Boko Haram: Why West Africa's coalition force stalled, says France

Boko Haram: Why West Africa's coalition force stalled, says France

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 7:28 am

Cameroon soldiers patrol in Amchide:

Cameroon soldiers patrol in Amchide:

France says mistrust between Nigeria and its neighbours is the main reason a multi-national force proposed to battle Boko Haram insurgency has failed to take-off, seven months after it was agreed in May at a summit in Paris.

The leaders of Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad agreed in Paris in May to flesh out a plan to share intelligence, coordinate action and monitor borders. They also agreed to set up a 2,800 strong army to battle the Boko Haram scourge. But since then, there appears to have been little tangible cooperation between Abuja and neighbouring governments.

Regional analysts say Nigeria’s neighbours suspect its army is infiltrated by Boko Haram and cannot be trusted if it crosses borders in hot pursuit of militants, which Abuja wants to do.

For its part, Nigeria has accused Chad and Cameroon of not doing enough to stop the rebels.

Now France says it will step in to help coordinate the regional task force.

The country’s Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced this in Dakar on Tuesday.

France has ruled out direct military intervention, saying Nigeria should take the lead. But Paris says it can play a role in easing tensions between its three former colonies and anglophone Nigeria.

“We’re at a forum in Dakar talking about the need for Africans to collectively take charge of their security and yet it’s not happening where there is urgency,” Le Drian said.

Jean-Yves Le Drian: Offers some help on Boko Haram

Jean-Yves Le Drian: Offers some help on Boko Haram

“Everybody distrusts everybody. We have to get beyond that,” he told journalists without giving details.

Boko Haram is a Sunni jihadist movement waging a five-year insurgency to establish an Islamist state in northeast Nigeria.

Paris fears Boko Haram could spread northward into the Sahel and beyond Cameroon into Central African Republic, where it had more than 5,000 French troops on peacekeeping and counter-terrorism missions.

Le Drian said Paris would provide about a dozen military advisers to join regional counterparts at a command centre in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, 60 km from the Nigerian border.

“They need organisational, structural, command and inter-operational help. France is offering to do that,” he said.

Some Western officials have expressed frustration with oil-rich Nigeria over its lack of progress against Boko Haram given its military might and the urgency of the situation.

Boko Haram has stepped up attacks across much of Nigeria’s north ahead of presidential elections in February. Their operations have spilled over Nigeria’s borders into Niger to the north and Cameroon to the east, and stirred fears that Chad could be dragged into the conflict

Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.