Senegal’s constitutional court decided today (unsurprisingly but not uncontroversially) that incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade can seek a third term in the country’s February 26 elections. The announcement provoked riots in Dakar. The court also “ruled that [Senegalese singer] Youssou N’Dour’s candidacy was invalid because he had not gathered the required number of signatures.”
Humanitarian agencies are warning of a mass food crisis in the Sahel. Several factors are causing the crisis, the LA Times writes:
A recent survey by UNICEF forecast 1 million cases of severe malnutrition, with between 25% and 60% of those people likely to die without emergency assistance. The agency has plans to feed 1 million people in the Sahel — most of them in the hardest-hit country, Niger — but so far has raised funds to feed only half of them.
The failure of rains triggered a rise in food prices, so families in crisis cannot afford to buy. Meanwhile the fragile agricultural system, stressed by overgrazing, struggles to feed the rapidly growing populations in a region that has some of the highest birthrates on Earth.
Thousands of migrant workers who fled Libya and returned home because of persecution after last year’s revolution in the North African nation have added to the pressure as families struggle to survive without the money that workers had sent home. Locust plagues in some areas complicated the crisis further.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi held a press conference yesterday where he addressed the issue of his country’s military presence in neighboring Somalia:
Meles Zenawi said Friday he would pull troops out of Somalia “as soon as feasible,” admitting for the first time that forces had crossed into the war-torn neighbouring country.
“The decision has all along been to help the TFG and we will withdraw our troops as soon as feasible,” Meles told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, referring to Somalia’s transitional government.
“We are not going to create a vacuum, we expect the AMISOM troops to be able to fill in the gaps before we withdraw,” he added.
Columns of Ethiopian soldiers rolled into Somalia in November to fight al-Qaeda linked Islamist rebels, but Addis Ababa had previously denied their presence.
Sudan and South Sudan continue to disagree over oil transit fees. South Sudan has shut down oil production in protest at alleged Sudanese theft.
The AFP covers a new United Nations report that assesses the post-Qadhafi Sahelian security environment. The report casts Nigeria’s Boko Haram as a growing regional threat. Read a summary of a Security Council briefing on the report here.