February 28, 2005


West African Leaders Help to Prepare Togo Vote (Joe Bavier, 28 February 2005, VOA News)

Two West African heads of state have gone to Togo to discuss organizing new elections following the resignation of the military appointed president. The opposition is afraid free and fair elections will not be possible.

President Mamadou Tandja of Niger and his Malian counterpart Amadou Toumani Toure represented the regional bloc ECOWAS on its diplomatic mission in Togo's capital, Lome.

A spokeswoman for the grouping, Adriane Diop, says ECOWAS has been encouraged by the decision Friday of Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the late long ruling leader, to quit the presidency and allow an interim president to take over until polls can be held.

"We see it as a positive decision. And that has triggered the lifting of sanctions from ECOWAS. So we are going to discuss with the Togolese political class to see the way forward," said Ms. Diop. "We will be on the side of Togo as provided by our protocols in order to assist them to have free and fair and transparent elections."

ECOWAS imposed sanctions against Togo last week following Mr. Gnassingbe's installation as president by the military upon the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema.

It lifted the sanctions Saturday after Mr. Gnassingbe stepped down, ceding the presidency to the newly elected assembly speaker and constitutionally-mandated interim leader, Abass Bonfoh.

Somewhat lost in our excitement over the rapid reformation of the Middle East is the equally compelling story of Africa gradually pulling its act together.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 28, 2005 12:20 PM

Won't it be funny when we have to start referring to Africa and the Middle East as being part of the First World and Europe as the Third World?

Posted by: Governor Breck at February 28, 2005 5:00 PM

First World and Third World are obsolete terms for the Cold War. The First World was the developed democratic west. The Second World was the Communist empire. And the Third World was the newly decolonized states. These terms became meaningless as early as the seventies/eighties when the Tiger economies (and when was the last time that phrase was mentioned?) showed there was little conceptual unity in the Third World. They have no relevancy now.

The reversal of fortunes for Africa was predictable (as long as world anarchy is avoided) as soon as the independence generation passed away. Their incompetence and tyranny was acceptable to their own people only because they symbolized the independence movement, and their successors lack that cachet. New leaders have a hard time explaining why Korea or Chile or Malaysia are so much more prosperous than them.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at February 28, 2005 6:48 PM

Sure, but in the modern parlance First World means modern, democratic technologically advanced countries and Third World means squalid poverty-stricken strongman ruled little heck-holes. No one even talks about the Second World anymore.

Posted by: Governor Breck at March 1, 2005 8:45 AM