Showing posts with label CORRUPTION IN AFRICA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CORRUPTION IN AFRICA. Show all posts

11 Jul 2009

In his first visit to Africa since taking office, Barack Obama said today that the continent of his ancestors must overcome tyranny and corruption if it is to flourish.

Speaking in Ghana's parliament, Obama said the key to Africa's future prosperity was democratic and accountable government.

"Development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That is the change that can unlock Africa's potential," he said.

In an tough speech aimed at politicians across the continent, he gave an unsentimental account of squandered opportunities since the end of colonial rule. "No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers," he said.

"No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20% off the top ... No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.

"Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions."

Obama conceded that colonialism had left a legacy of conflicts and arbitrary borders. "But the west is not to blame for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants.

"Africa is not the crude caricature of a continent at war," he said. "But for far too many Africans conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. There are wars over land and wars over resources. And it is still far too easy for those without conscience to manipulate whole communities into fighting among faiths and tribes."

Earlier, after meeting Ghana's president, John Atta Mills, Obama praised the country's record of democracy and economic growth as a rare success in a continent beset by corruption and poor governance.

"We think that Ghana can be an extraordinary model for success throughout the continent."

This morning, Obama was given a hero's welcome in the country's capital, Accra. Thousands of people wearing Obama T-shirts thronged the streets, cheering and waving as his motorcade swept past.

Walls and utility poles were plastered with posters of Obama and Mills, as well as the word "change" – the mantra of Obama's presidential election campaign. Other posters showed the president and his wife, Michelle, with the greeting "Ghana loves you".

Obama and his family arrived late last night from the G8 summit in Italy, where the world's richest nations agreed on a $20bn (£12.4bn) food security plan to help poor nations feed themselves during the global recession.

Speaking in Italy before he left, Obama said: "There is no reason why Africa cannot be self-sufficient when it comes to food."

The Obamas will visit Gold Coast Castle, a former British slave trading post. Michelle Obama is a great-great granddaughter of slaves.

The visit comes as the US plans a much more assertive policy in Africa, using both diplomacy and the threat of force to end the protracted conflicts in Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, which are seen as two of the main obstacles to the continent's progress.

"This is both a special and an important visit for him personally as president, but also for our country to articulate a vision for Africa," said Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman.

Despite the enthusiastic reception from ordinary Ghanians, no major public events have been planned during Obama's 21-hour visit, for fear it could cause a celebratory stampede, as almost happened during a 1998 stop by Bill Clinton.

SOURCE: The Guardian

17 May 2009


A senior judge in Paris is about to cause the French government serious embarrassment with an investigation into the allegedly stolen wealth of three African presidents who are closely allied to France.

Two previous complaints by an anti-corruption group have been buried under pressure by the French authorities. But the most senior investigating magistrate in Paris, Françoise Desset, has now agreed to investigate the portfolios – from chateâux to Ferraris to multiple bank accounts – owned by the ruling families of Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo-Brazzaville.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is close to one of the three accused African leaders, Omar Bongo of Gabon, must decide in the next few days whether to order an appeal against the decision.

The investigation, which could last for many months, follows a formal complaint by a French open government pressure group, Transparence International. Daniel Lèbegue, the organisation's president, said the ruling

by Judge Desset was a "historic decision, which could mean the end of the impunity for corrupt leaders around the globe".

"This is the first time, anywhere in the world, that a judge has recognised the right of a non-governmental organisation to bring a law suit in the names of victims of corruption," he said.

The NGO's legal complaint claims that the three families' wealth "could only have been assembled through the embezzlement of public money". The organisation's lawyer, William Bourdon, said: "Each luxury apartment bought by President Bongo's clan is a public hospital less in Libreville."

Two previous law suits brought by Transparence International were blocked after pressure by the French public prosecutor's office,which is under government control. Judge Desset decided this week that there was a possible case.

According to information leaked to the French newspaper Libération, President Bongo – the longest serving leader in sub-Saharan Africa – has property in France worth tens of millions of euros. He and his family are thought to have 70 different bank accounts, several chateaux and 11 houses and apartments in and around Paris.

They also have a family compound in Nice, extending to three houses, two apartments and a swimming pool. The Bongo family car fleet is said to include two Ferraris and five Mercedes.

The family of President Sassou-Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville – one of the poorest countries in the world – is estimated by French police to have 11 bank accounts, 13 luxury cars and nine properties in the Paris area. President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea is reported to have a more modest portfolio of a private jet, two luxury cars and a $35m villa in Malibu, California.

M. Bourdon predicted that the state prosecution service would appeal against the judge's decision. "I fear that it will become obvious that the prosecution service is the tool of raison d'etat in France," he said.

If the investigation does go ahead, it could lead to a prosecution of the African leaders but this would be unlikely to succeed without state backing. Transparence International's main objective seems to be to embarrass the three presidents – something that it has already achieved.

President Sassou-Nguesso has dismissed the legal moves against him as an "echo of neocolonialism". In 2007, he said: "Every leader in the world has chateaux and palaces in France, whether they are from the Gulf, from Europe or from Africa."



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