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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 March, 2003, 11:49 GMT
African press condemns Iraq war
Following the first week of hostilities against Iraq newspapers across Africa have been largely unanimous in their condemnation of the war.

Many papers believe that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein should be removed from power, but not in this manner. This is summed up in a commentary in Nigeria's Guardian.

"I wanted the Iraqi people to run their impostor of a leader out of town - or, better still, into jail," he says, adding "That's why I felt that the weapons' inspectors needed to be given more time and that sanctions could be used to snuff life out of Saddam's regime."

But now that war has broken out, there is a general belief that all is not going to plan for the coalition forces.

"It is beginning to dawn on people's minds that the war in Iraq is not a piece of cake on a silver platter," writes the Kenya Times.

Cote D'Ivoire's L'Inter fears that "the United States is heading towards an impasse". It warns that "the US is running the risk of getting stuck in the Iraqi desert just like in Vietnam".

There is much focus on the suffering inflicted on Iraqis by US-led attacks. "The surgical war, that of strategic targets that spare civilians, exists only virtually. The true war is a humanitarian disaster," says Algeria's La Tribune.

South Africa's Sowetan describes the bombing of Baghdad as a "crime against humanity".

UN threatened

Many papers fear the demise of the UN following the outbreak of war. "The UN is first victim of the Bush war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq," reads the headline in Madagascar's L'Express. The paper laments that "war has won over diplomacy in the disarmament of the Iraqi dictator".

Instead of one big recognizable Saddam, the world will be infected by little 'Saddamlets' who will be invisible and make life most uncomfortable for us all.
Accra Mail - Ghana

The Mozambique weekly Savana agrees. In an article entitled "Collateral damage" a commentator writes that addition "to the blood that will be shed, human flesh that will be torn apart, and bones crushed, there have already been heavy casualties". He lists these as "the UN, international law, Nato, EU and a balanced world".

Congo's Les Depeches de Brazzaville regrets that now "neither Africa nor Europe, united in a common reproach, can have any weight on the events".

But, South Africa's Sunday Independent feels that all is not lost for the UN. "The UN system can still be saved by ensuring that US and British forces disengage from Iraq at the earliest opportunity and are replaced by the UN's blue helmets to run an interim administration," it says.

Burkina Faso's Sidwaya also calls for the UN to maintain its authority. It says Africa would lose out if the UN vanished. "It is in the interest of Africans to strengthen the United Nations by remaining united and vigilant in the face of machinations of the big powers in which they will automatically be the losers," it says.

Rise in terrorism

There is a general consensus that the war on Iraq will do little to assist in the fight against international terrorism. The US and UK "have joined Saddam Hussein in endangering world security," writes Mozambique's Savana.

The bombing of Baghdad is a 'crime against humanity'
Sowetan - South Africa

This view is echoed in Ghana's Accra Mail. "Instead of one big recognisable Saddam which we can see and deal with, now the world will be infected by little 'Saddamlets' who will be invisible and make life most uncomfortable for us all."

But Uganda's pro-government New Vision daily disagrees. It praises the Ugandan Government for supporting the war, stating that it is in Uganda's interest that Iraq does not possess weapons of mass destruction.

"There are no guarantees that Iraq would not supply these weapons to fundamentalists in Sudan with links with terrorists like the Lord's Resistance Army," it says.

Propaganda war

The US and British media coverage of the war comes in for harsh criticism. Several papers suggest that the reporting from the US and UK is unreliable and being used to glorify the war.

It is in the interest of Africans to strengthen the United Nations by remaining united and vigilant in the face of machinations of the big powers in which they will automatically be the losers
Sidwaya - Burkina Faso

A commentary in Kenya's Daily Nation accuses the "Western media of being turned into megaphones of Washington". Another commentator writing in the same paper criticizes Western news organisations for "becoming embedded with the US and British mission to overthrow Hussein". The paper says the journalists "willingly allowed themselves to become part of the war effort" by withholding footage of captured allied soldiers.

This sentiment is echoed in Zimbabwe's government-run Chronicle based in Bulawayo. The paper calls for "more gory pictures of mutilated British and American soldiers on our television screens". It believes this will "serve as a lesson to those who believe that they can control the world and bully everybody".

The BBC's war coverage is singled out for particular criticism. From BBC radio and TV coverage you could mistake "the war for a lovely weekend family entertainment," writes a commentator in Ghana's Accra Mail.

Somalia's independent daily Ayaamaha believes that Somalis trust in the BBC World Service is being eroded. It accuses the BBC of resorting to "unreliable reporting methods contrary to its tradition". "The most reliable media source with the largest audience in Somalia is Al-Jazeera TV," the paper concludes.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

African media on Iraq diplomacy
11 Mar 03  |  Africa

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