Thursday, June 26, 2003
President Bush's full speech from today about Africa is here. I'll read it and post some comments over the weekend.

Events are rapidly developing in Liberia. The rebels have now entered Monrovia's suburbs in what's certainly the most serious threat so far to Taylor's tyranny.

While I'd love to go ahead and write Taylor's eulogy, he's survived a bunch of tough scrapes in the past and he may very well survive again...but I'm hoping otherwise.

In any case, I must say that Taylor does not have the strong support in Washington that he has enjoyed in the past. In fact, President Bush today called for Taylor's immediate resignation. That's a bit of brutal honesty that I don't think we ever would have heard during the Clinton administration.

Then there was this bit of editorializing from the AP:
"President Taylor needs to step down," Bush said to applause from the crowd, "so that his country can be spared further bloodshed."

It was an extraordinary demand by the American government for a democratically elected leader of another country to step down. Taylor was elected in 1996 in a free and open presidential election.

The call for Taylor's resignation was also remarkable because Bush spent part of his speech expressing his hope that such democracy would take root in Africa. "Introducing democracy is hard in any society," he said.

Oh geez...what kind of a person could seriously write something like that? As if the Liberian mafia state is some kind of model for African democracy. Taylor's "presidency" has about as much democratic legitimacy as Castro's, Mugabe's, or Kim Il Sung's. Seems like that kind of writing only reinforces the stereotype that Africa is a continent ruled by thugs and autocrats. Of course, that stereotype is too often true, but it's dishonest and disrespectful to lump someone like Taylor in with truly democratic leaders like Wade, Kuffuor, Mbeki, and others....

The best path to peace for Liberia is to purge the country of Taylor and his terrorist cronies. Only then will Liberians have a chance to elect the government of their choice.

And speaking of, more people are floating the idea of deploying a US stabilization force to Liberia. Apparently, even some poweful people are at least considering the idea:
Just as Britain helped end Sierra Leone's civil war and France helped stabilize the situation in Ivory Coast, Britain's U.N. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said a lead nation willing to act to "make a political settlement more likely and a cease-fire more likely to stick" would be welcomed internationally.

"I think that outside help of that kind at the present juncture, or ready to move when there is an agreement to stop fighting, an agreement that would need to be policed and observed — that would look very constructive," he said.

"The United States ... is the nation that everybody would think would be the natural candidate for such an operation," he said. "I understand that there is some discussion going on in Washington of the pros and cons of taking such action."

With Taylor gone, such a mission might have a chance at success. In fact, it might fit in really nicely with the Bush administration's goals of reigning in rogue states and stabilizing fledgeling democracies. No doubt this will be discussed when Bush visits Senegal and Nigeria next month.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003
This article from the NY Times discusses the recent growth of African stock exchanges which now number 18 compared to 10 a decade ago:
"African capital markets represent the final frontier of global capital," Robert Bunyi, a senior analyst at Liquid Africa, which gathers and distributes market data, said in a recent United Nations survey.

At the top of the heap is the venerable Johannesburg Securities Exchange, which began in 1887 and has 472 listed companies and a market capitalization of more than $180 billion. Egypt and Nigeria are also stock market heavyweights, relatively speaking.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Ugandan exchange, which began four years ago. It uses a small conference room for trading, in the same building as the Uganda Lottery. Its market capitalization last year was $52 million.


I'm surprised that more people haven't been blogging about the mystery ship that was detained by Greece earlier this week:
The Baltic Sky set sail from Tunisia carrying 680 tons of explosives - it was described as a floating atomic bomb, when it was stormed by special forces off Greece's western coast on Sunday.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said the ship was carrying ammonium nitrates ordered by a Sudanese company and destined for cement factories and road-building firms.

Mr Ismail said he had asked officials to summon the Greek ambassador in Khartoum to come and see the documents relating to the shipment and to let him know of Sudan's displeasure over the seizing of the ship.

It's possible there's nothing sinister here...but the Sudanese government's shady dealings with Islamic terrorists and those Ugandan rebels are enough to make me more than a little curious, if not suspicious.

CSM, in advance of Bush's Africa tour in July, discusses Africa's role in the War on Terror, the AIDS crisis, peace in Sudan, and more. Excerpt:
This renewed Africa focus offers the White House an opportunity to address some "softer" issues - accountable governance, sustainable development, conflict resolution, AIDS - at a time when much of the world sees American diplomacy as dominated by force. If all goes well, the trip may also coincide with an announcement of a peace plan for Sudan, which would allow Bush to tout the US role in resolving the continent's longest-running conflict.

But at the same time, the new spotlight highlights how Africa, long a distant runner-up on the list of US international priorities, is commanding new attention because of its key role in advancing both the war on terrorism and US energy security.

The tone of the article is way more optimistic than I am about the "peace process" in Sudan and Liberia, but these comments are worthwhile:
George Ayittey, a Ghanaian economist and Africa specialist at American University in Washington, says that until African leaders take the responsibility to stop Africa's conflicts and address its problems themselves, there is little Bush or the US can do. "By making these calls for foreign interventions all the time, they are absolving themselves of their responsibilities," he says. "The solutions have to come from Africa."

I think so, too.

Read the whole thing.

Glenn Reynolds is the man when it comes to blogging about oil trust funds, and here's his post on the current situation in Chad.

As good an idea as a trust fund is, it could only be successfully implemented with the cooperation of a relatively honest and transparent government. That said, it appears that the people of Chad are about to get shafted by Idriss Deby, the guys at TotalFinaElf, and, quite possibly, the French government.

Monday, June 23, 2003
I blogged about Florence Wambugu way back in March. She's a Kenyan biologist who is developing GM yams for African farmers. According to Deroy Murdock on NRO, her lab and test crops have recently been destroyed by Environmental Liberation Front wackos.

That's despicable behavior for a host of reasons.

Racism in Mauritania:
Today, members of the Peul, Wolof, Bambara and Soninke ethnic groups complain their languages are marginalized, and they are excluded from top government, military and private sector jobs.

"Here, if you don't know an influential black person, then you can't get a decent job," said a first-year university student who gave her name only as Aicha.

"These people are my friends," she said laughing and pointing at her Arab classmates, "but they are racist."

According to the article, black Mauritanians continue to be called Haratins (slaves), and enslavement of blacks, though illegal, persists throughout the country.

I suppose almost every oil company gets into shady business once in a while, but at TotalFinaElf, it all appears to be shady business. Here's the Africa-related bit:
Total has been holding concessions to Block B for around 20 years in the disputed south of Sudan. The last thing it wants is to start pumping the waxy, sulfurous oil right where Sudanese are massacring Sudanese. So Total and the Khartoum government play a little game: Every year Sudan's oil ministry tries to compel Total to begin extraction under its contract; every year Total invokes force majeure, pays some $50,000 to renew the license for its concessions and does nothing. ChevronTexaco (nyse: CVX - news - people ) abandoned Sudan in 1984 without a drop of oil to show for its $1.5 billion investment. Total hangs in, hoping the winds of change will one day blow the country's unsavory image away. There's up to 5 billion barrels under the bloody Sudanese soil, including Block B. "I'm not sure we'll ever get any oil out of there," sighs Desmarest.

Chances are it's a similar story in Libya, Chad, Gabon and everywhere else that they do business.

Frank Rocca, writing in the American Prowler, foresees a new schism in the Christian Church, this time between northern liberals and southern conservatives:
Less than 25 years from now, almost 70 percent of all Christians will be in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The percentage of Catholics on those continents will be even higher. People in the Third World have more babies and are more likely to raise them as Christians. Already, the "annual [Catholic] baptism total for the Philippines is higher than the totals for Italy, France, Spain, and Poland combined."

Third World Christians tend to be far more conservative than Europeans and North Americans on matters of theology and ethics. And they are beginning to dominate their richer brethren. Asian and African bishops were responsible, Jenkins says, for a 1998 Anglican statement against same-sex unions and actively homosexual clergy. Forty percent of the cardinals eligible to vote for the next pope are from "Southern" countries, and in a few years they'll be the majority, making it hard to imagine that John Paul II's successor will depart from those of his policies that liberals find so discouraging.

"The cultural gap between Christians of the North and the South will increase rather than diminish in the coming decades," according to Jenkins, increasing the possibility of a schism. Largely owing to the influence of information technology, he thinks, "Northern communities will move to ever more decentralized and privatized forms of faith as Southerners maintain older ideals of community and traditional authority."

I still find ironic the number of missionaries sent by American churches to Africa every year...if anything, Africans should be sending missionaries to the US.

More African terror arrests, this time in Malawi:
Malawi's National Intelligence Bureau said it arrested the five foreigners Sunday night in the southern city of Blantyre with assistance from the Central Intelligence Agency (news - web sites). The men are suspected of running charities that channeled money to al-Qaida operatives in Africa and elsewhere.
Authorities said the men included Mahmud Sardar Issa, a Sudanese who heads a charitable organization called the Islamic Zakat Fund Trust in Blantyre. Another was identified as Fahad Ral Bahli, of Saudi Arabia, the director of the Malawi branch of Registered Trustees of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Special Committee on Relief.

Two of the men were from Turkey and one was an Islamic scholar from Kenya, authorities said. The state prosecutor said they would be deported to the countries where they resided before their arrival in Malawi, but she did not provide further details.

No big fish yet.

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