“We must reject the status of Narco-State”

Adam Thaim, chief editorialist for Bamako's Le Republicain, reflects on a Mali being caught in an international conflict over drugs and terrorism. In short, Malian's must solve this smuggling problem, before the West drags them into a "war on terror" and "war on drugs" from which they will benefit little. He notes a gang fight over cigarette smuggling at Batal – 15 km from Gao – last week that left one man dead, and another shot through each hand in punishment. Thaim fears the tie up in international conflicts will turn people against one another, and "Malians will soon assume every northerner is a bomber and any rich man is a drug dealer" While Malian's must pull together, the greater fear is from the perceptions of outsiders. "We are not owners of these conflicts and therefore it is not we, ultimately, who can gain from them. But rightly or wrongly, the link between this activity [the drugs trade] and the AQIM has been made and this will not win us the next Nobel Peace Prize."

Niger: Welcome to the para government press

"L’Afrique peut-elle se développer? TANDJA a osé !" shouts the headline. A suck-up piece about how President Tandja dares to reject colonial notions of "democracy" in favor of real "African" traditions. This is the same crap we've been fed for decades: cult of personality dressed up as liberation. What's interesting is that the byline is Ousseini Lawali in "La nation" N°00 of 13 January 2010. Yes, Number Zero of a brand new paper in Niamey, bravely printing the stories other refuse to tell of how great the President is. And so last week's meetings of the government press authority (CSC) come into focus. While the CSC was founded in 1993 to protect journalism, it is now a government controlled censorship agency. Last week it announced a vague "refoundation" of press laws and journalistic standards in Niger. So we we likely see the vibrant, if little distributed, independent newspapers gagged in coming months, to be replaced by "independent" papers like "la Nation".

Niger: more lax working hours for government

This week's presidential decree: the rescinding of the "Journée continue" law of 2007. Much in vogue in the last decade across the Francophone world, the 2007 law mandating the elimination of the two or three hour lunch break was inspired by similar laws in Burkina and Mali. Government offices were expected to be open from 7:30 to 16:30 five days a week. But complaints continued that staff would leave on their short lunch at noon and just not come back. One can assume that this is a bone to administrators, as they will likely see pay cuts due to sanctions. Whatever the rights or wrongs, the initial change was made by the National Assembly, the government and the President, but in this new age, the stroke of Tandja's pen undoes it without public notification.

AFP: West African body presents ‘road map’ for Niger

This is the offer which has been floating around opposition circles for several months: a transition to a seventh republic which resembles the 5th. Tandja, like General Ali Saibou during the transition from the 2nd to the 3rd Republics, would become a figurehead to a constitutional convention with executive power, and then retire to his farm. Tandja will not accept this willingly. ::

The important thing to note here: neither side is really about to compromise, especially Arzika for the government, who's position is entirely dependent of the dictatorial powers of the new constitution. Both sides are positioning themselves to win ECOWAS's support when the talks end. The opposition hopes that strong ECOWAS sanctions will split the regime and overturn Tandja. The government hopes that ECOWAS will be frustrated, make some statements, and eventually — quietly — accept Tandja's rule as a fait a complis.

Alernet’s “Forgotten crises to watch in 2010”

Reuters Alertnet describes nine national and international crises which are likely to appear in the headlines over the next 12 months. Their prediction that somewhere in the rural Sahel chronic malnutrition, heightened by national poverty and market dominated agriculture, will break out into Famine is a safe if depressing bet.

"Here is a selection of some of the under-reported humanitarian emergencies at risk of deteriorating this year. The list is by no means exhaustive nor is it any kind of ranking."

Thailand's Restive South / Violence In The Philippine Mindanao / Food Shortages In Nepal / India's Maoist Rebellion / Hunger In Guatemala / Ogaden Crisis In Ethiopia / Malnutrition In West And Central Africa / Conflict In Central African Republic / Chad's Wild East

Greg Dunkel. Haitian History: What U.S. textbooks don’t tell

"This Week in Haiti," Haiti Progres, 17–23 September 2003. A two-part article looks at high-school textbooks in the U.S. to show why so may Americans are so ignorant about Haiti and how this limited knowledge has been distorted, muffled and hidden behind a veil of silence. Part of the large "World History Archives" fair use and free "Haiti Archives" documents.

Haiti: Death of an African UN worker ties Guinea to Port au Prince

Among those killed in the Haiti UN building was Mamadou Bah, son of a prominent Dinguiraye Peul family. Educated in Lome and Paris, Bah worked in New York as well as Europe Africa and Haiti. Eventually taking joint Franco-Guinean nationality, Bah rose to become chief spokesperson for Minustah, and spearheaded the construction, through the Bibliothèques sans frontières (BSF) charity, the construction of over 100 free libraries across Haiti. The list of family condolences shows the wide diaspora of one Guinean family: in Montreal, Atlanta, Maryland, Washington and Conakry, as well as France and Haiti, people morn this young man tonight.