|Africa News Digest
Ebola-Like Marburg Virus in Angola Outbreak Kills 119
An outbreak of the Ebola-like Marburg hemorrhagic fever continues to claim lives in the Angolan town and province of Uige, in the North. There is no known treatment, and death occurs within three to seven days of the first symptoms of vomiting, bleeding, and fever. Several doctors and nurses are among the 119 dead as of March 26. The virus was identified as Marburg by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control March 22.
The World Health Organization is concerned that two people who were being treated left the hospital in Uige, and are unaccounted for. The virus is transmitted by contact.
The Angolan epidemic broke out in October 2004, but has worsened in the past three weeks. The previous, most serious outbreak was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in which 123 died between 1998 and 2000. Marburg virus was first identified in 1967.
SPLM's Garang Announces Plans to Issue Peace Proposal
The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), led by John Garang, will present in April a draft proposal for a political solution to the insurgency in Darfur, and that of the Beja in eastern Sudan. Garang will present the proposal to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and First Vice President Ali Osman Taha on the sidelines of the Sudan donors' conference in Oslo, Norway; to the insurgents; and to the chief mediator in the Abuja talks. This news was reported in Sudan Tribune March 19, citing remarks of the SPLM Secretary for Development and International Cooperation, Kostilo Garang, to Al-Ray Al-Amm, the Khartoum daily.
The content of the proposal is evidently not yet being made public, but Kostilo Garang's further remarks give some indication of its tendency. He told Al-Ray Al-Amm that it was illogical for other regions of Sudan to begin new wars after the South had achieved peace after so many years of conflict. It would only undermine the achievements of the Nairobi agreement, reduce the chances of development, and erode the sympathy of the international community, he said. (President Bashir and SPLM leader John Garang both see the North-South agreement as the template for meeting the just demands of all the neglected regions of the country.)
Asked whether the SPLM supported the trial of Darfur war criminals at the Hague, Kostilo Garang said the SPLM's strongly held position was that suspected war criminals should be tried internally and in open courts, unprejudiced by the international community's call for its participation in the trial. He said that trial in external courts would imply the government's withdrawal from the Nairobi agreement of this past January, and that the SPLM will explain to the international community the danger of trial before any external court. (President Bashir, of course, also opposes any external trials.)
John Garang is expected to take up his position as Sudan's First Vice President in July. He has said that the government he joins cannot be at war with an insurgency in Darfur.
SPLM Delegation Visits China for Economic Talks
An SPLM delegation left Sudan for Beijing March 16, to hold talks on economic cooperation, the SPLM's Yaser Arman told Al-Sahafah, the Khartoum daily, according to Sudan Tribune March 18. The delegation includes SPLM Vice Chairman Salva Kiir Mayardit, head of the economic section Akwal Manak, external relations chairman Niyal Dheng, and spokesmen Samson Kwaje and Pagan Amum.
Salva Kiir on March 21 met He Luli, Vice Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
SPLM Chairman John Garang, for his part, visited Washington in January after the signing of the Nairobi agreement.
Large Peacekeeping Force Authorized for Southern Sudan
The UN Security Council has authorized a 10,700-person peacekeeping force for southern Sudan, but other Sudan issues remain unsettled. The UN Security Council passed the first of three resolutions establishing the peacekeeping force, even though its make-up is not yet known. The question of Sudan's Darfur region remains unresolved, and only the places where SPLM rebel forces have fought in the past are covered.
France is angry because itand the EU as a wholewanted the U.S. to stick with a resolution that included, with reference to the fighting in Darfur, war-crimes trials run by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and sanctions against the government. However, China and Russia oppose sanctions, and the U.S. does not recognize the ICC, but instead wants to establish an ad hoc court in Tanzania.
France Accepts Bush Plan for U.S. Control Over Congo
France is going along with a Bush Administration plan to put Rwandan agents in key ministries of the Democratic Republic of Congo, so that the U.S. will have undisputed hegemony over the country, claims Le Communicateur, a Kinshasa daily, March 17. In an apparent reference to a March 15 closed-door meeting of the U.S. Secretary of State and the Foreign Ministers of Belgium and France, it says that "after rough and stormy discussions," the U.S., France, and Belgium reached agreement on the next government of the Democratic Republic of Congo: France will name a viable candidate for President, whom the other two governments will be bound to support and bring to victory in the coming election. Belgium grudgingly accepted the consolation prize, the Prime Ministership, and the presidency of the future parliament. The U.S. got the strategic sector of defense, security, and finance. "And this highly sensitive sector will be bestowed on the Rwandans under the rubric of Banyamulenge [Congolese who speak Kinyarwanda, often of Rwandan loyalty]." The same report appeared simultaneously in La Reférence Plus (Kinshasa).
Le Communicateur, which titles its article "France traps Joseph Kabila and betrays DR Congo," says, never mind the Belgians. The problem is that France, by accepting this deal, is letting the U.S. take over Congo entirely, stupidly imagining that stroking the "Anglo-Saxons" will benefit France. France should instead throw all of its weight behind a real mission for pacification of eastern Congo under the auspices of the EU and the international community. It would disarm and repatriate to Rwanda the Interahamwe (anti-Tutsi Hutu guerrillas), depriving Rwandan President Paul Kagame of his pretext for invading Congo. And, says the daily, President Kabila should not listen to the French under present circumstances.
U.S. and Belgium Still Sparring for Influence Over Congo
The Bush Administration is insisting that the current leadership of DR Congo has failed, and elections must be held this June, as originally scheduled. The Belgian government urges that the transition to elected government is behind schedule, but Belgium "apparently still trusts the current Congolese leadership and believes it can meet the security preconditions for credible elections in December 2005, or later." This is the report of Le Potentiel (Kinshasa) March 18, in reference to a closed-door meeting among the foreign ministers of the U.S., Belgium, and France March 15, as well as other discourse among these governments.
The U.S. response to Belgium, says Le Potentiel, emphasizes that, "the street, and political and social forces opposed to any extension of the transition" must be taken into account. (This could be called the "Ukraine argument," inasmuch as a stay-at-homea strike that includes the unemployed populationhas already been stagedin response to the suggestion that elections be delayedin the place where the chief U.S. agent of influence, Etienne Tshisekedi, has greatest strength: Kinshasa.)