Monday, January 05, 2004

FOXES GUARDING THE HENHOUSE IN IVORY COAST -- TROUBLE IN MUGABE'S PARADISE
Four French soldiers are accused of robbing a bank in Ivory Coast they were supposed to be guarding, according to sources cited by the BBC. The men are accused of taking 58,000 euros from the bank in the northern rebel-held town of Bouake. The officials in Paris said the men were detained after allegedly trying to buy diamonds and gold. They are under judicial investigation by the French authorities. This certainly isn't going to help alleviate the anti-French hysteria that's rampant in Ivory Coast and fueled by politicians and pseudo-militias.

That the seizure of thousands of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe has failed to benefit large numbers of poor black farmers is not a surprise to clear seeing folks. That this was admitted by Zimbabwe's special affairs minister is quite shocking. John Nkomo conceded that "In some cases, the percentage of people who took up the farms that they were allocated has not been encouraging," adding that "In some cases, 40% of people who were allocated land have taken it up." The minister blamed lack of finance, saying that the farmers who wanted to take the land had difficulties obtaining bank loans, noted The Daily Mail and Guardian. This is curious since the forceable seizures of the farms cost the government nothing, so why are they sold to poor peasants rather than given? Isn't that the whole alleged point of the land "reform"? The opposition spokesman on land affairs said, "'They gave land to people who are not farmers, who are soldiers and police and civil servants. These people are working in towns. They are not interested in the land. They got the land for speculation purposes, so that they can sell it later." Oddly, Minister Nkomo broke from the party line in not blaming British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the problems or for the cloudy weather in Harare.

Cameroon's government has shut down twelve independent radio and television stations in the southwest of the country in a fresh crackdown on the media during the run-up to presidential elections due in October, according to international media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF). "Cameroon is on its way to becoming one of the most repressive countries in central Africa as far as freedom of expression is concerned," said Robert Menard, secretary-general of RSF, as quoted by The Daily Mail and Guardian.

Tottenham Hotspur soccer player Freddie Kanoute has announced that he will play for Mali in this month's African Nations Cup in Tunisia, despite pleas to the contrary from his club boss. Although Kanoute played for France at the youth levels, his parents Malian heritage meant that he could choose between France and the West African nation for senior international football. Tottenham's interim manager rained contempt upon the decision. "'Do you know the population of Mali? Neither do any of my players... I don't even know where Mali is," scorned David Pleat. The Nations Cup is Africa's most important soccer competition and arguably the third most prestigious continental competition in the world. Every tournament, numerous African players have breakout performances and are discovered and signed by European clubs.

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