Geopolitical Poverty Trap

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2006 at 9:44 pm

Reuters AlertNet – CHAD: Residents prepare for war as rebels close in on capital

To Summarize – the President of Chad, Idriss Deby, came to power in 1990 in a Sudan sponsored rebellion/coup d’etat, and now is at risk of being deposed in the same manner. France, according to the story linked above, has upwards of 1200 troops in Chad ready to help “advise” the Chadian army in defending against the guerrillas.

This is an extremely important moment for Central Africa. The greater North/South Sudan civil war that went on for 25 years is over, but is being supplanted by the Darfur Crisis. The Sudan Government’s sponsored “janjaweed” militias in the Darfur region are taking their genocidal tactics into the neighboring countries, where they’re trying to finish the job on the refugees their terror created. Nicholas Kristof’s NY Times columns are especially good at explaining the situation. What makes this important is the danger of total Central-African Destabilization.

Let’s look at the neighborhood. The Central African Republic government fell to a military coup in 2003. The Congo is a total mess of corruption and violence, with the Hutu-Tutsi, post 1994 Genocide repercussions in the Great-Lakes region of Rwanda and Burundi next door. With the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone ended, and the Cote d’Ivoire civil war at a stalemate as a result, West Africa is at a place where diplomacy and the rule of law have a shot at re-taking root. The recent stories about former rebel-leader and Liberian President Charles Taylor illustrate this. If Chad falls to a militia sponsored by the same people who are ruining Darfur, the region will be further locked into their poverty trap.

African governments, through the African Union, need to step up to the plate, with EU and American support, and alleviate this situation in Central Africa before it envelops all of Central Africa. The Sudan government has shown a total disregard for international opinion and human-rights laws, and Darfur has unfortunately become the current synonym for humanitarian disaster. The Chad government is in real danger of falling; if it does it will be just another blip on the headlines in the developed world – another reason not to invest in Africa or trust Africans, because the place is “just ungovernable”. Chad has had a real shot at success, with the World Bank-financed oil pipeline bringing in enough tax revenue to allow Chad real self-development options.

But, this is all in danger of falling victim to Africa’s tragic status-quo, where “Big-Man” presidents – some legitimately elected, some not – amend their constitutions to eliminate term-limits and allow coups to stand. Not that there are not success stories, especially in South Africa. But Africa will never have the chance to really raise living standards until there can be true functioning democracies founded on the rule of law.


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