The UN Report and Containing
By Tom Kamara
The recent report by the United Nations, pointing fingers at Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Togo, and other African countries for fueling the ongoing Angolan horrors by arming and backing the ruthless UNITA rebels in exchange for diamonds, is a convincing testament of the spreading hypocrisy in Africa about democratization, peace-building and continental security, while the continent's political rulers remain active participants in the trade of death and decay covering Africa. The report questions the logic within the international community of spending millions of dollars on floating refugees, relief work, resettlement , while Africa's crooked and callous political elite fan the flames of the continent's destruction for purely personal gains.
Many of Africa's current wars and horrors may have been foreign inspired, but without the participation and encouragement of neigbours, these wars would have been inconceivable. For a large part, the Cold War and its alliances concealed and sanctioned Cote d'Ivoire's (and others) destabilizing role in Africa. For decades, Houphouet had entrenched personal ties with Jonas Savimbi, the UNITA leader who would rather see Angola off the face of the earth than concede the presidency even after a resounding electoral defeat. In the name of diamonds and other valuables, Houphouet provided sanctuary for Savimbi. UNITA rebels traveled around the world on Ivorian passports. There are reports that following Houphouet's death in 1993, some international actors had convinced his predecessor, now ousted Konan Bedie, to end his country's death-breeding ties with Savimbi. The December coup has however changed the landscape because, according to sources, UNITA operatives in Abidjan, knowing that their current Ivorian passports would have been withdrawn had Bedie remained president, openly danced and celebrated his overthrow. They danced because, sources say, Gen. Robert Guei, a man who described Liberia's ruthless and thieving warlord turned president Charles Taylor as "a great warrior and politician," also has personal links with Savimbi.
On the continent as a whole, Cote d'Ivoire was the only West African country to openly endorse apartheid in the name of engagement, while granting asylum to the butcher of the Central African Republic, the self-styled emperor Jean Bedel Bokassa. Zaire's late hyper-corrupt dictator Mobutu, owned luxurious mansions in Cote d'Ivoire. But in the crusade against communism, Cote d'Ivoire marriage with destabilization, theft and terror, which is now drawing closer to home with predictions that Gen. Guei could soon become President Guei, was justified and sponsored by powerful allies in Western democracies to the detriment of Africa's socioeconomic development.
But it is the linking of the ANC's South Africa to Angola's slow death that amazes and disappoints men of conscience and morality. Apartheid South Africa's well-planned raids of annihilation of Angolan peasants, carried out because Angola had backed the ANC against the hard core racists, were of horrific proportions. Their effects remain, indelible as the country dies. Thousands of innocent Angolans perished. That those black South Africans, victims of inhumanity condemned and opposed by the rest of human humanity, who survived apartheid and are now in leadership can be accused of backing UNITA, a creation and an appendage of apartheid, is an African shame, a greater shame for humanity. Those who believe in the triumph of good against evil in today's world must have a rethink.
The case of Burkina Faso and its role in Angola indicates the fundamental importance of an individual's exit from a political scene. Since the gang-style execution of the honest, humble and charismatic President Thomas Sankara by the current strongman Blaise Campaori, this impoverished West African country has become the epicenter of destabilization, banditry, and crime within West Africa. Until now, no one wished to talk about it. Instead, Campaori has been blessed with rewards, and more rewards in the form of economic aid from western countries. The bigotry is that while Washington, London and other powerful countries are determined to punish rogue states like Iran, Libya and Iraq, they have turned blind eyes to the use of Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire as incubators for African terror.
Burkina Faso's listing as a main culprit for UNITA's arms as Angola slowly dies, comes as no great surprise. The surprise only is that for years, people of conscience have remained silent. European nations, in their barren hypocrisy, present Burkina Faso as one of the reforming, "democratic", African countries deserving more help from the international community. Whether the leaders of this tiny, barren country are "Al Capones" living off the blood and misery of neighboring states and people, as the UN report now clearly states, is immaterial. Moreover, West Africa's so-called leaders so significantly appreciated Blaise Campaori's gangsterism that they made him chair of ECOWAS, the misnamed Economic Community of West African States, and the Organization of African Unity (OAU). It was at this time that the cruel war in Sierra Leone took an upsurge turn, leading to the invasion of the capital Freetown, the destruction of the derelict city, and the butchering of over 5000 people. It came to pass that one of the notable achievements of Campaori's OAU chairmanship was that Sierra Leone, through his arms shipment to the RUF rebels via his partner in Liberia (Charles Taylor), made world history on amputations. Children as young as 7 months became the RUF's political targets and were left with amputated limbs. Although the US State Department and ECOMOG issued statements linking Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire to the horrors, others, conspicuously the UN, were silent. And the RUF rebels, knowing who their allies and backers were, demanded that there would be no peace without the involvement of Mr. Campaori.
Thus, the effects of Burkina Faso's and Cote d'Ivoire machinations and fanning of rebellions in other countries have been most devastating in neighboring states at the mercy of international donors to feed their people in a difficult game of survival as a consequence of Abidjan exported terror. The history of the Liberian and Sierra Leone terrors would have been fundamentally different, perhaps a little more humane, without the active Abidjan backing of Taylor and now Foday Sankoh.
In all sincerity, Cote d'Ivoire's now pathetic neighbor, Liberia, which became an indispensable springboard for Sierra Leone's killingfields, would not have seen the types of horrors brought upon it by mindless killers and thieves without the active and determined involvement of Houphouet and Campaori. Campaori would admit years later that he had sent a battalion of Burkinabe soldiers( mercenaries still in Liberia) to aid his "friend" Charles Taylor in becoming president of Liberia through terror and theft. In return, Liberia's industrial equipment, including earth moving equipment, power plants belonging to private and state mining companies, were all uprooted by Charles Taylor and trucked to Burkina Faso in exchange for guns and mercenaries. This process of mass theft in the name of waging a war went unopposed not only within international circles, but among Liberians. Sawyer's Interim Government of National Unity made no fuss about Burkina Faso's and Cote d'Ivoire's collusion in Liberia's decay. Instead, some high-ranking members of the government, devoid of any nationalism Liberian style, were also lobbying for some of Houphouet Boigny's blood money. The fact that Houphouet's backing of Mr. Taylor, and the years of terror and economic decay this would mean for poor Liberia, was not in their calculation. What was, was personal wealth, however short-lived.
But Burkina Faso's role in West Africa's destabilization and
decay is now becoming clearer, as indicated by the UN report.
There is no sense in asking UN member countries to pump in millions
of dollars for relief, disarmament, and you name it, when the
roots of Africa's problems are right from within. As long as gangsters
like Campaori and Taylor roam around as leaders, the UN will keep
asking donors for relief assistance and huge sums for peacekeeping
and peace-building. Had Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire been held
publicly responsible for the horrors in Liberia, Sierra Leone's
own horrors would have perhaps been abated. But it is hypocrisy
that rules the world. As long as this remains so, bandits will
be covered, and the innocent will continue to perish.
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