Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Refugees fleeing Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria spark conflict in Southern Nigeria

Just as conflict in one country can lead to conflict in a neighboring country due to refugees fleeing one conflict and clashing with the residents of the recipient country, conflict in one part of a country can lead to conflict in another part of the country.

In Nigeria, Muslim Fulani herdsmen are fleeing Boko Haram in the north and clashing with Christian farmers in the south.

Add that to Buhari's to-do list, along with Boko Haram and the Delta Avengers and other violent groups in the south.

Casper, You're Fired

Earlier this year, the Nigerian government removed nearly 24,000 "ghost workers" from its payroll.

Now it's Mali's turn. They've identified 13,000 "ghost workers" on the state payroll. These are workers who died or left to work elsewhere but continued to collect checks.

It's not clear to me whether these non-workers had not previously identified because of incompetence or corruption. They are being purged now because of a requirement for Mali's program with the IMF.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cash Payments to Avengers Resume

The Niger Delta Avengers are an army of unemployed young men who attack oil pipelines if the Nigerian government refuses their demands to send more of the country's oil wealth to the impoverished Delta region.

The Avengers "previously laid down arms in 2009 in exchange for cash benefits under a government amnesty. The government angered former militants (in February) when it cut by two-thirds the budget allocated for the amnesty program which provided stipends and employment training".

Yesterday, the government resumed the cash payment program to the former militants.

The attacks reduced Nigeria's crude output by 70,000 barrels a day, enough to enable Angola to take over the title of Africa's top oil producer.

More constitutional changes underway in ECOWAS countries

While I was writing up the post about Burkina Faso's constitution-writing process, I came across this nice post about other constitutional reforms under discussion in ECOWAS countries.

Some highlights:

  • Cote d'Ivoire, like Burkina Faso, is working on a new constitution. The current constitution requires presidential candidates to have two native-born Ivorian parents, a requirement the current president does not satisfy (a law was passed changing the rule, but it was never ratified in the constitution). As in Burkina Faso, some opposition members complain the process is being rushed.
  • Mali is working on "incorporat(ing) provisions of the 2015 Algiers peace accord signed between the government of Mali and former rebel groups"
  • Senegal shortened the presidential term from 7 to 5 years and clarified the two-term limit
  • Benin, going in the other direction, is considering lengthening the presidential term from 5 to 6 or 7 years, and reducing the term limit from two to one. 
More on Benin:
  • The 35-member commission "unanimously recommends that the president should no longer appoint Bénin’s chief justice, the chair of the superior council of judges .., and the chair of the national audio-visual authority"
  • "It also proposes to augment the number of justices serving on Bénin’s constitutional court from seven to nine, extend their mandate from five to nine years, and to limit the number of justices appointed by the president to one, as opposed to currently three."
  • "However, the commission was unable to reach consensus on proposed changes to the presidential term limit"
  • "President Talon has announced he intends to put the question in front of the Béninese people via referendum before the end of the year. But his proposition may have encountered a sizeable obstacle: Bénin’s constitutional court ruled in October 2011 that presidential term limits could not be changed by way of referendum."

Burkina Faso new constitutional draft due soon

Burkina Faso's president from 1987-2014, Blaise Compaore, was finally driven from office when he attempted to change the constitution to enable him to run for another term. 

Following a military coup, elections were held and Roch Marc Kabore won the presidency. Kabore was prime minister under Compaore and president of his political party, but opposed the attempt to change the constitution to allow Compaore to run for another term. 

In early June, Kabore appointed a 92-member commission to draft a new constitution. A first draft was to be presented in two months, which means any day now. 

Some members of the opposition don't like that timeline, questioning the rush, and demanding a consensual process. 

#GambiaRising leaders locked up - @GambiaRising focused on education

The last time I posted about Gambia, it was about an uprising that started in mid-April against President Yahya Jammeh's government, including demands that he step down.

Two weeks ago, Gambia's opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and 18 others were jailed for three years for participating in those unauthorized demonstrations.
The odds of the president stepping down are low, although Gambia is unpredictable.

@GambiaRising, meanwhile, thanks Tweeters for not posting #gambiarising when protesting the government. @GambiaRising is focused on improving education in Gambia, not overthrowing its government.

Ghana - no change in election date after all

My last post on Ghana was about a proposed constitutional amendment to change the upcoming presidential election date from December to November, and to fix it permanently in November via a constitutional amendment.

The vote for the constitutional amendment did not pass the Parliament. It required a 2/3 vote, 184/275, and only 125 voted for the change. The NPP, the main opposition party, withdrew its support, saying that the process would take too long and would shorten the campaign period before the election.

Reducing the campaign period may have been the goal of the incumbent party, the NDC, according to Kwasi Prempeh. The country has various problems that the opposition party could highlight during the campaign, and moving the election forward a month would reduce the time available to make that case.

(A smaller opposition party, on the other hand - Nkrumah's resurrected CPP - said it was ready for the election to be held in November.)