Africa News Roundup: Nigerian Elections Postponement, Princeton Lyman, Senegal Protests, and More

The big news this weekend was the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s decision to postpone Nigeria’s National Assembly elections by 48 hours.

Mr. [Attahiru] Jega [Chairman of INEC] placed blame for the delay on a failure to get voter materials shipped in from outside Nigeria on time, but said he was confident that everything would be in place for the vote to proceed on Monday.

Mr. Jega made no suggestion of a delay in the presidential election or votes a week later for the nation’s 36 governors. The electoral commission has put tougher measures in place to prevent cheating and intimidation, which raised such broad doubts after the last elections in 2007 that foreign observers said they might not have reflected the will of the people.

Voters had gathered eagerly on Saturday to register at polling places across the country’s two most populous cities — the commercial hub Lagos in the south and Kano in the north — but elsewhere, tempers were frayed by the delays. Gunshots in the volatile oil-producing Niger Delta also raised worries of violence.

The delay has caused domestic fears of tampering and international worry over the integrity of the process. Today INEC “raced to get aborted polls back on track.” Matthew Tostevin and Wole Soyinka consider some of the ramifications of the delay and of the elections generally. 234Next has Nigerian leaders’ statements on the delay.

In Sudan news, President Barack Obama has a new Special Envoy to Sudan, veteran diplomat Princeton Lyman, who has been closely involved with Sudan over the past few years. On Friday the two men met at the White House:

Before Friday’s Oval Office meeting, Lyman told reporters that “tough” negotiations are ahead before South Sudan’s formally achieves its independence in July.

At the State Department on Thursday, he said issues remaining to be settled include border demarcation and the question of oil revenues. Lyman also discussed what he called a “very tense situation” in Abyei, where clashes between rival groups have left more than 100 people dead and displaced at least 20,000.

“We have to work on two fronts. We have to try and ease this immediate security problem, but I don’t think we are going to get the tensions really resolved until the people in Abyei know what is going to happen to them, particularly by July. Are they going to remain in the north, are they going to move to the south? And that the Sudanese leadership needs to address,” Lyman said.

The White House statement on the meeting with Lyman is here. Former Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell calls Lyman’s appointment “an encouraging sign of the Obama administrations continued engagement with Sudan.”

In Senegal, “about 200 disabled Senegalese former soldiers held a two-hour demonstration Friday on a busy Dakar street to call for better pay and health coverage.” This protest does not seem to have been formally connected with other recent protests in Senegal, but it does hearken back to a veteran’s self-immolation in February.

Finally, some Somalia news, or perhaps just a rumor. The Standard, a Kenyan outlet I am not familiar with, says that Somalia has “plans to create another autonomous region along its borders with Kenya.” Have readers heard anything about this? If true, that would be a radical change to the current political configuration of Somalia.

Hope your weekend is going well.

4 thoughts on “Africa News Roundup: Nigerian Elections Postponement, Princeton Lyman, Senegal Protests, and More

  1. Jubaland has been in the works for years – forming a presidential cabinet electing a parliament is expected – although it’s difficult to say what comes next. While TFG officials attended the week-long conference before appointing Mohamed Abdi Gandhi, how much overlap are they willing to cede to Kenya? This arrangement can squeeze al-Shabab through local governance and attempt to remedy the refugee crisis, but friction may easily develop between Nairobi and the TFG. Ethiopia also opposes the formal recognition of Jubaland, citing fears of increased insurgency, as it monitors the newly-created Shabelle Valley administration and aspiring Somali Central State. Positive interplay between the TFG, Kenya, and Ethiopia is vital to stabilizing Somalia.

    More Somalis certainly need to be folded into the political process, but the TFG, AU, and international community must tread cautiously in pushing their counterinsurgency down to the local level. The Standard report quotes Jubaland Initiative Coordinator Prof Mohammed Mohammed as saying the region hadn’t broken away from the Somali government, and supports the TFG “like Puntland and Somaliland.” But those territories no longer recognize the TFG’s authority.

    Somalia still appears to lack a regional construct to sort all of these pieces into one picture.

  2. Pingback: Meet Jubaland/Azania, Somalia’s New Semi-Autonomous Region « Sahel Blog

  3. Pingback: New semiautonomous region in Somalia vows to fight Al Shabab | African News

  4. Pingback: » New semiautonomous region in Somalia vows to fight Al Shabab

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