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Editorial correspondence | Back to Politics | Back to the world news

The truth about Rwanda
A mess in Ivory Coast
Why Somalia matters
Why Liberia matters
The Islamic war spreads to Malawi
The end of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe heading for mass starvation
Liberian freedom-fighters advance in Liberia
Hundreds of civilians massacred in Uganda by Sudan-backed rebels
Madagascar on the verge of a civil war
Jonas Savimbi, pro-US terrorist
Democracy in Africa?
Why Saddam and Milosevic, but not Charles Taylor?
The world leaves Africa behind
Ugandans choose a new dictator
Zimbabwe challenges the postcolonial status-quo

  • (November 2004) The truth about Rwanda Romeo Dallaire was a Canadian general in charge of peacekeeping in Rwanda. He was the last United Nations representative to try to protect the Tutsis when the Hutus began their genocidal campaign. In fact, he was the only one to try to stop the carnage.
    In his recently published book, "Shake Hands With The Devil", he tells the story of how 800,000 civilians were killed in a few days, the massacre showed live in tv, amid the complete indifference of the world community. He tells of how his United Nations troops were ordered to stay out of trouble. He tells of how France sold weapons to the very Hutus who were doing the killing and then sent troops (when the carnage was over) to protect the very Hutus who had committed the genocide.
    In january 1994 (three months before the genocide) he wrote to his superior at the United Nations that he feared a genocide was about to happen. When the massacre began, the same person at the United Nations told him to keep a low profile. That same person ordered Dallaire to fire only if fired upon: do not fire just to defend civilians who are being massacred. His superior told him that his troops "cannot - repeat cannot - take an active role".
    That official of the United Nations was Kofi Annan. Instead of being punished, he was later promoted to secretary general of the entire organization. A few years later, the very same man who had ordered not to fight the genocidal militias in Rwanda tried to stop the Allies from fighting against another master of genocide, Saddam Hussein. Kofi Annan may not be a genius or a nice man, but at least he is consistent.
    Blame must be shared by many parties. First and foremost, the United Nations: all the people involved appear to be unbelievably incompetent, particularly Jacques Roger Booh-Booh, who was in charge of the mission to Rwanda. How is it possible that a rich organization like the United Nations cannot hire competent people?
    Dallaire's book accuses Belgium and France of complicity in the genocide, but is actually quite forgiving towards them. "Comspiracy to Murder", by Linda Melvern, is much franker about the role that president Mitterrand had in arming the Hutu militias.
    The USA's main accuser is... Bill Clinton himself. In his own memoirs, Clinton admits that there was no political will to stop the carnage: the USA knew exactly what was happening but simply pretended it didn't know. Clinton writes: "we could have saved lives".
    But blame must be shared also by the western masses. Belgium and France were the main allies of Rwanda, and had their own interests at stake. But it was the Belgian and French that would not have supported a massive intervention to save African lives. As Dallaire writes, very Europeans are willing to risk their soldiers to save Africans. In fact Europeans, showed precisely that attitude when it came to do the same thing in Iraq (indifference when Saddam was massacring people, outcry when someone tried to stop Saddam). The European public is willing to intervene only "after" the fact, only when the proof is overwhelming that a terrible crime has been committed. Then the European public shows its "generosity" (and thousands of creative writers try to absolve European indifference via conspiracy theories that inevitably place all the blame on the USA).
    The international community is powerless to prevent such massacres because the public opinion in Europe and elsewhere is opposed to invest money and soldiers to preventing them. Had we prevented the massacre, today we would have no evidence, no proof, that a massacre was about to happen. If you prevent a crime, you cannot prove that you prevented a crime, because the crime was never committed. If you kill anyone while preventing the crime, you will be accused of being the one who committed a crime.
    In particular, had the USA prevented the massacre in Rwanda, today the USA would have no evidence, no proof, that it saved the lives of 800,000 people, because those 800,000 Rwandans would be still alive. On the other hand, there would be evidence that the USA invaded a "peaceful" country and killed hundreds or thousands of Hutus. There would probably still be USA troops in Rwanda, i.e. an "occupation". The Hutus would be the victims. Millions of Europacifists would have marched in the streets to support them and accuse the USA of imperialist aggression against a country that did not threaten anyone. And, of course, someone would write a book about the Jewish conspiracy to invade Rwanda and someone would make a documentary (awarded at the Cannes film festival) about the existence of oil reserves in Rwanda.
    The reason noone stopped the massacre is simple: the international community is strongly opposed to preventing massacres.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) A mess in Ivory Coast. Here is a brief summary of the recent history of Ivory Coast: in 1999, general Robert Guei seizes power; in 2000, Laurent Gbagbo wins rigged elections. (Nothing happens without France's approval, so it is likely that France was behind Gbagbo's "coup"). The opposition objects, and France eventually brokers a power-sharing agreement between Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, leader of the opposition, but (2002) soldiers mutiny, forming three rebel groups, drawing fighters from Liberia and Sierra Leone, and starting a civil war; the first casualty of the civil war is general Guei, who, widely blamed for the insurrection, is killed by pro-government troops. The United Nations decides to send peacekeeping troops, and the first country to volunteer is France (which also happened to be the country that asked the United Nations to send peacekeeping troops). The USA gives its approval, probably to thank Chirac for getting out of the way in Iraq (see How France is trying to win the peace). France sends troops in Ivory Coast, and initially seems to provide some ground to find a compromise, but then the government starts accusing France of taking sides with the rebels. Last week the government kills nine French soldiers, and now France retaliates by destroying the entire airforce of Ivory Coast, seizing strategic locations and sending many more troops (de-facto, France has now invaded Ivory Coast).
    It is difficult to take sides because: Gbagbo is far from being a democratically elected president, hundreds of people were killed for voting the wrong way in 2000, he was defeated in a non-presidential election of 2001, and his regime still tolerates slavery; but, on the other hand, the rebels are almost certainly funded from abroad (otherwise they couldn't continue the fighting and even win several battles) and include mercenaries who are nothing but serial killers.
    But we can all agree on one point: it was a mistake for the United Nations to authorize a de-facto French invasion of Ivory Coast. Not because it was a bad idea to send foreign peacekeeping troops, but because France is too hated in Africa. Nobody in Africa believes that the French are honest brokers. Everybody suspects that they are protecting their colonial interests, as they have always done. The fact that France's president is Chirac (suspected of involvement in several African coups) does not help France's reputation. The United Nations should have sent African troops, or USA/British/Australian troops, or Italian troops or whatever. France has a vested interest in defending its own colonial interests, and it is only exacerbating the distrust between the two belligerents.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2004) Why Somalia matters People who claim that Saddam Hussein should not have been removed with an invasion, but should have been removed by a popular insurrection, have not studied the case of Somalia. When the regime of Muhammad Siad Barre fell in 1991, civil war erupted among the Somali clans, and a piece of the country (Somaliland) even declared independence. The chaos was so terrifying that in 1992 the United Nation voted to send peacekeeping troops (led by the USA), despite the fact that Somalia had virtually no economic value for the big powers. Fighting by clans had already claimed 300.000 lives, twenty times more than in Iraq. Worse: the clans had already managed to build their own armies, and easily expelled the United Nations soldiers (notably, the USA forces). Somalia was doomed. It has lived in chaos ever since, largely forgotten by the rest of the world. After the 2001 terrorist attacks, the USA has taken advantage of the sudden change of heart by some of Somalia's most powerful warlords, and has used Somalia as an unofficial military base, but life in Somalia has never truly improved. If nothing else, fighting has decreased. The various factions signed a peace treaty in 1997 and another one in 2002. But certainly many people miss the old regime of Barre. The civil war that removed Barre caused a much bigger problem. They certainly don't agree with the "pacifists" who think we should have let Iraq go the way of Somalia. The "pacifists" claim that the mess in Iraq is sending away even the United Nations and humanitarian organizations: Somalia has had no significant presence of either in ten years. (The difference is that in Iraq basic humanitarian aid is provided by the invading armies, whereas in Somalia there is absolutely nobody to protect you from a rapist or to fix a broken water pipe).
    The worst part of the Somali tragedy is that the country has not only fallen apart, but has virtually ceased to exist as an independent country. Other countries (both neighbors and foreign powers) use it for their purposes. Because there is no central power, Somalia cannot complain, cannot defend itself and cannot enforce basic international treaties. Nobody has ever reproached Ethiopia for invading large sectors of northern Somalia. Nobody complained when the USA landed in Somalia and arrested an Al Qaeda terrorist. Nobody seems worried that the Arabs have taken over the educational system in Somalia: more and more schools use Arabic as the language of their curricula. (Needless to say, these Arab "teachers" are mainly focusing on Islam and on raising a generation of Somalis ready to fight the infidels). Anti-globalization protesters who oppose trade between rich and poor countries don't seem to know that entire pieces of Somalia have been de facto sold to European and Arab concerns. Environmentalists who are busy complaining that Brazil wants to cut trees in the Amazon forest are totally indifferent to the fact that Somali beaches are being used by foreigners as dumps for nuclear waste. (See Somalia Watch).
    People who claim that Iraq has become a hotbed of terrorism because a foreign power removed its dictator (as opposed to a popular insurrection) should check what happened in Somalia (where a popular insurrection removed the dictator): not only has Somalia become a refuge for international terrorists, but there is no government that can fight them. Not only are people terrorized, but Somalia doesn't even have news media that can report it to the rest of the world.
    Thus, Somalia can teach the world that some things could have gone much worse in Iraq.
    On the other hand, the world should act to make sure that Somalia becomes a sovereign country again. The Somali people deserve their country. Unfortunately, contrary to what the "pacifists" claim, it takes an external power (possibly the strongest of them all) to make it happen. The ridiculous United Nations Organization (that runs away when there is danger) cannot achieve what the USA is achieving in Iraq: keeping the country together and fighting those who want to take advantage of the regime change.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2003) Why Liberia matters There are at least three reasons why the USA should invade Liberia (not just send one or two troops to defend its embassy):
    • It would avoid a humanitarian disaster. Thousands of people are being killed under the eyes of indifferent Americans.
    • Who in the world is going to be afraid of the USA if the USA can't even stop old-style gun fighting in a small, empoverished African country? Do we really expect the likes of Kim Jong Il and Khameini (soon to be armed with nuclear weapons) to obey the USA?
    • If Americans do not care for thousands of innocents killed in other parts of the world, how can they expect the rest of the world to care for innocents killed at the World Trade Center?
    • Anarchy is precisely what helps terrorism spread. Today Liberia is falling into chaos. Tomorrow the USA will be attacked by terrorists that took advantage of that chaos.
    Unfortunately, Liberia has no oil and has no influential refugees in Washington to pressure the Bush administration.
    Charles Taylor has conducted three ruthless wars of aggression: first, the civil war of Liberia; then the unrest in Sierra Leone; and then the unrest in Guinea. Each has been characterized by the killing, raping and maiming of thousands of innocents. In each instance Taylor was simply fighting for the diamonds, which are to Africa what coca is to Latin America. The perpetretors of the atrocities are physically local guerrillas, but nobody doubts that they have been trained and controlled by Taylor, and that the diamonds eventually end up in his pockets. (see Why Saddam and Milosevic, but not Charles Taylor?).
    USA intervention in Liberia will prove to the world that the USA is not just after oil.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (June 2003) The Islamic war spreads to Malawi. From Morocco to the Philippines, from the USA to India, from Russia to Sudan, from Nigeria to Tanzania: it is getting more and more difficult to deny that Islam is engaged in a religious crusade against the rest of the world. It has now reached as far south as Malawi, where Muslims rioted to defend some Al Qaeda terrorists. Once again, the riots took place after the crowd was encouraged by clerics during the friday prayers in the mosques. Once again, a country's stability is jeopardized by a Muslim minority, which is growing faster than any other ethnic group. Source: BBC News.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (March 2003) The end of Zimbabwe. When Robert Mugabe became president of Southern Rhodesia (soon to be renamed Zimbabwe), the former British colony boasted the best infrastructure in Africa: railroads, roads, airports, social services, plentiful of electricity, a surplus of agricultural produce, a wealth of minerals. It was a net exporter of goods and a net importers of skilled labor.
    Despite the fact that Rhodesian were obviously much better off than any of their neighbors, Mugabe decided that change was needed. First he hired body guards from North Korea to watch over him. Then he began experimenting with socialism. It was yet another "socialist" story from Africa: gross national product collapsed, corruption became pervasive, unemployment spread, people were denied services and education. He took advice from the Soviet Union and from Cuba. He decimated the opposition and the Ndebele (the second largest ethnic group). In 1991 he gave asylum to Menghitsu, the butcher of Ethiopia (who still lives near Mugabe). Suddenly, Zimbabwe became a poor, troubled country, whose friends were all on the wrong side of the barricades. As communist regimes fell around the world, Mugabe was more alone than ever. When the drought came, and his own ministers and his own wife were caught stealing food from the country, the people of Zimbabwe began to rebel.
    Mugabe come up with a new explanation for all of Zimbabwe's troubles: white people caused all the problems (never mind that Zimbabwe was rich and functional when those white people were running the country). Anti-white rhetoric conveniently replaced the old Marxist slogans, and expropriating the land of the whites became the country's priority. Mugabe never mentions the fact that an old law grants the government priority in purchasing any white property that goes on sale, and virtually all white farms had been for sale at one time or another, and the government had never even tried to purchase one. But, suddenly, the government had decided that those white farms, ignored for 20 years even when white people did not want them, were the real problem that needed to be solved. It was solved by sending gangsters to expel white farmers.
    Unfortunately, white farmers were producing the vast majority of Zimbabwe's food. The black people who took their farms (mostly thugs of the Mugabe militias) had no intention of "working". They simply looted the farms: they let the weeds kill the crop and let the animals die. Black farmers were not any luckier: hundreds of thousands of black farmers and of black farm workers were also subjected to the same kind of expropriation, and sometimes they also lost their lives (very often their wives and their daughters).
    Now that white land had been expropriated, Mugabe was left with no domestic scapegoats. He turned to Zaire (Congo). He sent troops to "defend" the Congolese and his troops looted the mines of Congo. The loot was shared by Mugabe's inner circle. After devastating his own country, Mugabe helped devastate another country. He is beginning to export his incompetence, violence and corruption.
    Meanwhile, the white farmers that have been expelled from Zimbabwe have opened new farms in their new countries. Many went to Zambia, invited by the (black) government. Some went to Mozambique. Some went to Australia and New Zealand. Being skilled and hard-working, they have easily found money to start new enterprises and are contributing to the economic booms of those countries. While drunken bandits destroy their old farms in Zimbabwe,
    Now Mugabe has a new great idea. He has asked Beijing (a friendly dictatorship) to provide skilled farmers for Zimbabwe, who can restart the farms. After expelling the "white" people who had been in Zimbabwe for a century (who were as Zimbabweans as most of its "black" people), Mugabe has decided to import "yellow" people and give them the lands that were developed by the "whites". This confusing story of skin colors may have a very unhappy ending: the black people of Zimbabwe will become slaves again, and they will even be poorer and less free.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2003) The great African swindle. Western, and in particular European, countries donate money to corrupt African governments, knowing that almost none of it will reach the people. Those dictators simply pocket the money and invest it back in Europe. Europeans are proud that their countries provide so much "aid" to African countries, but in reality they are simply supporting dictators.
    France once provided Central Africa with an amount of money equal to the country's gross national product. Sounds generous? The whole amount was spent to pay for the inauguration of cannibal dictator Bokassa as "emperor". Of course, France proudly listed the entire amount under "humanitarian aid".
    Even when western countries provide true help for real problems, one should first try to remove the cause of the problem. For example, the 2003 famine in Ethiopia is largely a natural catastrophe, comparable to an earthquake or a hurricane, but the famine of the past were caused by Menghitsu's communist policies, and "humanitarian aid" to Menghitsu simply helped him cause more disaster and kill more people. Investing that "humanitarian aid" to remove Menghitsu would have saved a lot more lives. Sometimes, bombs are more humanitarian than food.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2002) Zimbabwe is heading for mass starvation. Robert Mugabe is a senile leader who is desperately holding on to power. He lost the recent elections to Morgan Tsvangirai but refused to leave. This has caused a crisis of legitimacy: Mugabe is simply not recognized by the majority of people in Zimbabwe. Mugabe's militias are now resorting to torture and intimidation He has encouraged veterans of wars and assorted looters to seize farms owned by white citizens of Zimbabwe. This has turned millions of acres of good land into a wasteland. Zimbabwe used to export food, but will soon be starving. The damage caused by the senile Mugabe could amount to total devastation that would last for more than a generation: not only political chaos (thugs operate virtually unchecked throughout the country) but also the destruction of any economic infrastructure. It is a shame that the rest of Africa stands by and watches while this crazy old man turns a once wealthy country into another Congo.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (May 2002) Hundreds of civilians massacred in Uganda by Sudan-backed rebels. As part of one of the most senseless wars currently being fought in the world, about 470 civilian were killed in an attack on six villages in northern Uganda by gangs of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which are based in lawless areas of southern Sudan. The LRA makes no mystery that civilians are being murdered as punishment for not supporting the LRA.
    The LRA is unique in the way it built an army of child soldiers (an army estimated at 5,000 children). Children as young as six years old are kidnapped, tortured and raped by the LRA. They are brainwashed into becoming soldiers (often by having them carry out brutal executions against other children). Girls are enslaved to provide sexual services to the commanders. Countless children have been found dead of disease or starvation. Countless children have died in combat because the commanders use them as human shields against the Ugandan army and against the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) that controls southern Sudan.
    The Lord's Resistance Army was created in 1988 by a Christian madwoman of the Acholi tribe, Alice Lakwena, who claimed to be a medium capable of hearing the Holy Spirit, and whose agenda was to create a Christian fundamentalist state with the Ten Commandments as its constitution. Her niece Joseph Kony, a former altar boy, inherited the leadership of the army and of the Holy Spirit movement, and turned up the level of savagery, especially after receiving reinforcements and money from Sudan in 1997.
    Only one country supports and arms the LRA: the Sudanese government, a Islamic fundamentalist regime that is set to destabilize neighboring countries such as Ethiopia and Uganda that have not embraced Islam. The conflict has displaced 200,000 northern Ugandans from their villages.
    Children kidnapped by the LRA are also on sale, usually in exchange for weapons. Buyers are mainly Arabs, but also some Western humanitarian groups.
    The reforms in Sudan, where the regime has become a target of USA anti-terrorism investigations, led to a 2001 treaty between Sudan and Uganda whereby Sudanese help for the brutal gangsters was stopped and Uganda was allowed to fight them within Sudan. In April 2002 Uganda announced that all LRA camps had been taken and that Kony was on the run. Unfortunately, this has not stopped the carnage yet.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (May 2002) Liberian freedom-fighters advance in Liberia. Liberian president Charles Taylor finally knows how it feels. After terrorizing Liberians for many years, he is now under siege in Monrovia.
    The Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), supported by neighboring Guinea, was formed in 2000 by Liberian refugees and exiles. LURD's mission is to restore democracy in Liberia.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (April 2002) Madagascar on the verge of a civil war. It was too good to be true. Madagascar enjoyed a decade of economic growth. Long-time dictator Didier Ratsiraka allowed free elections, which were held in december 2001. Madagascar was becoming the envy of the African continent. Alas, Ratsiraka lost the elections, and that complicated everything. One thing is to allow free elections, another thing is to recognize its results. Ratsiraka, from his base in Toamasina, demands a second round of voting. Marc Ravalomanana, the mayor of Antananarivo who won the december elections in December and is now in charge of the capital, does not want to yield.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (February 2002) Jonas Savimbi, pro-US terrorist Occasionally, bad people do die: Jonas Savimbi, the leader of Angola's terrorists, died in february 2002. He was a close ally of the USA for most his life and, on the behalf of the USA, slaughtered half a million people, mostly civilians, in his homeland of Angola.
    Savimbi began his political career in 1966, spying for the Portuguese against the liberation movements. When Angola finally won that liberation war and became an independent country, Savimbi formed Unita and began fighting his own countrymen. The legitimate government of Angola turned to the Soviet Union for help. Savimbi took that golden opportunity and became the stooge of the USA in Angola. Officially, he was a hero (Ronald Reagan, one of the dumbest presidents of all times, called him "Angola's Abraham Lincoln", not knowing, of course, that Savimbi was an admirer of Chinese communist leader Mao Tze Tung), but in reality he personally killed civilians and even friends, masterminded terrorist campaigns and ran an illegal trade in diamonds, weapons, drugs, slaves and women that earned billions of dollars while his people were starving to death.
    American politicians regularly flocked to Savimbi's headquarters in the jungle, hailing the man who was fighting communism in Africa (no matter that he was also a psychotic killer). America's version of the fact was that Savimbi had been robbed of the presidency. Savimbi was received at the White House by president Reagan.
    In 1992 the government and Savimbi finally reached an agreements and elections were help, "monitored" by the USA (that tried in every possible way to favor Savimbi). Guess what: Savimbi lost the elections. Guess what: Savimbi did not accept the results of the elections and began fighting again. If the civil war of Angola had been a bloody mess before the elections, it became a truly horrendous tragedy after the elections. American media did not care much (no Americans involved) but, thanks to American weapons, Savimbi was staging a ruthless campaign of terrorism against the people of Angola.
    Bill Clinton, a little more capable than Reagan of telling a terrorist from a saint, decided to finally condemn Savimbi and support the legitimate government of Angola. Savimbi kept fighting. Finally, Savimbi was killed in combat.
    Very few people will cry for this ruthless terrorist. Thousands of people will still be killed for decades by the American landmines deployed by Savimbi around Angola.
    And very few Angolans will cry for Americans killed by terrorists.
    (April 2002: shortly after the death of their psycopathic leader, Unita rebels signed a truce with the government).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (December 2001) Democracy in Africa? In Angola president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos announced he will step down because he could not end the civil war against Jonas Savimbi's UNITA. In Zimbabwe virtual dictator Mugabe is under pressure to hold free and fair elections after years of economic and social devastation caused by his mad policies. Madagascar held elections, although it is not clear yet who the winner was: president Didier Ratsiraka or Antananarivo mayor Marc Ravalomanana. Namibia and Mozambique, all run by long-serving presidents, are expected to hold elections that will also change their leaderships.
    Zambia went throught, perhaps, the most dramatic change of attitude. Frederick Chiluba, who was elected in 1991 ending 27 years of rule by independence hero Kenneth Kaunda, was widely expected to resort to the usual African trick of changing the constitution to allow himself to run for president over and over again. The political system was believed to be as corrupt as everywhere else, i.e. that Chiluba will manage to get re-elected over and over again (especially since his party dominates the parliament). Surprisingly, Chiluba had to renounce his plan and accept to step down. Surprisingly, his party is likely to lose control of parliament. Surprisingly, there is a strong chance that one of the opposition candidates will win the elections. An even bigger surprise was the selection of Levy Mwanawasa to be the candidate of Chiluba's party: Mwanawasa had resigned to protest corruption precisely within that party. This will not necessarily change the plight of the Zambian people but it is a "first" for Africa, where governments usually change only after a bloodshed.
    Africa is no less corrupt and poor than used to be, but suddenly the idea of democracy seems to be taking hold. The implementation is still rough and far from perfect, but, then, didn't the United States elect a president who lost the election? At least, the idea that leaders must be elected by the people is being accepted even by (gasp) the leaders themselves.
    (February 2002: Even all the unrest that preceded and followed elections in Mozambique and Zimbabwe is a good sign. Compare with the absolute silence of the masses in the Arab world. Africans are taking to the streets to protest voting irregularities, while Arabs don't even get a chance to vote. Africans refuse to live with a less than perfect democracy, while Arabs have no clue what a democracy is, unless they emigrated away from the Arab world).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (December 2000) Why Saddam and Milosevic, but not Charles Taylor? The double standards applied by the West are sometimes comic. The West decided to fight a war against Saddam for invading Kuwait and a war against Milosevic for discriminating against Albanians. Charles Taylor began a ruthless civil war in 1989 that formally ended in 1997 with elections won by the same Taylor. The "peace" was brokered by several African nations, notably Taylor's mentors Libya and and Burkina Faso. (See this timeline of Liberia). Charles Taylor has since conducted three ruthless wars of aggression: first, the civil war of Liberia; then the unrest in Sierra Leone; and now the unrest in Guinea. Each has been characterized by the killing, raping and maiming of thousands of innocents. In each instance Taylor was simply fighting for the diamonds, which are to Africa what coca is to Latin America. The perpetretors of the atrocities are physically local guerrillas, but nobody doubts that they have been trained and controlled by Taylor, and that the diamonds eventually end up in his pockets. The efforts of Nigeria and the United Nations to broker a peace have only resulted in legitimizing Taylor's power in Liberia and emboldened him into ever expanding his destabilizing operation. Why not, since nobody is punishing him?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (June 2000) Zimbabwe challenges the postcolonial status-quo. Robert Mugabe wsa long worshipped by Zimbabweans as the hero who fought against Zimbabwe's version of "apartheid" and eventually seized power from the white minority. He was briefly challenged by his rival Joshua Nkomo but in 1987 the two made peace and became one party, the party that has dominated Zimbabwe's politics ever since. The outcome of a revolution and that internal feud has not been nice to the people: Zimbabwe's economy has been depressed and shows no sign of recovery. Mugabe underestimated discontent in the cities, where a humble newcomer, Morgan Tsvangirai, has made strides towards challenging the ruling party. He has promised to improve the economic conditions of everybody and to protect white farmers who have been increasingly under attack by Mugabe-friendly mobs. Mostly, he represents change in a country that has not seen real change in the twenty years since liberation (and one third of whose inhabitants were born after that day). Tsvangirai's party lost parliament by only 2% of the votes. Tsvangirai is now emboldened to run for president in 2002. If elections are fair, Mugabe's changes of stopping the tide are close to zero.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (June 2000) Ugandans choose a new dictator. It is hard to blame Ugandas for choosing to give Yoweri Museveni a mandate to keep parties out of politics. Since he seized power and basically outlawed parties, Museveni has turned Uganda from the most depressed political system in Africa (remember Amin?) to a relatively model country. Museweni dared to say what many have known for a long time: that parties in Africa tend to represent tribes, not political issues. When a party wins an election or seizes power with a coup, it is not a new political system that wins, it is simply a tribe that imposes its will over the other tribes of the country. Eliminating parties is a way to keep racism out of politics.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (June 2000) The world leaves Africa behind. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only continent that did not show any economic progress from 1970 to 1999. With the notable exceptions of Ghana, Mozambique and Uganda, almost all African nations sank deep into poverty, hunger, AIDS and civil strife. In the 1960s, when they gained independence, African nations were far ahead than Far Eastern countries. Today, this sounds impossible. The Far East is one of the world's most fertile regions, home to some of the fastest growing economies on the planet. The combined gross national product of sub-saharan countries (300 billion dollars) is barely equal to Belgium's. Infrastructures are still at colonial levels: paved roads are a rarity and railways virtually don't exist. An average size country in the Far East has far more roads and railway tracks than the entire continent of Africa. Africa accounts for 70% of all AIDS cases, and almost 100% of the world's hunger. Very few African countries have developed reliable forms of political institutions. Old-style dictators are still the norm. Wars erupt suddenly and devastatingly. Crime is rampant everywhere. It may well be that Africa has never been a worse place to live than it is in the year 2000.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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