The Nigerian radical militant group Boko Haram has a new leader, Idriss Deby, the president of Chad announced yesterday. The unknown Mahamat Daoud took apparently over from the previous leader Abubakar Shekau. According to Deby, Daoud might be more open to a dialogue with the Nigerian government.
Nigeria is trying to fight Boko Haram for years. The armed group is mainly active in the norther-eastern region of the country and often carries out attacks on villages and public buildings. According to Amnesty International, the group is responsible for the killing thousands of people since 2009. The organisation also says that Boko Haram abducted at least 2000 people since that year, including the infamous example of almost 300 schoolgirls that were kidnapped in 2014 in Chibok.
The group Boko Haram, meaning ‘Western education is forbidden’, was created in 2002. Since its creation it was led by Muhammed Yusuf. He died in police custody in 2009 and was succeeded by Shekau who started to follow a more violent path. The attacks increased and since 2012 the group is attacking schools to prevent western education to spread. Unknown is what happened to Shekau. In March 2015 he pledged alliance to the Islamic State.
The Nigerian state has been fighting Boko Haram, but until now it has not succeeded in defeating the group. Boko Haram does also not show signs of weakening. The group is now involved in suicide attacks in the neighbouring countries Chad, Cameroon and Niger. Chad and Niger are trying together with Nigeria for some years to secure borders and combat the militant group.
After the 2014 abduction of the schoolgirls in Chibok some countries of the international community, including France, the UK and the US, have provided assistance to Nigeria, says Amnesty International. This assistance took the form of intelligence sharing, trainings and efforts to create a strategy for regional counter-terrorism.
Despite all these measures, Boko Haram keeps pressing its stamp on Nigeria and its neighbouring countries. In March this year the Nigerians elected a new president, Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari is a former military leader and said during his campaign that he wants to end the conflict. A new leader for Boko Haram who might be more open to dialogue may be a small beginning. But as the group has not shown any mercy during their attacks last week an end to the conflict seems still far away. For now the military solution seems the only option.