Thursday, 12 February 2009

Letter from a reader: Shame on the African Union Leaders

The African Union leaders made history by electing one of their longest surviving dinosaur dictators, Colonel Qaddafi, to be the African Union president for the 2009 term. They made history not because they elected Qaddafi; but rather because this was the first time ever this man gets elected in his entire life.

Over his long rule of Libya for close to 40 years, he has always mocked elections and democracy, and one of his preferred slogans in his green book is 'representation (by election) is mendacious'; but when it serves his interests, it is rather something to celebrate.

By doing this, the African leaders have shown that their union is no more than a circus stage for clowns such as Qaddafi to show his colorful gowns and enjoy the spotlight that he has always longed for. They will soon rediscover what the Arab leaders experienced during the seventies of the past century, that Qaddafi’s persistent push for fast tracking this union, or any other union, is solely for his own wicked ambitions to become a world leader. He tried fast tracked and hasty unions with Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Chad and even the Island of Malta; all miserably failed when the real intentions of Qaddafi were revealed.

It is shameful for Africa and the African leaders, who are democratically elected, to elect this dictator who has ruled Libya with an iron fist since 1969. What an awful example for a continent that suffers from dictatorship, corruption, civil wars, and diseases.

Most of the African leaders know very well Qaddafi’s record in the world and inside his own country; his resume is one of the worst in the entire world specialized in terrorism, atrocities, dictatorship, suppression of free speech, and oppression.

It may be a timely reminder for Africans and the African leaders who elected Qaddafi with some selected items of their new president’s resume and his shameful record which includes but is not limited to the following:

· Sponsorships of several African civil wars and worst dictators, some examples include but not limited to, Liberia and its Charles Taylor, Uganda and its Idi Amin, Central Africa and its Bokasa and Chad.

· Full invasion of sovereign African nation, Chad, 1980-1987.

· Air raids and destruction of Sudan’s broadcast station of Um-Durman, 1985.

· War with neighboring Egypt, 1977.

· Bombing French airliner UTA over Niger (your new president’s agents have been convicted by the French court and he paid compensation for all European and American passengers; but not the African ones);

· Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, 1988 (your new president’s agent has been convicted and is serving life sentence);

· Public hangings, assassinations, kidnappings, and the imprisonments of thousands of Libyan dissidents inside and outside Libya (this has been going-on for almost 40 years with your new president’s public endorsements and joyful bragging);

· Cold blooded murder of 1,187 prisoners in Abu-Salem prison near Tripoli, 1996;

· Robbing the Libyan people from their oil revenues for his adventures and sponsorships of terrorist organizations around the world since 1969, while Libyans are suffering from lack of basic public services, ruined infrastructure, high unemployment and oppression.

Nevertheless, even with his awful resume and shameful record for this position, Qaddafi deserves some credit for being able to convince his African counterparts to elect him as their president; which proves the wisdom of the old Arabian idiom 'Birds fall in love with their resemblance.'

Nigerian jobs for Nigerian workers?

Protests in Lincolnshire recently by British workers irate over jobs there going to Italian and Portuguese ones raise some interesting issues.

Total, the French oil company had caused to be brought in about 300 construction workers from those two EU countries to carry out building projects on its huge £200 million Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire. An Italian concern had won the contract and brought in its own workers, housing them in large barges built for such a purpose. This caused locals who felt themselves qualified but spurned to protest.

These protests led to workers across the region and country walking off their jobs in solidarity with the protesting workers. Many of them held up placards with the legend ‘British Jobs for British Workers’. This was from a 2007 speech given by Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister.

The first issue this raises is why there is not a similar outcry over oil- rig jobs in Nigeria or other oil-producing countries in Africa, going to foreign workers shipped in to the country as easily as the crude is shipped out. And these foreign workers are never housed in grey barges, but in palatial houses in grand compounds resembling nothing else in those countries but presidential villas.

The second issue, of course, is why the British premier would include in his speech a slogan he knows is not only disingenuous, but unlawful, given his country’s membership of the EU, and that bloc’s rules guaranteeing the free movement of goods and workers between EU countries.

All of which demonstrates that all over the world, oil companies act with impunity and disregard for local sensitivities; and so do politicians.