Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Libya: Getting Geneva Right

Middle East and North Africa Report N°157

Libya’s deteriorating internal conflict may be nearing a dramatic turning point. Over six months of fighting between two parliaments, their respective governments and allied militias have led to the brink of all-out war. On the current trajectory, the most likely medium-term prospect is not one side’s triumph, but that rival local warlords and radical groups will proliferate, what remains of state institutions will collapse, financial reserves (based on oil and gas revenues and spent on food and refined fuel imports) will be depleted, and hardship for ordinary Libyans will increase exponentially. 

Radical groups, already on the rise as the beheading of 21 Egyptians and deadly bombings by the Libyan franchise of the Islamic State (IS) attest, will find fertile ground, while regional involvement – evidenced by retaliatory Egyptian airstrikes – will increase. Actors with a stake in Libya’s future should seize on the UN’s January diplomatic breakthrough in Geneva that points to a possible peaceful way out; but to get a deal between Libyan factions – the best base from which to counter jihadis – they must take more decisive and focused supportive action than they yet have.
Since mid-2014, fighting has spread and intensified. Aerial bombardment and attacks on civilian infrastructure have increased; at least 1,000 Libyans have died (some estimates are as high as 2,500), many of them non-combatants; and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees have increased from 100,000 to 400,000. The fledging post-Qadhafi state is beginning to buckle: basic goods and fuel are in short supply; in some urban areas people no longer have reliable access to communications or electricity and are using firewood for cooking. The likelihood of major militia offensives in cities like Benghazi raises the spectre of humanitarian disaster. Moreover, Libya faces the prospect of insolvency within the next few years as a result of falling oil revenue and faltering economic governance, as militias battle for the ultimate prize: its oil infrastructure and financial institutions.

(pix: presstv)
As the crisis has deepened, the positions of the rival camps have hardened, and their rhetoric has become more incendiary. Libyans, who united to overthrow Qadhafi in 2011, now vie for support from regional patrons by casting their dispute in terms of Islamism and anti-Islamism or revolution and counter-revolution. The conflict’s reality, however, is a much more complex, multilayered struggle over the nation’s political and economic structure that has no military solution. A negotiated resolution is the only way forward, but the window is closing fast.
The two rounds of talks the UN hosted in Geneva on 14-15 and 26-27 January 2015 mark a minor breakthrough: for the first time since September 2014, representatives of some of the factions comprising the two main rival blocs met and tentatively agreed to a new framework that will at least extend the talks. This is testimony to the tenacity and relentless shuttle diplomacy of Bernardino León, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative. The road is long, and there will be setbacks, for example if parties refuse to participate or pull out; the General National Council (GNC) in Tripoli only belatedly agreed to participate in the talks, while the Tobruk-based House of Representative (HoR) announced it was suspending its participation in them on 23 February. Yet, this is the only political game in town and the only hope that a breakdown into open warfare can be avoided. To build on León’s initiative and ensure that ongoing discussion produces an agreement with nationwide support, however, members of the international community supporting a negotiated outcome must reframe their approach and do more to support him.
The way in which they have tended to frame the conflict should be modified first. The dominant approach to the parties has been to assess their legitimacy. The question, however, should no longer be which parliament, the HoR or the GNC, is more legitimate or what legal argument can be deployed to buttress that legitimacy. Chaos on the ground and the exclusionary behaviour of both camps have made that moot. An international approach that is premised on the notion the HoR is more legitimate because elected but does not take into account how representative it really is encourages it to pursue a military solution. Conversely, it feeds GNC suspicion that the international community seeks to marginalise or even eradicate the forces that see themselves as “revolutionary” (among them, notably, Islamists), as has happened elsewhere in the region.
Libya needs a negotiated political bargain and an international effort that channels efforts toward that goal. Outside actors will have to offer both sides incentives for participation and make clear that there will be consequences for those who escalate the conflict. Immediate steps should be taken to reduce the arms flow into the country and prevent either camp from taking over its wealth. The alternative would only lead to catastrophe and should not be an option.

*Late Libyan leader, Gaddafi 

In sum, the UN Security Council and others supportive of a negotiated political solution should:
  • de-emphasise “legitimacy” in public statements and instead put the onus on participation in the UN-led negotiations and on behaviour on the ground, notably adherence to ceasefires and calls to de-escalate. Rather than interpreting the legal and constitutional consequences of the Supreme Court’s ambiguous ruling on this question, they should indicate that those consequences are best negotiated as part of a wider roadmap toward a new constitution and permanent representative institutions;
  • be more forthright in confronting regional actors who contribute to the conflict by providing arms or other military or political support – notably Chad, Egypt, Qatar, Sudan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – and encourage them to press their Libyan allies to negotiate in good faith in pursuit of a political settlement. Military intervention on counter-terrorism grounds, as requested by Egypt, would torpedo the political process, and for now should be opposed. Regional actors who attempt to support negotiations, notably Algeria and Tunisia, should be encouraged and helped;
  • devise, without prejudice to the UN’s efforts to achieve reconciliation, political and military strategies to fight terrorism in coordination with Libyan political forces from both camps but refrain from supporting outside military intervention to combat the IS. The GNC and its supporters should unambiguously condemn IS actions, and the HoR should refrain from politicising them.
  • keep in place the UN arms embargo, expressly reject its full or partial lifting and strengthen its implementation to the extent possible;
  • consider UN sanctions against individuals only if so advised by the Secretary-General and his representative. If enacted, they should be linked to the political process and applied or lifted according to transparent criteria for individuals on all sides, focusing on incitement to or participation in violence; and
  • protect the neutrality and independence of financial and petroleum institutions: the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), the National Oil Company (NOC) and the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA); and ensure that these manage the national wealth to address the basic needs of the people and contribute to a negotiated political solution.

Friday, February 20, 2015

When God Wept

By Banji Ojewale

The other time I wafted through a chink in the sky on a day God was attending to mails, special supplications, visitations and sundry demands from earthlings. Angel Gabriel ferried me through a thousand and one skies, and portal after portal swung free of their log-like locks to admit us.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe 

We made no stop over. And I observed when we approached a narrow, ornate gate in the distance that we were gradually dropping, Angel Gabriel told me we were only a billion celemetres away from the scene where the Almighty was conducting the audience session.

I was soon dumped into a mansion and told peremptorily by a departing Gabriel that I was already in the presence of the invisible Almighty. He said God had before our arrival read many billions of mails, and heard murmurings, wishes, complaints prayers, curses, oaths, etc, numbering several trillions from men, women, foetuses, children, plants, animals etc, who ceaselessly invoked His Name. I was lucky, he said, as presently three great personages from earth would be brought before the Almighty to deliver their cases.

Angels milled around the spot where God sat in judgment. It was as I seethed in mystery and confoundment that an African angel, he had a Nigerian name which I can’t recollect, ushered a Zimbabwean into the great hall. He collected a fat document from the new arrival and gave it to God, Who set it aside and asked the Zimbabwean to state his case.

Robert Mugabe Prepares For Lavish 91st Birthday Celebrations

Zimbabwe’s president and guests to enjoy a $1m party at a luxury golf course amid widespread child malnutrition and high unemployment

President Robert Mugabe enjoys his 85th birthday
cake in in 2009 
(Pix: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

John F Kennedy being serenaded by Marilyn Monroe apart, most presidents tend to make their birthdays private, low-key affairs. Not Robert Mugabe. Year after year the leader of Zimbabwe holds a lavish celebration, regardless of the state of the economy, and his 91st birthday will be no different. 
There will be music, dancing and elephant meat on the menu as an estimated 20,000 guests gather on a luxury golf course near Victoria Falls for a jamboree set to cost at least $1m (£650,000). Opposition MPs have branded the feast obscene in a country where the UN says one in three children are stunted because of hunger.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Nigeria: Seasonal Brinkmanship Again

Banji Ojewale

An old star departs, leaves us here on the
Shore, Gazing heavenward for a new star
Approaching. The new star appears, foreshadows
Its going, Before a going and coming that goes
On forever … 
 –  Christopher Okigbo, in Path of Thunder.

*President Jonathan (right) and General Buhari

Nigeria appears to be falling again under the excruciating spell of a star presaged by this remarkable poet of limitless possibilities.   At the time Christopher Okigbo wrote the poem shortly before his death in 1967 the young republic had writhed in a series of setbacks dating from the Western Region upheavals.

Okigbo  had a keen mind that correctly interpreted these rocking crises as the shadows of some bigger, more devastating whirlwind into which we were being drawn.  As he studied the events of his time, he decoded an abiku-like character in them.    The details and nuances which chroniclers ignored or gave little attention to, he noted and scrutinized to find out why they exerted such powerful but hardly visible influence.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Shed Your Own Blood, Mr. Politician!

Whenever Nigerian politicians threaten that blood would flow if they lose in an election, what they always have in mind is not their own blood or that of their children and wives.  Even their distant relations and friends do not figure in their calculations.

*Post-election violence: who dies? (pix: salon)

What they have in mind is the blood of grossly impoverished Nigerians (people totally unfamiliar and unrelated to them whose death or impairment would not interfere with their happiness, assuming they even get to hear of it) whom they believe they would always be able to easily brainwash and deceive with dirty naira notes to unleash violence. These sometimes waste their lives in the service of those selfish and ultra-callous politicians who do not even place the slightest hint of worth on the lives of other Nigerians. These politicians have also learnt to deploy two usually highly reliable intoxicants, namely, ethnicity and godless religion, to confuse and blur the reasoning of the people and lure them into the streets to embrace their wasteful deaths.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Soyinka’s 60 Reasons (2)—An Investigative Report

By Chinweizu

 Is this one of them?
Global Research, May 28, 2010

Or is this one of those off-the-radar reasons that it pays not to mention to the people?
Now, about my friend and old sparring partner WS. If you want to know what the Western powers are up to in Nija, you just watch WS. He has been their boy-in-the-hood ever since one of his lecturers at IU inspired him to set up his Pyrates as cover for a Nija network branch of British intelligence. And you think he got his Nobel for his unreadable books? But that’s another story.

Anyway what has that deal, signed in May 2010, got to do with Wole’s pro-Buhari position, or with the momentum of the Buhari campaign despite his being prima facie the Boko Haram candidate?

The report about that China deal concluded on this note:
“Western policy on Nigeria is driven by the super-profits generated from the extraction of oil and its processing. While publicly the US and its allies proclaim the need for democracy and openness, this is window dressing. Anything that impedes their drive for profits, whether from local opposition or from a rival nation, will be dealt with ruthlessly when required. The latest moves by China will have caused consternation in the boardrooms of the big oil companies, and countermeasures are all but inevitable.”
That’s the link, I tell you, to events now unfolding in the 2015 elections.
Is the pro-Buhari campaign momentum part of the countermeasures? An effort at regime change by orchestrated propaganda?

To appreciate that possibility, go watch the film “A Very British Coup” to see how such is done.

But what was the deal for? Why did it give offence and cause consternation in the boardrooms of the western oil giants—Shell, ExxonMobil and the lot?

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Humbling Reality!

By Banji 0jewale

One day in the very near future, naysayers of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency are going to be confronted with the greatest and indisputable evidence of their error and ignorance: the aircraft in which they travel to take care of their vast business empire straddling the length and breadth of Nigeria and sometimes across our shores will be handled by pilots trained under the Amnesty scheme of the Jonathan Administration! When their jets and helicopters would have flown safely through the turbulence of the sky and landed to the applause of both the passengers and loved ones waiting to receive them at well-lit airports maintained by electricians including trainees of the Amnesty school, the critics would be humbled by a numbing reality: Jonathan isn’t “clueless” after all!

*President Jonathan

But it is not only in that field the president has confounded his captious compatriots. In education he has become the first president of Nigeria to address the vexatious issue of federal universities being the exclusive preserve of some states. By causing the establishment of nine of such institutions in the states that had none, Jonathan has ensured that each state in Nigeria now has at least one federal university either in existence or under actual construction.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Robert Mugabe Falls At Harare International Airport

As he left the podium after addressing supporters... 

Mugabe falls after addressing supporters at Harare
International Airport
Zimbabwe's 90-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, fell down a staircase Wednesday as he left the podium after a speech.
There was no indication Mugabe was hurt by the fall, and presidential spokesman George Charamba refused to discuss the incident with reporters.  
The president had just finished addressing supporters at Harare International Airport upon his return from an African Union summit in Ethiopia, where he was elected AU chairman.
Witnesses say Mugabe missed a step and fell while walking down the stairs. The president was helped to his feet by aides, who escorted him to a waiting car while dusting off his suit.
Video of the incident 

Security agents quickly rounded up journalists covering the event and ordered them to delete all pictures of Mugabe's fall.
Journalists have often complained of censorship in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe has ruled with an iron fist for nearly 35 years.
Civil society groups opposed his election as AU chair because of alleged election rigging and human rights abuses.

2015 Presidential Election Issues (3)

By Chinweizu

Part II of “2015-- Between Liberation and Slavery (3)”
Copyright © by Chinweizu, 2015
A contribution to the Abuja symposium on “NATIONAL CONFAB AND THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS” on MONDAY, 2ND FEBRUARY  2015
2015 Presidential Election Issues
After that historical backgrounder, I shall now examine 4 election issues, the two on everybody’s mind —Corruption and Insecurity, with insecurity in the two forms of Boko Haram and The Fulani militia, plus two others that are not but should be on everybody’s mind namely, the 1999 Constitution—hereafter referred to as the Constitution; and Candidate Buhari.  So all in all I shall examine 5 distinct election issues: Corruption; Boko Haram; The Fulani Militia; the 1999 Constitution; Candidate Buhari.
1] On Corruption, I submit that, under the Constitution, no President of Nigeria can tackle corruption without inviting impeachment, simply because corruption is encouraged and protected by the constitution which he is sworn to enforce.

2] On Boko Haram, I submit that it is partly funded through the structures of the Constitution and can’t be extinguished without first discarding the Constitution. I also submit that a military solution to Boko Haram is not possible under the Constitution.

3] On The Fulani Militia, I submit that it is an ethnic cleansing and land grabbing instrument of the Caliphate and a mortal danger to all other Nigerians, and that it can’t be curbed under the Constitution.

4] On the Constitution, I submit that it is the godfather of corruption, as well as the codification of the sources of all the vices that plague Nigeria, and that Nigeria cannot be reformed without discarding it. Though ostensibly democratic, its frauds make it a fake-democracy constitution.

5] On Candidate Buhari, I submit that he has neither the will nor the ability to discard the Constitution but has every reason to perpetuate it. Accordingly he can’t solve any of the problems whose solution requires discarding the Constitution. So, those who expect him to change Nigeria by solving these problems are taking themselves for a ride.
From these submissions I argue that because these top problems—Corruption, Insecurity in its Boko Haram and Fulani Militia forms--- can be solved only after scrapping the Constitution; so, the principal election issue becomes the Constitution itself and how to replace it.  Hence, this election should be decided by the answer the candidates give to just one question: What’s your program for replacing the Constitution?
I shall now discuss these submissions one by one.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Burkina Faso: Nine Months To Complete The Transition

Africa Report: No:222

*Burkina Faso's Interim President Michel Kafando

Three months after Blaise Compaoré’s departure, Burkina Faso’s transition is moving forward in an uncertain context. The provisional government, with the help of its international partners, should initiate urgent reforms and ensure the October 2015 elections allow for peaceful, democratic change.

Sudan and South Sudan's Merging Conflicts

Africa Report: No: 223
*South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir Sudanese and President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan in  Khartoum

The conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan are increasingly merged. Halting drift toward a Uganda-Sudan proxy war on the Sudan-South Sudan border requires better coordination by regional organisations and more engagement by influential outside powers, notably China and the U.S., including via the UN Security Council. A UN-imposed arms embargo, improved border monitoring, and a UN panel of experts mandated to study the funding of South Sudan’s war are needed.

Discourse On Our 'Mumu', Part II -- Liberty Or Slavery?

--A backroom view of the state of the struggle for a True Federalism Constitution.
By Chinweizu
10 January 2015

Why rebrand as the New South Liberation Movement, NSLM?

Another issue that the CSC session should take up is the rebranding of the struggle and turning it into the Nigerian Liberation Movement, NLM, or better still into the New South Liberation Movement, NSLM? So, why rebrand? Why NLM or NSLM?

A crucial step in ending our “mumu” is for us to recognize that the issue for us all in the New South is liberty or slavery.

One consequence of our “mumu” has been our comparatively laid back approach to the struggle. Instead of meeting the militancy of Arewa with our own counter militancy, we have been making gentleman, negotiating rather than fighting. In December 2013, on the way to the National Conference, one of the Caliphate militants, Junaid Mohammed, even warned us “‘Supporters of SNC asking for civil war’ and that “‘There’ll be bloodshed, if Jonathan runs’. And, like mumu, we failed to take the hint, failed to realize that they were already in war mode going into the National Conference. And we went to the same conference in gentlemanly negotiations mode. The other side has been fighting with the vigilance and courage of desperation, the desperation of a hungry lion who won’t let his prey escape and deny him his dinner.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Discourse On Our “Mumu” (Part I)

--A backroom view of the state of the struggle for a True Federalism Constitution.

By Chinweizu
10 January 2015

Our 'mumu' (is it stupidity?) has caught up with us. Now, no one can escape the dire consequences of living in our cultural and institutional deceit, self-denial and delusions. In brotherly frankness, please take these from me,
Amos Akingba.

 The quote is the last paragraph of Amos Akingba’s email of 05jan15 to his aburo. It shall be the text for my discourse on why the decades-long struggle for a True Federalism Constitution stands today in danger of being defeated.

From the backroom where ill health has confined me, I’ve been watching this struggle for a True Federalism Constitution, TFC, and I have a few observations to share with the elders  and captains of the struggle.

The handwriting on the wall, as I see it, is that the chance of winning the struggle for TFC by dialogue and negotiation was lost on the Confab floor during its closing session when Arewa introduced a surprise amendment to the Confab Report requiring that it be sent to the NASS as proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution. By not defeating that amendment, the non-Caliphate majority of the delegates—from the New South: i.e. south of Shariyaland, and comprising the zones of South-West, South-South, South-East, and North-Central as well as the indigenous non-Hafukawa who are trapped in Shariyaland itself, such as the Zuru in Kebbi State and the Chibok in Borno State, whose new alliance had secured those far reaching recommendations in the Confab Report-- threw away all the marvelous gains they had made. In not defeating that amendment, the New South delegates sent the report to a NASS where Arewa can kill or gut it.  Unless their fraudulently built-in dominance at the NASS can somehow be overcome, Arewa will get NASS to nullify the Confab Report and return the struggle for TFC to square zero where it started decades ago.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Behold General Buhari's Contemporaries!

By Dan Amor
They were all members of a departed era, apostles of a dying generation 
 a generation that raped Mother Africa to this pariah and prostrate status. Members of the clan of military dictators in Africa were many but for space management, we may mention just a few who were as brutal as General Muhamadu Buhari was before his regime was halted by General Ibrahim Babangida in August 1985. 

*Gen Buhari

At their commanding height was Gnassingbe Eyadema who in January 1963 organized the first military coup in Africa to overthrow the government of President Sylvanus Olympio. Eyadema assumed full power in 1967 and ruled till 2005 when he died. Before his death, he had groomed his son to assume the mantle of leadership in that tiny West African country like a dynasty. 

There is Paul Biya of Cameroon who came to power since November 6, 1982. There was a Charles Taylor, leader of the rebel group known as National Patriotic Front of Liberia(NPFL), one of the groups that forced erstwhile dictator Samuel Doe out of office. Taylor who committed a lot of war crimes and crimes against humanity over which he was jailed in 2012 by the International Court of Justice at The Hague, ruled Liberia between 1997 and 2003. Also, there is Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, one of the most treacherous dictators in the world today. He has been declared wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity since 2008 having embarked on ethnic cleansing like the late Adolf Hitler of Germany.

Friday, January 16, 2015

2015 Nigerian Elections: Jonathan Will Not Win!

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye
It is my considered opinion that President Goodluck Jonathan will not win the February 14, 2015 presidential election. But then, he will NOT also lose. And if Jonathan is declared winner after the votes had been cast and counted, it would not be because the people voted massively for him. It would be that Nigerians trooped out to overwhelmingly vote against the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. 


Although, President Jonathan has performed far better than his predecessors in office, especially, his arch-critic, former President Olusegun Obasanjo (who went all out to impoverish and ground the country despite the unprecedented earnings that poured into the treasury during his tenure from oil exports) and whose regime brazenly institutionalized corruption (thereby, proving that it was indeed possible to beat the solid record left by the Ibrahim Babangida military regime), what cannot be  denied is that Jonathan could have done far better than he has done. But, sadly, the APC whose candidate is Jonathan’s major challenger is just incapable of inspiring confidence. Although labouring to present themselves as the “face of change,” the APC people only succeed in making Jonathan more appealing to the people by the way they conduct themselves and their campaign.

And despite all the resources and efforts the party has deployed to market itself as an alternative to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it has only succeeded in solidifying the egregious impression that it is nothing other than the PDP’s dustbin, where mostly frustrated and disgruntled PDP members seek refuge and are heartily received no matter their past records.

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