Africa News Roundup: Burkina Faso Election Results, MUJWA Terrorist Designation, Eastleigh Bombing, and More

I wrote recently about elections in Burkina Faso and Somaliland. Here are legislative and municipal election results from Burkina Faso:

[President Blaise] Compaore’s CDP party secured 58 seats while allies in the broader coalition secured a further 22 seats in the December 2 vote, according to results for 102 constituencies announced late on Thursday.

The results for a further 25 seats have not yet been announced but Compaore’s majority has been secured despite the opposition UPC party winning 15 seats, a record for the opposition in the poor, land-locked nation.

I have not found full results for Somaliland, but preliminary results were released Thursday, causing protests in Hargeisa.


The African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) 2009, also known as the Kampala Convention, came into force on 6 December; it is the world’s first legally binding instrument to cater specifically to people displaced within their own countries.

Adopted at an AU summit in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, the Convention required ratification by 15 member countries before it could enter into force; Swaziland became the 15th country to do so on 12 November, joining Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. At least 37 AU members have also signed the Convention but have yet to ratify it.

The Committee to Protect Journalists on the shooting of a South Sudanese columnist, the detention of two Al Jazeera employees in Mali, and the convictions of three Cameroonian journalists.

Nigeria’s Guardian on recent attacks by Boko Haram, including the destruction of twenty-seven schools in Borno and Yobe States.

A bombing claimed three lives in Eastleigh, Nairobi, Kenya yesterday.

McClatchy: “Visit to Kismayo, Somalia, Shows al Shabab Militants Still Roam Countryside.”

Yesterday, the US State Department labeled the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), part of the Islamist coalition in northern Mali, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

What else is happening?

Quick Notes on Elections in Somaliland and Burkina Faso

Two major elections took place recently within this blog’s zone of coverage. On November 28, Somaliland held municipal elections. On December 2, Burkina Faso held parliamentary and municipal elections.


Initial international commentary on the elections in Somaliland has largely focused on assessing the integrity of the process. You can read the preliminary report from an international election observation mission here. An excerpt:

With a fuller team assessment to come in early December, preliminary indications suggest that, despite some reports of violence, and no voting taking place in some disputed districts in the country’s east, Somaliland’s electorate has, once again,turned out with enthusiasm and in large numbers.

Particularly heartening has been wide participation by female voters, a boost in numbers of female candidates and, thanks to the lowering of the qualifying age, youthful candidates standing in significant numbers. However, at this interim stage, a few concerns have emerged, including, once again, apparent attempts at underage and multiple voting.

Observers have also reported excessive use of force by security forces outside polling stations in some areas; some poor organisation surrounding the electoral process, including delayed opening of polling stations; insufficient electoral materials; and technical problems with voter safeguards, such as the ink designed to prevent multiple voting.

Aaron Pangburn has more on various concerns about the elections. He also lays out how the outcome of these elections will affect the political arena going forward:

The new electoral law passed in 2011, allows for officially registered political associations to challenge Somaliland’s three legal political parties (President Silanyo’s KULMIYE, UCID and UDUB) in municipal elections. Five new associations (UMADDA, DALSAN, RAYS, WADANI and HAQSOOR) met the registration requirements and were approved by the RAC.

In order to become an official party, the law initially requires a minimum of 20% in each of Somaliland’s six regions. The system limits their populations’ choices to three political parties to ensure broad based policy platforms, and to avoid previous tendency of narrow clan-based coalitions. The campaign was particularly vibrant and regulated, with each party adopting a different color and symbol to bring their supporters together, but with a structured schedule for the party rallies.

Pangburn also comments, significantly, that “unfortunately for the people of Somaliland a transparent and mostly peaceful process will not drastically redefine their standing in the international community. Rather, it will be how they manage their external relationships with Somalia and their regional neighbors that will have the greatest effect on their pending application for statehood.”

Burkina Faso

International coverage of the “coupled” parliamentary and municipal elections in Burkina Faso has focused on several interlinked themes. Commentary has focused largely on assessing the prospects for the stability of the regime of President Blaise Compaore. Recurring themes in coverage include:

  • Noting that these elections follow the protests and mutinies of spring/summer 2011 (see AP and AFP);
  • Assessing the integrity of the vote, especially the performance of the National Independent Electoral Commission, which was reformed after the protests (see VOA);
  • Speculating that if the ruling Congress for Democracy and Progress wins a “decisive” majority, it could seek to undo term limits on Compaore’s tenure as president (see Reuters).


Results are expected by December 7 in Burkina Faso (French), and soon (though I have not seen a specific date) in Somaliland.

What do you see as the significance of these elections?

Africa Blog Roundup: Algeria and Mali, MPs in Kenya, the Sudans, and More

At the Francophonie summit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Siddhartha Mitter writes, “The roster [of musical acts] replicates the schism that has occurred in Congolese music over politics – specifically, whether to endorse President Joseph Kabila, and gain from official patronage; or whether to oppose him, either from outside the country, where numerous soukous veterans have sought shelter, or domestically, in the largely hip-hop-driven Kinshasa underground.”

Loomnie, responding to a recent interview on Boko Haram at the Economist, discusses how Nigeria’s oil wealth affected Northern Nigeria’s economy.

The Moor Next Door on Algeria and Mali:

It appears likely that French efforts to assert control over the regional setting through ECOWAS will go ahead, as its leaders have said ‘with or without Algeria’; what success or buy in these will get from Algiers is not clear to this blogger at this time. What Algeria is seeking to work out in Mali, beyond avoiding military intervention and the expansion of AQIM and its fraternal organisations beyond Mali, is also relatively obscure; the Algerian end state has not been articulated clearly as much as its preferences for a process, or style of process, that allows Algiers to remain central and with some measure of control (or perception of control) especially with respect to the parts of Mali bordering southern Algeria. Since last winter Algeria has been seeking out its traditional role as a mediator and facilitator in northern Mali; this comes from both internal priorities as well as regional ones.

Texas in Africa, “Realities of Rape in War.”

Amb. David Shinn flags new reports on the United States and the Sudans and on pastoralists in northern Kenya.

Zanele Hlatshwayo: “Time To Improve State Participation In Africa’s Extractive Industries.”

Roving Bandit: “The State of the Game between Juba and Khartoum.”

Amb. John Campbell: “Nigeria’s Economic Reforms in Trouble?”

The Economist on Kenya:

As they swish past in their flashy cars on their way to parliament, members of Kenya’s legislature are often greeted nowadays by protesters shouting “Mwizi !”, Swahili for “thief”. Having lost the power to vote for a rise in their basic salary, thanks to a new constitution endorsed in a referendum two years ago, the lawmakers found a sneaky way to boost their pay. It has not been popular.

A student newsletter from Somaliland.

Art installations at the Lagos Business School.

Africa News Roundup: Eskinder Nega, Mali, Nigeria, Somaliland, and More

The Ethiopian government has sentenced the journalist Eskinder Nega to eighteen years in prison.

VOA reports on protests in northern Mali against the rebel group Ansar al Din.

Protests continue in Sudan.

IRIN reports on camps for displaced persons in eastern Chad.

The African Union on intervention in Mali:

AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra told reporters: “I think there is room for negotiations and room for moving to reconcile Malians among themselves.”
He said teams from the AU and West African regional grouping ECOWAS were working to prepare for military intervention but it would be “a last resort”.

Mauritania, Niger, and Burkina Faso continue to deal with refugee flows from Mali.

Think Africa Press on “The Battle for Edo State” in Nigeria.

According to IRIN, “About 120,000 people in the coastal, mid- and far western regions of the self-declared republic of Somaliland require emergency food assistance after four years of failed rains.”

Djibouti, host to American and French soldiers, could face terrorist attacks.

What else is happening today?

Africa News Roundup: Hunger in Niger, the UN and Abyei, Amnesty for Malian Coup Makers, and More

Save the Children tells the BBC that in Niger, “the food crisis has now reached a ‘tipping point’ where the weakest children are beginning to die.”

As tensions between Sudan and South Sudan continue, the United Nations Security Council has “called for an agreement between Sudan and South Sudan on the status of the disputed, oil-rich border region of Abyei and extended the U.N. security force’s mission there by six months.”

VOA gives a close-up look at South Sudanese soldiers (from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army or SPLA) near the border.

The Malian parliament grants amnesty to the leaders of a March 22 coup, “part of an agreement signed by the putschists and west African bloc ECOWAS on April 6 to restore constitutional order in the country.” The interim civilian government has also “raised the combined sales tax on gold by 2 percentage points to 8 percent, a move aimed at bringing it in line with peers in the West Africa region.” Meanwhile, ECOWAS (which stands for the Economic Community of West African States) is beginning a dialogue with “all factions” among the rebels in northern Mali.

Speaking of talks, VOA reports that the Nigerian government may re-attempt a dialogue with Boko Haram, the Northern rebel movement, possibly through the intermediary of the Arewa Consultative Forum, a group of Northern leaders (“arewa” means north in Hausa). A previous dialogue effort failed when the mediator withdrew.

Ethiopia has begun trial proceedings against eleven people accused of conspiring to overthrow the government and of having links to Al Qaida and Somalia’s Al Shabab.

In Somaliland, “a military court…has sentenced 17 people to death for attacking a military base over a land dispute.”

And last but not least, the BBC’s Mary Harper posted a photo of her “trip in the golden Bentley owned by a Somali in Dubai,” promising more on the story today.

What else is going on?

Africa News Roundup: Celebrations in Little Senegal, Drought and War in Mali, Guinea’s Army, Sudan Talks, and More

In New York City’s Little Senegal, support for President-elect Macky Sall was strong in last week’s elections, and celebration at his win has been equally pronounced.

An Oxfam press release from yesterday:

Growing insecurity in Mali and northern Nigeria is disrupting the supply of food to communities suffering from a major food crisis affecting 13 million people in West Africa, said international aid agency Oxfam today.

The conflict in northern Mali, one of the driving factors of last week’s coup d’état and the temporary closure of borders, had already posed a major risk to vulnerable communities in Mali and the region. Now there are signs that the escalation in the country’s instability is further affecting the already serious food insecurity across West Africa, meaning a rapid increase in humanitarian assistance to the region is urgently needed.

Meanwhile, rebels in northern Mali yesterday captured the town of Kidal (map), one of the three “capitals” of Azawad, the nation the rebels say they want to slice out of Mali. The other two capitals, Gao and Timbuktu, lie further south. Leader of the recent coup in Mali Captain Amadou Sanogo appealed for international help against the rebels, but his regime faces the withdrawal of US aid and the threat, by the Economic Community of West African States, to close the country’s borders. The Nigerian Senate, meanwhile, “is pushing for military action against Malian coup plotters.”

In other Nigeria news, two teams of suspected Boko Haram members attacked a police station and a bank yesterday in the northeast.

Jeune Afrique (French) on the re-organization of Guinea’s army under the new civilian regime. Guinea experienced a military coup in late 2008, but returned to civilian control in late 2010.

Somaliland is suffering a serious drought.

Further south, southern Somali rebel movement al Shabab continues to lose territory to the government and its allies.

Following a border clash between the two nations this week, Sudan and South Sudan are set to hold more talks today on final status issues such as oil revenue sharing. Yesterday, rebels in Sudan’s South Kordofan State reportedly began new attacks.

What else is going today?

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 News Roundup: Fallout from Rebellion in North Mali, Campaigning in Senegal, Education in Ethiopia, Somalia’s al Shabab and Al Qaeda, and More

The Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali has sent refugees into a number of nearby countries, including Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger. UNHCR is attempting to increase its aid to refugees in all of these places.

For military news about the rebellion, check out Reuters’ piece “Arms and men out of Libya fortify Mali rebellion.” Another noteworthy item is that the rebellion has caused Washington to postpone a joint military exercise in Mali.

The above-listed countries are also facing severe food shortages. AFP reports on the World Food Programme’s forecast that “a food crisis in Mauritania as a result of drought is expected to be three times worse that in 2010, when the Sahel was crippled by food shortages.”

The World Bank will provide Niger with over $60 million to fight the effects of climate change.

Campaigning is underway in Senegal in advance of presidential elections to be held later this month. President Abdoulaye Wade’s convoy was recently stoned in the city of Thies (the home base of his rival Idrissa Seck), but Wade (audio) shows no signs of quitting.

VOA writes, “Ethiopia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, is among the few on track to achieve the goal of universal primary education by 2015.  Our correspondent in Addis Ababa, reports on how, according to analysts, an otherwise repressive government is winning praise for its campaign to bring learning to the people.”

On Thursday, Somalia’s al Shabab formally joined Al Qaeda.

Meanwhile in Somaliland:

The breakaway territory of Somaliland is battling its own secessionists in a dispute that has raised tensions with neighbouring Puntland, in an area of Somalia usually more peaceful than the rest of the country.

The fighting first erupted in January after the leaders of the northern regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn decided to band together into a new state called Khaatumo and declared they wanted to be an independent region within Somalia.

Somaliland’s troops have since clashed with militia fighters loyal to Khaatumo, with reports of dozens of casualties. Puntland’s President Abdirahman Mohamud Farole stepped into the row on Wednesday, accusing Somaliland of creating chaos.

Finally, Nigeria’s Daily Trust looks at the possibility of renewed militancy in the Niger Delta.

Africa Blog Roundup: South Sudan, Somalia, “Ideological Missionaries,” and More

Yesterday South Sudan officially became independent of North Sudan. Different bloggers addressed various aspects of the event and its meaning:

  • Maggie Fick: “South Sudan erupts in sheer joy as it becomes world’s newest nation”
  • Dipnote (US State Department): “Ambassador Rice Leads US Delegation to South Sudan”
  • Baobab/The Economist: “Managing Expectations”
  • Amb. John Campbell/Royal African Society: “Juba and Khartoum: No Velvet Divorce”
  • Edmund Downie/Foreign Policy Passport: “An Awkward Independence Day for Diplomats in South Sudan” – referring to the presence of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir at the event. Bashir is under indictment by the International Criminal Court.
  • Roving Bandit: “Economic Prospects for the Republic of South Sudan” – better than expected, it turns out.
  • Rosebell Kagumire: “South Sudan Independence: A New Journey Begins”

Amb. David Shinn posts his recent congressional testimony on Somalia. Highly recommended.

Chris Blattman flags a quote from Henry Kissinger on the difference between Chinese and American foreign policy. The quote, which refers to China’s lack of “ideological missionary tendencies” similar to the tone that characterizes American engagement abroad, is worth thinking about in the context of Africa.

Louisa Lombard writes an engrossing account of her visit to the “Winners’ Chapel” in the Central African Republic.

Saratu examines the relationship between the African Union and Colonel Moammar Qadhafi.

Loomnie excerpts remarks by Mike McGovern on the relationship between anthropology and development economics.

At Africa Is A Country, Dan Moshenberg places the story of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s accuser in the larger context of media representations of African women and efforts to secure justice for women around the globe.

A Bombastic Element reflects on Somaliland’s experience with(out) aid, using a recently released World Bank report on African success stories as a point of departure.

What did I miss this weekend?

Africa Blog Roundup: Somaliland, Egypt, Failed States, Gender Politics, and More

The Economist‘s Baobab investigates whether a lack of aid has increased government accountability in the unrecognized state of Somaliland.

Venturing a little outside of my normal geographic coverage, I wanted to share this interesting essay by Jimmy Kainja on Egyptian leaders’ resistance to conditional loans. The issues at stake in Egypt have wide relevance:

Egypt has said no to all the loans with strings attached. Egyptian Minister for International Cooperation, Fayza Abu Naga says Egypt has refused a loan from the World Bank “because if found the terms of the loan incompatible with the Egyptian national interests.” She added that the Egyptian government “would not accept dictated by the World Bank and the IMF.”

The minister is also reported to have lodged a complaint with the USA Embassy in Egypt, warning it not to violet Egypt’s sovereignty by dictating conditions for loans. This was “in response to an announcement by the United States Agency for International Development that it would grant Egypt US$165 million to finance projects for education, civic activities and human rights.”

Are we finally coming full-circle with regards to the aid versus sovereignty debate? Of course it is too early to tell but this sends a signal that the days of paternalistic way of providing loans and grants may be waning. Egypt is moving towards democracy, it has to be answerable to its people, not donors. That is the case with any democratic country. Even dictators always claim to work in the interest of their people.

James Dorsey assesses the implications of the Libyan soccer team’s defection.

Loomnie flags a new Accenture report on financial services in Africa.

Louisa Lombard returns to the Central African Republic and reflects on maternal mortality and the position of the ethnographer.

Amb. John Campbell finds signs of hope for Africa in the new Failed States Index.

Jens Pederson writes that in North Sudan, “the political environment seems to have hardened recently,” while “the [economic] situation has gotten more precarious.”

Michael Nelson looks at environmental problems in Ghana.

Laura Seay and Kate Morris debate the potential and the limits of US influence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the question of whether the appointment of a special envoy to the DRC would have a significant impact on the situation there.

In the wake of First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to southern Africa, Dan Moshenberg asks, “What’s a young African woman leader, today, and who decides?”

I leave you with an al Jazeera English video on Senegal’s recent protests: