Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Africa's Revival - over So Soon? War between Eritrea and Ethiopia Dissolved One of Africa's Closest Partnerships

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Africa's Revival - over So Soon? War between Eritrea and Ethiopia Dissolved One of Africa's Closest Partnerships

Article excerpt

When President Clinton visited Africa in March, much was said about Africa's renaissance, a political and economic revival of the continent brought on by a handful of enlightened leaders.

The "Museveni gang," as it was unofficially known, had taken a cue from Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, a former guerrilla fighter who in 1986 inherited a wasteland and turned it into one of Africa's most vibrant economies.

Belonging to the gang were Rwanda's Vice President Paul Kagame, a guerrilla fighter who came to power in 1994, putting an end to the country's ethnic genocide; and Laurent Kabila, another guerrilla leader who toppled Zaire's extravagant dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, in May 1997. To the north, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea were showered with similar praise. They, too, had led armed struggles against a harsh dictatorship, that of Ethiopia's Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam, and had come to power in their respective countries as a result of that struggle. Aside from a past in military fatigues, what Africa's "new leaders" shared was a Marxist matrix from their university days and, later on, a painless conversion to the fundamentals of capitalism. In exchange, they received multimillion-dollar loans from bastions of free-market thinking like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. With the glaring exception of Mr. Kabila in the newly renamed Congo, they all unshackled their economies, privatized state-owned enterprises, and worked hard to lure foreign investors. In Ethiopia, Mr. Zenawi's policies had such promise that he obtained $106 million from the United States alone, making his country the second-largest US aid recipient on the continent after President Nelson Mandela's South Africa. Under the Greater Horn of Africa Initiative, the US sent $10 billion into the region this decade, mainly in emergency relief. …

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