Africa: The Empire Strikes Again

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[Black Star News Editorial]

Mali And Central African Republic: Not Yet Uhuru

and the Central African Republic are today dominating news from Africa
as fighting escalates in the former and a shaky peace process halts war
in the latter. 
Both countries have weak national governments
that are beholden on outsiders for their survival. Independence in both
countries amounts to paper Uhuru. 
The November and December
Africa headlines belonged to M23. The Rwanda- and Uganda-backed force
was reported by Human Rights Watch to have committed "widespread war
crimes" in Congo and eventually briefly seized the city of Goma. 
United Nations report by a Group of Experts concluded that M23's chain
of command passed through Rwanda's chief of military staff and went up
to the Minister of Defense Gen. James Kabarebe, who in turn reports to
Gen. Paul Kagame, the president.  
The report also found that
M23's leaders, including the ICC-indicted Bosco Ntaganda regularly had
strategy meetings with Uganda's Presidential Advisor on Military Affairs
Gen. Salim Saleh, brother of Gen. Yoweri Museveni. Ntaganda also
reportedly met with Uganda police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura during those
M23 eventually quit Goma following international
condemnation and pressure. Separately, President Barack Obama phoned
Gen. Kagame to warn him about his support of M23. In addition to
training and arming M23 Rwanda's regular army fought alongside them when
it captured Goma. 
Mali tops CAR in the news for now. There,
France has launched air strikes against the insurgents who seized
Timbuktu and a string of other cities. Mali's army, which was accustomed
to merely overthrowing civilian governments and brutalizing unarmed
civilians, fled quickly when the insurgents marched on Timbuktu. 
the insurgents resumed their march towards Bamako the Mali capital this
month, Mali's army begged France to step in and do its fighting. The
insurgents have the most modern weaponry. They seized the weapons when
France and its NATO allies destroyed Muammar al-Quathafi's government in
Libya, freeing up large arsenal of arms to any armed militia that could
carry them away. So France is trying to clean up a mess it helped create.

In open terrain France's airforces may in the
short run inflict tremendous damage and push the insurgents towards
the north and beyond. The insurgents claim they will fight to the end.
France has called upon the U.K. for indirect support and asked the U.S.
to provide drones.  
Even if the insurgents are pushed back,
France and its NATO allies may not be in a position for long-term
commitment to Mali's security -- at some point France will withdraw,
especially if the conflict starts affecting Hollande's political
fortunes back home. Defending Mali is the role for the national army:
Mali's discredited army has shown that it's not up to the task. If the
enemy is unarmed civilians, Mali's army is quick on the scene: if it's
armed forces that fire back then Mali's army heads in the opposite
France is not committing armed forces in Mali out of
the goodness of President Francois Hollande's heart. Mali will have to
pay, probably with resource concessions -- the leadership will also
become even more beholden to France for years to come. Empire never works for free.
army overthrew its civilian government, usurped the democratic process,
and delivered Mali to the insurgents. Unable to fight the insurgents the
army then delivered Mali to France. National armies are supposed to
protect the nation's citizens. In the case of Mali, the army, headed by
an American-trained commander,
Captain Amadou Sanogo, who seized power in March 2012, sold out the people the army was supposed
to protect and defend.

It's as if Mali's army paved the way for what we now see transpiring.

In the Central African Republic the
national army similarly fled when an alliance of rebels called Seleca
marched on the capital of Bangui. President Francois Bozizi called
support from  neighboring countries:  Chad, Cameron, Gabon and Congo
Republic (Brazzaville). Later, South Africa also sent an intervention
 Bozizi and Seleca agreed to a cease fire, negotiated in
Libreville, the capital of Gabon. The combatants also agreed to
power-sharing government. 
Left unaddressed is how the Central
African Republic moves forward. Bozizi's priority seemed negotiating an
agreement that would allow him to complete his term in office in 2016. 
are many hidden hands fueling the conflict in Mali. Two years ago the
United States sent Rangers supposedly to hunt for Joseph Kony, the
Lord's Resistance Army leader.  Why no update on this hunt? What have
the U.S. forces been doing as the Seleca rebels marched towards Bangui?
Uganda also sent its national army the Uganda People's
Defense Force (UPDF) for this supposed search for Kony. Media reports
later emerged that the Ugandan soldiers were brutalizing civilians in
the Central African Republic and also looting diamonds. 
civilians in the Central African Republic are being victimized by many
armed forces: internal ones and ones from outside the country. Many of these forces who have arrived to "rescue" the CAR should also be viewed carefully to ensure that they too don't take advantage of a weak country and loot its riches.
solution that does not involve the unarmed opposition: civil society;
activists; and the youth, means the cycle of violence and
unconstitutional power changing will continue in the CAR, much in the
same way that it does in several African countries.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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