Does a Gun Point Put Terrorism to an end or escalate it?


Since the occurrences of September 11 attacks in USA by the Terrorist Network of Al-Qaida, the International Community and other regional bodies have invested much to counter and obliterate International terrorism. Incidence, The World has witnessed alliances of big Nations on the War against Terrorism.

In 2001, America and her Allies (NATO) participated fully in the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. The world was taken by surprise to the Military operations in Afghanistan where the US Special forces hunted the Al-Qaida leaders. The Al-Qaida Leader Osama Bin Laden, was hunted down and killed in Pakistan but still terrorism has continued to hit the international Media coverage and still there are more causalities of terror attacks in many Countries in the world.

In recent years, terrorist groups and radicals clerics are enjoying popularity of radicalization of unemployed and hopeless Youth who have been betrayed by their Political Leaders. The World has witnessed the rise of Anti-Balaka and Seleka Militia in Central Africa Republic, the Somali Al-shabaab as well as Boko haram just to mention the few; these organizations have extended their influence by recruiting youth from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The latter being unusual occurrence since they have  not been experiencing terror related incidences and have been previously referred to as an island of Peace. The young Blood find themselves with “NO” option of whether they have to starve or join Al-Shabaab Militias and benefit with their families with handsome salaries.

The recent Interventions in Middle East to fight with Terrorist groups led to the emergence of New Terrifying Enemy “ISIS”, where many innocent people in Iraq and Syria as well as Journalist and aid Workers lives have been lost.

Nevertheless, the nature and character of War on terror seems even to compromise with human rights, many people have been thrown under arbitrary detentions and arrest. And in some Western Countries peoples freedom has been undermined by the state security services.

All actions and interventions of War against terrorism have proved to be massive failures for what has been seen is that, “Terrorist Groups and Radical Movement continues to upsurge like mushrooms all over the World from North Pole to South Pole”. It’s my opinion and I really optimistic that, the war against terrorism will achieve its goal if and only if the International Community takes new directions and this direction should not merely rely on gun point as the only option. Since then jihadist clerics are not using the gun point to wage their insurgency but rather using the holly books “Quran and Bible” to propagate and manipulates the people. The International Community should take joint efforts to ensure that, the root cause of manipulating the World is dealt effectively. This can only be possible by rising Public Debates where by those who has been wash brained and consequently manipulated Ideologically are rescued and left free from the World of Perversion.

The author of this piece is Mohamed Aliy, a young activist and a trainee of Young Leaders Forum-2014, Tanzania. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES.

The Rising Incidences of Insecurity in Kenya


Mapped out Areas in which there have been Security Related Incidences | Map from Kenya Open Data website

The main focal point for this year’s regional young leader’s forum was regional security and key among those things discussed was the Westgate incidence – of which the Kenyan delegation which I was part of, gave a presentation on. No sooner had we gotten back home, than a number of security related incidences occurred. Starting with an attack on Mombasa barracks – where a group of youths armed with machetes and knives attached an army barrack.  This was immediately followed by Kapedo attack. In this attack, junior police officers some of them barely six months in the police service were killed by bandits in Kapendo. They has requested for help from the headquarters – but this was not forthcoming. This weekend we woke up to the terrible news of Mandera bus attack incidence in which Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility.

Kenyan’s are angry at least those on twitter and they have been making their opinions known with #MySecurityMyRight hash tag. This is coming in the backdrop incidences in which touts stripped women and Kenyans on twitter who were against this barbaric acts came up with this hash tag #MyDressMyChoice.

The increasing number of these security related incidences can be attributed to a number of things – key among them  porus borders, the culture of corruption which exists in our country and the state reaction to previous security incidences. A classic case is the ongoing operations at the Kenyan coast, where security personnel storm into mosques and the extra-judicial killings which are prevalent at the Kenyan coast.

For a better understanding of the current situation in Kenya, I would recommend one to read the International Crisis Group Update Briefing Number 102, Kenya: Al Shabaab – Closer to Home. 

Download this briefing here: International Crisis Group Update Briefing Number 102, Kenya Al Shabaab – Closer to Home. [pdf]

This update briefing by Crisis Group observes;

One year after the Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi, Al-Shabaab is more entrenched and a graver threat to Kenya. But the deeper danger is less in the long established terrorist cells that perpetrated the act – horrific as it was – and more in managing and healing the rising communal tensions and historic divides that Al-Shabaab violence has deliberately agitated.

Apart from observing the root causes of these increasing spikes of security related incidences, the report goes further to point out five practical solutions. Whether our government will not heed is another thing all together. I am not even sure if the government reads some of these reports!

However, one of the glaring omissions from this report, of which Kenyan’s on Twitter have been requesting for, is the sacking of the Joseph Ole Lenku, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Co-ordination of National Government and David Kimaiyo, the Inspector General of Police – National Police Service. During their tenure, Kenya has experienced a rise in insecurity incidences. However, the Inspector General has been on record saying the National Intelligence Agency has not given him timely and actionable Intelligence to act upon. However, the NIS has rejected this accusation – with them leaking briefs immediately after an incident has taken place to  counter this accusations.

Among the many recommendations Kenyan’s on twitter have been calling for is the overhaul of the entire security apparatus and also the reforming of the security docket – with the creation of a homeland security docket [similar to the US].

For a better understanding of the online conversations currently taking place, check @KenyanPundit tweets esp. the crowd-sourcing of solutions on this question;

The author of this piece is a blogger and a cultural practitioner in Nairobi. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

Why Uganda Should Strike a Balance Between Security and Liberty


Uganda’s history has been characterized by gross violation of human rights. In the recent past, the increased narrowing of political space seen in the offing of unconstitutional legislations like the public order and management Act spirited towards limiting the freedoms of association and movement of key opposition figures and anti-government actors affirm that while this country signed and ratified many international treaties to uphold fundamental human rights, she has consistently chosen to abuse them with impunity.
It is highly imperative to note that since World War Two, a broad consensus grew around the importance of an international legal framework to protect human rights, within which states should operate. This ‘human rights framework’ protects a set of rights so fundamental that every person shares them (one of which is the right to assembly and demonstration) – and every state and non-state actor has an obligation to respect, protect and promote them. The obligation to respect these rights remains regardless of political persuasion of the government of the day, or the operating context – whether it a time of tranquility or international or civil war.
This concept of a set of human rights was first encapsulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and was then translated into legal obligations through a series of international treaties for example the Geneva Conventions (1949), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR – 1966); thematic – Convention against Torture (CAT – 1984) with its Optional protocol, and also regional – European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR – 1950); American Convention on Human Rights (1969); African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (1981).
The development of this normative framework was also supported by the creation of legal structures at national, regional and international level to provide the possibility of redress for citizens whose rights, protected under these treaties, had been violated. They would also need to meet the test of providing clear processes for appeal, and redress of grievances where rights are found to have been violated.
There’s no doubt that Uganda ratified and signed most of if not all of these chatters and declarations as earlier pointed out. It is therefore not only appalling but also disgusting how the same state violets human rights it is supposed to protect and uphold by law.
The continued reprehensible treatment of activists and opposition kingpins by the Ugandan police all justified by a guarantee of security is simply dictatorial and undirected since the best way to preserve security is through respect of human rights. The closure of some media houses and continued intimidation and ill treatment of journalists can never be justified by any kind of argument either.

Whereas I believe that the preservation of national security is the first responsibility of any government it would be disgraceful to believe that the government of Uganda would achieve this through denying her citizens the inherent human rights and dignity. Therefore even when the stakes are raised, governments should never put a priority on the preservation of security and public order through curtailing rights that they would otherwise respect.
Arguing that police acts to protect the right to life of the populace, the most basic human right of all is an absurdity too since it is only when bullets and teargas canisters are unleashed that we lose lives.
Even when there is a long historical tradition of human rights and liberties coming under strain during periods when national security is threatened by democracies that are otherwise strongly committed to human rights and the rule of law especially in wartime or when facing other widespread security threats, the situation is different in Uganda.
In Colombia, President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) made substantial progress in putting down an insurgency led by the FARC militia group and was however criticized by human rights groups for a series of alleged violations, including the government’s tolerance of right-wing paramilitaries. In Sri Lanka, President Rajapaksa put down the insurgency of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, despite the global criticism he received for violations of human rights and the laws of armed conflict.
President Kagame in Rwanda has justified limits on human rights including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly as necessary to promote the healing of Rwandan society after the genocide of 1994. Despite the criticism the decisions taken by these leaders were necessary at a time.
Uganda’s situation however no close to what these leaders were faced with is. These demonstrations, assemblies and movements are not armed dangerous and pose no reasonable threat to security to guarantee denial of fundamental human rights.
To many of us however, human rights are important in themselves; we believe that it is a fundamental principle of political morality that all people should be treated with respect for their inherent dignity, even when this leads to a slight increase in the security risk that our country faces. Also respecting human rights is good for national security, for instance because it is less likely to lead to the radicalization of minority groups and pressure groups a case in Uganda today.
Lastly to those in power now and those that will come later need to struggle to strike a balance between security and liberty since their importance is equally the same. Just like Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

Human Rights activist

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

YLF 2014: Recap and Way Forward


The Regional Young Leaders Forum took place late last month in Dar es Salaam bringing in together young leaders from the region. This year’s forum focused on Regional Security and Local Grievances. Increasingly, in the East African region there have been incidents which necessitated the regional organizers of this forum to seek young leader’s intervention on this matter and if possible, try and come up with solutions to some of these conflicts and incidences.

In the run- up on the conference, readings on the subject matter had been circulated and among these was seminal literature on this matter; Militias, Rebels and Islamist Militants: Human Insecurity and State Crises in Africa edited by Wafula Okumu and Augustine Ikelegbe.

Well, it was only fair that one of the editors of this publication was invited to present an overview of this subject matter and the organizer lived to that expectation by having Dr. Wafula Okumu as a facilitator and moderator in the event.

Day 1

Dr. Wafula Okumu occupied the first slot of the first day with the uphill and unenviable task of summarizing the 251 pages book in two hours! This without a doubt he was able to do justice on.

Some of the key highlights of his presentation were;

  • A breakdown on the nature and characteristics of Armed Non-State Groups in Africa
  • Root causes of Armed Non-State Groups phenomena
  • The State response – in many instances which has been counterproductive or not well informed and thought out
  • Regionalization of Insecurity
  • Harmonization of youth power for public good – [positive role in which young leaders can play in their communities to curb the insecurity phenomena]
  • And like any prophet he finished with some words of wisdom!

The second keynote speaker was Amb. Augustine Philip Mahiga. The ambassador was a former special representative for UN-Secretary General to Somalia and he made an outstanding presentation on Somalia, Al Shabaab and Regional Consequences. It was during his tenure that some semblance of order after a long period of chaos was achieved.

He gave an overview of his three and half years stint in Somalia and some of the achievements made under his tenure such as;

  • Bringing together of clan leaders for the peace process – the Kampala Accord plus how he went for 48 hours without sleep and the intrigues behind the fall of the Prime Minister
  • The process of crafting an interim constitution – approved by reps from the grassroots [mind you in a post conflict environment]
  • Somalia and the peace process – which was taking place in their own country as opposed to the neighboring states and what that meant
  • Election of Parliament – 275 member assembly. A very intriguing process that involved the use of clan leaders since clans were the only institutions that were fully functioning after the collapse of the Somali state. The emerging questions on legitimacy that arose, issues of representation in terms of gender, marginalized communities
  • The intrigues of election of the Speaker and eventual election of the President
  • The envisaged referendum in 2016 and the players involved in that process.
  • Lastly, the ambassador gave a very comprehensive account on the Al Shabaab as we know of it today – the initial formative stages of this group and causes that lead to its formation – both internal and external plus what lead to its rise in terms of resources and manpower.

The two keynotes speakers laid the groundwork for the individual country presentations. Each country delegation had been tasked with coming up and preparing a presentation which was in line with the theme of the conference. The following are the presentations made by the country delegations during the afternoon of the first day and the whole of the second day;

  • Kenya: Local Grievances and Islamist Rebels

Moderator: John Olang Sana, Nairobi Slum Project

  • Ethiopia: Borders and Borderlands

Moderator:  Selahadin Eshetu

  • Tanganyika and Zanzibar: UAMSHO or an Awakening in the Making?

Moderator: Shaban Omari, Shamar Educational Centre – Tanzania

  • Sudan: Does Sudan Pose a Threat to the Security in the Region?

Moderator: Fatma Abdelkarim

  • South Sudan: Resources, Land Rights, Migrants and Rebels

Moderator: Dr. Luka Biong Deng

  • Uganda: Uganda’s History with the LRA and the Rational of the Military Intervention in South Sudan

Moderator: Eunice Akullo, Lecturer, Nkumba University – Uganda

The above country presentations were all well thought out, researched and well presented. They offered great insights into the subject matter and stirred debates, clarifications and inputs. This greatly impressed Dr. Wafula and Dr. Luka who noted that if the younger leaders present are the leaders of today then things were certainly going in the right directions.

Day 3

Getting Your Message Across – I: How to be interviewed on Radio and TV

This session was given by Colin Spurway, the Country Director of BBC media action – Tanzanian assisted by his team.

The reason as to why this session was on the cards is because many people and leaders for that matter usually have a problem in how they go about expressing their ideas and thoughts. Therefore is quintessential for young leaders to know how to interact and put their message across various channels and radio is as big as they come since it is able to reach many people.

Colin Spurway and his team offered practical facilitation on this subject matter.

The key take away from this session how to package my message and techniques of handling difficult questions.

Getting Your Message Across II: Blogging about Political Issues in Africa

Catherinerose Barretto from KINU Hub Tanzania and I [Robert Njathika] co-facilitated on how to get your message across albeit on blog platforms from mid-morning to early afternoon. This session was necessitated by the fact that there is a FES blog that needs input from the young leaders across the region.

One of the outcomes of this session is how the group would go about making their interventions on the YLF-blog.

The YLF-blog

The blog has been opened up to the FES affiliated young leaders in the region to discuss and debate issues. The rationale is there are a number of phenomena happening in each member country and there is no need to wait for the annual regional conferences to discuss this issues.

It is expected that the blog will serve the purpose of keeping the debate online on matters that are incidental to issues touching on EAC / Regional Integration, Economics, Foreign & Security Policy and Human Rights.

The manner in which the issues are presented could take the form of unpacking what is currently appearing in the local dallies of our respective countries, obviously with some background information. The essence of this is would be to keep other FES affiliated young leaders abreast with what is currently happening in the neighboring countries and to solicit some kind of feedback or debate on those issues [if at all they require feedback].

How to go about that?

In Kunduchi, 8 regional blog representatives were chosen. In the course of this week, I shall go about making them contributors on the blog platform – which means they can log in and post articles – the mechanics of how to post shall also be communicated.

I intend to use the blog reps that were chosen to represent each country as the focal point of input on the blog platform. So each country can decide on how they wish to go about passing content to their blog reps. However, if the blog rep in your country is unavailable, you can contact me and I will assist in getting the post on the blog.

The author of this piece is a blogger and a cultural practitioner in Nairobi. He is also the blog admin. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES.