Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Three More Crises Are Brewing Keystone Countries in Africa May Join the List of Nations in Chaos

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Three More Crises Are Brewing Keystone Countries in Africa May Join the List of Nations in Chaos

Article excerpt

Three of Africa's keystone countries - the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and South Africa - are showing signs of distress when the world is already overloaded with crises and unwilling or unable to come to their aid.

Unresolved crises include those in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. Haiti, parts of Nigeria, Palestine and Zimbabwe are just this side of chaos.

The conflicting elements in the DRC are not rational. With a population now standing at a staggering 80 million, it has been governed abysmally since the 19th century by the Belgians, dictator Mobutu Sese-Seko, dictator Laurent Kabila and now his son, Joseph Kabila, elected but striving to stay in office beyond his constitutional second term. I say, "governed abysmally" on the basis of the country's enormous wealth never having been applied to the well-being of its population.

The DRC has minerals, including coltan, copper, cobalt, diamonds, gold, silver, zinc and manganese, extensive commercial and agricultural potential, ample rainfall, hydroelectric capacity sufficient to light up the whole African continent, offshore oil and a large, very bright and industrious population. I lived there for seven years and have no doubt about what the Congolese could do if well-governed.

Instead, Mr. Kabila Jr. is determined to stay in power, emulating his thuggish predecessors and the self-described leaders of some neighboring countries - Zimbabwe President Robert G. Mugabe probably being the worst, but he is seriously challenged for "most appalling" by South Sudan's black-cowboy-hatted Salva Kiir. The crisis in the DRC will come to a head in December, when Mr. Kabila is supposed to leave office. The killing already has started. The Catholic Church is attempting to mediate, but prospects are not good, particularly given the DRC's violent recent past, gauged to have claimed upward of 6 million victims.

The DRC has borders with 10 other countries, underlining the potential for regional conflagration if it explodes again.

Ethiopia is another kind of problem, although its size and location and the fact that it hosts the headquarters of the African Union make stability there - based as it must be on the consent of the governed - as essential as peace and quiet in the DRC and South Africa. Ethiopia borders Eritrea, with which it has been scrapping for decades, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya.

Ethiopia's leaders have brought the country a fine record of economic development, showing growth of 10.9 percent over a period of 10 years. But, while they have brought a rising standard of living to Ethiopia's 94 million people, they have shown themselves to be hostile to democratic government. The last elections gave all the seats in parliament to the governing party. …

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