Africa News Roundup: President Joyce Banda, Boko Haram, the Sudans, Mali, and More

Following the sudden death this week of Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, Vice President Joyce Banda has been sworn in as the country’s new president and thereby become “first female head of state in southern Africa.”

The Los Angeles Times has published a long article discussing civilians’ and police officers’ fears of the Northern Nigerian rebel movement Boko Haram.

Sudan and South Sudan return to the negotiating table after several false starts and delays earlier this week.

Meanwhile in Sudan, Southerners resident in the North are set to lose their residency rights tomorrow, an event that will place them in “legal limbo.”

IRIN presents a timeline on conflict in northern Mali, covering the period 1891 to the present.

Eurasia Review writes up an interview with Dr. Adriana Piga on Mali, Libya, and the Sahel:

According to Piga, “…our reasoning must start from this preliminary observation: the conflict in Libya last year and its outcome have had and continues to have consequences in all countries of the Sahel. Mali is the most obvious case, but Niger is watching with concern what is happening in the neighboring country. From Libya, the Tuareg have not only returned well armed and trained, they have also had access to considerable financial resources. Migrants have also returned and their remittances supported very weak local economies, a case involving several countries including as far away Burkina Faso.”

Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said Friday that Algeria will not tolerate the secession of the region rebels call the Azawad from Mali.

Following the kidnapping of Algerian diplomats at the consulate in Gao, northern Mali, on Thursday, News Ness (French) writes that Algerian special forces are mobilized to intervene in an attempt to rescue the diplomats. The site Algerie1 (French) has more.

In Niger, a major market in the capital Niamey suffered a devastating fire on Wednesday.

What else is going on?

6 thoughts on “Africa News Roundup: President Joyce Banda, Boko Haram, the Sudans, Mali, and More

  1. The Mali coup leaders have agreed to step down in exchange for amnesty and Ecowas dropping the sanctions. Also Ecowas may be preparing a force to fight the Tuareg rebels.

    • Things are moving so quickly. One headline said it might take only a few days – which makes me wonder whether the junta will remain in power with a veneer of civilian control to legitimate it. But perhaps I am overly cynical. As for the ECOWAS force, who can say? It still sounds like a very difficult mission to mount but ECOWAS has shown a lot more backbone on this whole situation than many people expected.

      • What escape route is available for the coup plotters? Are they leaving this experience empty handed?

        These guys took a very serious personal risk to pull off the coup and any settlement that does not “reward” that risk will not be acceptable to them. They are unlike to accept middle officer status in the Malian Army. So where do they go from there?

        They will stick around as long as these questions remain unanswered.

      • I’m not sure that the coup leaders were politically established enough to hold onto power. From reports by the BBC, once power has been transferred to a Mali politician (possibly the prime minister) they’ll have forty days to hold elections which will tell a lot about the Mali people and state.

        As for the force, it will be a difficult mission but the political need to do it is fairly strong. Several other nations have Tuareg populations, more than a few have separatist movements and no one wants a repeat of this debacle at home. Also this somewhat encouraging, Ecowas is handling matters so far.

      • But they need some “life insurance policy” or “new career options”. You cannot expect them to willingly submit to a new life of uncertainty or even incarceration.

        ECOWAS has done a good job so far, but don’t expect them to mount military operations. Where will the resources come from? Ghana? Senegal? Nigeria has far too much on its plate and will be EXTREMELY reluctant to get involved in another military adventure.

  2. Most Western analyses of the problems of Northern Nigeria tend to be peripheral. That article wasn’t an exception.

    As usual there are blanket terms “mainly Christian South”, “predominantly Muslim North” and “neglected and alienated North”. These terms are extremely misleading and dangerous.

    There is a religious component to Boko Haram, but there is also an equally important ethnic component. That is usually left out, and it is dangerous to brush over the extremely wide diversity in the practice of Islam in Nigeria.

    Nigeria’s North and South are extremely diverse and complex with the second largest Islamic community existing in the South West – that again, is always left most Western analysis.

    There is also the issue of the North – Middle Belt relations. If Western analysts know very little about Northern Nigeria, they know even less about the Middle Belt. And this is extremely worrying because it is most likely that the event that will shake Nigeria will occur in the Middle Belt.

    I also take exception to the casual dismissal of the revenue allocation formula and how it favours the Oil producing states and how it supposedly “puts the North at a disadvantage”. The equivalent of an Exxon Valdez has been spilled in the Niger Delta every year for the past forty years and it is only right and proper that the Niger Delta receives most of the proceeds from Oil production.

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