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KAG 29th Dec 2012 06:38

Africa: we are always wrong, whatever we do.
BBC News - Central African Republic's Bozize in US-France appeal

The Central African Republic's President Francois Bozize has appealed to the US and France to help block a rebel advance on the capital, Bangui.

He apologised for Wednesday's attack on the French embassy by protesters who accused France of abandoning them.

French President Francois Hollande has already said France will not intervene in its former colony.

The UN is evacuating its non-essential staff from the country, while the US has urged its nationals to leave.

There is a mood of deep anxiety in Bangui, and residents are "petrified as to what could happen", the UN envoy in the CAR, Margaret Vogta, said.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote
There is no question of allowing them [the rebels] to kill Central Africans”
End Quote
Francois Bozize

CAR's president
The BBC's Junior Lingangue reports from the city that people have been stockpiling food amid fears that the rebels - known as the Seleka coalition - could launch an assault in the next few days.

On Sunday, the rebels captured the northern city of Bambari, the third largest in the country, having earlier seized the rich diamond mining area around Bria.

It is unclear how far they have advanced towards Bangui, but an unconfirmed report by Reuters news agency on Wednesday quoted sources as saying they were only 75km (47 miles) away.

'Double speak'

Several thousand supporters marched through Bangui on Thursday to protest against the rebel advance.

"We ask our French cousins and the United States of America, the great powers, to help us to push back the rebels," Mr Bozize told the crowd.

A halt to the rebel advance would open the way for talks to end the conflict, he said.

"There is no question of allowing [the rebels] to kill Central Africans, of letting them destroy houses and pillage, and holding a knife to our throats to demand dialogue," Mr Bozize was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

Our correspondent says Mr Bozize also apologised for the protest outside the French embassy, when an angry crowd threw stones at the building and tore down the French flag.

The crowd accused France of abandoning them by refusing to help quash the rebellion.

France has about 200 soldiers based in the CAR and stepped up security at its embassy after the attack.

However, Mr Hollande said France would not intervene military.

"If we have a presence, it's not to protect a regime, it's to protect our nationals and our interests and in no way to intervene in the internal business of a country, in this case the Central African Republic," he said. "Those days are over."

A spokesman for the French foreign ministry told Reuters that the crisis needed to be resolved through dialogue.

Seleka, which is made up of breakaway factions from three former armed groups, accuses Mr Bozize of failing to honour a 2007 peace deal, under which fighters who laid down their arms were meant to be paid.

The rebels have pledged to depose Mr Bozize unless he negotiates with them.

They began their campaign a month ago and have taken several towns in their push towards the capital.

The CAR's minister of territory administration told the BBC the rebels were "engaging in double speak" as they had not respected a call by regional powers for a ceasefire to allow for dialogue.

"The international community must look out for constitutional order. Our president must be able to finish his mandate which ends in 2016," Josue Binoua told the BBC's Newsday programme.

Mr Bozize, who seized power in a coup in 2003 and won two subsequent elections, has repeatedly relied on foreign intervention to fend off rebellions and the spill-over from conflicts in neighbouring Chad and Sudan.

Chad has deployed 150 soldiers to try to stem the rebel advance.

A 400-strong regional peace force, funded by the European Union, which has a mandate to protect civilians is also stationed in the country.

I was based in Tchad in 1996, and had to go to Central Africa because of the events.
I am very puzzled with the situation, we cannot ignore a country calling for help, at the same time in Africa, as a rule, the todays Rebels are the tomorrow official leaders, and the people are always the same tu suffer.

Tableview 29th Dec 2012 06:48

They wanted independence, they threw out the whites who made the country work, and then they sit with the begging bowl when things go wrong. Is there a lesson in that?

I'm generalising, I don't know much about the colonial history of Francophone Africa but I'm assuming it's pretty much along the same lines as the British ex-colonies, something I do know about and have first hand experience of.

probes 29th Dec 2012 07:35

Looking back - would it have been better to leave them alone; i.e not interfere (white people in Africa) at all?
Just a personal opinion, as it's a 'would-have' thing anyway?

Victor Inox 29th Dec 2012 07:36

Can't agree more, Tableview.

sisemen 29th Dec 2012 07:54

Let them stew in their own juice. This is what they wanted after all.

KAG 29th Dec 2012 08:16

Probes: yep, it was quite stupid to go there initially.
But now, somebody is calling for help, and we ignore it? Not an easy situation...

mike-wsm 29th Dec 2012 09:38

OP tells absolutely nothing.

Who is funding the "rebels"??? :confused: :confused: :confused:

Tableview 29th Dec 2012 09:48

In South Africa the blacks were referred to by many people as 'boys' and 'girls' Whilst that was pejorative and offensive, it implied that they had never grown up.

As soon as something goes wrong after they've left home, they go crying back to Mummy and Daddy. When it's your children, your own flesh and blood, you can't ignore them. When it's an ex-colony, I think you can, and you should. Of course what happens next in Chad (Tchad?) it will depend on whether it is strategically important to the west, if not, it will be left to stew in its own juice as is happening in Zimbabwe.

Truly hypocrisy is the Vaseline of political intercourse (Pieter Dirk-Uys).

AlpineSkier 29th Dec 2012 10:14

As far as the "strategic" bit goes, I might have expected Chad's very large supply of uranium to be of particular interest to France because of its enormous investment in nuclear power.

cavortingcheetah 29th Dec 2012 10:35

In some respects the dichotomy of Africa is well expressed in the paradox of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
This charity, chaired by William Gates, Bill's father, spends considerable amounts of money each year on research into AIDS and other health related African issues thus helping to reduce the usual high human African mortality rate. In their turn various charities, perhaps illogically and unwittingly coasting on the success of the Gate's Foundation's results, appeal for donations to send food and supplies to Africa to keep the starving alive. While all this goes on, David Cameron has made a commitment to enshrine in law an expenditure of at least 0.7% of Britain's annual GDP as aid to developing countries. This money comes from tax payer's resources, it amounts to somewhere around the £3 billion each year. Is there here an invidious comparison with the disturbingly unchristian efforts of the first missionaries in Africa to educate the poor but jolly old heathen?

Fox3WheresMyBanana 29th Dec 2012 12:00

I see the pop stars are quiet about this one......

AtomKraft 29th Dec 2012 14:00

IMHO any effort expended in Africa tends to be wasted.

It's a bottomless 'black' hole of a place into which the Worlds resources could be poured for indefinate periods without achieving anything.

The folk there spend max effort on shafting each other in more ways than one.

Whenever they see a non-African- they immediately stick out their hand 'begging bowl style'.

I wish it were different.

Leave them to it.

Keef 29th Dec 2012 15:03

No, neither-nor.

Yes, there are some thoroughly unlikeable people who have wormed their way into high office in various African countries, and there are some serious nutjobs with stocks of AK47s and worse. Similar happened in Europe not so long ago.

But there are also some amazing people. I've been in contact (mostly through a very active friend of mine) with a group of people in Tanzania. They are hospitable, generous, caring, and loving. They have very little, and ask nothing - although we choose to send things to them. Said friend and her husband have built several schools and hospitals there - not costing millions, but adequate for the needs and infinitely better than nothing.

Two agricultural members of that local team visited us some years ago. We had a nightmare getting them visas, but in the end the Home Office relented when we got the Bishop fired up to ask questions in the House of Lords.

They had been being "advised" for years by the "experts" in their Government, but were getting nowhere. We took them to the local agricultural college here to meet some tutors who'd lived in Africa years before. They spent a day wide-eyed, taking notes of all the stuff they needed to know - but had never been told. Their crop yields now are vastly better than before; they don't try to grow crops that are unsuitable for their environment; and (most important) they know where to go to ask for advice.

So - my take is: education and healthcare matter. Provide that, and the rest will follow. Keep a beady eye on the individuals - one bad egg in the Tanzanian lot left with the Länd Röver we'd sent, and set up as a taxi operator in Dar. He even had the cheek to ask us to send spares when it broke down. That was one bad egg in a clutch of several hundred: I have no reason to believe it's not similar in most places. The problem comes when the nutjobs with AK47s arrive.

[Edited because a wacky word-censor changes Länd Röver without Umlauts to Trabant].

sled dog 29th Dec 2012 15:40

Land Rover appears as written........:p

Matari 29th Dec 2012 15:44

Goodluck Jonathan is doing amazing things in Nigeria, in spite of all the historical and ethnic headwinds there. The West should encourage and support him.

Ghana has just had a disputed election; it will be resolved by the Supreme Court rather than by guns.

But there are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic. Islamic militants are advancing from the north. Thugs and despots like Mugabe and Zuma get a pass from the West. One wonders where all the idealistic western leftists are now?

Here's a bright young lady, speaking about development aid and jobs for Africa. The continent needs more like her, and the courageous Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

G&T ice n slice 29th Dec 2012 16:05

way back when ....

sometime around the "feed the world" nonsense a newspaper chappie whose name I cannot recall (sort of male version of Janet Street Porter) was given the 5-minute "issues" spot on BBC2 (or maybe Ch4)

Caused a bit of a furore because he was against sending food aid to africa...
as he said (I paraphrase) "They were starving in africa before I was born, they've been starving in africa throughout my life and they're still starving in africa and sending them food aid is a watse of time until they've sorted out all their other problems"

Of course there was much wailing & gnashing of teeth, shaprening of back-stabbing equipment & general denigration of the chap.

Big problem for the left-wing pinko liberal commie huggy-fluffies was that (from memory) he was something very senior at that well known right wing paper The Mirror

And yes, I agreed with him then and I still agree with his sentiments

ehwatezedoing 29th Dec 2012 17:33


Originally Posted by Tableview (Post 7600571)
They wanted independence, they threw out the whites who made the country work, and then they sit with the begging bowl when things go wrong. Is there a lesson in that?

I agree, "they" wanted their independence.

Also, to put things into perspective. Most of the frontiers in Africa were artificially drawn on a map by "us" colonialists and our interests.
With what I believe was a total disregard of local conditions. Never ethnic groups were taken into account.

As an example, there is 80 distinct one for Central Africa Republic alone. Each with their own language. 190+ for a country like Chad, etc....
A little like how Europe was looking back in the Middle Age. It took a few centuries and WWII to get things sorted out (with United States help duh!!) ;)
So I'm not expecting miracles in Africa.
It is a bit like asking a two years old to run a marathon. He will, just give him time.

On a side cynical note, I always thought that only dictators could reins all those differences. Mobutu in Zaire was a good example (250 ethnic group!)

Disclaimer: I partly grew up in "Tchad & Centrafique" hence my personal interest in this domain.
Spelling, grammar & syntax mistakes are not alcohol induced...:p

Tableview 29th Dec 2012 17:43


sometime around the "feed the world" nonsense a newspaper chappie ........... caused a bit of a furore because he was against sending food aid to africa...
as he said (I paraphrase) "They were starving in africa before I was born, they've been starving in africa throughout my life and they're still starving in africa and sending them food aid is a watse of time until they've sorted out all their other problems"
That would be someone who knew what he was talking about, had been there, seen it, and wasn't afraid to speak the truth. The fluffy lefties hate people like that!

Dambisa Moyo, who is Zambian, wrote a book called Dead Aid (or something similar) in which she expounds very succinctly her theories as to why foreign 'aid' has done more harm than good.
Dambisa Moyo | Dr. Dambisa Moyo is an international economist who writes on the macroeconomy and global affairs. She is the author of the New York Times Bestsellers

oldchina 29th Dec 2012 17:43

Africa is the black sheep of the world's continents family. Oops, am I allowed to say that?

cockney steve 29th Dec 2012 18:03

Keef's post (#16) is very telling......As with many other posters here, I'm tired and cynical about the "Aid-business"

The well-known "charities" have had ~60 years...3 or 4 GENERATIONS to teach these primitive people how to utilise modern knowledge in order to become self-sufficient.....IT HAS'NT WORKED

to paraphrase his post, the so -called expert officials were incompetent.

One would have assumed that the "aid agencies" distributing the Western largesse, would have taken seriously their duty of care to donors and make sure the assets were used in a cost-effective way
OBVIOUSLY NOT....although these employees of Charities, are probably NOT the best-paid, they're damned well OVERPAID , as their lamentable record proves.

Until governments get Politics out of it, ensure that Aid is used effectively and indiginous officials are held accountable, nothing will change
All the crocodile-tears in the world will not alter the grossly corrupt , inefficient business that is the "aid" industry.

One has to ask, do they really WANT to help themselves?....60 years of handouts have conditioned them to believe that the Whites will provide, so why bother !

Entertainers?....perhaps they're older, wiser and as cynical as me!

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