Thursday, February 12, 2004

Somaliland is a self-declared republic in the northwestern third of what used to be Somalia. I think only one or two countries recognize it as an independent country and none of the major international bodies like the UN or the African Union. The country has intrigued me because unlike its former national partner Somalia, Somaliland is calm, peaceful, holds elections, has a free press and order generally reigns. Yet, the international community refuses to recognize its independence for fear of setting some kind of precedent. As a result, Somaliland can't receive foreign aid or ambassadors. I assume they have trouble traveling due to the question of passports (do other countries recognize Somalialand documents?). Yet it has achieved everything the world wishes the rest of Somalia would. A column in The Somaliland Times bemoans this state of affairs and cites Somaliland as a model for its neighbor. The future of Somalia is dark, and the only light in the tunnel is Somaliland, which in contrast to Somalia has shown the world a new method of solving armed conflict and got up from the ruins of war without help from the outside world. Somaliland is enjoying peace and has reversed the situation. Somaliland has created a solid base for social, economic and political justice, after securing peace and stability in the country. The piece concludes by urging the world community to recognize Somaliland as sovereign state. Recognizing Somaliland will help end the human suffering of Somalia. There is no other way out.

The new International Criminal Court has announced it will launch a probe into the northern Ugandan rebells. The ICC's first every inquiry will investigate claims of atrocities committed by the so-called Lord's Resistance Army in the east African nation. This occured after Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni filed a formal complaint with the body. The LRA has been fighting Museveni's government since 1986, ostensibly in a bid to replace it with an administration that would enforce the biblical Ten Commandments. But the rebel group is best known for its attacks against civilians and the abduction of some 20,000 children, who are forced to fight in rebel ranks or to serve as concubines for LRA commanders. The war has killed and maimed thousands of people and displaced over 1.2 million others in northern Uganda. The conflict has been described by a UN official as the world's worst forgotten humanitarian crisis, noted AFP.

The most prominent former rebel leader in Cote d'Ivoire has announced he will not stand in presidential elections. Guillaume Soro, communications minister in a national unity government, stated he would not stand in the poll scheduled for next year. BBC correspondents say his leadership of the New Forces has been increasingly challenged by one of its military chiefs, Ibrahim Coulibaly.

In Zimbabwe, MP dismissed on Tuesday assertions that talks between the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were taking place, according to The Daily Mail and Guardian. He declared it unacceptable that South African President Thabo Mbeki had stated that talks were occuring. "Whatever President Thabo Mbeki's agenda is in Zimbabwe, I hope to dear God it is in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe," Roy Bennett, a senior MDC official, said. This would be a welcome change.

The East African reported a bizarre story of 'Drunk and Disorderly' ChimpsAttacking Ugandan Children. Chimpanzees in western Uganda are increasingly raiding illegal brewing operations in forested river valleys and getting drunk on the country beer. Once intoxicated, they become hostile and attack and at times kill human children, parks officials say, the weekly reported. A scientist noted that the technique used by the chimps to kill or maim the children mirrored the way they tear apart other prey, suggesting that they snatched the children to eat them. "In most cases they bite off the limbs first before disembowelling them, just as they would the red colombus monkey, which is among their favourite prey," he said.

And finally, the final of the African Nations Cup will feature a first ever North African derby. Hosts Tunisia and fellow Magrhebians Morocco will meet in the final of African soccer's signature event. Long time underachievers, Morocco reaches the final for the first time since winning the tournament for the only time in 1976. Tunisia has never lifted the continental trophy despite being beaten finalists in 1965 (when they also hosted the tournament) and in 1996.


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