Sunday, 30 September 2007

News Round-Up

  • Clashes have continued on the water of Lake Albert, which straddles the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These have escalated since large oil deposits were found under the lake. For obvious reasons this re-ignited the long-standing feud over where the border lies. The UN presence on the lake is clearly insufficient and despite apparently successful bilateral talks between respective Presidents Kabila and Museveni, the tension has not abated.

  • Statistics revealed that 25,000 babies are born with HIV in Uganda every year. In many ways this is one of the most disturbing facts of the crisis for two reasons. First, there is the obvious difference between someone contracting HIV through sexual activity and one born with it. There is something heartbreaking about a totally innocent baby been born with such an awful disease. Secondly, there are many ways in which the risk of mother-child transmission can be drastically reduced (a dose of Nevirapine during labour, Caesarean delivery and abstaining from breast feeding are all known techniques for reducing the risk, if far from eliminating it). However these all rely on the mother knowing she is HIV-positive (by no means a given) and on the funds being available to provide drugs, milk formula etc. Surely this is one area where the collective conscience of the West, who have the power to help, can not stand by and watch.

  • The press has had a mixed reaction to Gordon Brown's boycott threat over Mugabe's attendance at the Lisbon summit. While some commentators have praised him for his attempts to isolate the regime there have also been many voices praising Mugabe for his refusal to bow to Western pressure. In general I think there has been a failure on behalf of Western leaders to understand why some Africans (especially in the South) have such difficulty openly condemning Mugabe. He is still a figure of anti-colonial resistance and even the disastrous land reforms have earned him kudos. In some ways I think that the sanctions on the country are giving him an excuse for the terrible economic conditions that he presides over. I don't pretend to know the answers but the current tactics are not working either to undermine Mugabe or to help the Zimbabwean people.

  • Prime Minister Nsibambi officially retired from the Chancellorship of Makerere after the final graduation ceremony of the season on Friday. All eyes are now on State House to reveal which of the two candidates forwarded by the University Council will be appointed.

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