just in the short-term but over the long haul.

crisisgroupblogs.org

PHOTO:REUTERS/Camille Lepage

14 Feb
Puntland’s Boundary Issues: What Will Abdiweli Gas’s Call for Unity Really Mean? | Cedric Barnes and Zakaria YusufPuntland’s new president, Abdiweli Gas, was a prominent mourner in Mogadishu last week at the graveside of Abdirizak Haji Hussein, a former prime minister of Somalia (1964–67). It was Abdiweli’s first visit to the national capital since his election on 8 January, though he had previously served as a minister (2010-11) and prime minister (2011-2012) in the then Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG). The twitter account of the newly established Somalia Federal Government (SFG) presidency (@theVillaSomalia) hailed the late Abdirizak as a “lion and patriot of Somalia” and highlighted his contribution to “national unity”. The wording will not be lost on Abdiweli Gas. Not only is he of the same lineage and region as the late Abdirizak, but he also now leads the regional state authority that has done the most to promote federalism in Somalia –which, for many Somalis, has dug the grave for national unity.Abdiweli’s election – by 66 members of parliament selected by councils of clan elders – was peaceful, but he won by the narrowest of margins (33 to 32, with one invalid ballot) and inherits a politically divided and economically weak state. Moreover, as a diaspora politician, originally parachuted into the TFG in Mogadishu, Abdiweli has to prove his commitment to Puntland and beat back any impression that he wants merely to use the Puntland post as a platform to run for Somalia’s presidency. (He already made one failed bid in August 2012.)The new president’s initial pronouncements have been encouraging, focused on the immediate task of getting Puntland government to work – not least in terms of public financial management, a big concern for donors. He has also made public commitments to restart the democratisation process abandoned – probably with justification – at the eleventh hour by his predecessor, Abdirahman Farole, in July 2012. (See our Dec. 2013 report Puntland’s Punted Polls.)Further, he has made it clear that he wants to heal divisions within Puntland that have festered for many years. (See our 2009 report The Trouble with Puntland.) In his first speech to parliament on 4 February he said, “Puntland’s unity is paramount and sacred and can only come when all Puntland land comes back to the hands of the government” and called for a Puntland-wide reconciliation conference. Laudable aims indeed (and reflective of previous Crisis Group recommendations), but they should be viewed with some important caveats.Talk of unity implies the cohesion of the Harti-Darood clan-family, whose local distribution in north-east Somalia is also the basic territorial expression of the Puntland state. Bringing back “all of Puntland to the hands of the government” also means the Harti-Darood-inhabited provinces of Sool, Sanag and Ayn, which the self-declared republic of Somaliland also claims (see map). Since 2004, Somaliland and Puntland armed forces have periodically clashed over these districts; more recently, local militias – associated with the self-declared Khatumo state and based on one sub-clan of the Harti-Darood, the Dhulbahante – have put up resistance to the intrusion of both the Somaliland and Puntland forces.The Dhulbahante clan and Khatumo were critical issues in Puntland’s presidential election; Abdiweli has subsequently appointed two ex-Khatumo leaders as ministers in his new government.It is certain that Somaliland’s own presidential and parliamentary election, scheduled for 2015, will embroil these same borderlands, both as an all-Somaliland issue and in the competition for clan votes. Concessions for oil exploration in these areas, granted by both Somaliland and Puntland governments (and whose authority to do so the SFG firmly rejects), will only increase the tension.Welcome though Abdiweli Gas’s peaceful election is, and as sound as his priorities are for his new, 47-member cabinet, his calls for Puntland’s “paramount and sacred” unity need closer attention. In common with all Somalia’s national politicians – including secessionist Somalilanders – he still needs to appeal to his wider clan constituency to gain political momentum. Abdiweli must realise that challenging Somaliland’s territorial claims is no panacea for Puntland’s internal clan divisions, just as Somaliland must acknowledge that it cannot rule its eastern borderlands with an army perceived as an occupying clan. Marginal though the Somaliland-Puntland dispute may seem, it is in precisely these disputed gaps in Somalia’s governance that wider progress can be lost to violence and an extremist group like Al-Shabaab can find its opening
crisisgroupblogs.org
PHOTO: Reuters/Abdiqani Hassan

Puntland’s Boundary Issues: What Will Abdiweli Gas’s Call for Unity Really Mean? | Cedric Barnes and Zakaria Yusuf

Puntland’s new president, Abdiweli Gas, was a prominent mourner in Mogadishu last week at the graveside of Abdirizak Haji Hussein, a former prime minister of Somalia (1964–67). It was Abdiweli’s first visit to the national capital since his election on 8 January, though he had previously served as a minister (2010-11) and prime minister (2011-2012) in the then Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG). The twitter account of the newly established Somalia Federal Government (SFG) presidency (@theVillaSomalia) hailed the late Abdirizak as a “lion and patriot of Somalia” and highlighted his contribution to “national unity”. The wording will not be lost on Abdiweli Gas. Not only is he of the same lineage and region as the late Abdirizak, but he also now leads the regional state authority that has done the most to promote federalism in Somalia –which, for many Somalis, has dug the grave for national unity.

Abdiweli’s election – by 66 members of parliament selected by councils of clan elders – was peaceful, but he won by the narrowest of margins (33 to 32, with one invalid ballot) and inherits a politically divided and economically weak state. Moreover, as a diaspora politician, originally parachuted into the TFG in Mogadishu, Abdiweli has to prove his commitment to Puntland and beat back any impression that he wants merely to use the Puntland post as a platform to run for Somalia’s presidency. (He already made one failed bid in August 2012.)

The new president’s initial pronouncements have been encouraging, focused on the immediate task of getting Puntland government to work – not least in terms of public financial management, a big concern for donors. He has also made public commitments to restart the democratisation process abandoned – probably with justification – at the eleventh hour by his predecessor, Abdirahman Farole, in July 2012. (See our Dec. 2013 report Puntland’s Punted Polls.)

Further, he has made it clear that he wants to heal divisions within Puntland that have festered for many years. (See our 2009 report The Trouble with Puntland.) In his first speech to parliament on 4 February he said, “Puntland’s unity is paramount and sacred and can only come when all Puntland land comes back to the hands of the government” and called for a Puntland-wide reconciliation conference. Laudable aims indeed (and reflective of previous Crisis Group recommendations), but they should be viewed with some important caveats.

Talk of unity implies the cohesion of the Harti-Darood clan-family, whose local distribution in north-east Somalia is also the basic territorial expression of the Puntland state. Bringing back “all of Puntland to the hands of the government” also means the Harti-Darood-inhabited provinces of Sool, Sanag and Ayn, which the self-declared republic of Somaliland also claims (see map). Since 2004, Somaliland and Puntland armed forces have periodically clashed over these districts; more recently, local militias – associated with the self-declared Khatumo state and based on one sub-clan of the Harti-Darood, the Dhulbahante – have put up resistance to the intrusion of both the Somaliland and Puntland forces.The Dhulbahante clan and Khatumo were critical issues in Puntland’s presidential election; Abdiweli has subsequently appointed two ex-Khatumo leaders as ministers in his new government.

It is certain that Somaliland’s own presidential and parliamentary election, scheduled for 2015, will embroil these same borderlands, both as an all-Somaliland issue and in the competition for clan votes. Concessions for oil exploration in these areas, granted by both Somaliland and Puntland governments (and whose authority to do so the SFG firmly rejects), will only increase the tension.

Welcome though Abdiweli Gas’s peaceful election is, and as sound as his priorities are for his new, 47-member cabinet, his calls for Puntland’s “paramount and sacred” unity need closer attention. In common with all Somalia’s national politicians – including secessionist Somalilanders – he still needs to appeal to his wider clan constituency to gain political momentum. Abdiweli must realise that challenging Somaliland’s territorial claims is no panacea for Puntland’s internal clan divisions, just as Somaliland must acknowledge that it cannot rule its eastern borderlands with an army perceived as an occupying clan. Marginal though the Somaliland-Puntland dispute may seem, it is in precisely these disputed gaps in Somalia’s governance that wider progress can be lost to violence and an extremist group like Al-Shabaab can find its opening

crisisgroupblogs.org

PHOTO: Reuters/Abdiqani Hassan

11 Feb

Sudan’s Spreading Conflict (III): The Limits of Darfur’s Peace Process

Check out the entire slideshow here