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DESPITE DEMOCRATIC CHANGES NOT ENOUGH SUPPORT FOR AFRICA

1/15/2003

MOI means "My Own Interest:" Finally Kenya's Arap Moi handed over the presidency to a freely-elected competitor Mwai Kibaki, an experienced politician who took the oath of office sitting down because of a car accident. Moi, who could not run again, supported Uhuru Kenyata, son of the first president who led the fight for independence but the young man managed only to get a seat in parliament. Being linked to the rule of President Arap Moi did not seem to help particularly with so many financial reports incubating that his name was said to be initials for "my own interest." Moi in French also means "me."

Incidentally, Africa will be heading the presidential changes in several key countries. In Nigeria, the largest and richest in resources, President Obasanjo is fighting for his political life whether or not he will be allowed to run in the forthcoming elections. General Paul Kagame in Rwanda promised free elections in 2003, the first since 1994, the year when the international community stood by as hundreds of thousands were massacred. He also promised to release 120,000 "political prisoners"(!) not many of whom are likely to vote on his side. Togo's eternal president Eyadema has finally got the message that he will need to ease himself out. So he will be proposing his son instead. How long Laurent Gbagbo in Cote Ivoire can last with a rebel movement in his countryside is not clear. French troops are supporting him thus far, but it may get too costly and he is getting less popular. Change is predicted before year's end. The Sudanese government is negotiating with Southern rebels and whether an agreement is reached during prolonged talks in Machakos or not, a basic government change will have to take place. Liberia, singled out by the "Economist" as the worse place on earth to visit, is held brutally by Charles Taylor, who collaborates with neighbouring armed groups on illicit diamond and arms trade. But for how long? Many other countries in Africa, with great potential, are hoping for peaceful change through negotiations.

Two countries with U.N. involvement, the Congo and Angola, seem to be making some headway. While no tangible results have yet appeared around Kinshasa, the situation in Angola reached a point where the Security Council noted with appreciation the experienced spadework of special envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

While Africans are making obvious effort for change towards good governance and free elections, one of the main problems is lack of practical support by the outside world. A glaring gap is in the lack of support for development. Over the last ten years for example, funding to Africa by the international community went down from $30 to $16 billion -- almost by half.