Tag Archives: Gaddafi

A tale of two rocket attacks

This weekend, rockets rained down on two African countries. There’s Libya, of course; front page headlines all round, especially since everyone realised that nuclear disaster in Japan would be averted. It helped that the mission had a noble name – operation “Dawn Odyssey” –  and that there were some spectacular pictures coming out of Libya.

At the same time, receiving barely a mention in the international press, Laurent Gbagbo – the authoritarian president of Cote D’Ivoire who’s refused to leave power after accidentally losing the elections (accidentally because he’d rigged them to win; he just didn’t rig them well enough. Which gives me little faith in his competence, even as a dictator) – rained down mortar on a market place in the major city of Abidjan, killing anywhere between 25 and 30 people. It’s starting to get really ugly in Cote D’Ivoire; Gbagbo also called on his supporters to “neutralise” his enemies, which is a fairly unmistakeable call to arms.

In a related story, the South African diplomatic service found itself red-faced this weekend after City Press revealed that a hoax letter, purporting to be from French president Nicholas Sarkozy, was “sold to African leaders” by the Gbagbo regime. The fake letter was used as evidence that Sarkozy put pressure on the electoral commission to declare for opposition candidate Ouattara. Despite its shady provenance, and the fact that it was written in poor French, the SA foreign ministry has been using it to support its pro-Gbagbo posturing, showing it to the EU and to Hilary Clinton.

A few questions arise. How was this letter “sold to African leaders”; and for how much? If the French really was poor – I haven’t come across a copy of the letter – this is strange because Cote D’Ivoire is a largely francophone country, as its name suggests. And why is the South African government supporting Gbagbo?

VERDICT: Gbagbo goes 4th, for murdering his own people; South Africa goes 4th, for being a bit stupid and for supporting an illegitimate ruler who murders his own people; and the international media goes 4th, for having completely blinkered priorities.



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George Weah’s naked politics: constitutional deviants go 4th

The media in Liberia have been working themselves into a self-righteous frenzy after the recent emergence of “naked” video of former Footballer of the Year turned presidential candidate George Weah. The “naked” video is in fact a men’s cologne advert, and full frontal nudity is implied rather than shown; nonetheless the video, only recently rediscovered, is said to pose a serious threat to Weah’s presidential hopes (though if I were him, I’d be more worried about President Sirleaf-Johnson’s alleged links to Muammar Gaddafi).

The best response, however, is from an unnamed spokesperson in Weah’s party, the Congress for Democratic Change, who maintains that the video can only help to make Weah more popular amongst women voters. Besides, he said, the video is no grounds not to elect Weah, for it is “only constitutional deviants who should not be elected”. All other deviants welcome then…

Thanks to Shelby Grossman’s blog for the story.

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Brother Leader to sponsor Johnson-Sirleaf’s re-election? Libya-Liberia ties go 4th

An intriguing sentence in a recent Africa Confidential report on Liberia: “Unity Party insiders hope for tens of millions of dollars from Libya’s Moammar el Gadaffi.” The Unity Party is, of course, the party of incumbent president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who has recently announced she will be running for a second term. Quite why her party is waiting on tens of millions of dollars from Brother Leader Gaddafi is somewhat mystifying. A quick trawl through the depths of Google produced little of substance, except to show that Johnson-Sirleaf and Gaddafi have a close and friendly relationship, with Johnson-Sirleaf even defending Gaddafi’s crazy behaviour at last year’s African Union summit. The Libyan leader stormed out of proceedings when it became clear that his vision of a United States of Africa would not be immediately realised. According to Johnson-Sirleaf: “He didn’t walk out, he just got tired.” An excessive thirst for power will do that to you.

Still, the exact nature of the relationship between these two leaders is unclear, and potentially disturbing; any clarification would be welcomed.

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