Africa News Roundup: The UNSC and Mali, HRW on Boko Haram, Abyei, Somali Oil, and More

The United Nations, from yesterday:

Citing the threat to regional peace from terrorists and Islamic militants in rebel-held northern Mali, the United Nations Security Council today held out the possibility of endorsing, within the next 45 days, an international military force to restore the unity of the West African country.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to provide, at once, military and security planners to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and other partners to help frame a response to a request by Mali’s transitional authorities for such a force, and to report back within 45 days.

Upon receipt of the report, and acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Council said it was ready “to respond to the request of the Transitional authorities of Mali regarding an international military force assisting the Malian Armed Forces in recovering the occupied regions in the north of Mali.”

Human Rights Watch released a new report on Thursday entitled “Spiraling Violence: Boko Haram Attacks and Security Force Abuses in Nigeria.” From the summary:

This 98-page report catalogues atrocities for which Boko Haram has claimed responsibility. It also explores the role of Nigeria’s security forces, whose own alleged abuses contravene international human rights law and might also constitute crimes against humanity. The violence, which first erupted in 2009, has claimed more than 2,800 lives.

Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Nigeria’s Niger State speaks about Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.


The long term success of an oil and security deal between Sudan and South Sudan could depend on the much disputed Abyei border region.

That’s why Princeton Lyman, the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, says Abyei’s exclusion from the agreement between presidents Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir is “a big, big loss.”

Abyei is a territory claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan. The residents of Abyei were supposed to hold a referendum in 2011 to determine which country they would join, but the referendum was postponed indefinitely due to disagreements over who was eligible to vote. Some are still proposing that Abyei hold a referendum, but Sudan’s government opposes the idea. More from VOA:

The Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman, Al-Obeid Ahmed Marawah, says his government prefers a political agreement over a plebiscite because “the referendum would end by attributing Abyei to one of the two countries.

“And this will not satisfy the other party. Therefore, this could cause a new conflict between the two people [ Messriyah and Ngok Dinkas] of Abyei and it might extend to between the two countries,” Marawah says.

And that, in turn, threatens the new deal over the sharing of oil-revenue, which Ambassador Lyman says “holds tremendous potential benefits for the people of both countries, particularly in South Sudan where there has been serious rises in food prices, shortages of fuel, and insecurity on the border.”

In addition to French President Francois Hollande’s trip to Senegal yesterday and his stop in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today, two other noteworthy visits to the Sahel by foreign officials: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Senegal for Thursday and Friday, while Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights María Otero will be in Mauritania from October 15-17 and France from October 18-19.

In Mauritania, Under Secretary Otero will meet with government officials, including President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, representatives from civil society, UN agencies and youth groups to discuss political and democratic developments in the country, electoral processes, refugees and humanitarian assistance and combating trafficking in persons. This is the most senior-level U.S. State Department visit to Mauritania in five years.

Somalia’s new government “does not plan to nullify oil and gas exploration contracts made in recent years in favour of those that were signed prior to the toppling of the government in 1991, a senior state official said on Friday.”

Fatal flooding continues in Niger.

What else is happening?

7 thoughts on “Africa News Roundup: The UNSC and Mali, HRW on Boko Haram, Abyei, Somali Oil, and More

  1. Nigeria has a bloody history, an even bloodier history than South Africa or Rwanda.

    We need to get beyond the headlines, or even HRW reports to understand how we got to this point, how human life became so cheap in Nigeria.

    As far back as 1953, bloody riots claimed the lives of many Nigerians – nobody was brought to justice. This is how we began to develop a culture of impunity, that we can kill and get away with it.

    After the 1966 coup, Northerners went on a rampage, killing tens of thousands of ethnic Igbos – again, nobody was brought to justice. This led to a Civil War in which numerous war crimes were committed (like the Asaba massacre) – again, nobody was brought to justice.

    The behaviour of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, is a mirror image of its behaviour at Asaba (, Zaki-Biam, Odi and other parts of the Niger Delta.

    What worries me?

    Non-Northern Nigerians generally don’t care about what happens in that part of the nation. The logic goes like this:
    1.Since non-Igbos and the international community were uninterested in the Asaba massacres, the deaths of 2 million Biafrans and the pre-Civil War pogroms, why should the Igbos care?
    2. Since non-Yorubas were uninterested about the post-June 12 crackdown, why should the Yorubas care?
    3. Since non-Niger Deltans (especially Northerners) were uninterested when the Nigerian Army laid waste to Odi, why should the Niger Deltans care.

    So Military operations are lot more popular than you think, there’s the perverse satisfaction that “it is their (the Northerner’s) turn to suffer”.

    Nigeria looks and feels more like ethnic groups striving against each other than a coherent nation state.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  2. Chinua Achebe’s book “There was a Country” should be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Nigeria in its entirety – not just Northern Nigeria.

    I strongly suspect that a new generation of Nigerian scholars will demolish many of the assumptions advocated by some esteemed scholars about the Nigerian state.

  3. The president of Mauritania has been shot. No details yet, but there has been a suggestion that he was in a convoy that soldiers accidentally shot at. We’ll see.

  4. Pingback: The Responsibility to Protect (the State?) in Mali | The Widening Lens

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