Friday, December 26, 2003

BENIN AIR CRASH -- CONTE WINS GUINEA POLL -- EXPENSIVE MOZAMBIQUE DEMOCRACY
A Christmas Day plane crash claimed over 100 lives in Benin, reports the BBC. The plane crashed shortly after take off from the West African country's commercial capital Cotonou. Most of the victims are believed to be Lebanese nationals going home for the holiday. The plane reportedly hit a building at the end of the runway as it was taking off.

Guinean head of state Gen. Lansana Conté was unsurprisingly re-elected in an election boycotted by the main opposition parties. Conté won nearly 96% of the vote, according to the BBC, while his only opponent, a little known figure, won barely over 4%. While the results were unsurprising, the reported turnout figure of nearly 83% has been met with incredulity. The main opposition parties called for their supporters to boycott the polls and all reports indicated they stayed away in large numbers. Gen. Conté's re-election means he will serve until 2010... assuming he lasts that long. By his own admission, the general, who took power in a 1984 military coup, is in ill-health and few believe he will live beyond a few more years.

The secretary-general of Mozambique's ruling Frelimo party muses that the country's democratic model might be too expensive. Armando Guebeza, who will be Frelimo's 2004 presidential candidate, told the Mozambican News Agency that a donor-funded form of democracy might prove unstable. Guebeza praised the current system for expressing "fundamental values that should never be called into question" only that he hoped it could be done more cheaply.

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