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Published 28th September 2001

Vol 42 No 19

Everyone's catastrophe

The slaughter in the USA creates more economic and political problems for Africans

Every African government sent condolences to Washington after the attacks of 11 September and popular sympathy everywhere was with the victims. However, opinion is divided on Washington's diplomatic and military response. Many African nationalists complain that the loss of up to 7,000 United States' civilians prompts a global war, while small attention is paid to the African wars and economic crises which kill more people than that every week. Religious tolerance is threatened by religious caricatures, both Muslim and Christian. In Nigeria's Middle Belt town of Jos, fighting between Christians and Muslims restarted after 11 September, leaving more than 500 people dead. In the north-western state of Zamfara, the Islamic Youth League organised a 'celebratory march' that evening. In South Africa's eastern city of Port Elizabeth that same week, a mob smashed up an Islamic centre. Several rogue states hope to profit from the disaster. Liberia's President Charles Taylor, whose regime is under United Nations sanctions for backing the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone, sent condolences to President George W. Bush, then called in Liberia's Muslim clerics and urged them to abjure extremism. Opposition militias in Somalia hope to weaken Abdulkassim Hassan's transitional regime by accusing it of promoting Islamism. There were big demonstrations in favour of Usama bin Laden, Bush's 'prime suspect', in Mogadishu last weekend. Sudan's National Islamic Front regime, once host to Usama, now promises full cooperation with the USA.

Where Usama fits in

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Sudan and Saudi Arabia hold the key to the movement blamed for the raid on America

The Islamist international movement, which has suddenly drawn half the world into a major confrontation, has roots in Africa. It was founded in its modern, radical, manifestation a...

Dialogue in Addis

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The many sides in Congo's wars have started talking; young President Kabila may yet prevail

Two big questions face former President Ketumile Masire of Botswana as he prepares to organise Congo-Kinshasa's political conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 15 October: who sh...


The President has gaoled the reformers ahead of the ruling party's congress

Critics of President Issayas Afeworki complain about his autocratic style. On 18 September, he proved their point, when six of his critics in the ruling People's Front for Democrac...


Negating the negatives

There is growing concern in Kigali and Bujumbura about the consequences of efforts by Congo-Kinshasa's President Joseph Kabila to expel the 'negative forces', the hardline militias...

Dodgy dinars

British authorities have seized a consignment of fake Bahraini dinars which arrived in the country allegedly via the Chadian presidency.

Koma going

The feeble opposition should be strengthened by the imminent retirement of Kenneth Koma, veteran leader of the Botswana National Front. His BNF critics walked out in 1998 to form t...

Stand to ATTention

By the end of October Mali's national hero, General Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT), will almost certainly announce that he'll stand in next year's presidential election. ATT is ...