Daily Archives: March 8, 2020

Top Al-Shabab Commander Believed Killed in Drone Strike

WASHINGTON – The U.S. military has confirmed to VOA that one of al-Shabab’s top leaders was likely killed in a drone strike last month.

“It is believed that indeed Bashir Mohamed Mahamoud, aka Bashir Qoorgaab, was killed” in a U.S. air strike Feb. 22, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokesman Col. Chris Karns told VOA. The strike occurred in the town of Saakow in Middle Jubba region.

Qoorgaab was one of the most battle-hardened al-Shabab commanders of the group’s Jabhat (military). Most recently he commanded three al-Shabab Jabhat units, two of which are operating in Kenya, including the notorious Jaysh Ayman unit in the area of Manda Bay.

“This is progress,” Karns told VOA. “Removal of threats, like this terrorist, make Africans and Americans a bit safer and sends a strong message to a common enemy whose ambition is to export violence and do serious harm to African partners, Americans, and international partners.”

AFRICOM had reported Feb. 25 that a senior al-Shabab leader who was behind the Jan. 5 attack at Manda Bay was killed in the Saakow strike. The news release said the leader’s wife, who was also a member of the terror group, was also killed.

A relative of the wife told VOA about her death along with her husband.

In the Jan. 5 attack, al-Shabab militants penetrated a Kenyan military base used by U.S. forces at Manda Bay, killing an American soldier and two American contractors. The militants also destroyed six aircraft.

Jaysh Ayman executed the attack, although the attackers may have come from one of the commando units of al-Shabab, according to a Somali intelligence official.

Although Qoorgaab was in charge of operations in Kenya, he was looking to replicate those attacks in other countries like Tanzania, according to Abdirahim Isse Addow, a former Islamic court official who knew Qoorgaab.

He was not the overall leader of al-Shabab, but he was undoubtedly no less important to al-Shabab fighters, Addow added.

Qoorgaab had a $5 million bounty on his head, the second highest al-Shabab bounty behind current leader Ahmed Diriye Abu Ubaidah, who has $6 million on his head.

Qoorgaab had been a senior al-Shabab member for more than a decade. Before commanding the Jabhat, he led al-Shabab’s special militia commandos known as “Jugta Ulus,” training fighters and commanding them in the field.

To date, AFRICOM has carried out 24 attacks in coordination with the government of Somalia against al-Shabab this year.

Source: Voice of America

Thousands Mark International Women’s Day in Cameroon

YAOUNDE – On the occasion of International Women’s Day (March 8), more than 20,000 Cameroon women from rural and urban areas have assembled in the central African state’s capital Yaounde to press for their rights to education and decision making while urging a stop to early marriages and harmful traditional practices.

A group of women at the central market in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde sing that they, like their peers all over Africa, are longing to be freed from the bondage of strong traditional practices that impede their emancipation and wellbeing. Among them is female activist Emmanuella Mokake of the NGO Cameroon women for Participating in Development. Mokake says her NGO is working to change the perception that women should only bring up babies, carry out domestic chores and work in farms.

“Women and their human rights and women gender equality has never been a war against men because it is normally very misconstrued. Women have realized that they are no more compelled to endure domestic violence because it hampers on their human rights,” she said. “Women are setting out now to say no, enough of this battery. If any man beats a woman, the law under assault and battery clearly handles that.”

Mokake said they were asking Cameroon to ratify the Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa’ which it signed in 2006 and respect the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, ratified the country in 2005.

The tens of thousands of women gathered Sunday in Yaounde said they were unhappy that strong traditional practices still encourage female genital mutilation and early marriages. Early and forced marriages are prevalent in rural areas where girls as young as 12 are married and widows forced to marry the brother of the deceased husband.

The women gathered Sunday also talked about illiteracy, which remained high among women because many families prefer to send only boys to school and ask the girls to accompany their mothers to the farm before getting married at early ages.

Another issue is that of access to and ownership of land in a country where most men own most of the land and prefer selling or handing it over only to their male children.

The United Nations reports that Cameroon’s laws remain deeply discriminatory towards women and legal reforms are needed to increase protection of women’s human rights. It also states that customary law is applied by traditional rulers, some who still encourage discriminatory practices.

Cameroon law set 15 years as the minimum age for marriage for girls and 18 years for boys.

Women make up 52 percent of the adult population in Cameroon but only 28 percent of them are registered voters, according to Cameroon election management body ELECAM.

Hind Jalal, representative of U.N. Women Cameroon, says women’s participation in decision making will improve the perception some men have about them.

“We must amend the electoral code to make it strongly and explicitly mentioning gender parity and to push political stakeholders to be more assertive because bringing women in the driving seat will bring prosperity and a better future for Cameroon,” she said.

Marie-Therese Abena Ondou, Cameroon minister of women’s empowerment and the family, says in spite of the challenges, much has been done to respect the issue as there are 58 women in the 180 member lower house of parliament and 36 women are mayors in the country that has over 380 councils.

“Training sessions were carried out to teach them how to sell their [political] programs. Politics was reserved for men and if women have to move forward, they need the support of men,” she said. Women are capable and women have also dared because many of them were not even brave enough to postulate. The environment is not friendly. Tradition has to change. We keep good tradition but we should give up the bad tradition.”

Ondou said the government was taking all necessary measures to improve access to education for women and girls with a particular focus on rural areas and by carrying out public awareness-raising campaigns.

Source: Voice of America

Thousands Mark International Women’s Day in Cameroon

YAOUNDE – On the occasion of International Women’s Day (March 8), more than 20,000 Cameroon women from rural and urban areas have assembled in the central African state’s capital Yaounde to press for their rights to education and decision making while urging a stop to early marriages and harmful traditional practices.

A group of women at the central market in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde sing that they, like their peers all over Africa, are longing to be freed from the bondage of strong traditional practices that impede their emancipation and wellbeing. Among them is female activist Emmanuella Mokake of the NGO Cameroon women for Participating in Development. Mokake says her NGO is working to change the perception that women should only bring up babies, carry out domestic chores and work in farms.

“Women and their human rights and women gender equality has never been a war against men because it is normally very misconstrued. Women have realized that they are no more compelled to endure domestic violence because it hampers on their human rights,” she said. “Women are setting out now to say no, enough of this battery. If any man beats a woman, the law under assault and battery clearly handles that.”

Mokake said they were asking Cameroon to ratify the Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa’ which it signed in 2006 and respect the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, ratified the country in 2005.

The tens of thousands of women gathered Sunday in Yaounde said they were unhappy that strong traditional practices still encourage female genital mutilation and early marriages. Early and forced marriages are prevalent in rural areas where girls as young as 12 are married and widows forced to marry the brother of the deceased husband.

The women gathered Sunday also talked about illiteracy, which remained high among women because many families prefer to send only boys to school and ask the girls to accompany their mothers to the farm before getting married at early ages.

Another issue is that of access to and ownership of land in a country where most men own most of the land and prefer selling or handing it over only to their male children.

The United Nations reports that Cameroon’s laws remain deeply discriminatory towards women and legal reforms are needed to increase protection of women’s human rights. It also states that customary law is applied by traditional rulers, some who still encourage discriminatory practices.

Cameroon law set 15 years as the minimum age for marriage for girls and 18 years for boys.

Women make up 52 percent of the adult population in Cameroon but only 28 percent of them are registered voters, according to Cameroon election management body ELECAM.

Hind Jalal, representative of U.N. Women Cameroon, says women’s participation in decision making will improve the perception some men have about them.

“We must amend the electoral code to make it strongly and explicitly mentioning gender parity and to push political stakeholders to be more assertive because bringing women in the driving seat will bring prosperity and a better future for Cameroon,” she said.

Marie-Therese Abena Ondou, Cameroon minister of women’s empowerment and the family, says in spite of the challenges, much has been done to respect the issue as there are 58 women in the 180 member lower house of parliament and 36 women are mayors in the country that has over 380 councils.

“Training sessions were carried out to teach them how to sell their [political] programs. Politics was reserved for men and if women have to move forward, they need the support of men,” she said. Women are capable and women have also dared because many of them were not even brave enough to postulate. The environment is not friendly. Tradition has to change. We keep good tradition but we should give up the bad tradition.”

Ondou said the government was taking all necessary measures to improve access to education for women and girls with a particular focus on rural areas and by carrying out public awareness-raising campaigns.

Source: Voice of America