News from Africa for the past week is a bit of a mixed bag. Highlights include a change in imperialistic attitudes from Europe toward Africa and a woman being elected to a prestigious office for the first time. Lowlights include a war criminal and unstable governments. More details after the jump.
LIBYA – Ali Zidan, a human rights lawyer and former independent congressman, was elected by Libya’s Congress as interim prime minister a week after his predecessor was fired for failing to procure a Cabinet that political factions could agree on. Zidan is tasked with naming a new government that congress approves, disarming the thousands of young men who participated in Libya’s “Arab Spring,” and unifying the country’s tribes and towns. As interim prime minister, he will be overseeing this transitional period for approximately the next 20 months.
KENYA – London’s High Court allowed three elderly Kenyans to sue for damages for torture during the Mau Mau Rebellion. President Mugabe of Zimbabwe speaks out in support of the decision, saying, “I want to acknowledge a quiet yet significant victory which Africa has won against British colonialism. As some of you may be aware, Mau Mau victims of the British colonial savagery and brutalities in Kenya last week won the right to sue the British government for atonement of the suffering they underwent as they resisted British colonialism which, in comparable circumstances, involved theft of huge swathes of land, a good part of which remain in the hands of absentee landlords well ensconced in Britain and larger Europe.”
ETHIOPIA – Blain Biset writes about the need for educational reform across Africa, especially in the sub-Saharan regions. In light of October 11, 2012, the first International Day of the Girl Child, Biset argues that governments, NGOs, and civil society need to work together to push for reforms and new policies.
On Monday, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma became the first woman to be inaugurated as the head of the African Union Commission. Her role will be to oversee peace and security functions while keeping track of African economic and political affairs. Prior to her inauguration, she was South Africa’s minister of home affairs and had also served as South Africa’s minister of foreign affairs.
Former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), charged with war crimes from a conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2003. Bemba had authorized troops to assist then president of CAR Ange-FÃ©lix PatassÃ© with beating down a rebellion. During the five months that Bemba’s troops were in CAR, they allegedly raped, killed, and looted against civilians. Bemba stands trial for allegedly failing to control or punish his troops for their actions.
SENEGAL – French President Francois Hollande paid diplomatic visit to Senegal, expressing both humility and respect, honoring Senegal’s rich history – a far cry from predecessor Sarkozy’s attitude in past visits. Hollande addressed the need to change France’s interactions with its former colonial holdings in Africa, which frequently carry imperialistic overtones. Despite his words and actions thus far, many still suspect that policies will be slow to change.
MALI – With continuing destabilization following March’s coup, the UN Security Council has composed a resolution to address humanitarian and security concerns within the nation. The resolution gives the West African country 45 days to provide a detailed plan for military intervention to bring peace.