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.