Gah. MEND is back. For those of you who don’t know, MEND stands for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, another well-acronymed rebel movement, if not quite as well-acronymed as the MILF.
Two things are not clear. First, why MEND’s command has decided to go back to ground. I don’t know, obviously, but there seems to be little sign that the Nigerian government has decided to back away from its cease-fire promises. For those of you who don’t follow Nigerian politics, President Umaru Yar’Adua has been sick in a Saudi Arabian hospital for a little over two months. This announcement may be nothing more than an attempt at warning shot over Acting President Goodluck Jonathan’s bow, although it sure is phrased in a crazy-threatening way for that. It is also something that MEND leaders have denied. Nonetheless, MEND has been saying for a while that they were dissatisfied with the way talks were proceeding, and there was a “warning” attack on a pipeline in December.
Second, whether MEND still has the ability to limit Nigeria’s oil production the way it did back in 2005. Most of its commanders accepted the cease-fire. They haven’t reneged.
That said, it is hard to see an upside in this news. Does anyone know more about what exactly happened in the negotiations? I honestly thought it was a done deal.