Kismayu, the southern Somalia town that was the last holdout of Al-Shabaab has fallen. Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) took control of the town early Friday. It is still unclear what happened to many of the fighters that had dug in to defend the town from KDF and AMISOM.
I hope that AMISOM will consolidate the recent gains and that Somali politicians will seize this opportunity to lay the groundwork for peace and stability moving forward.
I also hope that for KDF’s troubles Somali townspeople in Kismayu, Mogadishu and elsewhere will soon get to enjoy the services and products of Equity, KCB, Uchumi, Nakumatt, among other Kenyan companies. Economic integration of Somalia into the EAC, and similarly South Sudan and Eastern DRC, will be one of the key ways of guaranteeing a lasting peace in these trouble spots and in the wider Eastern Africa region.
More on the developing story here and here. You can also follow updates from the al-Shabaab’s twitter handle @HSMPress.
It is un-African to be irreverent to the dead. I don’t intend to break this particular ancestral tradition. OK may be I will, just a little bit.
Jaafar Nimeiri, the man directly responsible for the start of the second Sudanese civil war, died last Saturday (May, 30). He was 79.
Nimeiri took over power in Khartoum in 1969 through a military coup. His authoritarian rule lasted until he was himself overthrown in 1985. The late Nimeiri will be remembered as the man who brokered and then broke the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement. After years of pretending to govern as per the 1972 agreement, Mr. Nimeiri (under pressure from Islamist extremists in the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood movement) finally decided, in 1983, to impose Sharia law on all Sudanese, including the non-Muslim South. In addition, he sought to redraw the borders of Southern Sudan and created new administrative structures in the region in an attempt to sap some of the newly acquired power of Southern Sudanese leaders. His actions led to rebellions in the South and the formation of the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) led by the late Col. John Garang de Mabior.
The almost certain secession of Southern Sudan in the upcoming 2011 referendum will be one of Nimeiri’s lasting legacies. His autocratic style of government and lack of spine in the face of extremist Islamism gave the South no option but to rebel against Khartoum, and win, more than two decades later. To put a positive spin on this, may be we should all be grateful that Khartoum’s extremism during his tenure exposed the non-viability of Sudan as one nation-state. The South and the North were never part of a single polity. It is probably a good thing that the South will secede from Northern Sudan and occupy its rightful place as an East African state.