Monday, February 8, 2016

Boko Haram down but not out - Multi-National Task Force slow to form

Nigeria's President Buhari promised last year to defeat Boko Haram with the help of a Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

As shown in the Reuters maps above, Buhari had dramatic success in the months after he first took office in taking most of the territory held by Boko Haram. Since then, however, Boko Haram has switched tactics, using hit-and-run attacks. For example, on Saturday Boko Haram attacked a village in Northern Nigeria and killed almost a hundred people.

The Task Force that was supposed to help defeat Boko Haram by the end of 2015 has not yet mobilized and is underfunded. Last year a budget of $700 million was announced for the MNJTF, but so far donors, including Nigeria and France, have only pledged $250 million.

In the meantime, armies from Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon and some troops from the US have had successes against Boko Haram, but because the insurgents take advantage of porous borders to move back and forth between countries, a coordinated effort will be necessary to defeat them.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Gambian president opposes peacekeeping intervention in Burundi

Burundi is in danger of experiencing a genocide between Tutsis and Hutus, sparked by the president's election for a third term last summer (boycotted by the opposition). The constitution limits president's to two terms, but the president decided his first term didn't count because he was elected indirectly by the parliament instead of directly by the voters.

The African Union charter allows a peacekeeping force to be sent by other AU nations if there is risk of serious violence, such as a genocide, even if it is against the will of the country's government. Burundi President Nkurunziza doesn't want some foreign troops interfering. Other presidents with extremely questionable legitimacy, such as Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh, would like presidents to have the prerogative of keeping meddling peacekeepers out when violence breaks out.

Benin's front runner runs further in front, with help from main opposition party

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Lionel Zinsou, who has been prime minister for around 6 months, is President Yayi Boni's chosen successor and is considered the frontrunner, in a presidential field with almost 50 contestants.

On Saturday, Adrien Houngbedji and his PRD party have thrown their support behind Zinsou. Houngbedji has run for president in all five presidential elections Benin has held since multiparty elections were re-introduced in 1991. In 1996 and 2001 he placed third, and in 2006 and 2011 he placed second behind Yayi Boni. So his endorsement is a big deal.

The election is February 28.