18 Jun

Mozambique’s own version of Boko Haram is tightening its deadly grip

Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province is being held to ransom by an Islamist guerrilla movement. After months of skirmishes between police and members of the Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah, the region has now erupted into full violence.

Since mid-May, 35 people have died in a series of brutal attacks. Various people have been beheaded, hundreds of houses have been burned and residents have been advised to be cautious.

On June 8 local staff at Anadarko, an international oil and gas company, refused to go to work because they feared an attack. The company then asked its foreign staff not to leave their compound. The US embassy also asked its nationals to leave the province immediately.

The state has in recent months responded forcefully to the emergence of this threat. Hundreds of men and women have been arrested. Some mosques have been closed and others have been destroyed.

In some areas, Muslims have been discouraged from wearing religious garb. This has prompted some sheikhs to warn that Mozambique’s government must not alienate all Muslims because of a fringe group’s activities.

There are economic as well as religious and security issues at play. Cabo Delgado province borders Tanzania and is home to 2.3 million people, 58% of whom are Muslim.

In the past few years massive oil and gas reserves have been discovered. These resources are set to lead to the development of a multibillion dollar industry in Cabo Delgado, and a rosier future for Mozambique’s economy as a whole.

The prospect of a full-scale war has alarmed many people. The state, civil society and oil explorers are worried about what the violence will mean.

How did it reach this point? Several factors—social, economic and political—have allowed an Islamist insurgency to develop in the north of Mozambique. Most are local issues rather than the outcome of an international, cross-border conspiracy.

To read the full article, click here.

09 May

Boko Haram will take years to ‘eliminate’: UN envoy

Despite military successes scored against Boko Haram jihadists, it will take years to “completely eliminate” the group, a United Nations envoy told AFP Tuesday.

“Boko Haram has proven to be a resilient group…I think it will take time to totally eliminate,” said Muhammad Ibn Chambas, special envoy to the UN secretary general for West Africa and the Sahel.

“What we are seeing is that Boko Haram has become part of an international terrorism network.” Chambas was speaking on the sidelines of a Lake Chad regional summit in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and birthplace of Boko Haram.

Governors from four countries straddling the lake – Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon – are meeting for two days to discuss regional co-operation on stabilisation, peace building and sustainable development in the area.

His remarks come at a time the Nigerian government and military is insisting that the war against Boko Haram is over, despite a recent spate of attacks by the extremists.

On May 1 at least 86 people were killed in twin suicide attacks targeting a mosque and a nearby market in the town of Mubi in Adamawa state. Chambas said that the Islamist insurgents were likely still holding on to territory in the region.

“It is relative,” he said in response to reports that Boko Haram was holding territory in the northeast states of Yobe and Borno. “As long as they are not totally defeated obviously they are present in some areas”.

The Islamist insurgency has killed at least 20 000 people in nine years of violence that has spilled from northeast Nigeria into Niger, Chad and Cameroon, creating a dire humanitarian crisis.

The four countries formed the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to fight the Islamic extremists who criss-cross the porous borders in the remote region.

24 Apr

Buhari Healthy And Will ‘Easily’ Win Nigeria Vote, Minister Says

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is healthy and his policies will “easily” win him re-election in the vote planned for February, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said.

“He is very strong and well,” Mohammed said in an interview on Sunday. “I have never lost sleep over the re-election. Buhari will easily win.”

Buhari, 75, announced this month that he’s seeking re-election, putting an end to speculation on his plans after he spent a total of five months in the U.K last year for treatment of an undisclosed ailment.

That, as well as continuing attacks by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, herdsmen-farmer clashes, the economic slump in 2016, and an anti-corruption crusade critics have called partisan prompted some politicians such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo to urge him not to run again.

Buhari must also rebuild the coalition of the ruling All Progressives Congress that brought him to power in 2015, after some defections to a similarly fractured opposition People’s Democratic Party. He defeated the PDP by tapping into public anger over its record for corruption and mismanagement while governing Nigeria since the end of military rule in 1999.

While the PDP hasn’t announced its candidate for the elections, a likely contender is Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president who defected from Buhari’s party last year. The 71-year-old lost to Buhari in the APC primaries but supported him as the candidate in 2015.

Buhari’s government points to some progress against Boko Haram militants, such as breaking their grip on territory. Still, attacks continue almost daily.

The government is using diplomatic means to convince Boko Haram to cease hostilities that may involve an amnesty for fighters of the group whose nine-year-old insurgency has claimed the lives of millions of people and threatened the northeast with famine.

“We are using third parties, including foreign parties, through back channels,” Mohammed said. “But the challenge is that there are many factions.”

To read the full article, click here.