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Published 4th August 2000

Vol 41 No 16

Masters of war

The UN's latest probe into the arms-for-gems trade is exposing the political and business networks behind West Africa's wars

The sanctions gumshoes are on the trail again. This time, they have Liberian and Burkinabè Presidents Charles Taylor and Blaise Compaoré in their sights. A United Nations' panel of experts investigating links between diamond and arms trafficking in Sierra Leone is due to report back by the end of October. It will look at Liberia's and Burkina Faso's compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1306, which bans trading in diamonds from Sierra Leone's rebel-held areas. Should it produce strong evidence of Taylor's and Compaoré's involvement, then their governments may face UN sanctions At a public hearing of the Security Council's Sanctions Committee on 31 July-1 August, speaker after speaker inveighed against Taylor's and Compaoré's fuelling of the war in Sierra Leone and their profiting from the diamonds smuggled out by the Revolutionary United Front. The plain language used by the finger-pointers and the public naming-and-shaming of Taylor's and Compaoré's South African, British, Lebanese and Ukrainian business associates broke decisively with UN traditions of diplo-speak. This surge of energetic diplomacy has shocked many Sierra Leoneans and others caught up in the country's decade-long war.

Tracking Angola's gems

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A scheme to register diamonds and diggers may help to regulate the trade

Angola has started registering the first of 300-350,000 garimpeiros, the 'informal' diamond diggers who find stones where the big companies don't look. This is the government's lat...

War against peace

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The peace movement is gaining support but not from the politicians

A congress for peace held at Luanda's Catholic University on 18-21 July might sound like a bland affair. Yet by bringing together over 20 churches with politicians and non-governme...

Now the economic battle

Despite all the killling, the government has to worry more about money than politics

Several hundred troops from the President's old ally, Angola, ensure his regime's security; the Congo of Denis Sassou-Nguesso Mark II is still far from salvation. The 1,300 staff o...

Copper quarrels

Government and business still argue despite the long awaited copper sell-off

Zambia's ruling politicians had hoped that selling off the government's ailing copper-mines would bring benefits in time for next year's elections (AC Vol 41 No 14). The slow and p...



Some of the questions we ask may be too personal but our aim is to ensure that you will not become a burden on the British taxpayer'. This daunting message, posted up in Arabic, gr...

Look who's here!

Investment in Africa has become a feature of Saudi Arabian Prince Al Walid bin Talal's business, suggesting that the Arab world's preeminent multi-billionaire sees the continent as...

New frontiers

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has taken a lead in wooing new partnerships in the Middle East and Africa and his senior officials are following up to secure lucrative deals.

Transparency test

Not much is going right in the government's efforts to relaunch licensing of prime oil exploration acreage: it had cancelled many awards made under military rule. The present round...