Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Power games

In COTE D'IVOIRE: A power struggle has erupted between President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny.

Gbagbo reinstated three senior civil servants suspended by Banny last month for their part in the dumping of toxic waste around Abidjan in September.

Banny replied that Gbagbo's action would bolster the culture of impunity in the country.

When the state broadcaster RTI ran the prime minister's statement, its director was sacked by the head of state.

The dispute was expected as Banny and his national unity government was essentially imposed on Gbagbo by the international community, since Gbagbo's constitutional mandate expired over a year ago. A recent United Nations Security Council resolution extended the president's mandate but gave some of his powers to the prime minister, but Gbagbo rejected the transfer of authority.

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In MAURITANIA, a military coup may be bringing democracy to the country. At least that's the politically incorrect but apparently accurate opinion of a columnist in South Africa's Daily Mail and Guardian.

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In the UNITED STATES: The daily Los Angeles Times ran an editorial urges the US Congress to renew a provision in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act that benefits the continent's nascent apparel industry. In 2004, the provision was re-authorized unanimously which is rare, especially for something in the textile industry which has a very strong lobby in Washington. The textile industry isn't opposing the measure, but a Congressional committee chairman is trying to tack unrelated goodies on to this provision.

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At the INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE: Guinea has filed a lawsuit against the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for the jailing and expulsion of a Guinean businessman, when he tried to recover debts. This happened during the last days of the Mobutu regime in then-Zaire.

The DRC replies that the businessman's companies were themselves part of the cycle of corruption that enveloped the country

The suit is for the inconceivably absurd amount of $36 billion.

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In the SUDAN: The country's dictatorship continues to deny that his country is in any way supporting the Janjaweed militias who are executing a genocide in the eastern Darfur region. But a special advisor to the head of state says otherwise. Minni Minnawi accuses the regime of quite active cooperation with the Janjaweed. "They know, everybody knows that the government is re-arming the Janjaweed, that the Janjaweed are activated even more than before somehow," he said.

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In the DR CONGO: The Daily Mail and Guardian reports that the eastern DRC near Goma has seen days of clashes between forces loyal to a dissident former general and the DRC's army that have killed at least three people. United Nations forces were drawn into the unrest yesterday.

A volcano erupted last night spewing lava into the region. The city of Goma is not threatened because another volcano is in its path.

Still, maybe the warlords in the area should consider it a warning from above.

But at least losing presidential candidate and (hopefully) former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba says he will accept defeat and become the civilian opposition leader. He will provide "strong republican opposition in the interests of the nation." Let's hope he means it.

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