Africa Blog Roundup: Mercenaries in Libya, Abyei Violence, Nigeria’s Elections, and More

Joshua Keating and Aaron Bady consider questions pertaining to sub-Saharan African mercenaries in Libya (from very different angles). Aaron rounds up a lot of intelligent commentary objecting to how media sources have framed stories about mercenaries/accused mercenaries. Those viewpoints (coming from bloggers I respect, such as Tommy Miles) are well worth considering and will influence my coverage of the topic going forward.

Also on Libya, the Project on Middle East Democracy has some informative maps.

Reem, inspired by the protests in North Africa, looks at nonviolent traditions of resistance in Islam:

There are events in the Prophet Muhammad’s life that illustrate that non-violent resistance is not foreign to Islam. For the first 13 years of preaching Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and his followers did not engage in any warfare; rather, their main mode of resistance against the Meccans–who actively persecuted them in this period–was non-violent.

Many who are critical of Islam emphasize that the Prophet Muhammad and the Muslim community did engage in warfare and that is true. However, it was after many years of persecution and when the Muslims were forced to leave their homes and had their property taken from them. In Islam, there is a strong emphasis on justice and rejection of oppression; thus, there are times where self-defensive warfare is necessary. What the verses in the Qur’an about warfare do is to provide limitations on how warfare should be carried out. But this does not preclude the possibility and desire for non-violent resistance.

Kal covers the protests in Mauritania.

Maggie Fick reports on the violence in Abyei:

The bloodshed in Abyei comes as the leaders of north and south are participating in high-level talks on a host of issues related to post-July relations between north and south.

On the table this week in the Ethiopian town of Debre Zeit are wealth-sharing arrangements – namely how Sudan’s oil sector will be managed after southern secession – and resolution of the impasse over demarcation of the country’s disputed, 1,300-mile north-south border, which includes Abyei and will form the sovereign dividing line before the two regions after the south separates.

Insiders to the talks speculated before they got underway on Tuesday that these negotiations will be key to determining if and how relations between the two sides have changed since the South’s landslide vote to secede was announced on Feb. 7.

Chris Blattman lauds Tanzania’s willingness to naturalize thousands of refugees from Burundi.

Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, writes about young Nigerian voters’ engagement and aspirations. Nigerians will vote in local, gubernatorial, and presidential elections in April.

That’s a wrap for today!

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