Saturday, November 08, 2003
Although the new government has taken office, the situation in Liberia is far from stable, especially while Charles Taylor continues to exert his influence in the country that he used to rule. The BBC reports this weekend that President Bush's $87 million in War on Terror money included a $2 million bounty to whomever is able to arrest Taylor and bring him to the UN court in Sierra Leone. This report has been met with denunciations from pretty much the people you'd expect:
Nigerian presidential spokesman Femi Fane Kayode said they were surprised and shocked by news of the bounty on Mr Taylor's head, a reward that encouraged lawless and illegal behaviour.

"Such a venture violates not only international law but also all the norms of civilised behaviour," he told the BBC World Service's Newshour programme.

....The decision by the US Congress to draw up a bill encouraging and endorsing people to go to another country to capture someone illegally was a "step back to the stone ages, " Mr Kayode said.

"In fact, this is a little bit close to what many of us would describe as state-sponsored terrorism."

I think that's going a bit too far. There's little doubt that Taylor has already violated the terms of his asylum by continuing his involvement in Liberian politics. It's also clear that the Nigerian government is too respectful of Taylor's status as a former African head of state, so they'll never arrest him regardless of his behavior. In the end, if $2 million is all it costs to bring Taylor to trial, I'd say we got our money's worth.

In related news, it turns out that one of Taylor's close associates is now living in the US:
The alleged chief paymaster for the notoriously brutal government of former Liberian president Charles Taylor has entered the United States -- despite being banned from international travel by the United Nations -- and is living in California.

Talal Nassereddine, described by U.N., U.S. and European investigators as a key link in the lucrative and illicit diamonds-for-weapons trade in West Africa, was located several days ago by U.N. officials, who notified U.S. law enforcement.

How shameful is this?!? Why is it that the UN knows about this guy before our own anti-terrorism people? It's likely that Nassereddine has information about al Qaeda's connections in Liberia, so for that reason alone the FBI should be pretty interested in finding him.

Later on in the article there's also this:
Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of 26 members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, urging them to pressure the Nigerian government to turn Nassereddine's former boss over to international authorities.

"If we fail to bring men like this to justice, how can we expect similar atrocities not to occur in the future?" the letter said. "We urge you do to all you can to have the Nigerian government hand Charles Taylor over to the Special Court for Sierra Leone to stand trial; otherwise, he may someday return to power in Liberia."

Good idea. I'm glad someone is doing something.

This is hard to read:
"Mr Mbeki, Sir, do you enjoy your freedom? If so, please help us to get ours too."

If only Mbeki were up to the challenge, these people might have reason to hope. Sadly, it seems more and more that Mbeki is content to let Mugabe drive Zimbabwe to ruin. (Via AfricaBlog.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Gaddafi has been slowly slouching back into the good graces of the international community, but despite Libya's current PR offensive, it's important to recall the fundamental nature of the regime:
Libya, by every reasonable ranking and report, from Amnesty International to Freedom House to the U.S. State Department, remains one of the most repressed societies on earth. There are no private newspapers; there is no independent rule of law. Multilayered, pervasive surveillance is routine; so is arbitrary arrest; so is torture in the prisons; so is collective punishment of entire families for the actions of one individual. There are no private banks; there is no private enterprise of any substantial size. Libya's oil industry, with reserves ranked among the top 10 on the planet, accounts for 95% of Libya's exports, and belongs entirely to the state, which in effect belongs entirely to Moammar Gadhafi.

Over the years, Gaddafi has supported a variety of terrorist groups, notably Palestinian groups that target Israel. In addition, Gaddafi has used growing influence in Africa to support dictators in Zimbabwe, Liberia, and Burkina, and has been accused of supporting rebel groups in Ivory Coast.

If the US is serious about prosecuting a war against terrorists, appeasment of Gaddafi is a pretty poor strategy.

Well, now that I've started, I feel like I have to post a couple more...

This is cool.... The BBC has an article about Ghanaian hip-life:

[A] member of the Accra hip-hop group VIP described how Ghanaians had reclaimed and remade hip-hop in their own style - dubbed "hip-life" - in the last few years.

"We used to do a lot of things like foreign artists, we'd play songs by them and stuff like that," he said.

"We weren't being ourselves back then. But now it feels like we're all coming back home."

"We take some of the old in-touch, high life music, and make sure we make good use of it and do our own things in an African way."

Most Ghanaian pop music isn't widely available in the United States, probably because most Americans would find it corny. In contrast to American hip-hop, much of which is obscene, violent and pessimistic, Ghanaian hip-life is more likely to be uplifting (or at least innocuously inoffensive) -- a fact which I found rather refreshing.

I heard plenty of Lord Kenya (a very strong singer in my opinion) when I was in Ghana back in 2001, but I don't know anything about Reggie Rockstone. If anyone knows anything about his music, I'd be interested to hear about it.

I've got to apologize for my lack of blogging lately. As explanation, I'll just say that things have been busier than normal at school. With luck I'll be back to a normal schedule before the end of the week, but in the meantime, check out this regional breifing over at Winds of Change (and be sure to read the comments, too). Also, don't forget all of the great Africa-related blogs linked at the top of this page, all of whom have been picking up the slack while I've been lazy.


Site Meter
< # Blogs & >