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?

Kenya: Mapping Kibera, a Nairobi District

I’d like to take a break from covering electoral politics and religious conflict and post something positive. Via IRIN, I read last week about Map Kibera, a project to map one of the largest district in Nairobi, Kenya.

Here’s an excerpt from IRIN’s report:

It is one of the most densely populated districts of Kenya’s capital and one of the most researched urban areas in Africa. Hundreds, if not thousands, of NGOs work there, serving a community estimated to number anywhere between 100,000 and a million. Yet, until recently, the sprawling slum of Kibera barely featured on any detailed maps.

As a result, basic information, such as the location and number of schools, churches, health centres, water points and other amenities was simply not available except to people living or working in their immediate vicinity.

The Map Kibera project, launched just over a year ago, has filled in many of these gaps.
Nine Kibera residents were trained to use hand-held global positioning system (GPS) devices and to collect geographic information in the dozen “villages” that make up the slum. The information they collected is now freely available on Open StreetMap, a map of the entire world that anyone can edit.

[…]

The Map Kibera project is now in a second phase, which involves more detailed mapping of four categories: health, security, education and water/sanitation, and includes information such as a health centre’s opening hours and services offered.

Map Kibera has its own blog, where you can read about their new project, Map Mathare (another district). They include some neat photos.

It’s exciting to see what technology can help people accomplish, and I’m especially struck by the fact that so much of the first phase was carried out by just nine residents. The applications and potential benefits of projects like this are endless, whether in terms of development, health, community-building, politics, or any other area.

Map Kibera’s success reinforces Kenya’s reputation as a center for internet innovation in Africa. In December, Google hired Kenyan activist Ory Okolloh, founder of Ushahidi, as Policy Manager for Africa. Reuters writes that “as Google’s presence grows everywhere, it isn’t neglecting Africa and is betting on the power the internet will bring to transform business and society on the continent – even if it remains one of the least connected parts of the world.” Web technologies will drive a lot of change in Africa in the years to come, it seems.

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.

Sunday Africa Blog Roundup: Scott Gration, Burkina Faso Gold, Ethiopian Motherhood

At UN Dispatch, Hannah Ingber Win reports on motherhood in Ethiopia. Part 1 here.

Shashank Bengali writes on the mosque Qaddhafi helped complete in Kampala. h/t Texas in Africa

Reuters looks at gold mining in Burkina Faso.

The Project on Middle East Democracy reviews a new GAO report on interagency cooperation in the field of democracy promotion.

Alex de Waal analyzes Scott Gration’s recent public statements on Darfur, and points to posts by Bec Hamilton where you can keep reading on the subject.

Foreign Policy flags some new nuisance laws in Nairobi.

Last but not least, head over to the Center for Strategic and International Studies to see video of their event with Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.