Monday, January 25, 2010

News from the Mano River Union

I wanted to flag some interesting stories from Guinea, Liberia, and Cote d'Ivoire (which along with Sierra Leone, form the Mano River Union).

First, things in Guinea seem to be settling down with the appointment of an opposition Prime Minister and President Camara's agreement to voluntary exile in Burkina Faso. It seems the acting President of Guinea, General Konate successfully worked with Blaise Campaore (the regional mediator) and other regional leaders to convince the wounded Camara to step down. This is a relief for many in the region given fears that Camara's return would spark civil war in Guinea and of course threaten stability in the neighboring countries. The new Prime Minister, Jean-Marie Dore, is an old hand in Guinean politics. This is interesting analysis from BBC on the events unfolding in Guinea.

This brings me my next story. Charles Taylor, after months of providing testimony in his own defense, is undergoing cross examination at his trial in The Hague. The crazy "I'm innocent" stories keep coming but this one was, shall we say, entertaining. Taylor claims he had no part in sending Liberian fighters to Cote d'Ivoire in 2003. I think I need to start reading about the trial more often again because it's a good refresher in Mano River Union history.

This brings me to my final story, this time from Cote d'Ivoire, the last country to join the Union. Most people of course are worried about the elections though I think many forgot about that while they watched the quarter finals of the Africa Cup of Nations yesterday (Algeria beat Cote d'Ivoire). Anyway, back in 2006, the multinational oil company Trafigura brought 500 tons of chemical waste to Abidjan "processing" and disposal. I'm sure you've read about other places where governments and corporations are "working" with developing country governments to "process" and "store" dangerous waste. Anyway, the waste wasn't properly handled at all. In fact, it was simply dumped in the laguna in Abidjan (there are some nice photos here). As you might expect, many people got sick, some died. A lawsuit was filed and damages were awarded. On Friday, an Ivoirian court decided that a local activist, Claude Gohourou, should distribute the 45 $million to the 30,000 victims. Now no one is sure that the people who suffered from the dumping of this stuff will see a payment.


  1. For what it's worth, Algeria defeating Ivory Coast was a rather significant upset, especially in the manner that it happened: a 90th minute Algerian equalizer sent the game to extra time. (The Elephants, as Cote d'Ivoire's squad is called, were one of the favorites to win the tournament.)

    This doesn't bode well for either England or the United States, in whose World Cup group Algeria was drawn along with Slovenia.

  2. Hmmm....why is the money going through that activist? Why not directly to the victims? Disgusting.

  3. Madhu--I don't know but I think that's exactly what worries the victims.