Africa’s Top 6 Political Secessionist Movements You Probably Don’t Know

A Secession movements is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity (a country), but also any organization, union or military alliance.

Instantly after the European frontier forces were pursued out of Africa, the mainland softened out up a rash of political separatist gatherings, each upsetting for the privilege to withdrawal and independence.

While the reasons set forward by the different severance gatherings were assorted and fluctuated, they had a typical topic: they needed out of a country state roughly set up together by provincial powers just for the simplicity of organization.

Here, we’ve put together a list of some of the most important secessionist groups in Africa. This list is by no means exhaustive, and it neither endorses nor censures the activities of the many active separatist movements in Africa.

By way of criteria, all the secessionist groups mentioned are currently active, seeking greater autonomy, and have a clearly identified, inhabited geographical region they desire to be self-governing or completely independent.

National Movement for The Liberation of Azawad (MNLA): Azawad (Mali)

Army and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad

Army and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad. Photo credit: Biyokulule Online

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) was founded around 2011. The group was formed from a fusion of militant groups in the north of Mali. MNLA is pressing for an independent Azawad from the government of Mali.

Most MNLA fighters and secessionists are from the Tuareg ethnic group. The MNLA complains of marginalization and deprivation by the relatively more prosperous government in the south of the country.

Azawad, the proposed country, is mostly desert and sparsely populated but includes the historic cities of Gao and Timbuktu.

Frente para a Libertacao do enclave de Cabinda (FLEC): Cabinda (Angola)


Photo credit: Deutsche Welle

The Frente Para a Libertacao Do Enclave de Cabinda (FLEC) is a guerrilla movement fighting for the independence of the province of Cabinda from the government of Angola.

FLEC was formed in 1963 from a merger of at least 3 pro-Cabinda movements. If the secessionists have their way, the proposed independent state of Cabinda will occupy the region around the ancient kingdoms of Kakongo, Loango, and N’Goyo.

Oromo Liberation Front (OLF): Oromia (Ethiopia)

Rebels of the Oromo Liberation Front

Rebels of the Oromo Liberation Front. Photo credit: Aberfoyle International Security

The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) is a secessionist group seeking independence for the Oromia region from the government of Ethiopia. The OLF was formed in 1973 by Oromo nationalists to promote self-determination for the Oromo people. Part of the complaints of OLF is the years of oppression from the larger Ethiopian society against the Oromo people.

Polisario Front (PF): Western Sahara (Morocco)

Polisario Front

Indigenous Sahrawi people react during the funeral of Western Sahara’s Polisario Front leader Mohamed Abdelaziz in Tindouf, Algeria June 3, 2016. Photo credit: REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina


The Polisario Front (PF) is a secessionist movement seeking to end the Moroccan presence in Western Sahara. The PF was formed in 1973 by a group of Sahrawi students who survived a 1986 massacre and a few Sahrawi men who served in the Spanish Army.

The Polisario Front enjoys the political backing of Algeria and many of the African Union’s (AU) member nations. The organisation also has observer status at the AU. The Polisario Front desires the complete liberation and independence of the Western Sahara from Moroccan occupation.

Movement for The Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC): Casamance (Senegal)

Movement for The Democratic Forces of Casamance

Photo credit: The Weekly

The Movement for the Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) was formed in 1982 to establish an independent state of Casamance. Most of the MFDC separatists are from the ethnic Jola tribe.

Abene, Senegal

Young people in Abéné. Young men in particular have sometimes turned to violence in order to fulfill societal expectations that they will establish and maintain a household. Photo credit: Martin Evans.

In 2004, the movement struck a deal with then-Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, however, the deal collapsed and fighting continues to this day between the MFDC militia and the Senegalese army.


Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB)

The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) is a secessionist movement with the aim of securing the resurgence of the defunct state of Biafra from Nigeria. It is led by an Indian-trained lawyer Ralph Uwazuruike, with headquarters in Okwe, in the Okigwe district of Imo State.

MASSOB’s leaders say it is a peaceful group and advertise a 25-stage plan to achieve its goal peacefully. There are two arms to the government, the Biafra Government in Exile and Biafra Shadow Government.

The Nigerian government accuses MASSOB of violence; MASSOB’s leader, Ralph Uwazuruike, was arrested in 2005 and detained on treason charges; he was released in 2007. MASSOB also championed the release of oil militant Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who faced similar charges at the time. In 2009, MASSOB launched “the Biafran International Passport” in response to persistent demand by Biafrans in diaspora.

MASSOB agitates for a Republic of Biafra comprising the South-East and South-South regions of Nigeria; though Uwazuruike has stated in interviews that the Niger Deltans “can have their own republic.” The group’s philosophy is hinged on the principle of non-violence as propagated by Mahatma Gandhi.Image result for is Biafra a Secessionist Movement?

Government crackdown

Since its inception, MASSOB has continually alleged mass arrests and killings of its members by government forces. According to the group’s sanitation grassroot information spokesperson, Kelechi A Chukwu, the government forces allegedly carries out secret executions of MASSOB members in detention centres and prisons nationwide. In May 2008, the group released a list of 2,020 members alleged to have been killed by security agents since 1999. MASSOB leader, Ralph Uwazuruike, has been arrested on several occasions and charged with treason. In 2011, Uwazuruike and 280 MASSOB members were arrested in Enugu while attending a function in honour of Ojukwu. Few days later, President Goodluck Jonathan ordered Uwazuruike’s release as well as all other MASSOB members in detention.

In June 2012, the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria condemned the alleged killing of 16 members of MASSOB by security agencies in Anambra.

In February 2013, MASSOB claimed that several corpses found floating in the Ezu River on the boundary of Enugu and Anambra States were those of its members previously arrested by the police. The group claimed that the police routinely executed MASSOB members without proper trial.

On September 13, 2015 police in Anambra state arrested no fewer than 25 MOSSAB members who were marking their 16th anniversary; one MOSSAB member was shot. At St Charles Lwanga Catholic Church Okpoko,18 members were arrested and one shot and at Iba Pope Catholic Church, while at Awada, 11 members of MASSOB were arrested. At Awka, two MOSSAB were arrested by the police according to the MASSOB former Deputy Director of Information, Mazi Chris Mocha.


Written by How Africa

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