Friday, February 15, 2008

In the News: Africa

Tonight, the President is scheduled to embark on a six-day, five-country tour of Africa that will also take him to Eastern Europe, Israel, Japan and China. Due to the increasing violence and instability on the continent, it will be far from the "victory lap” of American beneficiary nations (Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia) that was originally intended.

As the NY Times reports: “On the eve of a planned trip to Africa, President Bush thrust himself into the role of peacemaker on Thursday, as his plans to promote American efforts against poverty and disease gave way to a more pressing imperative: addressing the violence and turmoil on the continent.” As a self-proclaimed peace-maker, the President also defended his decision not to send troops to Darfur (despite what he calls a genocide taking place) as a "seminal decision" not to intervene with force, taken partly out of the desire not to send US troops into another Muslim country.

Elsewhere on the continent, Kenya's political rivals agreed to an independent review of the disputed presidential election (to be released within three to six months). As the BBC reports: “The agreement, which also calls for a new constitution, is a clear sign of progress after weeks of violence that have left more than 1,000 people dead.”

Meanwhile, Chadian President Deby declared a nationwide state of emergency, telling citizens that tightened controls are ''measures important and urgent to maintain order, guarantee stability and assure the good functioning of the state.'' NY Times: The Red Cross said more than 160 people were killed and 1,000 wounded in the fighting, which reached the edge of the presidential palace before the rebels were driven out of N'Djamena and back toward Chad's eastern border with Sudan.

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