West African leaders will seek authority next week from the African Union to create a multinational force to fight Nigeria’s Boko Haram Muslim extremists, Ghanaian President John Mahama told reporters on Friday.
Any such force would represent the most robust international response yet to the extremists who have killed thousands of people over the past year in their campaign for a self-described Muslim caliphate and who have also launched cross-border attacks into Niger and Cameroon.
Boko Haram is seen as the most serious security threat to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its biggest energy producer, but Mahama said the group and militants in Somalia, Kenya, Mali and elsewhere posed a wider risk.
“Terrorism is like a cancer, and if we do not deal with it, it will keep going. It threatens everybody in the subregion. When it comes to terrorism, nobody is too far or too near,” he said.
It is likely to take months before an African Union force could be set up, and key issues such as who would command it, the location of its headquarters and its financing remain undecided, he said.
However, the African Union could seek a UN Security Council mandate to take over the force after it is set up, as happened in Sudan’s Darfur region, he said.
Mahama was speaking as current chair of West African regional bloc the Economic Community of West African States, which has been accused of not doing enough to combat Boko Haram.
“Nigeria is taking military action and Cameroon is fighting Boko Haram, but I think we are increasingly getting to the point where probably a regional or a multinational force is coming into consideration,” he said earlier.
Earlier, Boko Haram militants seized the military base and town of Baga, in Nigeria, on the shores of Lake Chad, on Jan. 3. Baga was the headquarters of a planned — and stalled — force intended to fight the insurgents, with troops from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
France must do more against Boko Haram, French President Francois Hollande told French and foreign ambassadors in Paris.
“Today, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin are threatened, and this situation means the international community must take appropriate action and cannot let this be,” he said.
France said last month that it would help coordinate a regional task force against Boko Haram, given signs of mistrust among West African neighbors.
Cameroonian President Paul Biya this month appealed for military help against Boko Haram.
On Friday, US Ambassador to Cameroon Michael Stephen Hoza said Washington would help train local soldiers and offered equipment for the fight.
Russian Ambassador to Cameroon Nikolay Ratsiborinski said Moscow would supply equipment, training and arms, as well as humanitarian assistance.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
CHANGING PERCEPTIONS: In its tender, the Hong Kong administration said that it had failed to ‘mobilise the community to support law enforcement actions’ The Hong Kong government has agreed to pay millions of pounds to a discreet London-based PR firm to counter coverage of the territory in the international media. Consulum, which has also represented Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was on Monday awarded the ￡5 million (US$6.2 million) one-year contract to improve Hong Kong’s reputation — the same day that China passed national security legislation targeting the territory. The Mayfair-based PR business was founded by Tim Ryan and Matthew Gunther Bushell, two former employees of Bell Pottinger, an agency that has been criticized for representing some governments and leaders that other businesses