UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Africa: PANA Press Review
Date Distributed (ymd): 960719
PANA News - Africa: Weekly Press Reviews
for July 12 and July 19.
Panafrican News Agency. B.P. 4056, Dakar, Senegal.
Tel: (221) 24-13-95; Fax: (221) 24-13-90;
12 Jul 96
DAKAR, Senegal (PANA) - Boutros-Ghali's bid for re-election as United Nations secretary-general, the summit of the Organisation of African Unity, elections in Niger and the establishment of Sierra Leone's Truth Commission, were among the leading issues discussed in the African press this week.
Boutros-Ghali's announcement seeking a second five-year term awakened the hostility of the United States government. The Lagos newspaper, Daily Times, said that while the U.S. claimed that its hostility was motivated by a desire to see a more efficient U.N. system, "the real reason behind Washington's moves may be nothing but sheer domestic politics."
It said: "It is no longer a secret that over the years, right wing elements in the United States have turned the world body into a favourite sport to be punched and vilified at every opportunity."
Consequently, it said, "In a re-election bid that is already badly tainted by Whitewater, Paula Jones and Filegate, Mr. Clinton has chosen to vote against Boutros-Ghali perhaps to deny his republican opponents an opportunity to attack his foreign policy. But he went too far."
Trimming the U.N. bureaucracy, democratising its Security Council, reducing the size of the U.S. contribution to the world body, it said, were all badly needed changes.
"Reforms of this magnitude, some observers have pointed out, go well beyond the purview of the secretary-general; it is an issue which the member states themselves must pursue vigorously," it said.
"Be that as it may, Africans must stand solidly behind Dr. Boutros-Ghali in his re-election campaign because as the first African to occupy that position, the secretary-general has acquitted himself quite well," it said.
He was called upon to occupy that position "at a crucial but difficult moment" in international relations. It noted that with the end of the cold war, there was a dramatic shift of world attention, to the countries of eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
"In spite of this, Boutros-Ghali ensured that Africa was not marginalised within the U.N. system," it said. "He supported peace-keeping operations in Angola, Mozambique, Liberia and Somalia."
Earlier this year, it noted, he launched a special 25 billion U.S.-dollar initiative for the development of Africa. "These factors, and the fact that past occupants of the world's highest public office have always had a second term, compel us to urge Africa to rally solidly behind Dr. Boutros-Ghali, to ensure that he is not denied a second term which is rightly his.
"Furthermore, Boutros-Ghali's second term would afford him the opportunity to realise the democratisation of the permanent membership of the Security Council, which the big boys have hitherto monopolised to the exclusion of large sections of the globe.
"The membership of the Security Council indeed poses the biggest paradox of our time, namely, that those who are weeping louder than the bereaved, calling for democracy in other countries, cannot see the need to democratise the U.N. to ensure that all the free nations of the world conduct their affairs in an atmosphere devoid of bullying and condescending inequality." Cotonou's Le Citoyen (The Citizen) and The Monitor, of Addis Ababa, agreed with the Daily Times.
Le Citoyen, a Beninese publication, commented on the endorsement given the Egyptian diplomat by the Organisation of African Unity.
"In fact, Africa has no reproach against Boutros Boutros-Ghali and his [first term] has been positive," Le Citoyen said.
"Mr Boutros-Ghali's major handicap is American hostility or, rather, Israeli hostility expressed through Bill Clinton, the U.S. president, who will be seeking a second term in office at the end of this year," it said. "In effect, Boutros-Ghali has become persona non grata [in the United States] because of his policy in the Near-East."
The Monitor noted U.S. assurances that it would not oppose the election of another African as secretary general.
"Although this is a good diplomatic compromise, Africans should not entirely leave the choice to be guided by the tastes of the United States. They will have to make their own independent choice and coordinate their diplomatic activities to this end, with other developing countries," the newspaper said. "There are, of course, a lot of educated and talented African diplomats that can fill Boutros-Ghali's shoes. Whether they are endorsing the re-election of Boutros Ghali' or any other African candidate, they will have to close ranks as they have recently done at the Yaounde Summit and [work] for the best interests of Africa," it said.
"By its style of debate, its decisions, the bold affirmation of pride in being African, Yaounde '96 "presented for the O.A.U. an era of concrete resolutions," The official Cameroon Tribune said.
But Le Quotidien, Cameroon's first privately-owned daily, said it wished the resolutions will not end up as unimplemented "pious wishes".
La Nouvelle Expression, another Yaounde newspaper, saw the conference as a mere formality especially, it said, as there were no resolutions nor concrete decisions on conflicts such as those in Burundi, Somalia and Liberia.
Dakar's Sud Quotidien thinks the meeting was so mundane that it suggested it be held every two years, rather than annually. "Even the Islamic Conference Organisation, which is better funded than the O.A.U., meets every two years," it noted. In Niger, Gen. Ibrahim Mainassara Bare's dissolution of the country's independent electoral commission, in the middle of voting, and his arrest of opposition politicians came under vicious attack.
These acts, Cotonou-based Le Citoyen said, were motivated by his worry that his rivals would band together in opposition. "He has thus vitiated the electoral process, creating a situation that some describe as a second coup, even though he denies it," the paper said.
"What credibility can be given to a ballot at which votes are said to have been counted by soldiers or under tight military surveillance?" said the Benin government daily, La Nation. "After the military coup of last January, an electoral coup has now been staged," the Cotonou newspaper said. Dakar's Le Soleil said that after his January takeover, Gen. Bare had all the tools needed to put the democratic process back on track. But to complete this mission, it added, he had to hold credible elections.
"To do so, the Independent Electoral Commission, though not the ideal solution, gave a certain guarantee of fairness. Its dissolution in the middle of vote counting and its replacement by a body exclusively comprising senior officials chosen by the military junta, raises strong suspicion on the credibility of the results announced after the election," it said.
The Daily Champion, another private newspaper published in Lagos, described as "timely, welcome and commendable," the establishment by the Sierra Leonean government of a National Unity and Reconciliation Commission.
The new civilian administration in Freetown set up the body to investigate the atrocities of the country's past military administration. The idea is to right whatever wrongs may have been committed by individuals or groups.
"If the commission carries out its onerous and historical assignment with the requisite objectively, candour and fairness, there is no doubt that the exercise will go a long way in removing sources of conflict in Sierra Leone," it said.
19 July 1996
>From Daniel Mukwati Sibongo ; PANA Staff Correspondent
DAKAR, Senegal (PANA) - Politics again dominated editorial commentary in parts of the continent this week.
In Lagos, Nigeria, the semi-official Daily Times described the OAU summit held in Yaounde, Cameroon from July 8 to 10 as one of the most successful in recent years.
It said the summit's support for Boutros Boutros-Ghali's bid for a second term as United Nations Secretary General, in the face of United States opposition, was honourable.
The Egyptian, it said, had done well for Africa in his first term and deserved another.
The newspaper however, asked why the South African president, Nelson Mandela, had left the summit prematurely for state visits to Britain and France.
"Shouldn't the discussion of Africa's pressing problems have taken precedence over Mandela's dining and wining with British royalty ?" it asked.
The Vanguard, a private paper published in Lagos, stayed closer to home. It urged Nigerians to pay greater heed to the American ambassador's calls for the restoration of democracy in the West African state.
"Mr. Carrington's comments on the occasion of the 220th anniversary of American independence (July 4) were frank, candid and friendly.
"He spoke of the need for the military to respect democratic institutions by sticking to its task of defending the country," it said.
"He spoke of the need to allow that essential and vital ingredient of democracy -- the right of the people to choose who will govern them and how."
"Mr. Carrington also canvassed the release of all political detainees saying that he would have been happier if the likes of Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana and Beko Ransome Kuti (political activists) were around to be part of the celebrations.
"We share the sentiments of Mr. Carrington and agree with his weighty pronouncements on the social and political situation in Nigeria," the Vanguard said.
In Senegal, the privately-owned 'Wal Fadjri' was critical of Niger's July 7 and 8 presidential election.
It said the dismissal of the country's independent election commission during the polls -- and a rushed appointment of a hand-picked one by government -- had been a serious breech of normal election procedure.
Wal Fadjri said the move by the military leader, Gen. Ibrahim Bare Mainassara, also a presidential candidate, had raised suspicions of fraud. The General was later declared winner by an overwhelming majority.
"The general's style is disturbing, not so much for its brutality, but for its blatancy. He did not need open and fair elections supervised by the independent commission. The polls were nothing more than a formality, a costly one, designed to dress a regime born of a military coup in the garb of popular legitimacy and legality," the newspaper said.
'Sud', another privately owned Senegalese daily, was less compromising. It described Gen. Mainassara's action as theft ("hold-up").
It had become clear, the newspaper said, that the Gen. had never been committed to free elections and had allowed their organization only after pressure from donors.
"And when the election was turning against him, our general turned to a hasty dissolution of the electoral commission and designated a new one made up of his supporters."
It said the general had managed to break a general strike called to protest his action by paying salary arrears owed by the state on the same day.
"Today, the man who came in under the pretext of saving (Niger's) democracy, 'derailed by the infantilism of the country's leaders', is in reality its principal saboteur," Sud said.
In Burundi, the proposal for a multinational peace-keeping force to restore order in the tiny central African state, remained a violent issue.
'La Balance', a weekly linked to the powerful Tutsi minority, expressed its firm opposition to the force.
It said the force, designed to prevent the type of genocide witnessed in Rwanda in neighbouring Burundi, would be fought to the bitter end.
"It is a question of dying with our arms in our hands. It means Burundians will not accept foreign armies (the peacekeeping force) coming in to destroy the nation," the paper said.
The government-owned 'Le Renouveau du Burundi' took a different view.
It said the force would halt the killings in Burundi, and help restore peace and order.
The daily said the decision to send in the force had been taken by neighbouring African heads of state who had thorough knowledge of what was going on in Burundi.
"We feel that in the current conditions of war...Burundi's armed forces are incapable of stopping the massacres" taking place in the country.
Note: These articles reposted, with permission, from the Web site of Africa News Service, which features among other material news bulletins several times daily from the Panafrican News Agency. PANA has 36 correspondents across the continent and working relationships with national news agencies in 48 African countries. The Africa News home page is http://www.afnews.org/ans/. The PANA news feed is found at http://www.afnews.org/ans/pana/FEED/PANAFEED.html.
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Message-Id: <199607191414.HAA23000@igc3.igc.apc.org> From: email@example.com Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 10:05:36 -0500 Subject: Africa: PANA Press Review
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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