Africa Blog Roundup: Mormons in Mali, Senegal Elections, Boko Haram and the Nigerian Police, Somaliland, and More

Bruce Whitehouse profiles a Mormon candidate running in Mali’s presidential election.

Angola is outside of my normal zone of coverage, but it’s so rare to see blog posts about that country that I wanted to include this solid piece from Africa Is A Country.

Amb. John Campbell takes a look at Senegal’s presidential run-off, scheduled for next Sunday: “If I were a betting man, I would put my money on [challenger Macky] Sall.”

The Economist‘s Baobab ponders what impact the International Criminal Court (ICC) has had, as the Court nears its tenth birthday.

Amb. David Shinn highlights commentary on Kenya’s military operations in Somalia.

Andrew Walker writes movingly about suspected police murders of young men in Nigeria, in a piece entitled “How Not to Stop Boko Haram.”

Zach Warner on negotiating with Boko Haram.

The Foreign Minister of Somaliland, Mohamed Omar: “Somaliland Did Not Surrender Sovereignty by Attending the London Conference.”

Peter Dorrie on genetically modified cotton in Burkina Faso.

What are you reading today?

Africa Blog Roundup: African Footballers in Europe, Partitioning Nigeria, Kenya and the ICC, Ethiopia on the Move, and More

Sean Jacobs questions the construction of a map that tries “to show where footballers playing in the top five European leagues come from.”

The trouble with their map is that while it claims to show players by country of origin (an elastic category), in fact it shows them according to national affiliation, and this is why it feels like these numbers don’t quite do justice to African involvement.

So Kevin Prince-Boateng (b. Berlin) shows up as Ghanaian, but his brother Jerome, who plays for Germany, doesn’t. Mario Balotelli and Danny Wellbeck, strikers on either half of Manchester, were both born to Ghanaian parents before opting to represent Italy and England respectively. Are these players African?

DR Congo is shown as contributing only a single player to the top leagues (which must be nonsense even by the methods applied), but a player like Vincent Kompany, the current captain of Belgium and Manche$ter City, could easily have represented the DRC instead, as could Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku.

A more interesting map might look at how players representing European national teams have roots all over the world.

Amb. David Shinn flags two new reports, one on the Sudans and their neighbors, one on conflict in the Horn of Africa.

G. Paschal Zachary asks, “Should the World Help Break Up Nigeria in Order to Save it?” Daniel Solomon says no. “Zachary’s partition,” he writes, “does little to address the present state of Nigerian political development.”

Nigerians will also get a say in what happens to their country, I hope.

Asch Harwood, Ken Opalo, Voice of America, and The Nairobi Star on the International Criminal Court’s recent decision to pursue charges against four of Kenya’s “Ocampo Six.”

The Economist‘s Baobab writes,

Acceleration is the word for Africa in 2012. The continent is moving forward at speed. No matter whether it is in control or veering out of control, Africa stands in marked contrast to slowing down and decomposition in the West. The acceleration is especially true in Ethiopia which is in the first stages of industrialisation.

Last but not least, an interesting read on Zanzibar and Andalus (h/t zunguzungu).

What are you reading today?

International Crisis Group on Kenya and the ICC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently holding trials for six Kenyans accused of fomenting ethnic violence following Kenya’s 2007 elections. Several of the “Ocampo Six” (so named because of the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo) are prominent politicians, and two – Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto – are candidates in the presidential elections scheduled for this December. The case has already caused major controversy in Kenya, and has the potential to significantly affect the campaign this year – including by stoking ethnic tensions. Whether the ICC likes it or not, by virtue of its work it is a political actor. In the case of the Ocampo Six, the politics of the ICC’s action feel wrong to me, at least as far as peace in Kenya is concerned.

The International Crisis Group (ICG), an organization I very much respect, has put out a thoughtful report sounding a note of caution about the case and its potential impact. Three key sentences from the report read,

These cases have enormous political consequences for both the 2012 elections and the country’s stability. During the course of the year, rulings and procedures will inevitably either lower or increase com­munal tensions. If the ICC process is to contribute to the deterrence of future political violence in Kenya, the court and its friends must explain its work and limitations better to the public.

I would recommend reading the briefing in full. Given the political reality that the case is likely to go forward, ICG takes the practical approach of giving suggestions to both the ICC and the Kenyan government for how to minimize the potentially incendiary effects of the case. In my view the recommendations are sound.

I am glad to see this kind of direct and pragmatic discussion of the ICC’s political role. The conversation about the politics of the ICC’s actions is not new – Alex de Waal and Julie Flint, in particular, began making incisive critiques of the ICC’s indictment of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir several years ago – but ICG’s contribution is timely and will likely make new audiences consider these important issues.

Saturday Links: State Department on Africa Rights Abuses, Niger Hunger, Sudan Elections, Chad and UN

In recent reports, the US State Department condemned human rights abuses in Nigeria, DRC, Sudan, and Eritrea.

Millions of people in Niger face hunger, as the country’s new prime minister requests international assistance. Meanwhile, the AU calls for the release of deposed President Mamadou Tandja.

In neighboring Nigeria, women in Jos and Abuja protest recent religious violence in Jos.

Via VOA, Nick Grono of the International Crisis Group argues that the ruling National Congress Party has the edge in the upcoming Sudanese elections.

“The NCP is placed to do well in April elections because it controls many of the state institutions,” said Nick Grono, deputy president of operations at the International Crisis Group, an international non-governmental organization that works to resolve deadly conflicts around the world through field-based analyses and high-level advocacy.

“It does give them an advantage”, he said, adding “President al-Bashir is determined to use the elections to establish his legitimacy. ”Grono said it is hard to assess the effect on the election of the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for al-Bashir.  Two years ago, the court indicted him for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since 2003 in the western region of Darfur.

Referring to Bashir’s defiance of the warrant, he said, “It may have enhanced his standing among some of the northern electorate, but I suspect a large section of the population are appalled at what happened in Darfur, and believe he has been rightfully indicted by the ICC, and that diminishes his legitimacy.”

He said the observers watching the campaign should focus on the promises that were made about these elections and about opening up the democratic space which he said have not been met.

The Sudanese government is also meeting in Doha with JEM rebels from Darfur.

A two-month extension for UN peacekeepers in Chad.

What are you looking at today?