|Africa News Digest
Burkina Faso: The Mass Strike Spreads in Africa
April 18 (EIRNS)For the first time since soldiers and members of the Presidential Guard began protests April 14, paramilitary police today joined protests in Burkina Faso. The protests of soldiers and police follows protests in the country that began in February.
Demanding that their wages for March be paid, soldiers and paramilitary police in the town of Kaya today torched the home of an army regiment chief, and ransacked the homes of other officers, according to an Agence France Press report that cited telephone accounts from residents. Soldiers in Ouagadougou, the capital city, also protested again last night. The government of President Blaise Compaore appointed a new prime minister yesterday.
Koudougou, western Burkina Faso, was again yesterday the scene of youth protests; the office of the ruling party and a home of the replaced prime minister were burned.
In a statement sent to AFP, a group of students said, "We want to make the ruling power... look into our concerns" and establish "truth and justice for Justin Zongo [a student who died in police custody] and all victims of repression."
Efforts by the government of President Compaore to put down the unrest have led to deaths of civilians. The demonstrations were initially organized to protest the rising cost of living, but escalated after the death of a student in police custody Feb. 20.
Labor and student unions are now involved, although youth and students now think, according to analysts familiar with Burkina Faso, that after the North African uprisings of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, organized structure is not necessary to get rid of a leader who is widely hated. Since February, demonstrators have been using slogans such as: "Tunisia is in Koudougou," a town known to be a center of resistance; and "Burkina will have its Egypt."
Compaore came to power in a coup d'etat in 1987, in which then-President Thomas Sankara, considered the father of the Burkina Faso revolution, was assassinated. Sankara had campaigned for a debt Moratorium. In 1987, the year he was killed, he announced unilateral suspension of foreign debt payments: "The debt cannot be repaid, firstly because if we do not pay, the creditors will certainly not die; on the other hand if we pay, we will certainly die. Those who have led us into a debt trap have gambled as though in a casino. When they were winning, there was no debate. But now when they have lost through gambling, they demand that we repay them. No! According to rules of the game we cannot pay and refuse to pay all foreign debts."
In the recent unrest, police stations in many towns, mayors, and governors are being targetted, as symbols of state authority.
Tens of thousands, according to reports, marched in the April 14 demonstration. This was one of the biggest demos in years.
Marches also took place in ten other towns, besides the capital. Soldiers are siding with the demonstrators against their commanders: "We're angry with our commanders. We don't want to work for them to get rich."
The mutiny broke out in two barracks, one in the compound of President Campaore, and spread this morning to three other army bases. Like the demonstrators of the last few months, the military demonstrators yesterday were also protesting the rising costs of food and housing.
French Military Assault Against Ivory Coast Implements British Policy
April 12 (EIRNS)An approximately 1,000-man French military force, in collusion with 9,000 UN "peacekeepers," yesterday captured Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo after French helicopters bombarded his residence with rockets over several days. Following initial reports that Gbagbo had been captured by the French forces, French spokesmen hastily claimed that the anti-government rebels they are backing, headed by former IMF director Alassane Ouattara, had captured him. The French intervention used helicopter gunships, tanks, and other equipment of the French Licorne forces stationed in Ivory Coast.
The French military intervention, in collusion with the United Nations and backed by President Barack Obama, in favor of Ouattara, was carried out under the flimsy cover of defending democracy, and is reminiscent of former colonial ventures into Africa.
Using former British prime minister Tony Blair's insidious doctrine of "the responsibility to protect," UN forces and French military, attacked forces loyal to Gbagbo, all but guaranteeing the destruction of the Ivory Coast for decades to come. Ivory Coast has become another African nation to fall victim to British/French manipulation to insure that the Ivorian people fight each other along the lines of divisions dating from the colonial era, thus preventing Ivory Coast from becoming a sovereign nation.
The precedent established by the capture of Gbagbo, if allowed to stand, would end any pretense of sovereignty of African nations. Created conflicts can be used as a pretext for interventions like this one, anywhere in the continent.
The stage has now been set to throw Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Within hours of Gbagbo's capture, Ouattara said he would take legal action against Gbagbo. The ICC's head prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, on April 6 launched a formal probe into alleged mass killings, saying these crimes should not go unpunished. Any attempt to conduct a trial in the country will lead to a volatile situation. If the Ivory Coast is not able to carry out a trial, then the ICC can step in.
One of the bankrollers of the founding of the ICC, British agent George Soros, is a supporter of Ouattara, and has supplied him with a private plane. Another British agent, and frequent advocate of regime change in Africa, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, has also been linked to Ouattara. She previously worked for a lobbying firm engaged on his behalf.
Although there were so many reports of mass killings by the rebels that Human Rights Watch criticized Ouattara's rebel forces in particular instances, the international focus was primarily on Gbagbo.
The Ivory Coast conflict has been building up since a coup attempt against Gbagbo in 2002, 14 months after he took office. The coup attempt led to a North-South partition of the country, which was enforced by the presence of French troops. The country has been on the brink of civil war since then.