Around Africa
December 2004 
A Publication of the Africa Faith and Justice Network

U.S. Administration & Africa
Peace on Earth
Hydropolitics in Africa
Terror in Darfur
Hegemonic Rivalry in Africa

By Nicolas van de Walle

The present administration has promised substantial increases for HIV/AIDS programs, and the Millennium Challenge Account it offered up two years ago promised the largest increases in U.S. foreign aid in decades. Unfortunately, as 2004 comes to a close, it is becoming clear that the side effects of other policy goals pursued by the administration will undermine Africa policy in the future. On the one hand, the administration's irresponsible fiscal policies are leading to burgeoning deficits that will jeopardize the promised aid increases. If the budgetary politics of the 1980s repeat themselves, as is likely, the absence of powerful constituencies for foreign aid will once again make it very vulnerable to cuts. Supporters of aid should start preparing for the inevitable assault.

Secondly, the Iraq debacle is likely to weigh on the willingness of the U.S. to pursue an interventionist policy in Africa for the foreseeable future. The situation in Darfur cries out for a tougher policy, as the regime in Khartoum continues to perfect its policy of shameless prevarication. It should be obvious today that the central government of Sudan is neither willing nor perhaps able to ensure the welfare of African populations in Darfur, and that only a military humanitarian intervention will do so. Yet, as long as U.S. forces are mired in their occupation of Iraq, the Pentagon is unlikely to accept any other military operation. Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before the Janjaweed and their patrons in Khartoum understand that the current U.S. diplomatic pressures are largely empty posturing.

Beyond Darfur, how will the U.S. react to other African disasters looming on the horizon? The endgame approaches in Zimbabwe, for instance, while the craziness in Cote d'Ivoire only seems to get worse, and of course the DRC continues its own tragic drift. In each case, U.S. leadership, resources and credibility should be playing a key role in searching for an appropriate way forward. Alas, I suspect that U.S. policy towards Africa will long suffer from the disastrous choices of this administration's first term. ________________________
Nicholas van de Walle is Professor of Government and Director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University
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I join our board and staff in wishing each of you a joyous, peace-filled Christmas and a blessed New Year.

We should think about peace at Christmas time. We should think about it a lot. Is there anything that goes more to the heart and meaning of Christmas than peace? We complain about how the holiday has become over-commercialized, and rightly so. Yet for all of its consumer frenzy, aren't the season's gift-giving and get-togethers with family and friends an affirmation of love, tolerance and good will, a way to keep and sustain the ties that bind?

Where we lose our perspective, I believe, is that we fail to give Christmas the scope God intends it to have. The spirit of Christmas is meant to embrace everyone, not just family and friends. Jesus was born into our world and our lives so that we might extend peace to all people no matter how different or far they might be from us. His coming was God putting the exclamation point on the fact that we're all neighbors, called to love one another. There isn't a more important question in all of scripture than the one posed by the lawyer: “But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'” (Luke 10:25-29). Jesus replied with the parable of the Good Samaritan, who, when you think about it, is the polar opposite of Scrooge. The Samaritan exemplifies the angels' song across Bethlehem's plain: “On earth peace, goodwill among people.”

In holding out the Samaritan, Jesus shattered boundaries and opened up entirely new ways for people to see each other. Reviled for religious, cultural, racial, political and historical reasons, Jesus' Samaritan represented a seismic shift in understanding how God wants us to be with, and for, each other. Jesus was born to reconcile us to God and each other; the Samaritan parable reveals that no one is inherently an enemy.

Think of the divisions we face in our world this Christmas. Who does God want us to see as neighbor? Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Iraqi, Palestinian, black, white, gay, straight, liberal, conservative? Congolese, Irish, Ugandan, Zimbabwean, American? All of the above.

Here at AFJN we wish you, Africa and the world a Happy Good Samaritan Christmas!

Marcel Kitissou, Ph.D
AFJN Executive Director
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Hydropolitics and Geopolitics in Africa:
Impact of Water on Communities, Food Security, Transnational Relationships, and Development

Spring Symposium
April 20-22, 2004
Cornell University

Current thinking projects that the main conflicts in Africa during the next 25 years are likely to be over water, as population pressures increase competition over water resources. Potential “water wars” are likely in areas where rivers and lakes are shared by more than one country. 1,386,000 km3 of water is available on earth. Only 2.5% of that volume is fresh water. Less than 1% of the fresh water is usable in a renewable fashion. Access to water affects agricultural productivity, food security and people's livelihoods. Effective water management thus needs to be multi-objective, and has to deal with competing priorities and often conflicting interests over a range of interlocking challenges from satisfying needs for drinking water, water for irrigation schemes, balancing urban and rural uses, reconciling interests of riparian states over trans-boundary rivers, electricity generation; crop production, fisheries, maintaining a sound environment, affording an environmentally sustainable development, preserving natural beauty, encouraging tourism and protecting cultural and social aspects of communities.

Balancing all of the above interests is especially challenging because of the trans-boundary nature of rivers and lakes. In the world, there are 263 watersheds shared by two or more countries. These trans-boundary basins cover 45.3% of the earth. Together they house about 40% of the world population and represent 60% of the global river flow. Some 85% of Africa's water resources are comprised of large river basins shared between several countries. In Africa there are well over 70 international rivers. For example, the Nile is shared by 10 countries, the Volta by 6, the Niger by 11, Lake Chad by 8, the Congo by 9 and the Zambezi by 9. This is compounded by the fact that the amount of available water is diminishing. The flow of the Nile has decreased from 84 km3 in 1954 to 52 km3 in 2004; Lake Chad from 25,000 km2 in 1960 to 2,000 km2 in 2004. High rates of population growth accompanied by continued increases in the demand for water have resulted in several countries passing the point where the scarcity of water supplies effectively limits further economic development.

Present population trends and patterns of water use suggest that more African countries will exceed the limits of their economically usable water-based resources before 2025. A related matter is that Africa's water supply systems lag behind those of the rest of the world, in both extent and quality. This presents a major obstacle to economic growth and can have severe negative consequences for the living standards of the population. Water also has major impact on health. In some countries the response has been to privatize water distribution systems. Establishing private sector participation in Africa's water supply offers enormous promise but also huge challenges. For example one of the major issues that have arisen is how to make sure that tariffs adopted by the water companies are affordable to the ordinary people. A related matter is how to ensure that the private sector does not ignore the poor in urban centers and rural areas as the profit motive predominates in its operations and decision-making on the viability of projects.

It is hoped that the Symposium will bring together an interdisciplinary group of experts in the management of water resources, economists, political scientists and other disciplines to discuss the issues raised above. It is hoped that through an exchange of views and experiences, the symposium will determine the major challenges posed by the increasing scarcity of water resources and recommend possible solutions and practices for the management of this scarce resource and thereby defuse the possibility of conflict.

It is proposed to organize the symposium along the following themes:

  • Transnational Conflict and/or Cooperation in Managing Water Resources
  • Water Management, Politics and Governance
  • People, Water and Technology at the Local Level
  • Power Dams and Environment
  • Water Privatization
  • Water and Public Health

The Symposium is organized by the Institute for African Development (IAD) at Cornell University. Those who wish to participate in the Symposium are invited to submit abstracts of no more than 2-3 pages or completed papers.

The submission deadline for the abstracts is January 15, 2005. Proceedings of the Symposium will be published. Submissions should be sent electronically to: April Symposium

IAD has limited funds to support the travel of those whose papers will be chosen for presentation at the symposium.

Inquiries concerning the Symposium should be directed to:

Ms. Jackie Sayegh, Program Coordinator
Institute for African Development
Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies,
170 Uris Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.
Tel (607)255-6849.
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By Cathy Majtenyi

The world's eyes are glued to Sudan as events continue to unfold at a mind-numbing pace, particularly in the war-torn Darfur region of western Sudan. Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) are the latest to speak out against atrocities happening in Darfur. On November 16, in preparation for the historic UN Security Council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, AI called for an arms embargo to be imposed against Sudan in an attempt to end the conflict, which has been taking place for almost two years.

The Security Council should "impose a mandatory arms embargo on Sudan to stop supplies of those arms reaching all parties to the conflict in Darfur including government forces, until effective safeguards are in place to protect civilians from grave human rights abuses," according to AI's report, titled Sudan: Arming the Perpetrators of Grave Abuses in Darfur.

AI's report also criticized the UN's July 30 resolution imposing an arms embargo on non-governmental groups in Darfur as not establishing “detailed guidance to effectively implement this partial arms embargo, nor did it establish a specific UN monitoring body to ensure compliance and to investigate violations of the embargo."

One day before Amnesty's report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) also released its own study of the situation, accusing the Sudanese government of continuing to terrorize people living in Darfur. HRW's Sudan researcher Jemera Rone warned reporters that the “ethnic cleansing” taking place against non-Arabic populations in the region would continue unless the Security Council took strong action against the Sudanese government. The report criticized recent raids and forced relocations by Sudanese forces of people living in camps in south Darfur, and called on the African Union to increase the number of peacekeeping troops there, which currently number several hundred.

The forced relocations HRW referred to have taken place several times from late October to the present. The most recent occurred in the early morning hours of November 10 at El Geer Camp near Nyala in south Darfur. In an interview, the spokesman for the UN's Advanced Mission in Sudan, George Somerwill, described what happened that day. "The police came in twice - just after midnight and about 7:00 a.m.," he explained. "They came into the camp. They used tear gas, I understand, on the second occasion. They knocked down the very flimsy houses, which some had re-built in the camp. They shouted at them, thoroughly frightened them. One community leader in the camp was quite badly beaten."

A spokesman for Sudan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said he was not aware of that particular attack. Responding to criticisms in early November by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that Sudanese authorities were relocating residents of camps in Nyala against their will contrary to international regulations, Mohamed Ahmed Abdel Ghaffar denied any wrong-doing in the relocations.

Mr. Ghaffar said the incidents the IOM referred to actually occurred at one location. He said the settlement was not a camp for internally displaced people set up by the government or the IOM, but was actually a group of 154 squatter families who were living illegally on private land. "Of course, the owners, the landlords of this land came and requested that this is their land and they have to get it back," he said. "And the authorities tried to convince them that they can be moved to another place, especially [since] the place where they have been was not good, it was not healthy, and they accepted."

The relocations are part of a pattern of abuse that has been taking place in Darfur ever since the conflict started there in early 2003. At that time, two rebel groups operating in the area began an uprising to protest against what they said was government repression and marginalization. Observers and human rights groups have accused the Sudanese government of subsequently arming and supporting an Arab militia known as the “Janjaweed,” which has been raiding and looting villages of the so-called “black Africans,” killing and kidnapping people, raping women, and generally terrorizing the population. This violence has led the United States, among others, to label the conflict as being “genocide.”

The Sudanese government, in turn, has denied supporting the Janjaweed or that the Darfur conflict can be classified as a “genocide.” The government says the violence in Darfur, which it says it has under control, is being caused by what it calls “bandits and hooligans.”

To investigate and determine whether or not genocide is indeed occurring in Darfur, and who is responsible for that genocide, members of the International Commission of Inquiry toured Darfur starting November 10 for more than one week. The team is expected to submit its report within three months to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who appointed the team in October. The UN Security Council had earlier requested such a mission.

George Somerwill explained in an interview the group's purpose. "Clearly, the international community through the United Nations is extremely perturbed by the reports which are coming out of Darfur," he said. "We have to determine if indeed these reports are true or even partially true. We then have to insist that there is accountability. That is not only accountability of the government of Sudan, but the accountability of other groups as well - rebel groups."

In response, Sudan's Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid said the UN team was welcome to come to Darfur. "We have nothing to hide in Sudan," he told reporters in Nairobi on November 9. "We have asked anyone from any country to come and to see by himself, and we are not worried about these things because we think that there is no genocide. These are people from one origin. Whether they are talking Arabs or whether they are not talking Arab, they are the same people."

Mr. Hamid said that, rather than the conflict being a genocide, people in Darfur are fighting primarily over access to land and other resources, which happens in different parts of his country. He said the two rebel groups operating in the area have violated a ceasefire agreement signed earlier with the government.

One major positive development in recent weeks has been the signing of agreements between the two rebel groups - the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement - and the Sudanese government during African Union-led peace talks in Nigeria. The sides agreed to ban aerial bombardments over Darfur, facilitate the distribution of relief aid to affected populations, disarm militias in the area including the Janjaweed, and guarantee the safe return of refugees.

For days, the Sudanese government and the rebel groups were deadlocked over the issue of the so-called no-fly zone that called for a ban on military flights over Darfur. While the rebels supported the no-fly provision, the Sudanese government protested, saying it needed aircraft to defend civilians and Sudanese troops against rebel attacks and to deliver food to civilians. Now, the world is watching to see if these agreements will, indeed, be implemented.

The UN has called the Darfur conflict the “world's worst humanitarian crisis,” killing an estimated 70,000 people and displacing some 1.5 million more.
Cathy Majtenyi is a correspondent for AFJN in East Africa
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Among all of Africa's conflict-laden sub-regions, West Africa has been the most volatile and explosive. Personalized autocracies, dysfunctional political institutions, economic disequilibrium, social decay, religious fundamentalism, mass poverty and an unfavorable international environment have triggered civil conflicts resulting in the break down of law and order, collapse of national sovereignties and the outflow of refugees across national borders, causing massive humanitarian crises. In Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and quite recently, Ivory Coast, human misery is on the rise.

West Africa's list of crises grew to immense proportions in the 1990s: cataclysmic civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia resulting in state collapse; regional and ethnic brutality raging in Ivory Coast; religious intolerance and sectarian skirmishes in Africa's most populous country, Nigeria; smaller but complex and low intensity conflicts in Guinea, Guinea Bissau and in the Casamance region of Senegal; the lasting scar of Tuareg insurrection in Mali, Mauritania and Niger; and the potentials for conflicts in Togo and Burkina Faso, if the departures of Presidents Eyadema and Blaise Camporore respectively fail to usher in an accommodative political arrangement that opens the space for greater participation, bargaining and negotiation.

Admirably, West Africa, more than any other sub-region in Africa, has taken proactive steps to establish a regional security mechanism to manage its own conflicts. Established in 1975 as a regional body for economic integration, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) expanded its mandate in 1990 when it created a Cease-fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) to intervene in domestic conflicts that threatened regional peace and security. Its debut operations in Liberia between 1990 and 1997 was the first such action by a sub-regional grouping in Africa to principally rely on its own financial, material and military resources to intervene in internal conflicts. In neighboring Sierra Leone, ECOMOGs intervention in 1997 to reinstate the government of President Tejan Kabbah was unprecedented and extraordinary. Although its intervention in Guinea Bissau in 1999 was momentary and markedly unsuccessful, ECOMOG established a security mechanism that the UN relied upon to operate in the country. Yet, ECOMOG has been loath to commit financial, military, and logistical resources to quell the current Ivory Coast crisis. Why?

Historically, an acrimonious rivalry between France/Ivory Coast and Nigeria for the hegemonic control of West Africa dominated the politico-diplomatic scene in the post-independence period. France, more than Ivory Coast, was very apprehensive of Nigeria's hegemonic ambitions in West Africa, and frantic efforts were made to diminish Nigeria's growing political and economic influence. So when war broke out in Nigeria in 1967, Ivory Coast, Gabon and France readily supplied arms to secessionist Biafra with the hope of dismembering the country. The triumph of the Federal Government in 1970, however, pitched Nigeria against Ivory Coast, which emerged as the most powerful francophone country in West Africa. The tense relationship outlasted the Cold War period.

With support from France, Ivory Coast led other francophone countries, save Guinea, to boycott the Nigerian-led ECOMOG intervention in Liberia in 1991 because the regional body was seen as a foreign policy instrument of Nigeria. In addition, Ivory Coast's complicity in the Liberian and Sierra Leone conflicts was seen by many sub-regional leaders as a blatant attempt to undermine regional security. So when events took a sinister turn in Ivory Coast in 2002, Nigeria, which contributed more than 80% of the military, financial and logistical resources to ECOMOG's operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone, played no leading role. As a matter of fact, West African troops were brought under the command of the UN, with the Commander of ECOWAS forces, Senegalese General Ibrahima Fall, commanding the UN force.

With France playing a pivotal role, peace talks began on January 15, 2003 in Linas-Marcoussis, just outside Paris, between the warring factions. The agreement called for the establishment of a Government of National Reconciliation with executive powers, and was to be composed of ministers from the main political parties and the rebel groups. It has never been a hidden fact that the government of Gbagbo is against making concessions to the anti-government rebels, and the government has often acted in a heavy-handed manner to crack down on perceived opponents. In March 2004, demonstrators demanding concrete progress in the peace process were shot at, killing about 120 people.

President Gbagbo has been quite suspicious of the international community's moral support for the rebels. This assumption triggered the recent government-sponsored military attack on rebel positions in Bouake during which nine French troops including an American aid worker were killed. In retaliation, the French destroyed the Ivorian air force, giving birth to a new spate of violence between French forces and the pro-Gbagbo's Patriotic Youths.

On November 13, 2004 the Security Council, urged by African leaders, voted unanimously to impose an immediate arms embargo on Ivory Coast following the recent outbreak of violence. The sanctions have provoked a war of words between President Gbagbo, who accused the French of committing an act of war when it destroyed Ivory Coast's air force; and the French, who see Gbagbo's 'hate messages' as cynical demagoguery and violence against foreigners. As the peace process runs into snags, disarmament stalls, the humanitarian crisis deepens and heightened tensions between the government and rebels/French/UN forces become reality, Ivory Coast, once the bastion of stability in West Africa, is teetering on the brink of turmoil.

One can prognosticate two scenarios for the outcome of the Ivorian crisis. The first is a situation where President Gbagbo succumbs to the pressure of his party die-hards, ignores the international community and staunchly rejects the implementation of key provisions of the Paris Peace Accord. This will give rise to the French withdrawal, surrendering Abidjan's security to an ill-equipped Ivorian army that would eventually pave the way for the rebels to overrun the city and seize power. This will spell doom for the peace process and create a state of vandalism, chaos and anarchy. The second is where President Gbagbo caves in to international pressure by implementing the critical tenets of the Paris Peace Plan, tones down his rhetoric and ensures control of his errant supporters, provides unconditional support for French and UN peacekeepers, and genuinely accommodates other political factions/interests into the overall governance of Ivory Coast. If the second scenario, which is highly unlikely, is implemented, Ivory Coast will be on the path to peace.

One thing is very clear in Ivory Coast today. France is no longer seen as an impartial broker in the current conflict, at least by the government. Yet, France remains key to the peace process because of its vast economic, political and strategic interest in the country. Although it arranged the 2002 peace deal, Laurent Gbagbo's supporters see France as favoring the rebels. To the rebels, Gbagbo is the problem. Thabo Mbeki's proposal to meet with key Ivorian opposition leaders in South Africa is critical and must be embraced by all African leaders, especially President Obasanjo of Nigeria, who skillfully negotiated the resignation of the intransigent Charles Taylor from power, thus paving the way for disarmament in Liberia. African leaders should, once more, take the reflexive approach and challenge to resolve their own conflicts.
Hindowa Momoh is a Research Assistant at AFJN
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