Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Elections set in Guinea, Côte Ivoire

December is likely to be a busy time in West Africa.

The Guinean military junta announced that the first round of presidential elections to replace the late Gen. Lansana Conté will be held on December 13, two months after scheduled legislative elections. Junta leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara recently declared that he would not be a candidate in those elections.

In neighboring Côte d'Ivoire, long overdue presidential elections will supposedly be held 'no later than December 6,' according to the Ivorian ambassador to the United Nations. He noted that the country's independent electoral commission promised elections between October 11 and December 6 of this year and that the exact date "will be announced by President [Laurent] Gbagbo in the next few days."

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Now on Twitter

You can now be notified of this blog's updates via Twitter.

Just go to and follow:


New email

This blog now has a new contact email address:

mofycbsj @


Friday, April 24, 2009

Escape from Eritrea

The BBC World Service had a harrowing documentary on the plight of those who escaped the giant prison known as Eritrea.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Liberian president on US TV

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will be on Comedy Central's The Daily Show With Jon Stewart to discuss her memoir This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President.

The show airs tonight at 11 PM Eastern US time and re-airs tomorrow at 10 AM, 2 PM and 8 PM Eastern.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean people really aren't out to get you

One of the books I'm presently reading is Chief of Station, Congo: Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone by Larry Devlin. Devlin was the first CIA agent in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, arriving five days after the country's independence from Belgium and beginning of its descent into chaos, chaos that was not entirely of its own making.

I'm not inclined to be sympathetic to a CIA special operations agent but it's an interesting read about a fascinating time. His take on the events is exactly what you'd expect but his candor is impressive.

Not surprisingly for a CIA agent, Devlin didn't think much of then-Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba. He didn't see Lumumba as a communist but thought he was erratic and naive and thus made the country vulnerable to Soviet influence.

Devlin complained [Lumumba's] paranoia infected troops who saw spies everywhere.

But then later adds that he received several messages from Director [of the CIA Allen] Dulles advising us that policy-makers shared our view that that we should to remove Lumumba from power.

He quoted a memo from Dulles stating that CIA headquarters concluded that his removal must be an urgent and prime objective and that under existing conditions, this should be a high priority of covert action.

Devlin added that he and his colleagues were already monitoring parliament and encouraging and guiding the actions of various parliamentary opposition groups that we had penetrated. We were also using Jacques [an editor] to insert anti-Lumumba articles in the country's leading newspaper.

The author also pointed out that [a]round this time one of our agents told us that a group of anti-Lumumba leaders had prepared a plan to assassinate him but then went on to lament that Lumumba's rival, President Joseph Kasavubu, was reluctant to endorse it.

Bear in mind that all this was after the country's two richest provinces had already declared independence, at the behest of influential Belgian mining interests.

So if Lumumba, who was kidnapped, tortured and finally assassinated a few months later, was "paranoid," then perhaps it was with good reason.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

When 'Never Again' happened again

Today is the 15th anniversary of the beginning of the Rwandan genocide during which at least 800,000 people were murdered. It was one of the world's worst atrocities of the century and certainly the worst to be covered during the age of cable news television. It occurred a year, almost to the week, after politicians and dignitaries in Washington solemnly promised 'Never again' while inaugurating the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Rwanda's New Times newspaper has an editorial on the commemoration.

Global Post has a good three part series...

-Part 1: Many Rwandan survivors only now starting to confront their trauma
-Part 2: One community works for forgiveness
-Part 3: TBA

In 2004, I wrote a long series of essays on the occasion of the 10th anniversary which gave a lot of information and background about the genocide.

They are as follows (yes, I know the images do not work):

-Ten years later (an intro)
-Pre-genocide history
-How the genocide unfolded
-Myths and realities about the genocide (Part 1)
-Myths and realities about the genocide (Part 2)
-The genocide's orphans
-Hate media and their role in the genocide
-International law and American law on genocide
-Post-genocide justice
-The post-genocide government
-Lessons and conclusions

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

CNN to re-air Black in America special this weekend

From a press release: In commemoration of the 41st anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, CNN (domestic) will be replaying Black in America – Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination. The special will re-air on April 4th and 5th at 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm ET and PT.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The most indebted country in the world had an interesting piece on Seychelles, which it describes as 'perhaps the most indebted country in the world.'

The archipelago has an $800 million national debt, approximately the size of its entire economy, for a population of only 87,000 people. The article blamed the decline in the fishing and especially tourist industries, on which the Seychelles are heavily dependent.

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