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Vol 38 No 1

Published 3rd January 1997

Worlds apart

Better economic news in some countries but new conflicts in others means a wider gap between Africa's winners and losers

The selection of Ghana's Kofi Annan as Secretary General of the United Nations is a tremendous morale boost for Africa this year. Not only is Annan highly regarded by the industrial country paymasters of the UN and the developing country bloc, he has also had more than a decade of handson experience in peace-keeping operations in Bosnia, Mozambique, Rwanda and Somalia. But his honeymoon will be brief. In exchange for getting the United States' Congress to pay its US$1,500 million arrears, Annan will have to press forward quickly with a comprehensive programme of UN reform: to its finances, to its Security Council, to its economic and social agencies and the way it chooses its Secretary General. The major question being asked about Annan is whether he is tough and agile enough (he has made precious few enemies after 30 years in the UN) to push through these reforms. Former associates say that despite his affability, he is no pushover.

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