If these sad events hadn't happened, Africa would have been a better place in the week

In many ways Sierra Leone's announcement that it is to withdraw from peacekeeping in Somalia over an Ebola issue, was one of the lowest moments.

IN the last few days, Africa as a continent would have smelt and looked better if the following opportunities had been seized, or tragic events had been averted:

Boko Haram bloody footprint

Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped at least 185 women and children, and killed 32 people in a raid in northeastern Nigeria last Sunday, officials revealed mid-week.

But perhaps the event that signaled a frightening turn was that the Islamic extremists are turning their guns on elderly people, killing more than 50 during the week in a new tactic that has instilled more fear in the northeast region of Nigeria where they operate.

Residents from five villages said people too elderly to flee Gwoza local government area were being rounded up and taken to two schools where the militants were opening fire on them.

In Africa’s deadly conflicts, elderly people are often treated as “harmless” and left alone – they are past their reproductive age, and are not young people who will grow up and take up arms as soldiers or rebels.


Mozambique opposition chief leaves $2m on the table

In a bid to ensure that Mozambique doesn’t slide into the deadly conflict that blighted it in the past, the country’s  President Armando Guebuza signed  into law a bill granting special status to opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama, who lost October’s presidential elections.

The move on Wednesday was seen as an olive branch to the former rebel commander to avoid further conflict in the resource-rich country.

But Dhlakama has rejected the law, which would see a British-style leader of the opposition get his own official residence, staff and office, as well as the right to set his own salary.

Over $2 million has been set aside for the new post in the 2015 budget, the finance ministry said, which also comes with a diplomatic passport.

Dhlakama lost the presidential election to the ruling Frelimo party’s Filipe Nyusi, although he disputes the result, which the country’s constitutional court has yet to confirm. Nyusi will be sworn into office in February.

Two million dollar might be a small price for a country to pay for peace, but a huge prize for an opposition politician who would otherwise be jobless.


Ebola hits Somalia peace-keeping

In one of the most regrettable developments of recent days, Sierra Leone is withdrawing its troops from Somalia after the African Union blocked the West African country from rotating its soldiers over fears for the Ebola virus.

Sierra Leone sent 850 troops to Somalia for a 12-month deployment to fight the al-Qaeda-linked rebel group, al-Shabaab, in Somalia in 2013.

Their rotation was delayed after a group of 800 soldiers, who were waiting to replace their comrades in Somalia, were quarantined after one of the soldiers was tested positive for Ebola.

Poor, and still-recovering from a long conflict, Sierra Leone’s decision to send troops to the Somalia peacekeeping was a well-received act of solidarity and commitment, at a time when bigger and richer nations like Nigeria and South Africa stayed away from the long-drawn Somalia conflict. Its departure would be a big blow to the “African solutions for African problems” idea and continental solidarity.


Africa’s 13m displaced person and 4m refugees

There are no fewer than 13 million displaced persons in Africa with over four million refugees. The African Union (AU) commissioner for Political Affairs, Dr Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, has said.

Dr Abdullahi told journalists in the Nigerian state of Katsina during a visit there that the displacement was occasioned by conflicts and natural disasters.

Abdullahi appealed for efforts to ensure that the 2015 polls are peaceful, credible, free and fair.

Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram terror attacks are overwhelming neighbouring Cameroon. What the West African region doesn’t need, is millions more Nigerians on the move if the February polls go wrong.

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