|Africa News Digest
Food Emergencies in Sub-Saharan Nations
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN issued its second Africa Report for 2005 on Sept. 28, "Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa," which stated that 24 sub-Saharan African countries face food emergencies. The situation is worst in southern Africa, where about 12 million people need immediate emergency food assistance in the countries of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Zambia.
In Malawi, about 40% of the population4.6 millionface food shortages, while in Zimbabwe the number of people at risk is estimated to be more than 3 million, or 25% of the population.
Regions of eastern Africa (Sudan and Somalia), central Africa (Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo), and western Africa (Niger, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone) are all in need of assistance as well, according to the report.
Will Bush Administration Lift Sanctions Against Sudan?
The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, after meeting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, told reporters in Khartoum Oct. 22 that Bashir had urged Washington to lift the embargo against Sudan. The Sudanese official news agency quoted Frazer as saying the Bush Administration would consider lifting the embargo, "especially economic sanctions," according to Sudan Tribune Oct. 22. It should not be overlooked that, if U.S. companies are to get access to at least some of Sudan's oil, the U.S. has to lift economic sanctions.
Uganda Not Cooperating with Probe of Garang's Death
Sudan's National Probe Committee (NPC)charged with investigating the crash of the Ugandan helicopter carrying Vice President John Garangsays that Uganda is not cooperating in the investigation. In a statement to the Khartoum daily Al-Ray al-Amm, NPC rapporteur Siraj Eddin Hamid said that important parts of the helicopter had disappeared from the crash site. Among the missing parts are "a part which clarifies whether the plane had a device for maps or not and which also determines the altitude at which the incident took place," in the paraphrase of the Sudan Tribune Oct. 26. He said that all parts of the helicopter had been photographed when the site was first visited, including those that are now missing.
The missing parts appear to be important for verifying the Ugandan government's claims about the craft.
Ugandan MP Blamed Museveni for Garang's Death
Ugandan Member of Parliament Aggrey Awori, of the opposition People's Progress Party, said, in connection with the helicopter crash that killed Sudanese Vice President Garang, that Uganda's Civil Aviation Authority regulations forbade rotor aircraft from taking off after 5 p.m. for a trip of more than an hour, but, "They took off after hours, definitely," for a trip lasting many hours. Awori's remarks were reported by Voice of America Aug. 9. Awori said that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni should have advised his guest to stay in Kampala. He also said that, for a head of state, the weather forecast should have been up to date, and that "It was a bad combination of flying at night and bad weather [a combination which a pilot would not normally undertake]." Awori said he had earlier suggested replacing the executive helicopter, which was eight years old. He said parliamentary bodies to which he belongs would be investigating, including the Committee on Presidential and Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs.
The government, however, denied responsibility for the crash and claimed the craft had been recently upgraded and provided with new altimeters, weather radar, and equipment to identify terrain features and an audio warning when approaching mountains, according to the Voice of America story.
Did Museveni Arrange Garang's Death for Bush Administration?
Grands-Lacs Confidentiel, a nationalist newsletter from DR Congo, claimed that Ugandan President Museveni arranged Garang's death on behalf of Washington, in a story titled, "Mission Accomplished: Museveni Signs the Death Warrant of John Garang," in its Sept. 5 issue. It claimed that Washington discreetly sent high-level negotiators to Khartoum to secure access to Sudanese oil, and Khartoum asked for Garang's head in exchange. As a faithful tool of Washington, Museveni did the dirty work, the newsletter claims. While Grands-Lacs Confidentiel claims to have gotten its information from a Ugandan army officer, internal evidence suggests that most of the picture is the newsletter's own conception.
Historian: Bouteflika Gov't Has Destroyed Judicial Independence
Algerian historian Daho Djerbal, in a commentary in the Arab Reform Bulletin of October 2005, reports that Algerian President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika has crushed the independence of the judiciary since his re-election in 2004. He writes, "Under the pretext of reforming the judiciary, judges who were unenthusiastic about the Presidential initiative [the referendum for the so-called Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation] have been forced to retire from office or disbarred. The Council of State, the Supreme Court, and the Constitutional Court have been emptied of those defending judicial independence in the face of executive power. Similarly, those in civil society and the political arena who voice opposition have been silenced." Djerbal states that the Charter tramples on the broad principles of justice and on the Algerian penal code.
Since 2000, writes Djerbal, Bouteflika's government "has been able to secure its hegemonic position with the support of the West," and "a new oligarchy seems to be setting up under the cover of noisy ceremonies that glorify 'civil peace and reconciliation.'"
Djerbal is professor of history at the University of Algiers and director of the Algerian Journal of Social Criticism (NAQD, www.revue-naqd.net).