Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Here's a commentary in the NYT on the African response to the recent coup in Togo and some of the African diplomatic efforts that led to Gnassingbe's quick resignation:

Olusegun Obasanjo, the president of Nigeria and the region's most powerful leader, was perhaps the most vociferous critic of the change of power in Togo, and he scolded Mr. Gnassingbé when the latter went to Abuja, the Nigerian capital, for talks. He also refused to accord him the pomp of an official state visit , a pointed and significant diplomatic snub. When Mr. Gnassingbé offered to hold elections but remain in power until then, African leaders immediately dismissed the gesture as an insufficient half-measure.

Western nations played a role, but it was small. The United States, the United Nations and European countries issued strongly worded statements condemning the change of power and later insisted that Mr. Gnassingbé step down. But the diplomatic effort to force the Togolese government back to constitutional rule was almost entirely an African affair.

There's also some comparing and contrasting toward the end with the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe. It's strange that it wasn't long ago that Mbeki was jetting around the world promoting NEPAD -- basically a promise by African leaders to hold each other accountable to some basic standards of democracy and human rights in return for the industrialized world giving them a lot of money to spend on pet projects. So now, Mbeki has his big chance to help promote African democracy and he seems to have been rather muted (leaving the heavy lifting to Obasanjo and Wade. Instead, Mbeki has become the chief defender of Robert Mugabe. (See below.)

Am I being too harsh?

Things are looking slightly up in Togo. The president-by-coup has resigned and the government is pledging to hold elections. How free and fair those elections will be is still uncertain, but the Togolese ruling party is feeling the pressure -- both internal and external:

The presidents of Niger and Mali and top officials from the Economic Community of West African States said they backed the need for presidential elections in 60 days.

"They called on all parties to adopt an attitude that favors national reconciliation and compromise to guarantee the success of the interim period (before elections)," the leaders said in a statement after visiting the former French colony.
Despite Gnassingbe's decision to resign, opposition parties in Togo have pledged to continue weekly protest marches.

They say the job of interim president should have gone to the head of the national assembly at the time of Eyadema's death, Fambare Ouattara Natchaba. He was out of the country at the time and a new interim president has now been named.

Yes, the ruling party will do whatever they can to continue to hold onto power, but continued international pressure will make that much more difficult.

Now why won't president Bush give Togo as much attention as he's been giving to Lebanon?

Meanwhile things don't look nearly as good in Zimbabwe.... Somehow I don't find myself reassured by Thabo Mbeki's promises that Zimbabwe's elections later this month will be free and fair. Is there any evidence that would cause one to believe this, or does Mbeki just think it will be true if he says it enough times?

I promise this is my last post about Hotel Rwanda. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of people talking about this movie that don't usually discuss films...

Here are Daniel Henninger's pre-Oscars comments for the WSJ.

And according to Jay Nordlinger (third item), President Bush has seen the movie as well.

As I've noted already, it's quite a good film... go see it.

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