Boko Haram humiliate Nigeria government: What deal?

Finally ending a lengthy silence of several weeks, the man that Nigeria claimed (again) to have killed in September issued a video confirming that there is no ceasefire deal and there is no deal on the kidnapped Chibok girls, contrary to the claims of Nigeria’s government:

In a video released on Friday, [Boko Haram leader] Abubakar Shekau said: “We have not made ceasefire with anyone. We did not negotiate with anyone. It’s a lie.

“We will not negotiate. What is our business with negotiation? Allah said we should not.”

Shekau also claimed that the militants were holding a German national, thought to be a teacher, who was kidnapped by gunmen in July.

There was no indication of when or where the group’s latest video was shot.

The BBC’s Tomi Oladipo in Lagos says the video will come as a huge embarrassment for the Nigerian government after it said it had secured a ceasefire with Boko Haram.

Nor is there likely to be a deal (tragically):

But the Boko Haram leader said the girls were “in their marital homes” after being married off by the group.

Last week, Human Rights Watch said in a report that Boko Haram was holding more than 500 women and young girls captive and that forced marriage was common in the group’s camps.

 
I don’t root for failure in a terrible situation like this, but I have to point out that I predicted exactly how this would pan out. There was never a deal to begin with, as everyone should have suspected from the moment that there was no matching announcement by Boko Haram. This video is actually the first comment on the situation at all. This was either a gigantic mistake by the Nigerian government or a spectacular lie. Whichever it was, it sounds like time has run out (potentially quite a while ago) for the girls taken in May and probably many taken since then, due in large part to the ongoing ineptitude of the Nigerian government and military.

This should also “come as a huge embarrassment for” all the Western media outlets that reported it as fact, despite its obvious absurdity.

Arsenal For Democracy Radio Conversation – October 29, 2014:

Why is Western media reporting on Nigeria so bad?
Part 1 – Nigeria – AFD 105

Still image (via AFP) from the Boko Haram video communiqué received October 31, 2014.

Still image (via AFP) from the Boko Haram video communiqué received October 31, 2014.

Possible coup inside Burkina Faso military government

On Friday, Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaoré resigned from office after 27 years in power and a week of escalating protests (see our background report). In light of a constitutional vacuum, he handed power to General Honore Traoré, head of the Burkinabé Army, his former aide-de-camp, and called for elections within 90 days. Traoré made no comment on the latter point.

While protesters celebrated the fall of Compaoré, whose whereabouts are now unknown, General Traoré is still generally regarded as being too personally close to the former president.

Already things are looking very shaky for the transitional military government under Traoré:

The presidential guard’s second in command [and the Army Spokesman], Colonel Isaac Zida, says he has assumed power as head of state.
[...]
Col Zida said General Honore Traore’s claim to be head of state was now “obsolete”.

“I now assume… the responsibilities of head of the transition and of head of state to assure the continuation of the state” and a “smooth democratic transition”, said Col Zida in a televised speech quoted by AFP news agency.

Reuters reported that Col Zida, in a statement read out on local radio, had said: “I assume the functions of head of state and I call on (West African regional bloc) Ecowas and the international community to demonstrate their understanding and support the new authorities.”

 
From independence in 1960 to the end of the Cold War, there were at least five successful coup d’états and then none until now. Friday’s military takeover as a “transitional” government in the absence of a viable constitutional successor makes six, and if this one succeeds that will probably qualify as the seventh, despite being internal to the military and in such rapid succession.

Added: Reuters is counting this as number seven and reports:

“I assume from today the responsibilities of head of this transition and head of state,” Zida said, dressed in military fatigues, in the studio of BF1 television.

“I salute the memory of the martyrs of this uprising and bow to the sacrifices made by our people.”
[...]
Zida said the army had stepped in to avoid anarchy and ensure a swift democratic transition. He said a roadmap to elections would be drafted by a body drawn from different elements of society, including political parties and civil society.
[...]
“This is not a coup d’etat but a popular uprising,” he told Reuters after making the statement. “The people have hopes and expectations, and we believe we have understood them.”

 
burkina-faso-flag

Burkina Faso’s transitional government is unconstitutional

burkina-faso-mapOn Friday, Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaoré resigned from office after 27 years in power and a week of escalating protests (see our background report). He appeared to hand power to General Honore Traoré, head of the Burkinabé Army, his former aide-de-camp, and called for elections within 90 days. While the elections point is in line with the Constitution, the transfer to the military is not, nor was the subsequent dissolution of the legislature.

Update II: Part of the problem appears to be that the position identified in the constitution as the successor does not exist due to an ongoing fight over the actual creation of a Senate required by amendments to the constitution.

According to the Constitute Project’s English translation of the Constitution of Burkina Faso, the resignation of the country’s President should result in the automatic elevation of the President of the Senate to acting president until a special election can be held 60-90 days later:

Article 43
While the President of Faso is incapacitated in a temporary manner from fulfilling his functions, his powers are provisionally exercised by the Prime Minister.

In case of vacancy of the Presidency of Faso for any cause that may be, or of absolute or definitive incapacity declared by the Constitutional Council referred to [the matter] by the Government, the functions of the President of Faso are exercised by the President of the Senate. It proceeds to the election of a new President for a new period of five years.

The election of the new President takes place sixty days at least and ninety days at most after [the] official declaration of the vacancy or of the definitive character of the incapacity.

The President of the Senate exercising the functions of the President of Faso may not be [a] candidate at this presidential election.

 
The Acting President also does not have the power to dissolve the legislature and hold new legislative elections.

The Army also may be suspending the Constitution, according to various announcements from competing sources. Colonel Zida, the Army Spokesman, has already claimed the termination of the Traoré transitional government, in less than 24 hours, and says he is now in command.

 
Update for Clarity: Burkina Faso had a unicameral National Assembly between the 2002 amendments and the 2012 amendments that re-established an upper house called the Senate on paper, but it was never executed. The post-2012 French version, with amendment notes, is here. Obviously it’s hard to have the Senate President take power without a Senate.

Sudan Info Minister: Omar al-Bashir deserves Nobel Peace Prize

I realize there’s a long history of pretty undeserving and warmongering people winning the the Nobel Peace Prize but I’m pretty sure we’d really be redefining the word “Peace” entirely if the prize were given to Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, as has been hilariously/disturbingly proposed by his Minister of Information, according to Darfuri media outlet Radio Dabanga.

According to the Sudanese Minister of Information, President Omar Al Bashir is a man of peace who should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the war between Khartoum and the southern Sudanese rebels in 2005.
[...]
“President Al Bashir is being threatened with an ICC [International Criminal Court] arrest warrant for alleged war crimes in Darfur,” Information Minister Ahmed Bilal told James Butty of VOA News in an interview published today, “instead of being praised and encouraged for his efforts.”

Bilal said that Khartoum cares little about the ICC. “Let me tell you one thing: Our president is a man of peace. He stopped the longest war in Africa. Instead of giving him Nobel [Peace] Prize, he’s being called before the ICC. Instead praising him or encouraging him and saying that he’s doing good things to his neighbors, you are raising this talk of ICC problems.

 
You can read the VOA News interview with Minister Bilal here.

omar-al-bashirIn addition to Bashir’s genocide in Darfur, he is a past sponsor of global Sunni Islamic terrorism (including al Qaeda during the 1990s before their relocation to Afghanistan) and was a main instigating force and perpetuator of the Sudanese Civil War in the south, which he eventually ended under immense international pressure and UN involvement. Not exactly a shining force for world peace.

President Bashir was indicted in 2009 by the International Criminal Court for his activities in Darfur and has refused to face prosecution, unlike the president of nearby Kenya (who is currently standing trial on less serious charges for post-election violence). He is gearing up to campaign for yet another term as president after 25 years of rule. Fortunately, I doubt even the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is planning to consider Bashir any time soon … or ever.

Hey hey ho ho, Blaise Compaoré has got to go.

The 27-year West African regime of dictator Blaise Compaoré appears to be collapsing today in Burkina Faso. [He resigned and handed power to the military on October 31.] Here’s what you need to know…

Who is Blaise Compaoré?

President Blaise Compaoré seized power in a violent coup in 1987 (see Fast Facts) and planned to seek election a 5th consecutive time by amending the constitution.

There are literally close to three dozen opposition parties, which tends to keep them very weak. Compaoré, who lives in a ludicrously vast palace, was also the mastermind of the earlier 1983 coup and has killed off all his former compatriots in purges.

In early 2011, as regimes were collapsing across the world (including former patron Qaddafi), Compaoré survived a presidential guard mutiny over pay and protests across the country over the deaths of protesters at the hand of security forces. Riot police in the capital actually joined that uprising. A compromise with the military over the pay dispute regained their support and suppressed the protests.

burkina-faso-mapHe has been well liked by regional and international leaders for his work in mediating recent conflicts in Mali, Côte D’Ivoire, and Togo. Plus, until this week, the country was one of the most stable for almost three decades. Compaoré has been a key military ally of France in the Sahel and the United States in West Africa.

Protests, however, have been bubbling under the surface over unresolved economic struggles for a year or so. Still, they did not erupt into full-scale pandemonium until this week.

What happened this week?

Tuesday, opposition protests in the capital — over a proposed constitutional amendment to remove presidential term limits, scheduled to be voted on at the parliament today (Thursday) — clashed with police and shut down traffic.

Today, the military was deployed into the streets of the capital. According to the BBC feed and reporting, protesters and sympathizers responded by:
– Seizing the state television headquarters and broadcast center
– Torching the ruling party headquarters
– Seizing the parliament building and burning it to the ground (no place to vote on the amendment now!)
– Looting a hotel where members of parliament typically reside when in the capital
– Burning the homes of several cabinet members
– Marching on the presidential palace
– Shutting down the airport and arresting the president’s brother there (presumably as he attempted to flee the country)
– In other cities, government buildings were also burned or looted and protesters clashed with riot police at street barricades and churches

At least five are dead, probably more. There were reports that some soldiers were standing down or actively assisting the protesters, while other photos showed them still pointing guns. Loyalist forces reportedly fired live bullets into the crowd and a helicopter dropped tear gas.

Some protesters have dubbed this uprising the “Black Spring,” either in ethnic comparison to the Arab Spring or in reference to the violence. (I’ll keep looking into that. Edit: From looking on francophone Twitter, the phrase is “printemps noir,” literally Black Springtime, used alongside and in comparison to “printemps arabe,” the French term for the Arab Spring. French Wikipedia also notes that “Noir,” in addition to being the color black, is the predominant ethno-racial identifier in the French language for any person of color from or descended from the darker-skinned populations of the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Burkina Faso. While the same word is also used for “dark” in the sense of dark humor or dark events, which led to my uncertainty, it is being used in the ethno-racial sense here.)

In a written statement, the president declared a nationwide state of emergency, dissolved the cabinet, called for peace and talks with protest leaders:

“A state of emergency is declared across the national territory. The chief of the armed forces is in charge of implementing this decision which enters into effect today. I dissolve the government from today so as to create conditions for change. I’m calling on the leaders of the political opposition to put an end to the protests. I’m pledging from today to open talks with all the actors to end the crisis.”

 
There was some dispute as to the validity of the statement, as it was hard to verify it had actually come from President Compaoré.

There is word that a popular retired military general, former Defense Minister Kouame Lougue, is meeting with the military’s current leadership and may be supported in a coup or transition government by the protesters. If a coup is in progress, this would be at least the sixth since independence, but the first since the end of the Cold War. However, a Reuters photojournalist on the ground, quoted by the BBC, said that many protesters view the current military leadership and soldiers as the protectors of the president and enforcers of the state of emergency; they might not be willing to support such a coup.

The Army announced there would be a transitional cabinet in place for the next twelve months until the 2015 presidential election. It was not clear if this meant Compaoré would remain in office until then under their plan.

Added: In an evening appearance on private channel Canal 3 reported by Le Monde, President Campaoré said he would not resign but would withdraw his proposed amendment to the constitution and step down at the end of his current term next year. I don’t expect that will be the end of it, because I believe he will be pushed out or forced to resign within days.

What was the global response?

The United States National Security Council statement:

The United States is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Burkina Faso resulting from efforts to amend the constitution to enable the incumbent head of state to seek another term after 27 years in office. We believe democratic institutions are strengthened when established rules are adhered to with consistency. We call on all parties, including the security forces, to end the violence and return to a peaceful process to create a future for Burkina Faso that will build on Burkina Faso’s hard-won democratic gains.

 
This is a clear criticism of Compaoré’s bid to remove term limits but also leaves room to condemn the uprising if it proves to be the start of mass violence or a military coup.

The United Nations Secretary General dispatched its West Africa Special Envoy to the country, to arrive tomorrow, although it’s not clear how he will arrive, given the closure of the airport.

The government in France, like the United States, appears ready to throw their ally Compaoré to the wolves, having sent their ambassador to meet with opposition leaders.

Most significantly, the African Union, which typically backs incumbent leaders to the bitter end (out of self-interest), condemned the Compaoré government’s constitutional amendment proposal and suggested support for the protesters. The statement:

The Commission also urges the Government of Burkina Faso to respect the wishes of the people as well as the prevailing Constitution of the Republic of Burkina Faso. The Commission reiterates its commitment to zero tolerance on unconstitutional change of Government and respect for the rights of citizens to peaceful protest.

 
While explicitly discouraging a coup or popular overthrow, this statement is probably the most significant sign that this will only end with the president’s removal from power, one way or another. At minimum they will be supporting a voluntary resignation and transfer of power, if that can be achieved before something worse happens.

 

Burkina Faso Fast Facts

Read more

October 29, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 105

AFD-logo-470

Topics: Media coverage of Nigeria, comparing Mexico’s cartels to ISIS, reform Islam versus billionaire barons. People: Nate, Bill. People: Bill, Nate. Produced: October 26th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Why is Western media reporting on Nigeria so bad?
– Is Mexico’s Cartel War a bigger threat than the Syrian Civil War and the spread of ISIS?
– How big money for extremist causes is overriding Sunni Islam’s natural tendencies across the world

Part 1 – Nigeria:
Part 1 – Nigeria – AFD 105
Part 2 – Mexico:
Part 2 – Mexico – AFD 105
Part 3 – Islam:
Part 3 – Islam – AFD 105

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links
Segment 1

AFD: The Farce that is Nigeria’s Armed Forces
AFD: There was never a truce in Nigeria, just so we’re clear

Segment 2

Al Jazeera America: Mexican drug cartels are worse than ISIL
AFD: Mexico’s war: Still a bigger threat to the US than Syria’s
Global Post: Mexico’s vigilantes are building scrappy DIY tanks to fight narcos
NYT: 43 Missing Students, a Mass Grave and a Suspect: Mexico’s Police
The Daily Beast: She Tweeted Against the Mexican Cartels. They Tweeted Her Murder.

Segment 3

The Globalist: Reform Islam Vs. Billionaire Barons

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And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

Fourteen years of exploding wealth at the tippy-top

I pulled this eye-popping bit out of a recent article in The Globalist on the ultra-wealthy in the world of soccer team ownership:

Large fortunes today are really, really large. The top ten billionaires on the Forbes list have the combined net worth of over half a trillion dollars.

To get into the ranks of the world’s top 500 billionaires, you now need $3.3 billion. Back in 2000, the top ten were worth just $280 billion, half as much as today’s bunch, and there were only 322 billionaires in the entire world total. While the fortunes of the super-rich doubled, the average household income in the UK, for example, went up by just one third.

Plutocrats have become a new global ruling class. They live in an effectively borderless world, socialize with other rich people around the globe, keep their fortunes in low-tax havens and influence the political process in their own countries in such a manner that they pay little or no taxes.

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