In early April, Senegalese President Macky Sall returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia and indicated that he would support the Kingdom’s military campaign in Yemen (find some basic context on the war here). Yesterday, Senegalese media reported that Sall will soon deploy 2,100 soldiers to Saudi Arabia. Senegalese Chief of Defense Mamadou Sow has already left for Saudi Arabia at the head of a delegation of senior officers, in order to make preparations and begin working with Saudi counterparts. Senegalese troops have served in Saudi Arabia before, namely during the Gulf War. Sall’s administration framed the upcoming deployment as a contribution to protecting Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity and defending Islam’s two holiest sites – indeed, it was interesting how strongly language of Muslim solidarity featured in the administration’s language, which also referenced Senegal’s membership in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and in the global Muslim community or umma. Sall’s message to the National Assembly, delivered yesterday by Foreign Affairs Minister Mankeur Ndiaye, can be read here in French.
The decision has occasioned some domestic criticism. A former chief of defense, retired General Mansour Seck, told a Senegalese newspaper that the deployment “could give us problems with our potential enemies, that is to say, terrorists.” Seck also said that the deployment will strain the country’s limited military budget and put some of the country’s best soldiers overseas at a delicate time. Opposition politician Mamadou Diop Decroix also criticized the decision, saying that Saudi Arabia “is not the victim of external aggression” and asserting that the National Assembly was not properly consulted. Even one member of the National Assembly who belongs to the president’s coalition said that “we must not exchange the lives of our soldiers for petrodollars,” alluding to the assumption that Senegal’s support in this military venture will ensure further Saudi investment in the country. So far, though, it looks like the deployment will proceed without major political obstacles.
I have a post at the Global Observatory discussing two ongoing trials in Senegal. An excerpt:
The trials of [former Chadian ruler Hissène] Habré and [former President Abdoulaye Wade’s son Karim] Wade will have implications for elites across Africa. The former’s trial may mark a new, albeit halting, effort to use African judicial systems to hold former heads of state accountable for human rights abuses. The latter’s trial may signal a new effort to crack down on corruption. At the same time, however, the trials may have little impact on ordinary Senegalese and their day-to-day struggles.
If you read the piece, please stop back by here and let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Reuters: “Mali’s interim government has removed General Amadou Sanogo, who led a coup last year, as head of a military committee tasked with reforming the West African country’s armed forces, a government statement said.” For more on Sanogo’s promotion to general, see here.
On Friday, Mali’s President-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita visited Cote d’Ivoire (French).
Magharebia: “Algeria is offering pardons to thousands of armed extremists, provided their hands are unstained with citizens’ blood…Army units are distributing leaflets and flyers in Tlemcen, Sidi Bel Abbes and Ain Témouchent, urging extremists to lay down arms and benefit from the 2005 Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, Ennahar daily reported this week.”
Imams in Touba, Senegal (French) complain of a lack of water, electricity, and other amenities, and cast blame on political authorities.
Reuters: “Nigerians Seek Refuge in Niger.”
Moulid Hujale: “My Journey Back to Somalia.”
What else is happening?
Senegal’s Attorney-General Serigne Bassirou Guèye has began a probe into one of the biggest drug scandals ever to rock the country’s police force.
As a first step, he ordered on Wednesday the arrest and detention of a Nigerian believed to be behind the whole scandal.
The issue came to a head after a top Senegalese police was accused of having connections with the detained Nigerian.
Malian troops deployed in the northern town of Kidal on Friday after attacks by light-skinned Tuareg separatists on black residents killed at least one, a week before elections meant to unify the fractured nation.
Nigeria reportedly plans to withdraw some 850 of its 1,200 soldiers from Mali following the elections there.
At least two persons including an African Union soldier (AMISOM) in the southern Somali port of Kismayo were killed in a roadside explosion Wednesday.
Human Rights Watch: “South Sudan: Army Making Ethnic Conflict Worse.”
Nigerian governor Rotimi Amaechi and four of his northern counterparts have been pelted with stones by opponents in his home state.
Their convoy was attacked as it left the airport of Port Harcourt, the capital of his oil-rich Rivers state.
The northern governors [of Niger, Kano, Jigawa, and Adamawa] were visiting to show their support for Mr Amaechi.
He was suspended from the ruling party for what analysts see as his opposition to President Goodluck Jonathan.
What else is happening?
Africa in DC: “What Does Susan Rice’s Appointment as National Security Adviser Mean for Africa?”
As French troops hunted Islamist fighters in northern Mali this past winter, historian Greg Mann said that what was taking place in the region was not one war, but several. For a few months starting in January 2013, the various armed conflicts that had broken out over the previous year appeared to converge, as did French and Malian interests. But, as Gregreminded us in March, the French government’s war was not the Malian government’s war. And now it seems that Mali’s war — after a long hiatus — is starting up again, and breaking away from France’s war.
For weeks there have been rumblings of an impending resumption of armed conflict between Malian government forces and the MNLA separatist rebel group that controls the northern region of Kidal. Rumors of Malian troop movements north of Gao have been circulating since February. But this week these were joined by an army statement that government forces had massed midway between Gao and the rebel-occupied town, and by news today that Malian troops took the village of Anafi, 100 km southwest of Kidal. Areport on Malijet claims that Malian soldiers are within 35 km of the town, and that MNLA forces are retreating toward Algeria; a similar report has appeared on Reuters.
Amb. John Campbell: “Racism in Mali and the Upcoming Elections.”
The second honeymoon of Darfur’s Doha peace process lasted just over a month. On April 6, Mohammad Bashar, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement-Sudan (hence referred to as JEM-Bashar) signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD; English, Arabic) in the ballroom of the Doha Ritz-Carlton hotel.
In Doha, Bashar told delegates he was looking forward to going home. On May 12 he was dead, killed on the Sudan-Chad borderlands at the hands of his former comrades in the mainstream Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
Internally Displaced: “Kenya and South Sudan – The Border Question Resurfaces?”
Africa UP Close: “Youth Farming and Aquaculture Initiatives Aim to Reduce Food and Political Insecurity in Senegal.”
Prisca Kamungi: “Municipal Authorities and IDPs Outside of Camps: The Case of Kenya’s ‘Integrated Displaced Persons’.”
What are you reading?
Justin Sandefur: “Seeing Like a State in Africa: Data Needed.”
Chris Blattman: “Dear governments: Want to help the poor and transform your economy? Give people cash.”
“There are no foreclosed destinies, only deserted responsabilities” has become one of the mottos of the collective of Senegalese singers and journalists known as Y’En A Marre(“Enough is enough” in French). In the wake of the 2012 presidential elections, the group gained international recognition for leading the charge against then President Abdoulaye Wade, who was seeking a third term at age 86 while reportedly scheming to hand over the presidency to his son Karim Wade. Y’En A Marre’s international minute of fame may have passed with Macky Sall’s victory but its engagement as a new kind of political watchdog hasn’t faded since the ousting of Abdoulaye Wade. For its purpose is bigger: to form a united front against social injustice in Senegal and to shift the public debate away from politician bickering and back to the issues of ordinary Senegalese.
Africa in DC: “It’s Official: Obama to Africa This Summer.”
Shelby Grossman on upcoming elections in Equatorial Guinea.
Baobab: “Strauss-Kahn in South Sudan.”
Loomnie on Africans in China.
Somalia Newsroom: “Jubaland and the Future of Federalism in Somalia.”
At least five suicide bombers died in northern Mali on Friday in attacks aimed at Malian and Nigerien troops which failed to inflict serious casualties on their targets, a spokesman for Mali’s army said.
One of the towns hit was Gossi, the furthest south al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels have struck in a guerrilla war launched against Malian and regional forces since the rebels were driven from their former strongholds in a French-led offensive this year.
Doctors have closed the main hospital in Nigeria’s north-eastern city of Maiduguri in protest at alleged police assaults on staff and patients.
They say officers became angry because the hospital mortuary was too full to take the bodies of colleagues killed by suspected Islamist militants.
One doctor told the BBC they would not reopen the hospital to new patients until the government provided them with security to do their work in safety.
Sudan Tribune: “Sudan Approves 22% Pay Raise for Military.”
IRIN: “Understanding the Causes of Violent Extremism in West Africa.”
VOA: “[Central African Republic] Rebels Accused of Major Rights Violations.”
RFI (French): “Areva: The Imouraren Uranium Mine Will Be Operational in Summer 2015, the President of Niger Hopes.”
Amnesty International: “Eritrea: Rampant Repression Twenty Years after Independence.”
Human Rights Watch: “Senegal: Chadian Blogger Expelled.”