Friday, October 27, 2006

Time for some Justice in Uganda

In a recent article in the International Herald Tribune, "What comes first: Peace or Justice?", Nick Grono rightfully calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to proceed with his prosecutions of the top brass of the LRA. Many think this will derail peace talks -- I'm not sure that peace talks will ever work with an individual like Joseph Kony -- head of the LRA. For almost 20 years Northern Uganda has been ravaged by war led first by the Holy Spirit Movement (Alice Lakwena -- related to Joseph Kony) then the LRA. Why hurry now? Too many dictators and murderers have avoided justice in return for peace. But what kind of peace would there be? Idi Amin was able to seek refuge in Libya, then Saudi Arabia. Milton Obote lived happily ever after in Tanzania -- although he always wanted to return to Uganda. It's time for some real justice for the Ugandan people: anything less would be suggesting that their losses are not worthy of international condemnation. It was not only a crime against Ugandans, it was a crime against all of humanity.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Evil in the Heart of Africa

Yes indeed, there is evil in the heart of Africa -- the Democratic Republic of Congo that is.
How else can you describe what happened to a 3 year old girl: gang raped by soldiers in the DRC. What did this little girl do to deserve this? Or how about the woman named Angela that was raped by 3 men in front of her children? As Anderson Cooper documents on his 360 blog, she was shot after her rape, and they burned her baby girl. Why? What logic can you bring to help explain this?
Poverty? The vulgarities of civil war? Revenge? So go the spoils of the victors?
It's hard to have compassion for Africans when you hear about these stories -- at least for the African men. How could they let this happen to their women? How could those men do what they did? Is there no humanity?
Or, is this simply possible anywhere in the world where the "law of the jungle" rules? Who is to say that it wouldn't happen in America if we didn't have the rule of law -- if there was a civil war going on -- or if the international community didn't seem to give a damn.
I'm outraged -- but I'm not sure who to be outraged at. I feel powerless as a human being -- these atrocities are being committed halfway across the globe -- and they continue daily -- just as frequent as the rains. Whether it's the Congo, Darfur, Northern Uganda, or Sierre Leone or Liberia. How can we make any sense of this? How can we maket his stop? Help!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Only 3 weeks to "Save" Darfur?!


One of today's NYT's editorial reads: "Three Weeks to Save Darfur".
Oh really? Wow...a timetable? What a concept. Darfur will not be saved because there is no international will to save it. There is a lot of talk, but not much action. To boot, the African Union peacekeeping forces are set to leave Darfur at the end of this month. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has made it clear that he will not allow UN peacekeeping forces into his country.
So where does that leave the people of Darfur? Probably with more of the same as in the picture above. (this picture was taken by a colleague of mine who was working with the UN in Sudan during the summer months -- the picture shows a village in Darfur shortly after a Janjaweed attack)...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bashir for Crimes Against Humanitiy?

So, the U.N. Security Council has finally got off its collective behind to try and put forward a resolution to STOP the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. But, perhaps not surprisingly, President omar Hassan al-Bashir is opposed to letting in 20,000 UN peacekeepers. He and his diplomats claim that the killing in Darfur is a problem of "underdevelopment". Oh really? Genocide is a problem of underdevelopment?
Let's try, genocide is a problem of the international system that is so focused on state sovereignity that it is allowing the murder of thousands of human beings. Maybe al-Bashir and those preventing a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur should be hauled in front of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Congo has its first elections in over 40 years

Congo has had its first elections since it was granted independence from Belgium in 1950. The U.N. sees an optimistic future for the war torn country, but I can not say I completely agree with the United Nation's fulfilled optimism. The country has no infrastructure (under 500 hundred miles of 'paved' roads), has no legitimate police force, and its health care system is pretty much non-existent. President Kabila as well as the United Nations should be more worried about setting up a benevolent dictatorship than just trying to setup some type of quasi-democracy. The U.N. is like a naive child who still believes in the tooth fairy; they're being too hopeful and optimistic about democracy, when they should be more realistic about the real policies that need to be implemented in the DRC.

Even when the results of the election come out in a couple of weeks and democracy in the DRC seems to be somewhat pliable, this will undoubtedly prove to be short lived. Democracy in the DRC is just a pipe dream right now, it is way to expensive and expansive of an endeavor for such a poor, illiterate, and unstable country to take on right now. "The election cost $458 million and was the biggest and most complicated the United Nations has ever run." Imagine the DRC's own economy and government trying to put up numbers than big on their own!!! It's just not possible. If the government's going to put that type of money into anything, it will be something more applicable and practical (i.e. national security, education, and health care) not something as trivial (at least for the time being) as the type of government that runs this crime ridden country. The Congo needs an iron fisted hand that is only possible through a dictatorship, to make sure the right policies are pushed through. Democracy in the DRC will be just as ill-fated as it was in Jakarta, Malaysia in 1998 or in Guatemala and the AFC (American Fruit Company) under JFK. Sorry for being such a pessimist.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Is Africa's Economy Really getting Stronger?

"The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates Africa's economy grew 5% last year, and Africa is expected to do even better this year and next." This quote from an article from the Economist seems promising for African development, but the author is responsibly skeptic about the recent up swing in Africa's economy. Recently, foreign interest in Africa has increased due to Africa's growing oil production. Also, foreign debt relief and aid has increased, in part due to more trust in African government responsible spending. But, one must not jump to conclusions that Africa is on its way to economic stability. As the article points out, Africa's economy has had upswings in the past, and they were partly due to commodity prices, weather conditions and increased aid, but Africa cannot control these factors. So although it might look promising for Africa, one must be weary of the causes of the recent economic upswing. Also, one must not forget, despite overall improvements, African governments still have yet to provide efficient schools, roads, healthcare and other basic needs that they could be providing. The article ends by making a good point that, "despite improvements here and there, it [Africa] still sorely needs accountable and honest governments that people can freely eject when they fail. The current economic upturn, from a very low base, offers a rare chance for governments to build for the future while the going is a bit better. Hold your breath." The level of skepticism in the article is the proper way to handle Africa's recent growth. It would be naive to assume Africa is rapidly on its way to sufficient government and economic development. We can be happy that things in Africa are looking somewhat better, but we should not jump to conclusions, for a lot still needs to happen in terms of African development.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

African Union Seems Likely to Pass Election Charter

African Union foreign ministers met today in Banjul, Gambia to discuss a potential charter that would make it easier for power to change hands through the ballot box. The charter comes in response to certain African leaders who routinely change the constitution so that they can remain in power long after the constitutional term limit ends. Ironically, one of the AU leaders, Omar Bongo, has been president of Gabon since before many of the participants in the summit were even born. Nevertheless, if passed, it "...would condemn any unconstitutional change of power, as well as any refusal to accept defeat and hand over power after losing an election." This is certainly a huge issue in Uganda, and hopefully the charter will be passed so that an honest election can take place in which the people truly choose their leader, rather than a leader choosing himself time and time again through constitutional amendments. It is good to see a desire for more political accountability coming from the leaders themselves.

Transcorp will help economy in both Nigeria and all of Africa

Transnational Corporation of Nigeria or Transcorp is quickly developing into a key factor for economic growth in Nigeria, and all of Africa. Nigerian President, Obasanjo said that the need for a functional platform for the projection of Nigeria's economic growth and the potentials that it possesses was the key reason for the establishment of this project. Transcorp was started in Nov. of 2004 as part of the response to the economic reforms being undertaken by the Obasanjo administration. its main design was to mobilize Nigeria's capital on a very large scale for investment projects with foreign investors. Obasanjo launced transcorp in July of 2005 and left it open for all Nigerians to invest in it. This is a very important oppurtunity for Nigerians and all Africans in the case of mobilization. It is said that all of Africa's problems start with the government's that run the respective countries. But now you have a President willing to help out not only his nation but the continent economicly, and the chance to move just a bit closer to modernization is there. Transcorp is a very positive and important element of Nigeria and Africa moving closer to modernization.

Peace accepted by Joseph Kony

In an earlier blog posting by Gildeasean it stated that the president of Uganda Yoweri Museveni has sent to a team to offer peace to rebel leader Joseph Kony and that it would be interesting to see what the results would be. On June 28th Kony leader of Lord's Resistance Army has stated in response that he wants to talk peace. It is unsure how much Kony will be willing to support his claim. Kony has also said that he is innocent of any crimes against humanity even though he has been accused of child kidnapping and the mutilation of innocent citizens. This appears to be a positive step towards stability and peace in this region. Time will tell if any positive actions will come from these talks of peace or just a distraction as the fighting continues.

Rich nations falter on Africa promises: Bono

Recently, U2 front man Bono has outed some of the richest countries in the world, for not following through on a promise they made about about a year ago to provide aid in several areas to various African nations. Bono and his partner Bob Geldof (the two are founders of Live 8, one of the world's biggest and most star studded concerts) have used their fame to form a group named Debt, Aids, Trade, Africa group, or DATA. A DATA conducted report on the progress of this promise showed that they were making way on areas regarding debt and AIDS, but nothing is happening with trade. Bono claims this is because of a "lack of ambition, or sense of urgency". Bono also went on to say that although they were combatting AIDS, the donors only spent half of what they were able to. So far the only country on track with their goal in 2010 is France.

Uganda to Become Oil Producing Country

The Ugandan Investment Authority (UIA) director has met with investors from Kuwait to explore different options associated with extracting oil from Lake Albert. Large amounts of oil deposits were recently discovered there, and Uganda is now eager to become an oil producing nation. Uganda continues to pursue foreign investments in a number of areas, but adding oil to an already growing economy could do great things for the GDP in coming years. It is also good that the oil has been discovered in a time when Uganda has been making legitimate strides with stabilizing its economy. Hopefully it will be a clean start with as few complications as possible to ensure the most profit for the country. Different businesses will soon begin bidding for contracts to develop the proper infrastructure.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Museveni sends delegator, peace may be in sight

The President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has sent a team to Juba, delegating an offer of peace with Joseph Kony. The delegation comes from the Southern Sudan President Salva Kirr to get a team to talk to Kony. This hopefully is the preliminary step to talking peace with the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. This the peace talks can be held, it can end the 20 year long war between the LRA and the government of Uganda. Kony has gone on record saying that he is a human, and not the animal that the government portrays him to be. In response to the 33 counts in two crimes of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC, Kony says, "I'm a freedom fighter who is fighting for freedom in Uganda," Kony said. "I am not a terrorist." It is interesting to hear Kony's point of view in the whole matter, and it will be interesting to see the developments in this issue, and hopefully peace can be reached.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Nigeria continues to strive for democracy

This was a very interesting article to me in the sense that I have just finished writing my country project on this subject. The article speaks about a conference held on the subject of how Nigeria can keep moving forward to the goal of democracy. They article touches on the election held on June 12, 1993. How it ran so smoothly with no religious problems and a winner was found fairly. But the main important thing that I got from the article is that the worry in Nigeria is that the military dictatorship that had plauged the nation for so long has the chance of returning. That the country is still in poverty and that there are two types of people in Nigeria, rich and poor. The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep on getting poorer. Nigeria has been its own nation for 46 years now and it is still not free. This article caught my attention in the sense that Nigeria is attempting to move in the correct direction. The leaders there are smart and know what it takes to reach a successful democracy and are doing what they can to achieve just that.

Congo: Will Starvation and Violence ever End?

In the small village of Aveba in the mineral-rich Ituri district in eastern Congo, death and rape are no stangers. Rebels from Uganda, Rwanda and even the Congolese army itself loot these villages for all they're worth. And when there's nothing left in the village to steal or eat anymore, these militias and bandits remain in the countryside and prey upon aid convoys for food, medicine and money. These greedy militias have battled government troops over control of lucrative industries like diamond and copper mining, and the war has been going on since 1998! Are these rebel insurgencies ever going to end? When will the international community step in? The UN has recently put more 'blue helmets' into the Congo to stabilize the country for the up coming elections this July. But the UN peacekeeping forces cannot stay there forever. The former rebels and government soldiers fused into a national force under the Lusaka peace agreement of 1999, and has been anything but helpful. Congolese people cannot seem to over come the burden of tribalism, and its clashing with nationalism. The people of the DRC need a common cause to unite behind, like they could have in 1960 when it gained independence or in 1997 when the Mobutu regime was toppled. But these elections this July and the optimism of the Congo's President Joseph Kabila offer new hope, and a new cause to rally behind. What Laurent Kabila did not seem to understand, but ought to become crystal clear to Joseph Kabila, is that the current crisis of the state can be checked only with a legitimate and responsible government.

Movie Stars can use their international popularity for good causes

Brad Pitt is one of the most famous actors in Hollywood today. This has made him both rich and well known. While many actors are perceived as selfish, Pitt has done his best to change this notion. He has used the fact that paparazzi follow him everywhere to good use. He has had them follow him to Africa! In doing this Brad Pitt and his girlfriend actress Angelina Jolie have both illustrated the dire situation in Africa while providing aid themselves. Pitt and Jolie have been put in the spot light and instead of abusing it to their own good they have put it to good use. The two have accepted the responsibility that comes with being in the spot light and have used it to not help themselves, but to help the needy people of Africa.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Is an End to the War in Northern Uganda in Sight?

The United States has said that it will do anything it can to help end the war in Northern Uganda. Apparently, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is at its weakest in a long time, and it seems like an ideal time to stop the war either militarily or through a settlement. Whether the United States will actually take action remains to be seen, but it is great to hear that an end may be near. Cooperation will need to come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, however, because LRA rebels currently remain in its territory.

"Operation feed yourself Uganda" set to launch in July

The Executive Director of the Uganda Investment Authority, Dr. Maggie Kigozi has approved "Operation feed yourself Uganda." This is a three year project that will assisst in approving Uganda's agricultural status. It will be a 32 acre pieces of land in Kakuuto sub-county, Rakal district. The operation will be organized by many different organizations from throughout Europe. One being the International Relief Friendship Foundation (IRFF). The UK rotary has provided 72m punds for international projects. However, the project is still in jeopardy as IRFF chief of Europe, Trevor Davies says that it can be challenged by the Uganda Government and the Rakasi district. However, like Kigozi has stated if the operation is launced it will greatly in improve modernisation of agriculture, the National agriculture Advisory development services and the Rural Food Security Programme. I feel that it is extremly important for this to be approved. The biggest problems that face people of Africa is modernizing like the rest of the world has. Having the right resources to feed an entire nation is something that Uganda and most of Africa has not had. This project is a step in the right direction for Uganda and will really help improve the hunger problem throughout the nation. Kigozi is right in that this project may take time but if launced in July as it is set to do, will set Uganda in the right direction in improving their hunger problem and modernisation.

Friday, June 23, 2006

War games raise questions about NATO's role in Africa

Over 7000 troops from Europe and North America have come together to create a new NATO response force to be used in humanitarian as well as combat operations. The training is taking place at Cape Verde, a group of islands located on the west of Senegal. Although they are pulling the troops out on June 28th, part of the training was specifically desinged toward possibly increasing the NATO role in West Africa. While NATO maintains that their intentions are not to be looked ast as "global policemen", the presence of many terrorist groups in this regions of Africa can not be over looked. This new NATO response team will play a large role in the protection of Africa's energy supplies, more specifically, oil.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Democracy finally in Congo?

In Congo one of the most expensive and daunting elections in African history is underway. It will be the first election since Mobutu's ousting and it will be a very tense one since there is still conflict between Hutu rebels who have fled from Rwanda and the forces of the unelected leader that has been in power, president Laurent Kabila. There has already been violence in response to the upcomgin elections between Congolese army troops and rebels as the army tries to crush the rebels before the elections. It is said that the elections will cost$500 million because of the lack of infrastructure in country but should this cost be worried about because of the true democracy that the elections may bring to this region and also provide an outlet for the African people to voice their opinions. It will also be interesting to see how corruption and fraud are kept out of these elections

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Nigeria: The Necessity of Opposition Politics

With Nigeria's 2007 general elections looming around the corner, the importance of opposition parties withink the Nigerian political system has not been over looked. These oppostion parties can be based upon civil society, as well as actual political parties. Democracy has not come easy for Nigeria, nor has it come overnight. Supporters of democracy have learned their lesson after pledging their support to Olusegun Obasanjo and his administration. While this lesson left somewhat of a scar, it provided invaluable information on the importance of opposition parties within a multi-party democracy. Supporters of democracy also learned important lessons regarding the people's ability and necessity to monitor and check the government.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Somalia: Islamic Militants Fight Culture Wars

There is a war going on in Somalia, a war between ideals. Islamic fundamentalists are waging cultural battles in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. The militiamen hope to "rehabilitate" their countries people, and plan on getting its citizens back on the right track. "The right track" for these militants though is a path of radical Islam. In other words, they want their Somalian women veiled and want them at home, while men have to grow beards. A man with a "stylish Afro" was told to shave his head, while a woman in Magadishu was taken into custody for a "promiscuous" skirt. The World Cup is deemed taboo, and any theater hosting the games have been shut down. The new rules that the Shariah courts have set up are no doubt strict, but are they necessary to maintain order?

While there are many complaints about these stringent new rules, there is much more praise for them at the same time. There is this euphoria that the old warlords are out, and great optimism for some type of peace and order in a city that has been without a government for more than a decade. It seems that people are willing to give up some of there rights in order to have some stability in a country where rap and violence use to be the norm. After all, wouldn't you rather sacrifice a soccer game, in exchange for bullet in the head. But the consolidation of these radical Islamic courts (the Shariah courts) are quite alarming, especially in Washington.

But those courts owe part of their strength to the Bush administration, which tried secretly to undermine them. In recent years, American intelligence agents paid warlords to root out Islamic militants operating in Mogadishu, because they were suspected of aiding Al Qaeda. It seems that Washington has just exacerbated the situation that the had originally intended to eliminate. As a result there is a feeling of mutual animosity between Somalians and Washington. There is a deep mistrust of the West in Mogadishu, and for good reason.

Although the new rule of law might seem very repressive, it seems a godsend compared to what use to be in Somalia. After all, any rule of law seems better than no rule of law. It seems that US foreign policy has facilitated a sort of extremist measure in Somalia, and the people have sufficed to these demagogues of sorts. Then again not all Muslims seem to be this extreme, it just appears that the extremists are the only ones to take the action necessary to maintain peace.

Uganda Leads AIDS Treatment Despite Spending the Least Money in Africa

A United Nations report on AIDS released this year has revealed that Uganda leads east Africa in the treatment of AIDS. More than half of all "Ugandans who need antiviral therapy receive treatment." While this is good to hear, it is interesting that Uganda can be the best yet spend the least amount of money to treat AIDS compared to other African nations. Uganda uses only $18.8 million dollars compared to Tanzania with $45 million and Kenya with $33.2 million. Only 19.7 percent of Kenyans receive treatment and only 7 percent of Tanzanians. Obviously, these lopsided figures are a result of corruption and poor usage of resources by the government. If Uganda can get 56 percent of its people treatment, and use less money than anyone else, these other countries can and must do better.

Interview with Nigerian President Obasanjo: A reflection on his Presidency and a look to the Future

On Saturday June 17th, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was interviewed in London. The President spoke of his two terms of office which will end next year as having focused on uprooting corruption and transforming the economy in his country. As Nigeria was rated the most corrupt country in the world in 2000 by Transparency International, Obasanjo stated regarding his Presidency, "It took me some time to be able to come to grips with the depth of decay." Overall, under his presidency the nation was able to pay off foreign debts, decrease unemployement and poverty, and the nation became a more credible international business partner. In regards to violent attacks and curruption within the nation's oil industry Obasanjo blamed the problems on "many years of accumulation and neglect."
Under Obasanjo, Nigeria has become involved in promoting peace and conflict resolutions in sourrouding African countries. In regards to his life after his second and final term of office, Obasanjo said he will devote himself to continuing peacemaking efforts and efforts to improve conditions in Nigeria. On the issue of whether he wanted to serve another term, Obasanjo only said he took his job on the basis of the constitution. This however seems constraversial because a strong campaign was lead by his supporters to amend the constitution and allow him to serve another term. The campaign was defeated last month and a new president will be elected next year. In retrospect of his Presidency, Obasanjo conveyed himself as a benevolent promoter of peace in Africa and statistically conditions in Nigeria have improved, but it is yet to be seen how progressive his presidency was and if a new president will continue progress in Nigeria.

Do You Care More About Screech or Africa?

Dustin Diamond (aka. Screech) former television star on the TV series "Saved by the Bell", is back in the spotlight. He was known for crazy antics on the show, but sadly was stereotyped as "Screech" for the rest of his acting career. Unable to find work as a legitimate actor, Dustin had to make it in the real world, and couldn't quite make it. With only a high school diploma from "Bayside High" and no college education, Dustin had to make do with just above minimum pay salary. Apparently "Screech" got himself into quite the financial predicament, and didn't really know how to budget his money. His house is up for forclosure, but he has amazingly been able to mobilize thousands of ex-Screech fans to help get him out of this sticky financial situation. Dustin devised a scheme to start a "fundraiser" that would help him raise enough money to save his house. Over the course of a few weeks Dustin has been able to raise around $250,000!!!!! $250,000 that will go towards a washed up TV star's mortgage payment. That's enough money to feed about 420,000 starving Africans!!! There is something seriously wrong here. How can a brankrupt ex-TV star raise that amount of money for a cause as illegitimate as raising money for the "National Bedwetter Organization" (Yes, that organization really does exist-Jason Giambi donates to it annually). Do American's not have their priorities straight, or is there something seriously wrong with American culture.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

International Community Takes Some Responsibility

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor is up for trial for suspected war crime crimes, most notably in Sierra Leone during his time as President. Mr. Taylor who has been charged with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other nefarious violations, undoubtedly deserves to be reprimanded. The ex-president is accused of financing the rebel force in Sierra Leone, the RUF, by selling diamonds on their behalf and then supplying them with arms. His rebel army was notorious for "raping civilians and for using machetes to kill people and to hack off limbs and other body parts"!!! It was the classic depiction of a 'warlord state'.

In order to insure that justice is served, Great Britain has offered to have Mr. Taylor serve his sentence, if he is convicted, in their own prison facilities. Other European countries have refused, but Britain the former colonial power in Sierra Leone, has taken responsibility and has promised to facilitate justice and accountability in its former colonial provinces. Apparently Great Britain feels partly responsible for the anarchy that has been going on in Africa for the past 40 years. Lord Triesman, the minister for Africa was quoted as saying, "that it had started the process [decolonization] and now we want to finish it".

Lord Triesman should be applauded for his ambitious initiatives in Africa. All we need is more of the international community to come in and help "clean up". This does not just apply to countries that colonized but should also apply to the United States who helped support illegitimate countries during the Cold War (i.e. Angola, DRC, and Kenya) . Loss of Cold War patronage have hurt these countries just as much as colonization, and as a result countries like the DRC are torn apart by rebel forces.

This is not to say that the International Community is completely responsible for the clean up of Africa because that would be far from the truth. The truth is that the hard part will be for Africans themselves; actually setting up liberal democracies. But it is up to the International Community to facilitate this process of democritization. Political institutions and bureaucracies have atrophied for too long, and traditional checks and balances must put back into the system. It will be through institutions like the International Criminal Court (ICC) that accountability will be placed back on these capricious African rulers. With England helping to put a corrupt ex-president on trial in the Hague, where justice is sure to be served, this is one small step towards this vision.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Nigeria: Forced to hand over Bakassi peninsula

For over twenty years, there has been a territorial dispute between the nations of Nigeria and Cameroon. The dispute is over an oil-rich area known as the Bakassi peninsula. However, just the other day, an agreement between Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Cameroonian President Paul Biya ruled that the area belonged to Cameroon. The UN played a large role in this as well. Cameroon won the land based on a treaty from 1913 between former powers, Britian and Germany. The article mentioned that over the years of disputing between the nations, there have been many military clashes, especially during the 90's. It also said that the disputes have gotten so strong that it almost caused an all out war in 1981. But there is no telling if the UN's decision to grant Cameroon the land will end all problems of the subject. In 2002 Nigeria was told to give up the land and move its citizens off, but nobody moved claiming "technical difficulties". Nigeria isnt happy with this ruling and even went as far as to accuse the European judges of colonial-era bias. To make matters worse, there is still plenty of Nigerians that remain on the Bakassi peninsula and refuse to become Cameroonians. Plus Nigeria has a strong military presence on the peninsula. It is my worry that this ruling will not compltly solve the problem. The Nigerians simply seem like they don't want to leave their homes or change their nationalities. President Obasanjo may have agreed to abide by the ruling but it is my fear that his countrymen will not.

Uganda: Report Reveals Former Health Ministers Likely Embezzled Money

This article talks about some different ministers in Uganda who are facing criminal charges related to graft and mismanagement in a $210 million health project. One of the men was a leading official in the Health Ministry, and it seems that he likely took vast amounts of money while overseeing projects. Even though three individuals face criminal charges, the article states that due to the corruption in the government, there is a good chance nothing will come of it. They likely will just be re-appointed to different jobs in the government a result of the charges.

Somalia

It appears that the Islamic militants want to establish their rule to the west and that they are not going to institute a taliban- type of state rule. The question that the U.S has to ask itself is whether or not this is true, or will it be an overbearing government and how would should they respond. Only time will tell but it will be interesting to see what happens

Monday, June 12, 2006

Can an amateur Mayor Ease violence in Somalian City?

Mahamud Hassan Ali is an ex-janitor turned Mayor of Mogadishu, a crime ridden city in Somalia that is notorious for its violence. The past year were some of the worst death tolls since the government collapsed in 1991, and future projections do not seem any better. The city literally seems to be rotting from the inside out, and seems to be a microcosm of what the rest of the country looks like.
Mr. Ali seems to be a small glimmer of hope in the midst of all this despair. A native Somalian himself who fled the country after the government's collapse. He found himself in Minneapolis running a janitorial business. A childhood friend lured Mr. Ali back to his native country to "help clean up his own country". "Mr. Ali a naturalized United States citizen, is soft-spoken but criticizes the U.S. for financing the warlords who are destroying the city".
U.S. anxieties have been doubled ever since the city was taken over by Islamists, and Mr. Ali is exactly the type of guy Washington doesn't want in power. Mr. Ali who is completely backed by the Islamists, plays down fears that Islamic extremism will come to Somalia. The United States just doesn't believe him.
This new mayor seems to have the have the right ideas, but not the tools to implement these ideas. "All he really worries about is stopping the killing." But this is a tough task to accomplish when there is no international tribunal to be investigating war crimes of American supported warlords! Mr. Ali doesn't even have his own mode of transportation to help him traverse the city, and has to be confined to the public transportation system. The city's bureaucracy is pretty much none existent; there are absolutely no civil servants to delegate authority to, and no budget to even balance. Although I believe that Africans have to find the solutions to their own problems, this is one problem that could be alleviated a lot easier if the United States would stop being so scared of radical Islam and more open to benign leaders like Mr. Ali.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Should Israel Grant Asylum to Sudanese Refugees?

The Israeli Supreme Court is currently facing a decision regarding the handling of 230 refugees from Sudan. The 230 Muslim and Christian Sudanese are currently in Jail in Israel for sneaking into the country illegally. In an article by Joshua Mitnick, two clear emergings opinions are presented concerning how the refugees should be treated.
One opinion is that the refugees should not be granted asylum and perhaps be expelled from the country. In the past, as Israeli Interior Minister Roni Bar-On has expressed, "...security forces often try to return the refugees to the Egyptian side of the border." Sudan and Israel are currently concidered enemies, thus many Israelis are wary of the refugees and would like to see them go.
On the other side, certain Israelis make the argument that these Sudanese refugees have escaped from what the US has called 'a genocide' and thus there is a moral obligation to grant them asylum. Israelis, of all people, should remember their support of illegal Jewish refugees during WWII. Jewish refugees sought asylum in Israel as they escaped from the violence of the Holocaust, similar to the agenda of the current Sudanese refugees. Also, Israeli Human Rights groups are petitioning the Supreme Court to allow the refugees to stay, in hopes that the pressure will cause a speedy and positive decision.
The issue of illegal immigration is contraversial by all accounts, but in the case of these 230 Sudanese refugees in Israel, I support the motion to grant them asylum. If the refugees are sent to Egypt or to a jail in Sudan, they risk exposure to the violent treatment from which they escaped. Expelling this posessionless group of Sudanese refugees is pratically granting the immigrants a death sentence. Their chance of survival is minimal. Israelis should be tolerant of the refugees just as their country was tolerant of Jewish refugees during WWII.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Uncertainty and worry in Nigeria's Presidential election

In reading this article about Nigeria's next Presidential election that will be held in April of 2007, it seems to be that they are experiencing much worry about who will be on the ticket. The current President is Olusegun Obasanjo. He has been in office since 1999. Many people want him to stay on for re-election, however he has never shown any interest in a fourth term. His vice President is Atiku Abubakar. Abubakar hgas shown great interest in running for the Presidental job and seeks the People's Democratic Party's support. But he doesn't have it. I find this to be a big problem because it can have negative effects on the party. One man with support has not shown the interest and another man with the interest does not have the support. Nigeria is Africa's most populated nation, but they are very divided ethnicaly and religiously. I beleive that this could amount into a very difficult political struggle in the next election. Religiously, the problem lies due to the fact that in the Northern part of Nigeria, it is prodominatly Muslims. Obasanjo is a southern Christian. Muslims in the north beleive that it is only fair that when his term is up, it is only fair that he allow a northerner to take office. The Muslims beleive that is in the best interest of the Nations peace and nationalism. I agree with that. The absence of Nationalism is a key factor as to why African countries are having such a difficult time modernizing like the rest of the world. Ethnic and religious differences are getting in the way. The Muslims are correct in that reguard. Ethnic problems come into play when the article speaks of the Igbo ethnic group. They control 95% of the government's revenue but there's never been an Igbo President. They too are looking to have one of their own in office. However, many people of Nigeria believe that the Igbo people do not have anyone who has the politcal stature to be in office. This has enraged the Igbos. I agree with the Igbo people having the right to be outraged by this. From reading this article it is clear to me that Nigeria is torn ethnically, and religiously and that it is leading to the nation being divided. What makes it all worse is that many people beleive that Obasanjo will simply remain in office, creating politcal chaos. This can only be done by emergency rule. In my opinion that method will only make things worse between the Muslims and Igbo people of Nigeria. Nationalism will never be reached if people are not happy with the government and that is a big reason as to why Nigera and other African countries are taking so long to modernize.

Cultural Solution for Aids?

From reading an article yesterday on the destruction aids has cost the continent of Africa and also reflecting on a previous class discussion, there is one question that always seems to strike me, where does the responsibilty lie for changing the detrimental and most times harmful cultural views that many African citizens have for dealing with the aids virus? In the article provided it even states that the health minister of South Africa "urged the use of garlic and African potatoe to fight Aids instead of effective treatment". Should the National leaders of these African states be "forced" to see that their methods are ineffective and further hurting their people, or should the world community, more specifically NGO's take the responsibilty upon themselves and try to involve the African governments as little as possible?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Corruption in Africa -- once again


Well, I can't say that it is a surprise. A recent inquiry revealed that there has been gross misuse of AIDS donations in Uganda. Specifically, the Global Fund -- the largest fund in the world to combat 3 diseases: AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria -- has already given Uganda $45 million of the $201 million earmarked for the country.
Monies were taken to pay for "personal phone bills, lavish "Christmas packages" and fancy four-wheel drive vehicles". What is so disturbing about this, however, is that Uganda was a leading country in combatting HIV/AIDS -- and President Museveni has at least rhetorically endorsed anti-corruption campaigns.Read the link above.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Never Again....Still

In a recent Washington Post article, "Still a Genocide", we learn that even though the Darfur peace accord was signed 3 weeks ago, the killing continues...
Is the Sudanese government backsliding on agreements? -- Yes -- Are the rebel factions still disagreeing over the peace agreement conditions? -- Yes-- Are innocent women and children and men still dying as a consequence? -- Yes.
So why isn't anything being done?

European countries and the UN are hesitant to even call what's going on in Darfur a "genocide". But doesn't everyone agree that innocent women and children are being slaughtered? Don't we all agree that this should stop?
So, why does it continue?
How can it still continue that nations will only get involved in mass slaughter of civilians if we can technically define it as a "genocide"? Isn't slaughter of innocents, slaughter?!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Ugandan Activist Speaks Out

I just received this comment on my webblog from "Anne" -- I'm presuming a Ugandan activist. I thought I'd post it rather than just leave it as a comment, since it does relate to the post I just made about Nigeria and Uganda.
Kudos to you Anne!

We the people of the Commonwealth come together to sign this petition to demand that the Commonwealth be held accountable to its own committments under the Harare Declaration of 1991. Two past elections in Uganda in 2001 and 2006 have returned the incumbent after violent campaigns and rigged results as ruled by Uganda's Supreme Court and observed by local and international election observers. Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth for electoral fraud and violence, yet Uganda will be honored by hosting CHOGM 2007. We demand equal treatment of all member states regardless of the color or race of their citizenry. Act Now!

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/983107725

Kudos to Nigerians and their Democracy

Perhaps there is hope for African democracy after all. Ghana, Botswana, South Africa -- leaders in democratization -- and now Nigeria -- an economic powerhouse gives hope to sustainable democracy. Why? The Nigerian senate has rejected an attempt by President Olusegun Obasanjo to run for a third fourth term next year (see The Chrisitian Science Monitor article attached).
This is a good sign for Nigeria -- but a bad one for Uganda -- which just had an election in March that allowed President Yoweri Museveni (in power since 1986) to remain in power for another term after changing the consitution to accomodate a third presidential term.
This brings us to the question of why are some African countries more successful at democratization than others? Both Nigeria and Uganda are former British colonies as is Zimbabwe with Robert Mugabe in power since 1980, and Ghana. What factors account for democratic success? Foreign aid, foreign pressure, civil society, good political leadership?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Whatever Happened to Live8 and Saving Africa?

A former student and friend sent me this article. Thought it would be interesting to re-post. She didn't include the source, other than that Gerald Caplan wrote the article.
The Live 8 concerts: Hold on Africa – here we come!

Gerald Caplan (2005-06-23)
With the global music extravaganza that is Live 8 just around the corner, Gerald Caplan is nervous about the crocodile tears shed for Africa by leaders like Tony Blair. Caplan writes that the job of Bono, Bob Geldof and other Live 8 organizers is to let their fans know that Africans need no more missionaries or do-gooders. “Instead, Africans have a right to justice and equity to make up for the incalculable harm that we in the rich world have inflicted on them for such a long, long time,” writes Caplan.
Everybody must be aware by now of the Bob Geldof Live 8 spectacular coming at us next week. The media has been abuzz with burning questions about where the concert will be held and who'll be performing, with a sentence occasionally thrown in about saving poor old Africa or ending poverty. This is a serious problem.
Getting it wrong about Africa is a venerable tradition in the rich world, and music has played its role. Remember the great famine concerts of 20 years ago and the giant hit "Do They Know It's Christmas?" It's just been re-recorded, with its inane lyrics of Africa as a land "underneath a burning sun…where nothing ever grows" and "no rain nor river flows". Get it? Natural causes---bad luck—are at the root of Africa's problems.
Television does its share. Who among us haven't seen inspiring stories about young Canadians who decide to raise pennies for a well or school in Africa? These efforts are invariably motivated by the best of intentions. But I'm concerned with their unintended message. I fear they reinforce wrong-headed stereotypes of both Africa and us. To my eye, they show Africans as helpless, dependent, passive victims, and we westerners as decent, selfless, compassionate, resourceful missionaries.
Now Paul Wolfowitz's has added his explanation for Africa's plight. Moving swiftly from being a maven about Iraq to becoming an authority on Africa's 53 countries, the new head of the World Bank has just completed a whirlwind learning tour of the continent—6 days, 4 countries. The problem in Africa, he announced at the end, is simple: "corruption". Right. If only Africa's leaders were more like our own.
These views reflect a common theme: they leave the rich world blameless for Africa's multitude of problems. I greatly fear that Live 8 is inadvertently strengthening the notion that we in the rich world must be missionaries to save Africans from themselves. The truth is already being lost-- the deep, comprehensive responsibility of western nations and western financial institutions for so much of Africa's continuing underdevelopment and poverty. The real reason the rich world should be racing to deal with African poverty is the central role we have played in causing and perpetuating it. Has anyone told Paul Wolfowitz that vastly more money pours out of Africa each year back to rich countries than flows in? That's the key to Africa's development crisis, and it's almost entirely unrecognized.
The responsibility of the rich world takes many forms. It includes the indispensable support given over the decades to countless African tyrants and to white racists. It includes the demonstrably retrograde free market policies imposed on virtually every Africa government by ideological extremists at the World Bank and International monetary Fund (also known by African pediatricians as the Infant Mortality Fund) and backed by almost all western governments, including Canada. Across west Africa, it's cheaper to buy a subsidized frozen chicken imported from Holland that to buy one from a local producer. Foreign aid is always tied to buying goods and services in the rich country or to sending consultants to Africa to make more in a day than the vast majority of Africans do in a year. Rich countries drain off a huge percentage of the professionals—doctors and nurses, especially—who are trained in African universities. Western corporations plunder Africa's natural resources, pay starvation wages and almost no local taxes, bribe anyone in charge—corruption!--pollute hideously, and leave conflict and human rights abuses in their wake. Western donors demand that user fees be imposed on health services and tuition fees on schooling. They demand that public services be slashed so that health and school systems deteriorate. The US government and fundamentalist western religious groups introduce unrealistic and irrelevant moral dogmas to combat AIDS and undermine evidence-based methods of prevention
Anyone who doesn't distrust the Group of 8 leaders who'll be meeting next month hasn't been paying attention. They're the ones responsible for the economic apartheid that characterizes rich-poor country relations today. Every one of them has failed to live up to repeated pledges about aid, debt relief and agricultural subsidies, solemnly made and blithely ignored. The recent ballyhoo about debt relief for 14 African countries was wildly overblown; it was no more than a modest first step. The more leaders like Tony Blair and Paul Martin shed crocodile tears talk about their moral crusade for Africa, the more liberal imperialist rhetoric they spin, the more nervous we should be. The job of Bono and Bob Geldof and other Live 8 organizers is to let their fans know that Africans need no more missionaries or do-gooders. Instead, Africans have a right to justice and equity to make up for the incalculable harm that we in the rich world have inflicted on them for such a long, long time.

* Gerald Caplan works with various UN agencies on African development issues.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Uganda: A Test Case for African Democracy

So, President Museveni of Uganda pulled off a 59.3% victory in Uganda's recent multiparty Presidential elections. Kudos to Ugandans for having a relatively violence-free election. Kudos also to Ugandans for showing up to vote -- 59.3% turnout -- the Western democracies could be so lucky with such a high-level of voter participation.
The most important test for Uganda's democracy still remains: what will happen after the elections? Neither side should advocate violence, although it may be inevitable. Uganda, with all of its economic successes has really become a test-case for African democracy. It it cannot succeed in Uganda, where can it in Africa?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Museveni: The Answer for Uganda?

Ugandans are once again testing their resolve for democracy. It's easy for us in the West to criticize Ugandans for not seeing through Yoweri Museveni's "Big Man" politics, but when the "Big Man" implies that he will "go back to the bush" if he doesn't win, and reminds people of the chaos and violence that beset Uganda pre-Movement politics, it's no wonder that Ugandans will probably vote for "no change" in Thursday's presidential elections.
It's also no wonder that Dr. Kizza Besigye is behind in the polls. As Emily Wax's Washington Post article, "Ugandans Put "Big Man" Politics to Vote", outlines, Besigye had to try and win the hearts and minds of Ugandans while going from a maximum security prison on charges of treason and rape, to multiple court appearances.
Perhaps we should applaud the fact that Museveni just didn't have Besigye killed when he returned to Uganda -- Museveni has obviously become more sophisticated than previous Ugandans rulers in underming the opposition.
My guess is that Museveni will win tomorrow -- not because he is necessarily the best man for the job, but because he has established himself as the "big man" for the job.