Nigeria Pulls Out of MINUSMA: Protest or Prioritisation of Domestic Security?

Nigerian SSS operative(s) with Tavor 21
Nigerian DSS operatives. Photo: Beeg Eagle/Wikimedia Commons.

During the 43rd ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on 18 July 2013 in Abuja, Nigeria, the Chairman, President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, announced that the Nigerian government had requested the withdrawal of its troop battalion deployed in Mali as part of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operation. According to Ouattara, the decision was based on the unstable security situation in Nigeria’s north.

However, the Nigerian government’s sudden decision to pull out of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) came shortly after the Rwandan Major General Jean Bosco Kazura was appointed by the UN Secretary General as commander of the mission. Kazura’s appointment sparked controversy, leading to speculation that Nigeria withdrew its troops in protest at the UN appointment.

Ghana Takes Action Against Illegal Chinese Miners

Tarkwa mining
Mining at the Tarkwa Mine in Ghana. Photo: Lamgold/Wikimedia Commons.

On 5 June 2013, 169 Chinese miners were arrested in Ghana’s gold-mining Ashanti region. These arrests followed Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama’s decision to put an end to illegal mining by foreigners. Illegal mining is the driving factor behind a raft of problems in Ghana: it pits citizens against one another and against Chinese miners, results in an economic shortfall for the government and deprives citizens of a possible source of income. Most importantly, it could have a negative impact on peace and social cohesion, as currently witnessed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Ghana, the second largest gold producer in Africa after South Africa, has in recent years recorded a large influx of migrants from various countries in search of raw materials, especially gold. Thousands of Chinese have left their villages in China, searching for better opportunities in gold-rich African countries like Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana. Now these Chinese migrants have set their sights on the Ghanaian galamsey (artisanal gold miner). According to the South China Morning Post, nearly 50 000 illegal prospectors have left China for Ghana since 2005. According to the Ghana Immigration Service, these migrants use tourist visas to enter Ghana via neighbouring countries.