Africa News Roundup: Burkina Faso Election Results, MUJWA Terrorist Designation, Eastleigh Bombing, and More

I wrote recently about elections in Burkina Faso and Somaliland. Here are legislative and municipal election results from Burkina Faso:

[President Blaise] Compaore’s CDP party secured 58 seats while allies in the broader coalition secured a further 22 seats in the December 2 vote, according to results for 102 constituencies announced late on Thursday.

The results for a further 25 seats have not yet been announced but Compaore’s majority has been secured despite the opposition UPC party winning 15 seats, a record for the opposition in the poor, land-locked nation.

I have not found full results for Somaliland, but preliminary results were released Thursday, causing protests in Hargeisa.

IRIN:

The African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) 2009, also known as the Kampala Convention, came into force on 6 December; it is the world’s first legally binding instrument to cater specifically to people displaced within their own countries.

Adopted at an AU summit in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, the Convention required ratification by 15 member countries before it could enter into force; Swaziland became the 15th country to do so on 12 November, joining Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. At least 37 AU members have also signed the Convention but have yet to ratify it.

The Committee to Protect Journalists on the shooting of a South Sudanese columnist, the detention of two Al Jazeera employees in Mali, and the convictions of three Cameroonian journalists.

Nigeria’s Guardian on recent attacks by Boko Haram, including the destruction of twenty-seven schools in Borno and Yobe States.

A bombing claimed three lives in Eastleigh, Nairobi, Kenya yesterday.

McClatchy: “Visit to Kismayo, Somalia, Shows al Shabab Militants Still Roam Countryside.”

Yesterday, the US State Department labeled the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), part of the Islamist coalition in northern Mali, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

What else is happening?

Africa Blog Roundup: Eastleigh, Mombasa Republican Council, Northern Mali, the Olympics, and More

Focus on the Horn on the complexity of Eastleigh, Nairobi, Kenya:

Eastleigh is not just a Somali story.  For example, conspicuous amongst its population are vast numbers of Meru from central Kenya: many have migrated to the estate to sell the khat grown in their home region, attracting other Meru in turn to either join the khat trade or start up cafes, salons and so forth. There is also an important connection to Eritrea and Ethiopia.  More established Eritreans and Ethiopians have had a major stake in the matatus plying the Eastleigh route, some becoming involved in this business as far back as the 1970s.  Ethiopian restaurants and businesses are easy to find in the estate, especially around 10th Street, an area that might be labelled ‘Little Addis’ if one were so inclined.  Among these Ethiopians, Oromo form a large and increasing proportion as more and more flee persecution in Ethiopia.  In appearance and dress they can often be mistaken for Somalis, but in fact operate a significant number of the stalls in the Eastleigh malls.  Reporting on Eastleigh needs to recognise this diversity and most importantly, this interconnectedness – which in the end is what makes business and peace possible.

In another Kenya story, Lesley Anne Warner writes on a recent court ruling that called a ban on the Mombasa Republican Council unconstitutional.

James Gundun writes on northern Mali here - “bringing a U.S.-backed war to Mali could create a new quagmire in the heart of north Africa” – and leaves another insightful comment on the situation here: “ECOWAS, EU and UN rhetoric [regarding a potential military intervention in northern Mali] is meant to reassure ‘the market’ that is the Sahel: to bluff the MNLA and Islamic militants, and stem a confidence crisis during a regional emergency.”

Kal on Qatar, Algeria, and Mali.

Drawing on the recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado and the recent clashes in Jos, Nigeria, Andrew Walker discusses how the media covers violence.

Africa Is A Country on London, Africa, and the Olympics.

What are you reading today? Also, do you think it’s time for a purge of the blogroll? Some of those blogs haven’t been updated in months.

Abdullah al-Faisal, Kenya, and Somalia

Controversial Jamaican-born Muslim cleric Abdullah al-Faisal will apparently soon take a flight from Nairobi back to Jamaica, once Kenyan officials work out the details – or hire a private plane to simplify the route. But the fallout from al-Faisal’s deportation continues, straining relations between Kenyans and ethnic Somalis.

Last Friday, Muslim protests in Nairobi held in support of al-Faisal turned violent. The visible participation of Somalis and al-Shabab sympathizers in the protests sparked violence against ethnic Somalis residing in the city’s Eastleigh neighborhood. The Kenyan government targeted Somalis as well, arresting twelve Somali MPs and some three hundred inhabitants of Eastleigh (more here). Kenya has supported Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, but these moves are straining relations between the two countries as domestic tensions inside Kenya grow. Quotations from Kenyan government officials signal that crackdowns on Somalis in the country, both politicians and illegal immigrants, will continue.

Al Shabab is threatening to invade Kenya (I count that unlikely, though the chances al Shabab could conduct a terrorist attack inside Kenya are real), stoking Kenyan fears about the group’s reach. These fears could fuel further suspicion of Somali residents of Kenya.

Meanwhile, segments of the Kenyan Muslim community are unhappy with the government, which arrested one prominent activist, Al-Amin Kimathi, organizer of Friday’s protest. Muslim youth organizations in Mombasa have already applied to hold another rally, though police denied their application.

And underlying some of the tensions in Nairobi is severe poverty in the city’s slums; economic deprivation and political conflict have contributed to mass violence in Kenya before, and could do so again.

Once al-Faisal is gone, the situation may die down quickly. But these events point to the potential for real hostility between Kenyans and ethnic Somalis on both sides of the border.

I leave you with a report on the situation by NTV Kenya:

Regional Fallout from Somalia Crisis Continues in Yemen, Kenya

The crisis in Somalia continues to create problems for other countries in the region.

Sana'a, Yemen

Al Shabab claims it has exchanged fighters with Yemeni rebel groups. Interestingly, however, al Shabab is casting its ties with Al Qaeda in a different light than previously.

Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Raage portrayed al-Shabab as no more than the organised arm of Islamic resistance to Western oppression.

He denied formal links with groups like al-Qaeda.

“What is al-Qaeda?” the Sheikh asked. “It is Muslim people who are massacred in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and other Islamic countries like Yemen.”

A Muslim is the brother of other Muslims, he said, “so we and al-Qaeda share the Muslim faith and are fighting for freedom. That’s all we share.”

But the Somali hardliners still see no chance of compromise.

Sheikh Raage rules out talking to Somalia’s Western-backed government, saying this can only take place when African Union forces present in the country leave.

He also warned that if American troops are ever sent to Somalia they will end up dead.

“They will suffer the same fate they did in 1993, when they were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu,” he said.

Meanwhile, amidst continued tensions in Nairobi over Jamaican-born Muslim preacher Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, Kenya’s Somali residents fear that the backlash against al-Faisal will harm them.

Somalis living in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh fear Friday’s violent protest in the capital against the deportation of a jailed Muslim cleric may stoke religious rifts and make them targets.

While the protest was organised by Kenyan Muslims, many of the marchers who fought pitched battles with the security forces in the heart of Nairobi for more than eight hours were Somalis.

Some protesters carried flags identified with Somalia’s hardline Islamist rebel group al Shabaab and there were reports of mobs attacking Somalis in retribution for the mayhem.

“We warned of a situation like this. It seems Kenyan security forces are simply categorising the whole community as a terrorist group,” said cleric Sheikh Hassan Qoryoleey. “That is not the case. The majority of Somalis are peace-loving people.”

The Kenyan government quickly put the blame for the violence that killed at least one person on extremist youths exposed to “foreign elements” and assured Muslims in Kenya their religious freedom and civil liberties would be respected.

But some Somalis in Kenya fear they will all be tarred with the same brush, despite their warnings rebel sympathisers and hardline clerics were a growing cause of concern in Kenya.

From Nairobi to Sana’a, then, Somalia’s civil war is altering lives and causing problems.