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Vol 39 No 22

Published 6th November 1998

Annan and Africa

African wars and American funds top the list of the Secretary General's problems for the next three years

Nearly two years into the job, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has implemented tough cost-cutting reforms while winning back some of the organisation’s diplomatic kudos. Yet sadly for the 60-year-old Ghanaian diplomat, the UN’s worst problems – in terms of wars and failed economies – are still in Africa. In the longer term, Annan’s success in carving out a more effective role for the UN in Africa will be a key yardstick of his tenure. The UN role in successful African operations (the restoration of an elected government in Sierra Leone and a preventive peacekeeping deployment in Central African Republic) is far outweighed by the unresolved conflicts in which the UN is under pressure to intervene, such as Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Sudan, Ethiopia-Eritrea and Rwanda.

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