Jihadists forcing dialogue option on West Africa
By Tasie Theodore
Jihadists operating across several nations in West Africa are evidently forcing the dialogue option on the governments and people of the sub-region, The Difference has surmised.
One country where the pressure seems to be intensifying at the moment is Burkina Faso. Scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary polls this weekend, the question of how to address the jihadists’ challenge is indeed one of the front-burner points in contention.
For former Finance Minister Zephirin Diabré, one of the frontline candidates in the contest, dialogue with the jihadists is definitely going to be one way of addressing the country’s security challenges going forward.
“Military action alone has never been able to defeat terrorism in any part of the world,” the flagbearer of the Union for Progress and Reform Party has affirmed.
And the jihadists challenge in the Sahelian state is indeed quite dire. In the forthcoming polls, people from 1500 of the 8000 communities n the country could not be registered to vote and electoral officials and materials are not being drafted there also on account of insecurity.
Burkina Faso is not the only West African country that is hostage to the jihadists’ challenge. In Mali, despite holding talks with the jihadists in the country, former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was still to be ousted, but this time by a combination of military forces and opposition elements who listed his poor handling of the jihadists challenge as part of the grounds for their opposition to his continued rule. Mali till date still has about a third of its territory occupied by jihadists and there is still division within the country over how to address the challenge as well as with its international partners on the issue. While the UN wants a degree of dialogue, the French are insisting on other conditions to be in place first, including the open renunciation of violence.
Even Nigeria, the sub-region’s most populous nation is not spared the jihadist challenge as both Boko Haram and the Islamic State are reportedly yet active in the country. At the same time also, there is disquiet over the government’s Demobilisation, DDR programme to rehabilitate repentant fighters with many in the communities expressing their unease over it.
Former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali