Friday, August 19, 2005

Zimbabwe: a writer talks about the demolisions

The Zim novelist Ian Holding offers a stunningly honest eye-witness account of the government's campaign of home demolitions.

He comes across as callous ... valuing his dog's life over that of a dozen of his maid's relatives.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Zimbabwe: inflation, inflation, inflation

How much more can these poor people take!
From US $227 in June the expenditure basket for a family of six had shot up by at least $135 to $362 in July, the consumer council noted. "The increase was largely propelled by ... both food and non-food items, following last month's increase in fuel prices and the devaluation of the local currency".

Teachers generally earn $648 a month, while domestic workers get an average monthly wage of $21. (source)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mandela -- the real guy, not the fantasy

Tony Karon on the "Mandela of fantasy".

Karon is right. The "real" Mandela is way more intersting.

Monday, August 15, 2005

background of July 27 London bombers

Check out this LA Times article about the July 21 London bombers.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Sudan: de Waal essay on the future of Sudan without Garang

Alex de Waal has an essay on Sudan over at the Prospect magazine.
The peace process took a severe knock when Garang’s helicopter came down. But the procedures under the peace deal for replacing Garang and forming the government of national unity are clear. Omer al Bashir stays as president, and real power resides with the two vice-presidents, Kiir — who must now fly to Khartoum to be sworn in — and [Ali Osman] Taha. It can still work.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

South Africa: SA agrees to loan Zim $$$

Nobody can be truly surprised by this ...
Cabinet has confirmed South Africa's willingness, in principle, to assist Zimbabwe, including providing a loan facility in relation to Zimbabwe's obligations to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Briefing the media after Cabinet's fortnightly meeting today, Joel Netshitenzhe, the government communications (GCIS) head, said government's approach on the issue was premised on the principle that such assistance should benefit the Zimbabwean people as a whole, "within the context of their programme of economic recovery and political normalisation."

Further, government would work with the United Nations (UN) and South African religious leaders to provide emergency humanitarian assistance, including particularly in the aftermath of "Operation Restore Order", he said. (source)
Zimbabwe had asked for US$1 billion.

Mauritania: coup attempt

According to reports, members of the presidential guard took over the armed forces headquarters, and state television and radio stations today. President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya was out of the country at the time, having left to attend Tuesday's funeral of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd. Taya is now in Niamey, Niger.
"We have heard that there has been a coup d'etat but we don't know who's involved. We don't know whether it is something that has succeeded or failed," Sid Ahmed Abeidna, the British honorary consul in Nouakchott, told Reuters. (source)
A bit more detail ....
A military source said "several senior officers" had been arrested but could not say if they had been detained by loyalists or rebels.

In June 2003 a bloody uprising failed to unseat Ould Taya, and was followed in August and September of last year by two more alleged coup attempts. (source)
UPDATE It's a coup ...
Many people headed to work as usual in the capital [on Thursday, August 4]. Traffic flowed freely and small groups of soldiers guarded key buildings, though in smaller numbers than on Wednesday.

State radio said the 17-member military council would be headed by Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, naming a list of members comprised of officers in the various security forces.

Widely respected by fellow officers in Mauritania, Vall had for a long time been regarded as a close ally of the president, having participated in the 1984 coup that brought Taya to power and served as his security chief.

Analysts said the high-level backing for the coup in the security forces reflected widespread discontent with Taya, although it was unclear how far its leaders were motivated by ending repression rather than by personal gain.

"It definitely seems to me that there's a degree of unanimity with in the security forces, evidenced by the fact that there was nobody killed yesterday," said Mike McGovern, West Africa project director for the Crisis Group think-tank.

"The level of popular discontent in Mauritania is quite high."

The United States, African Union, South Africa and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan all condemned the seizure of power in the country of 2.9 million people. (source)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sudan: Kiir replaces Garang

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army named Salva Kiir, the SPLA’s deputy chairman to replace John Garang, Sudan’s vice president and the former rebel who died in a helicopter crash on Saturday, just three weeks after becoming new vice president.

Mr Kiir will succeed Mr Garang as national vice president and president of a separate southern administration, said Samson Kwaje, the SPLA’s spokesman. Mr Kiir, who was one of the original members of the former rebel movement when the war erupted in 1983, now faces the daunting challenge of ensuring the implementation of a January peace deal that ended a 21-year civil war in southern Sudan.

Leaders of the SPLA, who are holding an emergency meeting in southern Sudan, unanimously agreed that Mr Kiir should replace Mr Garang.

[...] Mr Kiir is far less well known outside the SPLA and is regarded as more of a military commander than a politician. (source)
Here's hoping that the peace deal survives this tragedy (death of Garang).

MORE ....
- Uganda's New Vision newspaper has published what is probably the last interview Garang granted ....

- al Jazeera on Kiir's appointment .... "Kiir and Garang had their differences, and the new chief will have to assert his authority in southern Sudanese ranks .... Kiir will also have to rebuild north-south trust, damaged by Garang's death."

- BBC Monitoring has a round-up of news clippings of Garang's death ....

Monday, August 01, 2005

Sudan: Garang is dead!

John Garang, a former rebel leader who became Sudan’s vice president three weeks ago, has been killed in a helicopter crash, raising serious concerns about a peace process that ended a 21-year civil war and efforts to bring stability to Africa’s largest country.

After his death was announced on Monday, thousands of southern Sudanese rioted in Khartoum, clashing with police and looting shops. Similar unrest was reported in Juba and other southern towns in what were government-controlled areas, indicating the volatile situation in a country blighted by decades of conflict and misrule.

Mr Garang, leader of the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), died after a Ugandan presidential helicopter that was taking him from Entebbe to southern Sudan crashed in bad weather on Saturday, officials said.

Six of his bodyguards and the crew also perished.

The 60-year-old, who had been holding talks with Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan president, was seen as crucial to the success of a January peace deal that ended the conflict in southern Sudan, which cost an estimated 2m lives, mainly through war-induced famine and disease.

His death will also severely test the cohesiveness of the SPLA, a group often plagued by internal wrangles, which he had led as chairman and army commander since the war erupted in 1983. (source)
He survives decades of warfare, only to die in peace time! (Well, "peace".)