Wednesday, August 13, 2003
This looks like an excellent AfricaBlog. Check often.

The BBC has a piece about water privatization. It's becoming a major issue in Ghana and many other African countries:
Some 300 million people - around half of Africa's population - have no access to clean water and sanitation.

Debate over how to best supply them has often been polarised over the principle of whether water is an essential commodity for life - and therefore should be free to all - or whether to charge for its supply, either for profit or to ensure a quality supply.

Well, let's start by discarding the myth that government ownership and operation of the water supply makes it "free for all." If more privatization will lead to increased incentives and more reliable service, let's go for it.

This anti-terror raid in Kenya is yet another sign that Kenyan authorities are taking the war on terror seriously--and succeeding. An article from The Nation touts the accomplishment, but says that terrorism isn't simply a case for the police:
Most of the terrorist suspects who have been arrested for the two previous bombings or being investigated over terrorism links were foreigners.

Some of the foreigners living in Kenya have fake documents including Kenyan national identity cards and passports.

One can easily obtain national identity cards, passports, birth certificates and any other document in Kenya's black market. This is the loophole terrorists are exploiting.

Due to the laxity of the Immigration Department and the Office of the President, any foreigner can come to Kenya and easily take up casual jobs meant for the locals or set up a kiosk. That rarely happens in other countries.

Gee, that sounds kind of familiar.

Will this be Liberia in three years?
Somalia's transitional leader has announced that his government will not stand down on Wednesday when their three-year term expires.

President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan said at the weekend they would remain in power until an alternative is found.

Is this what we can expect from a UN-led nation-building project? The UN has been trying to iron things out in Somalia for 10 years now without much sign of progress. The TNG, whose mandate has just expired, has never exercised much control over the country (most of which is controlled by tribal warlords). Because of Somalia's lawlessness, it remains a constant menace to its neighbors and probably a dependable base for terrorists.

Judging by this article, it appears that we can expect more of the same.

Libya is apparently very close to reaching a final settlement for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The US State Department is considering dropping Libya from the state sponsors of terrorism list if Libya pays $2.7 billion to the victims' families.

Allowing a terrorist state to simply purchase international legitimacy this way seems pretty shady. The Wall Street Journal asks a pertinent question: "Would the U.S. now accept $30 billion from Osama bin Laden and call it even?"

More to the point, why is the State Department trying to cut a deal with a regime that's rotten to the core and shows no signs of changing?

What can't be ignored is that the same terrorist regime that perpetrated the Pan Am tragedy is still in power. U.S. intelligence suggests that Libya has not changed its ways and isn't planning to. The U.S. government believes that Iraqi scientists who worked under Saddam Hussein have sought sanctuary in Tripoli. Only last month, Undersecretary of State John Bolton referred to Libya as a "rogue state" that is secretly developing chemical weapons.

And only last week, the Washington Post reported that Liberia's Charles Taylor flew to Libya in July and returned with a cargo of ammunition and arms. Gadhafi and Taylor go back a long way. Taylor, who finally agreed to leave power yesterday, has turned things in Monrovia over to his vice president, Moses Blah, a man he first met in Libya's guerrilla camps as a warlord-in-training. In any case, this is hardly the behavior of a Libyan regime trying to turn a new leaf.

Relations with Libya should be normalized as soon as possible, but only after Gadhafi's regime has been removed.

Now that Taylor has left the country, it looks like 200 more Marines will land in order to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Doesn't it seem a little strange that there are no demands in the media that the Bush administration "make the case" to send the Marines to Liberia? Also, I haven't heard anyone from Congress complaining that Bush has overstepped his authority by bypassing the legislature.

Don't get me wrong--I'm happy to see US troops in Liberia. (In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing them in greater numbers and with a more comprehensive mission.) I'm just surprised that all this has happened with so little debate and not even the slightest official approval from Congress (that I'm aware of). Has the UN's approval become a necessary and sufficient condition for deployment of US troops?

Monday, August 11, 2003
Heh...what do you know: Taylor actually left Liberia! (I must admit I'm surprised, but happily so.)

Of course, Taylor's exile doesn't automatically solve Liberia's problems, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

Here's for hoping.

Sunday, August 10, 2003
Taylor gave his "farewell address" today:
The statement comes on the eve of Mr Taylor's promised resignation following pressure from the United States and West African leaders.

In his address, Mr Taylor accuses of America of forcing him out, but does not say when he will go abroad.

The 15-minute address ends with a declaration: "I say, God willing, I will be back."

That sounds ominous and suggests that Taylor hasn't yet accepted that his time is up.

Even if Taylor does leave tomorrow (which is by no means certain), the post-Taylor situation will be quite complicated. Taylor has chosen Moses Blah to assume power following his resignation, but there's no reason to believe that Blah would be a major improvement. It's even possible that Taylor thinks leaving the country temporarily in Blah's hands will ease international pressure, and buy enough time that Taylor himself can quietly return to Liberia in a year or so (his secret police, rape militias, gun runners, and terrorist training camps still intact, of course).

The rebels have already made quite clear that they won't accept a Blah presidency, so the pressure will be on the ECOWAS negotiators to form an interim government as soon as possible. According to this interview with Mohammed ibn Chambas, the interim government will exclude leaders from the current government and any of the armed rebel movements.

He doesn't mention what will happen to all of those armed rebels who are about to get cut out of the new government, but I hope someone has a plan for those guys.

More evidence of cozying relations between Europe and Libya:
The US has warned the German utility group RWE that it could face sanctions because of a deal to explore for oil and gas in Libya.

The US State Department said it was examining the contract to see if it broke the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, passed in 1996.

It's all about OIL!

Here's an article about the growth of African and Africa-related religions in the US:
Voodoo, Santeria and other African religions are drawing followers in the United States among immigrants and black Americans interested in their ancestral roots, their leaders say.

But their practice can result in clashes with neighbors and police over rituals such as animal sacrifices and sacred drumming - especially since they're mostly conducted at home, in residential neighborhoods.

It's interesting, but I'd bet the growth of African religions in America is dwarfed by the growth of Christianity in Africa.

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