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Published 4th February 2004

Vol 45 No 3


Silencing the guns

After the fund-raising conference in New York, the focus shifts to disarmament and political reconciliation

The United Nations and the United States have a mutual interest in trumpeting the prospects for peace in Liberia. With 15,000 troops - the biggest peacekeeping force in the world - sent to stabilise a country of 3.3 million people who are desperately tired of war and with half a billion dollars of aid in prospect, the joint US-UN mission offers Liberia the best chance of peace since the the civil war started in 1990. It resuscitates the USA's multilateral pretensions after last year's debacle over Iraq; equally, it boosts the UN's credentials to run mammoth peacekeeping operations. Progress in Liberia will help both sides' diplomacy. US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan were due to jointly host a Liberia fund-raising conference in New York on 6 February and expected to talk up the hopes of a much needed UN success in peacekeeping and reconstruction. Already, they've have had some success in drawing in more aid funds from the European Union and Japan. Although the diplomatic weight of Washington behind the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is a fraction of that in Iraq, some UN officials believe the Liberia story will have a happier ending. President George Bush's government is effectively underwriting UNMIL, partly in response to local and international criticism of its foreign policy. Successful peace-making in war-torn Liberia will play well in this year's US elections and offer Washington bargaining chips in other negotiations across the UN. The appointment of Jaques Paul Klein, a former advisor to the US military command in Europe, as the UN Secretary General's Special Advisor brought in diplomatic and financial support from Washington.

Strong scent

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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A heady whiff of vengeance pervades the parties' campaigns against corruption

Ghana's most popular song these days is 'Scent noo, agye bebiara' ('The smell is everywhere', in Twi). Its subject is corruption, still a key political issue three years after the ...

Kaiser's bill

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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It's election year and President John Kufuor wants to make the struggling economy look good. He promised his party's wealthy patrons a golden age for business; so far, mostly forei...

Roller-coaster rand

Orthodox policies and populist gestures aim for a winning electoral strategy

Two years ago the value of South Africa's currency, the rand, was plummeting so fast that the government, suspecting a conspiracy of speculators, opened an investigation. Then the ...

Jail to the chief

Personal and political rivalries are helping ex-President Frederick Chiluba's defence

Zambia's constitution provides that the Director of Public Prosecutions cannot be sacked or removed from office until his conduct has been investigated by a tribunal of judges. So ...

Replaying the aid game

Transforming Europe means changing its post-colonial trade relations too

With ten new members coming aboard in May, a new constitution the subject of fierce debate and the European Parliament facing elections in May 2004, the European Union is in a stat...


Gems to oil

Claims by Diamondworks, a South African-based, Canadian-registered company with a colourful history in mining and security (AC Vol 44 No 15), to have secured oil trading rights in ...

Going Dutch

Peace hopes are rising again after the 19-20 January talks at the Hague between President Domitien Ndayizéyé and Agathon Rwasa, leader of the only militia still fight...

Family at war

The network of family and Esangui clan ties that underpins the presidency of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is deeply divided. The trigger was December's coup attempt by General Agu...

Pohamba steps up

The battle to succeed President Sam Nujoma is heating up after Hifikepunye Pohamba announced he would stand for president of the governing South West African People's Organisation.