Tuesday, February 10, 2004

$500 PLEDGED TO REBUILD LIBERIA -- FIRST PRIVATE RADIO STATIONS IN RWANDA SINCE GENOCIDE
Liberia was on the international agenda, however briefly, last week. First, donors at an international conference pledge US$500 million to help re-build the country and re-habilitate fighters. Let's hope that the money actually arrives, especially considering how instability in Liberia eventually spilled over the borders into Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire. A few days early, the group Human Rights Watch reported that the disarmament and rehabilitation of thousands of child soldiers in Liberia was vital to establishing peace, noting that much of the Liberian wars consisted of children shooting at other children.

Rwanda has ended its state radio monopoly. Last week. the government of Paul Kagame has authorized five new private radio stations to start broadcasting. This is a very sensitive topic in the country since private stations, now referred to as hate radio, played a critical part in the execution of the 1994 genocide. Two months ago, three high ranking members of the most infamous hate radio station were given long prison sentences for their role in inciting the massacres. Since 1994, only the state radio station and foreign broadcasters were allowed to broadcast inside Rwanda.

In a somewhat surprising remark Democratic Republic of Congo leader Joseph Kabila said international troops can leave this year. The Congolese leader said the security situation in the country was improving so fast that the 10,000 member United Nations' force will soon no longer be needed.

A disturbing item from an already instable country. A senior member of Ivory Coast's former rebels has been shot dead. The incident occurred amid reports of divisions within the New Forces movement. The BBC reported A statement by the rebels said Chief Adams Coulibaly was shot dead by accident in the northern town of Korhogo. Correspondents say there are fears that the rebel leader was shot by his colleagues within the movement.

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