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February 28, 2005

Voting is Just So Stylish These Days

Here's hoping that this signals a permanent shift from the bloody recent past in Burundi.

The people of Burundi have been voting on whether to accept a new constitution designed to share power and end war between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis.

Long lines of voters formed from dawn to take part in Burundi's first ballot since civil war broke out in 1993 between the two communities.

Voters used a white card to vote Yes and a black one for No.

Correspondents say the constitution is likely to be approved but the real challenge will come after elections.

The BBC's Rob Walker in the Burundi capital, Bujumbura, says the new government will need to achieve a delicate ethnic balancing act if it is to avoid a return to violence.

It's a tough transition to make from a warring nation to a sustainable, constitutional government, especially in nations where tribal loyalty still stands as far more important than any nationalist sentiment. But after nearly a third of a million dead, the change has long been due.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

UN Troops Killed

Unfortunately, while the situation in Togo might actually result in an improved government for its citizens (yes, I'm a bit of an optomist), the same can't be said for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nine United Nations peacekeepers from Bangladesh have been killed in an armed ambush in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN says.

The attack happened on Friday morning in the north-eastern Ituri region, where 4,800 peacekeepers are deployed.

A UN spokesman said the troops were ambushed by "unidentified armed elements" while they were on patrol.

Requiescat in pace.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

Togo in the News

This is a good, positive development:

The African Union has suspended Togo from the pan-African body, calling for sanctions against the country to be endorsed across the continent.

The moves follow growing international anger at Togo's military-installed leader, who took power hours after his father's death earlier this month.

For the first part of Africa's post-colonial era, the leaders of one country were loath to be overtly critical of other leaders. Likely, since most of the leadership was mired in their own corruption and propped up as, at best, semi-legitimate leaders, they feared that the criticism would be turned back on them.

Whatever the reason, though, this unwillingness to point fingers at their neighbors was a stumbling block to progress. That the AU is looking to take a hard line with Togo is in line with recent history, where African governments are more willing to put sanctions and pressure on members in hopes of forcing better behavior.

No group of nations can better themselves without self-examination and critical thought.

Developing and third world nations don't become healthy over night, so it remains important to recognize the steps that take a country and a government closer to self-sufficiency and legitimacy.

Good for the AU for making the right call for action. The willingness to scrutinize one member nation is coupled to at least some level of willingness to accept scrutiny. That has to be considered a mighty good thing.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2005

Disabling Comments

I'm in the sad place of having to disable comments for the time being. Apologies for any confusion or difficulties, but the background can be found here and here.

As soon as it makes reasonable sense, I'll be re-enabling comments.

Thanks for your understanding.

Posted by zombyboy at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2005

Nice to Be Back

Firstly, it's nice to be back in the Winds of Change regional update after a long absence. Secondly, let me second AfricaPundit's recommendation: Hotel Rwanda is an exceptionally good movie.

Posted by zombyboy at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2005

Togo is About to Get Interesting

Offered without comment:

West African diplomats have arrived in Togo for talks on the day their ultimatum to authorities there expires.

The regional body Ecowas has threatened Togo with sanctions if it does not revert to its original constitution.

It was changed last week after the death of President Gnassingbe Eyadema to allow his son to succeed him.

African leaders have described the move as a coup and since the weekend four people have been killed in opposition protests in the capital, Lome.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2005

Where Slavery Still Thrives

Americans, and, indeed, most of the Western world think of slavery as something far removed from our modern society. A little closer look, though, shows that slavery still survives in many forms throughout the developing world and even touches us here in developed nations.

The idea of humans as property hasn't faded as much as we'd like to believe. One of the most notorious nations in the world for a still-thriving slave trade is Niger--although, I have to admit that the number quoted here still astonished me.

A nation of vast, barren and windswept landscapes, a country of people who live almost entirely off cattle, and off the labour of human slaves.

Slavery in Niger is not an obscure thing, nor a curious relic of the past, it is an intrinsic part of society today.

A Nigerian study has found that almost 8% of the population are slaves.

Read the story. Or, check out

Posted by zombyboy at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2005

Now Taking Bets

Read this:

Togo's new leader, Faure Gnassingbe, pledged on Wednesday to hold free and transparent elections as other West African presidents gathered to discuss his seizure of power in what has been widely branded as a military coup.

"We want serious discussions... that will lead as soon as possible to the organisation of free and transparent elections that reflect the will of the people," he said in his first broadcast to the nation on state television and radio.

But Gnassingbe did not say what kind of elections would be held, nor when.

Then answer this:

What's the over-under for a deadline on those free and transparent elections? And what are the odds that he maintains his position following those elections?

Just curious.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 01:28 PM | Comments (3)

February 01, 2005

Must Read of the Day

Realizing the most of you at least trip past Instapundit on a daily basis, I thought this article should be pointed out for anyone who doesn't visit the site.

Apparently the Sudanese government is once again using its An-24 transports as bomber aircraft in the Darfur region. The An-24 is a two engine Russian aircraft, developed in the 1960s to replace pre-World War II American DC-3s. An-24s can carry up to 50 passengers, or five tons of cargo. Sudan have some of the An-26 versions of the An-24, which has a rear ramp, which bombs are rolled out of. The African Union and various relief agencies report that Sudanese planes bombed the village of Rahad Kabolong in North Darfur state. The attack took place on January 26 and left more than 100 people dead. Some 9000 people fled the village and the surrounding area after the air attack.

Read the rest.

Posted by zombyboy at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)
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