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The shame of African and UN Diplomacies on the Continent
By Elie Smith
What may come up in the minds of the majority could easily be the sad situation still going on in Western Sudan , however, that is not the worse case, even though it has just come to show what those who cared had always known (1). But the disgrace of African diplomacies and also that of the International community headed by the UN are manifest in the unsolved crisis in Somalia , Western Sahara , and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Somalia is or was a country located on a section of East Africa known as horn of Africa . It was a former Anglo-Italian protectorate which got its independence in 1960. Like most African newly created states, it got involved in the cold war rivalry.
Somali leaders opted for the Eastern block, which was Communism, headed at that time by the former USSR ( Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ). And it also fought many senseless border wars with it larger and more organised neighbour, Ethiopia , which also shared the same ideology, nevertheless Somalia lost all its wars against Ethiopia .
As the wind of change began blowing in Eastern Europe, it also extended to Africa, consequently, Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia ’s president was overthrown in 1991 and fled to Lagos , Nigeria were he died.
Since then, Somalia has not known peace; it began topping headlines negatively when 18 US soldiers under the Clinton era ill prepared Operation Restore Hope failed and at present, the country or what is left, tops the headlines in piracy, which makes the Red sea a dangerous place to navigate.
This should not sound as though nothing has been attempted to help Somalia out of its present state of affairs. A peace treaty brokered by a regional political body in 2000 in Djibouti , resulted in the designation of Abdul Kassim Salat Hassan as president of a transitory government.
Needless to point out that, the transitory government never worked out because of infighting and the latest attempt to help was in 2004 in Kenya . This time around the stratagem was to set up a government and parliament. A sort of embryonic administration which organisers hoped will inspire Somalis to revamp their moribund land.
In that regard the appointed parliamentarians and other government functionaries were lodged in hotels in Nairobi and paid by the UN elected its own president in the person of Adullahi Yusuf. They have been making gesticulations and the latest one is their attempt to settle in Somalia .
A move that has won media attention especially from the BBC and other international media outfits. This new administration and its president it must be noted that, whatever publicity is given to them, they have no legitimacy in the eyes of the people in what is left of that former country which is presently serving as hideout for Islamic terrorist groups.
In all, 14 attempts have been made to help Somalia out, but its self centred and selfish politicians have spoiled them all. Faced with such cacophony, the English-speaking part of Somalia known as Somaliland has opted out and is doing well administratively and democratically.
Brief overview of Somaliland
Strangely, the prowess of Somaliland in governance and democracy, which is a mark difference with the apocalyptic scenes of Mogadishu the capital of erstwhile Somalia are seldom appreciated not to mention that, they are neither seen nor read in the mainstream media.
Contrary to the norms in other African states, the 3.5 million people of the Republic of Somaliland whose president is Dahir Riyale Kahim, held their parliamentary elections, in September 2005, do not want aid but just want International recognition.
This will help them to better organise themselves and also fight poverty, for the only sources of finance for Somaliland are monies send from abroad by expatriate Somali Landers and the costume-duties charged on imported Ethiopian goods passing through its ports.
What prevents this country to gain International recognition is the African Union and the United Nations Organisations, on rationales that are beyond comprehension, for the Somalia in its present dispensation has all the ingredients for the application of a Yugoslav solution reached at the Daytona agreement and signed in 1995 to end the Balkan wars. Why is a similar agreement not applied in Africa ’s many civil wars?
This second case is that which is perhaps the longest and also a scare on the hearts of African political leaders and the UN in particular. Located in the North West of Africa, Western Sahara is bordered to the north with the Kingdom of Morocco , to the East with Algeria and in the south by Mauritania . It became a Spanish colony in 1884 and in 1934 its status was transformed into a province of the kingdom of Spain .
In 1973 a self-determination movement known as the ‘Polisario’ was created, meanwhile on the side lines, two African countries were laying claims on Western Sahara . These countries were the Islamic republic of Mauritania and the Kingdom of Morocco .
Two years later however, the International Court of justice rejected the African kingdom of Morocco ’s claim over the land because she was the more vocal of the latter mentioned two claimants. While stopping through a court injunction the expansionist tendencies of the Kingdom of Morocco, the UN court was in so doing ,also recognising the rights of the Saharouis (as the people of Western Sahara are called) for self determination.
However, the UN decision did not prevent the late despotic ruler of Morocco , King Hassan 11 to order in the month of November 1975, his infamous Green march of 300 hundred thousand Moroccans to invade the territory under the nose of the International community and the African Union.
What is not clear though is whether the dictator king was buoyed by the Madrid agreement signed on the 14 th of November 1975, which divided the territory into two or it was his special relationship with the US at the time of the cold war, which made him to violate International accord audaciously.
Although under occupation, the people of Western Sahara in 1976 did declare the creation of the Arab Democratic Republic of Western Sahara and its president since then has been Mohamed Abdelaziz, who is in exile in Algeria . In 1991, the Western Saharan dossier was finally dust off from where it was filed in New York and the UN decided to establish the United Nations Mission for a referendum in Western Sahara .
But since then, nothing has changed, for the Moroccans are ignoring all UN injunctions, and up till now, millions is poured in to pay UN staffs who ride around Layoune the capital of Western Sahara , in air conditioned four wheel drives and have achieved nothing. What is strange here again is that, a similar situation happened in south East Asia, in this specific case, the Indonesians invaded East Timor a former Portuguese territory in 1976.
Nevertheless, the UN did push the Indonesians to vacate East Timor via a referendum that took place in 1999. In Western Sahara, Moroccan authorities have repeatedly impeded the holding of any referendum and nobody in Africa or at International level seem worried.
No sanctions have ever been asked against Morocco ’s defiance of International law. Even the Islamic terrorists who are claiming that, their terror is justified because Israel is allegedly occupying a Moslem country called Palestine , has never criticised Morocco ’s occupation and persecution of another Moslem country.
The go-go European Union that is bankrolling the kingdom of Morocco for fear that all it citizens do not immigrate to Europe , does not care whether it protégés respects human rights or any International norms that some of its members seem to fancy.
Democratic Republic of Congo
While it is very difficult and even unfair to rate the consequences of crimes and all other negative effects caused by human beings, especially those under gone by people of the aforementioned countries, the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo has some thing unique. The DRC as the country is abbreviated, is 80 times bigger than Belgium, five and half times bigger than France with a population of just 60 million (2).
Since it got its independence from Belgium in 1960, this country with almost the size of Western Europe , has never known peace. Another unique feature with this country is that, it is a potentially rich, containing 78% of all important and even less important solid and liquid mineral in the world.
Yet the country, if it can be called one, is one of the poorest on the continent and in addition, its citizens might easily be the most unlucky people on earth. Their most known leader were Moboutou Seseko, who came to power in 1962 with the aid of the CIA, in a bid to prevent the country from going Communist as its earliest leaders notably Patrice Lumumba had wanted.
The reign of Joseph Desire Moboutou was not only brutal, but corrupt and thus brought untold hardship on its citizens. The control of the infamous dictator over his country ended in 1997 when Joseph Desire Kabila took power, nevertheless, since then, the country has been constantly at war.
The peak of the civil war was in 1998, when almost 11 African countries were in the DRC for different reasons. Consequently, about 3.5 million Congolese have died with millions more living in exile around the world. Today, the DRC is de facto divided in five parts respectively controlled by rebel movements and the official government based in Kinshasa , the capital.
Still, there is no mark difference between the recognised government and the rebels. There has been several attempts to bring peace in that large country, beginning in 1999 with the UN Mission, in the DRC known as MUNUC, which was created after the Lusaka agreement was signed. The agreement did signal an end to a war fought by the Armies of Angola, Chad , Namibia and Zimbabwe against 20 armed groups allegedly supported by Rwanda and Uganda .
Ever since the Lusaka * agreements was appended by the different belligerent forces, real peace has never taken firm hold the ground. Hence, in the summer of 2003, Operation Artemis, a code name for a peace keeping operation headed by France under the auspice of the European Union was staged in a locality called Ituri, situated on the East of the country with very limited results.
All those missions has not brought any peace in the DRC, nonetheless, in spite these notorious failures, the UN and the African Union are insisting in maintaining the DRC as one country, while it is clear that, the country is now divided into lines that will make it easier for the creation of five or four states and bring peace to the suffering masses.
The newly created states could eventually decide to reunite. In the main time while the UN is prevaricating to choose appropriate resolutions, those suffering from Somalia , Somaliland, Western Sahara and the DRC are children, women, elderly men and women, the sick and all the vulnerable ones.
In the interim African politicians and UN staffs seat in air conditioned rooms, ride in four wheels drive trendy Japanese cars and bicker over unnecessary things like hyphens and comas, badly used in the millions of useless resolutions. It is high time they should act or take the high way to oblivion and allow their position for a much more effective body.
Source: Elie Smith
Elie Smith is a Cameroonian journalist; Broadcast Journalist by profession and has worked with the English services of Radio France International and Canal France International, respectively as a correspondent in Africa and sports commentator and work/lives in Paris.