News and Comment: Paris, China, Kabila, Zuma, and ECOWAS.

The BBC reports that the liberation of Paris in 1944 was carefully orchestrated to be “whites only”.  Apparently, this was an American idea. So when De Gaulle wanted to have a French division lead the liberation, he had to remove the West African soldiers (which reportedly formed 65% of Free French Forces) from the division and even had to rely on some Spanish soldiers to have adequate numbers.

China is reducing its investments in Africa, the New York Times reported last week.  But this news should not be exaggerated.  Deals are still being made and it is unlikely that China will withdraw that much from Africa. Among other activities during the last couple of weeks, Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE increased its ties with Ghana, Nigeria and China signed a pact for cooperation with satellites, brought a trade delegation to Cote d’Ivoire, and promised to build a malaria research center in Cameroon. So, while it is true that China–like just about everywhere else in the world–may be reducing its demand for certain African commodities, it is not at all the case that China will withdraw.

The New York Times also published an interesting portrait of DRC President Joseph Kabila. There was a time when people hoped that his Western-educated background would allow for new and enlightened rule of the DRC. Unfortunately, the DRC remains as troubled as ever.

South African prosecutors have apparently dropped charges against Jacob Zuma.  This should strengthen his hand considerably in the upcoming election. It may also help him if other parties are being intimidated from participating, as the BBC reports.

One random piece of news: Apparently there was a bomb threat at the Italian embassy in Ghana. I would be interested to know more about this if anyone has a clear idea.

And finally, ECOWAS proves it is still alive and attempts to insert its voice in the on-going crisis in Guinea Bissau (BBC: Guinea-Bissau army ‘beats ex-PM’; Reuters: UN urges international help for Guinea-Bissau polls) . ECOWAS has issued a statement expressing its concern about human rights violations there.

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