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AfricaFocus Bulletins with Material on Politics and Human Rights - 2006

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Dec 12, 2006  Zimbabwe: Symptoms of Decline
    "Zimbabwe was once the publishing capital of southern Africa. It used to host the best book fair in Africa. But years of neglect, as with Zimbabwe itself, [have revived the saying]: 'We cannot eat books.' With few visitors and even fewer sales, neither can the publishers."

Nov 12, 2006  Lesotho: Anti-Corruption Actions
    Search the World Bank's website section on anti-corruption ( for "Lesotho" and you will get the following response: Your search - Lesotho - did not match any documents. No pages were found containing "Lesotho". But while the World Bank may not be paying attention, the small Southern African country has taken the lead in attacking corruption in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, a giant scheme financed by the World Bank itself.

Oct 31, 2006  Congo (Kinshasa): From Votes to Security?
    Voting went peacefully in presidential runoff elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo on October 29. And both contenders have promised not to resort to force to contest the results. But there is still a significant threat of violence as the votes are counted.

Oct 11, 2006  Africa: "New News"
    "I am constantly confounded as to why American media don't find Africa an exciting place to report from and about. I think there's a perception that audience interest is limited. That's certainly not been true in my experience. ... I don't have a problem with reporting death, disease, disaster and despair, because all of the above exist. But that is not all there is to Africa." - Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Oct 6, 2006  Africa: Forced Evictions
    "Forced evictions are one of the most widespread and unrecognised human rights violations in Africa," - Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International's Africa Programme. According to research by Amnesty International and the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), more than three million Africans have been forcibly evicted from their homes since 2000.

Sep 16, 2006  Africa: Migration and Rights
    Chartered planes started flying illegal African immigrants back from Spain to Senegal last week, resuming a repatriation program aimed at stemming the flow of immigrants to this southern European country. But judging by experience, the return is unlikely to stop thousands of others from risking their lives in small boats to reach the Canary Islands from the West African coast, or finding other perilous ways of reaching the European continent.

Sep 16, 2006  Africa: Migration and Development
    "[The] potential benefits [from international migration] are larger than the potential gains from freer international trade, particularly for developing countries," notes an extensive recent United Nations report on migration. But while the liberalization of the flow of goods and capital continues to increase, restrictions on the movement of people are leading to thousands of deaths in border areas such as the U.S. southwest desert and the sea routes between Africa and Europe.

Aug 13, 2006  Nigeria: Swamps of Insurgency
    "Over the past quarter century, unrest in the Niger Delta has slowly graduated into a guerrilla-style conflict that leaves hundreds dead each year. The battle lines are drawn over the region's crude oil and gas that make Nigeria the number one oil producer in Africa and the world's tenth largest crude oil producer." - International Crisis Group

Aug 6, 2006  Zimbabwe: Displacement and Survival
    One year after "Operation Murambatsvina" ("Clean-Up"), the damaging effects of the government campaign aimed at the urban poor are still visible, reports a recent delegation from South African social movements. With Zimbabweans expressing little hope in a divided opposition, internal efforts at resistance are concentrating on survival.

Aug 6, 2006  Zimbabwe: Shadows and Lies
    "There is no reason why Zimbabweans today should watch our country go down the drain. Look at the time it took to build it up. That one can just destroy it overnight is something very painful. It was not about creating another dictatorship, creating another oppressive system, where you cannot exercise your rights." - Margaret Dongo

Jul 30, 2006  Congo (Kinshasa): A New Beginning?
    In the best scenario, today's elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with more than 25 million voters, will demonstrate the will of the Congolese people for peace and the possibility of increased stability. In the worst case, the elections themselves may prove a stimulus for further violence. In any scenario, the fundamental issues of building a government that works and fighting poverty and corruption lie ahead.

Jun 27, 2006  Gambia: Defending Press Freedom
    The Gambian government has blocked a non-governmental forum of freedom of expression scheduled to take place in Banjul on June 19 and 30, prior to the African Union summit in the Gambian capital. But media freedom groups will still be focusing on threats to free expression in Gambia and demanding an investigation of the murder of Gambian journalist Deyda Heydara, which took place 18 months ago.

Jun 13, 2006  Africa: A Culture of Accountability
    "In truth serious debate about the manner in which Africa was governed only became mainstream after the end of the Cold war. Prior to this human rights, democracy, freedom of expression and other basic freedoms of ordinary citizens often took a back seat to the grand geopolitical struggles that were played out on African soil. It was thus somewhat disconcerting for many of our leaders to find themselves being lectured about good governance in the early 1990s by the very same Western patrons who had previously supported some of the most corrupt and oppressive regimes on the continent." - John Githongo

May 22, 2006  Egypt: Human Rights Protests
    Despite promises of liberalization, repression is continuing against human rights reformers in Egypt, and U.S. annual aid to Egypt of some $1.7 billion is expected to continue at the same level in the next fiscal year. In addition to critiques from international human rights organizations, Egyptian bloggers are increasingly prominent in disseminating critique of the regime in both English and Arabic.

May 4, 2006  Congo (Kinshasa): Elections and More
    The first round of presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo is now scheduled for July 30, after repeated delays. South Africa is taking responsibility for producing the ballot papers, while the European Union will send over 1,000 troops to aid United Nations forces in maintaining security during the elections. The elections, observers stress, are only one of the essential steps for consolidating peace in the country.

Apr 14, 2006  Africa: Stolen Wealth
    "Corruption is bleeding Africa to death and the cost is borne by the poor. ... Much of the money is banked in Britain or our overseas territories and dependencies. ... We want our government to get tough on corruption." - Hugh Bayley, MP, Chair of the Africa All Party Parliamentary Group

Apr 9, 2006  Benin: Democratic Succession
    "The constitution favors the change of power and the change of heads of state. These fundamental prescriptions of our constitution of 11 December 1990 must resist all opportunistic revisionism, short-term interests and subjectivism." - Outgoing Benin President Mathieu Kerekou, who turned over the presidency on April 6 to his elected successor Yayi Boni, a strong critic of Kerekou's record.

Mar 19, 2006  Liberia: Johnson Sirleaf in New York, Washington
    "Listening to the hopes and dreams of our people, I recall the words of a Mozambican poet who said, 'Our dream has the size of freedom.' My people, like your people, believe deeply in freedom - and, in their dreams, they reach for the heavens. ... I ran for president because I am determined to see good governance in Liberia in my lifetime. But I also ran because I am the mother of four, and I wanted to see our children smile again." - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, speaking to the U.S. Congress, March 15, 2006

Feb 26, 2006  Kenya: Githongo Report
    John Githongo, who resigned a year ago as Kenya's anti-corruption chief, this month released a report on scandals he was investigating that has already forced the resignation of Kenya's finance minister and threatens to bring down other top officials. The report is based on detailed records he kept during his investigation, and spells out how officials used security contracts worth as much as $1 billion to siphon off government funds into non-existent companies.

Feb 6, 2006  Swaziland: No Democracy Allowed
    "King Mswati's time is up," headlined South Africa's Sunday Times last month after arrests and reports of torture of banned opposition party members in Swaziland. But with inauguration of a new constitution entrenching the powers of the monarchy, the prospects for democracy in this small country neighboring South Africa do not seem promising.