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Published 11th July 2003

Vol 44 No 14


Liberia

Meltdown in Monrovia

Sending peacekeepers into the capital without a political plan could cause yet more chaos and killing

Next week, the first component of 1,000 West African peacekeepers is due in Liberia to enforce a fragile ceasefire between President Charles Taylor's crumbling government and his rebel opponents. However, there is no political plan. No one knows whether Taylor will take up Nigeria's offer of asylum, thus removing himself and the pretext for the continuing conflict. Few people know the intentions of the rebel groups the Liberians United for Reconstruction and Democracy (LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (Model). Will they emulate their forerunner militias, which in 1990 after ousting President Samuel Kanyon Doe tortured him to death and then began a seven-year war among themselves? Then a force of West African peacekeepers was sent in to stem the chaos with minimal support from outside the region. This time, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan wants to bring in a broader-based force, with substantial logistical help and perhaps some marines from the United States. The latest peacekeeping plan was worked out between Annan and senior African officials meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, on 9 July, ahead of the African Union (AU) summit. It follows weeks of peace talks in Ghana and crisis talks in Washington as pressure mounted on President George Bush's government to help Liberia, just as he embarked on his 7-12 July tour of Africa. As in Congo-Kinshasa, Annan has acceded to US pressure and appointed a senior US diplomat, Jacques Paul Klein, as his Special Envoy to Liberia in the hope that this might persuade Washington to give serious backing to a joint UN-AU peacekeeping operation. Klein has high-level military experience: he was formerly Political Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of the US European Command. After appointing Klein on 8 July, Annan ordered senior UN officials back to Monrovia to prepare for a humanitarian relief operation.


Diplomacy central

President Kufuor's government is reaping new benefits from its regional security role

Accra has become the centre for the inchoate efforts to end Liberia's civil war after weeks of hosting inconclusive peace talks and now, planeloads of foreign military planners. Pr...


The nearly government

The latest political deal holds out a hope of stabilising the east after five years of horror

The politicians missed the 30 June deadline for a new national government and army. However (under heavy United Nations' pressure) they stitched up a last-minute deal and the presi...


Leaving the door open

The latest strongman needs democratic frontmen to bring aid and recognition

It is a measure of the uncertainty and wariness surrounding the Central African Republic's new government that the Mozambican leader explained to the world on 6 July that Bangui wa...


Mogae plays the Khama card

Traditional leadership and diamond money keep a stable democracy going

Botswana's democratic reputation rests on its constitution, whereby the president is chosen by the governing Botswana Democratic Party and duly voted into office by the elected par...



Pointers

Kidnapped I

Churches, the governing United Democratic Front, the United States' Save the Children Fund and the Muslim Association of Malawi were early casualties of Malawi's 'war on terrorism'...


Kidnapped II

Just in time for President George W. Bush's visit to Gaberone on 10 July, a row has blow up over allegations that five suspected supporters of Al Qaida were kidnapped in Malawi by ...


The Fund's no fun

President Levy Mwanawasa's government agreed a budget for 2003 with the International Monetary Fund and overspent it by 612 billion kwacha; the IMF's man in Lusaka, Mark Ellyne, sa...


Get a move on

'It's the clock. The time for me is up... it's time to move on'. Thus Charles Utete explained his retirement in April. President Robert Mugabe, who at 79 is 15 years older, said hi...