AFRICA: Ivory Coast Heats Up, Nigeria, Burkina Faso Calm Down

April 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm Leave a comment

Ivory Coast: Here We Go Again

Gunfire has broken out again in the largest city of violence-wracked Ivory Coast. After weeks of fighting in and around Abidjan earlier this month by forces loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo and others supporting Alassane Ouattara – who defeated him at the polls last November – calm appeared to return to the city last week following Gbagbo’s capture.

Residents who has gone days without food, water and medicines during the street fighting and bombing of the presidential compound were hoping for a gradual return to normalcy. While Ouattara’s army was trying to eliminate remaining Gbagbo loyalists in Abidjan’s Yopougan district Wednesday (April 20) word came that pro-Ouattara forces were fighting among themselves in another part of the city, the Voice of America reports.

The intramural fighting is between Ouattara’s forces and a militia group known as the Invisible Commandos. The commandos, led by Ibrahim Coulibaly, joined forces with Ouattara’s main fighting group, the so-called New Forces, to take control of parts of Abidjan before the assault against Gbagbo began.

Coulibaly says he wants recognition for the role he played in Gbagbo’s overthrow, the BBC reports, but the Invisible Commandos are accused of being behind much of the widespread looting that took place in Abidjan over the past week. They are also accused of extorting money from motorists for access to a major road.

An unrelated outburst of shooting in the port of San Pedro, one of the main cocoa-exporting transit points, was also reported Wednesday – apparently in another dispute between pro-Ouattara forces, the BBC said.

Ivory Coast’s official name is Cote D’Ivoire (see map).

Burkina Faso: Calm After Army Mutiny

Ivory Coast’s neighbor, Burkina Faso, has a newly appointed prime minister who says his cabinet picks will be based on their “competence” in dealing with a political crisis that rocked the West African nation for weeks, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

Luc-Adolphe Tiao was named prime minister Monday (April 18) after President Blaise Compaore dissolved theprevious government to quell a soldiers’ mutiny. Burkina Faso is sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest cotton producer.

The mutiny began on Thursday (April 14) in Ouagadougou, the capital, when members of the presidential guard fired guns in the air, demanding unpaid housing allowances. Soldiers in cities north, south, east and west of the capital joined them within days. Calm returned after the soldiers were paid, according to the Associated Press.

Nigeria: Post Election Unrest

President Goodluck Jonathan was re-elected this week in a vote remarkably free of fraud in notoriously corrupt Nigeria. Nevertheless, the election of Jonathan, a politician from the largely Christian and oil-rich South, is being challenged by his opponent, Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari’s supporters in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim North reacted with outrage to the election results and there was rioting in several towns. Scores were said to be killed in Muslim attacks and Christian reprisals. Both churches and mosques were burned. Officials declined to release casualty figures for fear of inciting more violence.

Despite the rioting, Jonathan, in a televised speech, called for next Tuesday’s elections for state governors to go forward, Reuters reported. If those elections are relatively free of fraud, it could go a long way toward burnishing Nigeria’s reputation in the region.

However, just hours later, the head of Nigeria’s independent election commission decided to delay the vote in two northern states, Kaduna and Bauchi, for security concerns, theAssociated Press reported.

The most populous African country with 154 million, Nigeria is also a leading oil producer. Some analysts expect Nigeria could surpass South Africa as the most economically and politically powerful country in Africa by 2030, the Voice of America said.

South Africa: Another BRIC in the Wall

Speaking of South Africa, the country with the continent’s leading economy attended its first meeting as a member of a coalition of emerging economic powers in China last week.

South Africa joined Brazil, Russia, India and China as one of the BRIC countries – which will now be known as BRICS with South Africa’s addition. The acronym was coined by a Goldman Sachs executive, Jim O’Neill, in a 2001 white paper. The addition of South Africa to the bloc has puzzled some analysts. Others believed it was engineered by China, which is seeking friends and natural resources in Africa.

Compared to the other members of the BRICS bloc, South Africa has a much smaller economy, area size and population. South Africa ranks 25th in the world in area compared to No. 1 Russia, No. 3 China,  No. 5 Brazil and No. 7, India. South Africa has a population of less than 50 million compared to the next smallest BRICS country, Russia, with nearly 142 million inhabitants. Both China and India have over a billion residents. South Africa’s gross domestic product ranks 28th in the world, compared to China, with the second-largest; No. 8 Brazil; No. 10 India and No. 11 Russia.

South Africa also spends only a fraction on its military, compared to the other four. South Africa ranks 43rd in the world in defense expenditures. China is rated No. 2,  Russia is fifth; India is ranked 10th and Brazil No. 11, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Entry filed under: Africa, Counter Insurgency, National Security and Defense, News Developments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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