Monday, December 29, 2003

COTONOU AIR DISASTER BLAMED ON OVERLOADING -- LURD BLOCKS UN DEPLOYMENT
The BBC, and other media outlets, report that overloading is being blamed for the Cotonou air crash that killed over a hundred people, including 15 Bangladeshi UN peacekeepers. Lebanese officials indicated that they refused registration to the airplane in question, only to have it approved by Guinean authorities. Daily Mail and Guardian used the disaster to pose the question 'What's wrong with flying in Africa?' The South African paper interviewed experts who cited various reasons such as:

-"there is no structure for working practices or for maintaining checks on operations"
-Lack of "framework for radio communication, ie for navigation means"
-"There is no administration for this almost non-existent structure, only a semblance of organisation that exists solely on paper."
-Air companies which are "extremely unstable financial basis and they only want to make money, not to spend it, so it's tempting to get a hold of any old plane that can be exploited cheaply"


Liberia's LURD has UN peacekeeping troop deployment to Tubmanburg, in the northwest of the country, reports IRIN. The rebel insists it will block futher international deployment until details of the disarmement agreement are finalized.

Several rebel ministers have returned to Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire's main city, to participate in the government of national reconciliation. Tensions had increased since rebels initially withdrew from the government and it remains to be seen if the latest move will bring stability to the country, since many, including myself, wonder if President Laurent Gbagbo still has control of his partisans.

The Ghanaian Chronicle reported on a surprising comment by a leading politician. The general-secretary of Ghana's opposition National Democratic Congress insisted that opposition parties also rig elections. Although many tend to accuse sitting governments of manipulating elections, it is equally possible that opposition parties may also manipulate elections, particularly in their strongholds, revealed Dr. Josiah Nii Aryeh, in calling for stronger electoral safeguards to prevent such problems.

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