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Saturday, 21 September, 2002, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Africa Media Watch
African newspapers this week focus on the pullout of Rwandan troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Oxfam's report on the worldwide coffee crisis and more threats by participants to withdraw from the Miss World competition due to be staged in Nigeria.
African papers report widely on the withdrawal of Rwandan troops from the DR Congo, hoping that it might spell an end to Africa's major war. But some papers fear the withdrawal might leave a power vacuum which in turn might lead to new political mayhem.
Uganda's New Vision takes an optimistic approach, but warns that this is not going to be an easy task.
"Demilitarisation of the Congo is now a real possibility. This presents a huge challenge for [President] Joseph Kabila... The legitimacy of all political groups is blurred. Foreign forces got sucked in because of the weakness of the Congolese state and the erosion of political authority at the centre," it says.
The paper urges all political players in to seek political consensus.
"The withdrawal of foreign troops from Congo makes it more and not less necessary to seek political consensus. Without consensus the slim chance of resurrecting the Congolese state will evaporate."
The daily also has some advice to offer to President Kabila.
"Joseph Kabila now has to restore the political authority of the state."
In DR Congo itself, the independent news site Digitalcongo notes that the withdrawal is proceeding in line with the Pretoria accord.
"A withdrawal that had roused the scepticism of many observers turned out to be a reality, to the great satisfaction of the international community."
"This pull-out of Rwandan troops deployed in the eastern DRC since 1998 fits into the framework of the peace agreement signed between Kinshasa and Kigali in Pretoria.
"As a quid pro quo for Kinshasa, the agreement provides for the disarmament and regrouping of the Rwandan Hutu rebels for their repatriation to Rwanda."
Digitalcongo feels that threat of war remains. It quotes James Kabarebe, the chief of the Rwandan Patriotic Army General Staff:
"If Kabila and the United Nations do not keep their promise and once again allow the negative forces to enter Rwanda, we shall not stand idly by and we shall respond."
The West also comes in for some criticism, having been "duped" into supporting Rwanda's role in the conflict because of the 1994 genocide.
"Kinshasa was marginalised and made to feel guilty. However in these moments of cruel isolation, DRCongo relied on France's understanding, a spark that finally enlightened Western public opinion. Better late than never, " the site says.
Namibia's Economist, meanwhile, says the Congo peace accord could mean the end of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.
"If the DRC peace accord stays more or less on track, the end of Mugabe has started this week. But if the heir to the not-so-DRC throne in the form of the usurper Kabila cannot live with his prime minister designate, then Mugabe may possibly buy himself a little more time."
"According to the peace accord, Zimbabwe must repatriate its troops from the not-so-democratic DRC...This is when the real trouble is going to start in Zimbabwe. ...Mugabe's real problem starts with his absent army.
"He is now in the corner: he has to withdraw his troops ...if he doesn't, he has to face the wrath of his former defenders..."
Papers across the continent assess the warning by the British-based charity, Oxfam, that many people worldwide face destitution because of the collapse in the price paid to coffee farmers. The charity pins the blame largely on the four big multinational companies which it says control nearly half the world market.
The Angolan paper Luanda Angolense laments the country's current place at the tail end of world producers, having once been Africa's major producer.
"Angola is far from being equipped to compete... However, Angola has to do more than lick its wounds. It has to shake off this feeling of laziness," the paper says.
"We have to look at the sector and take into account what the country should do to be become more integrated internationally...Angola has to find a balanced position with regard to quality and price."
"It is a serious issue which should be regarded as a national cause, because coffee rather than diamonds and petroleum directly affects poverty, that in turn affects a substantial part of population: the farmers."
For The Kenyan Times it is "tragic" that when Africa is finding it increasingly difficult to feed her people, "so much resources should be tied to coffee farming, an economic occupation whose returns are getting increasingly unreliable".
"Unless we insist on absolute quality by ensuring meticulous husbandry for our coffee produce, we might as well advise our farmers to either focus on food crops or try horticulture."
Its views find an echo in Uganda's Monitor which devotes an editorial entitled "We have to kiss coffee goodbye" to the subject.
"In the long term the solution is to diversify... Coffee has run its course. Let farmers invest their money and effort in something else. That, ultimately, should be the message to farmers."
However, the paper offers an alternative solution, quoting Agriculture Minister Kibirige Ssebunya as asking Ugandans to drink less alcohol and more coffee.
The minister was launching a report which described the industry's long-term prospects as "grim".
Nigeria's This Day reports that French and Belgian beauties have joined the long list of those threatening to pull out of November's Miss World Contest in Nigeria unless the death sentence against a woman for having a baby outside marriage is rescinded.
However, the paper notes that the host of the competition is determined that it should go ahead as planned and vows that the venues in Port Harcourt in southern Rivers State "will not disappoint".
The Daily Trust also looks forward to the international exposure and advantages that are likely to result.
"The culture and economy of the state would benefit immensely from the event while efforts are being made towards beaming Port Harcourt as the 'hub and dynamo of Nigeria' and as the truly international market for energy."
But, in an article called "The Season of Unreason", the daily is less upbeat about the situation in the country as a whole.
"The recent impeachment threat by our House of Representatives against our president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and the stoning-to-death sentence passed on Amina Lawal by the Funtua Sharia court on convicting her of adultery, have let loose the winds that herald the arrival of yet another season of unreason with cyclonic threats.
"Every nation, on its road to nationhood and greatness encounters missteps and mishaps. But only a few nations match us in our hysterics and antics at beating war-drums with fatalistic (even if not apocalyptic) songs.
"Bloodstained flags are waived in our faces threatening the break-up of Nigeria if President Olusegun Obasanjo is impeached. Or, there is a rush to the hiding places of arrows, guns, and swords for a fight to the grave if the federal government does not stop the Sharia law application. We are all engulfed by heavily dark, thunderous clouds".
According to This Day, the "the federal government is totally opposed to stoning of a woman found guilty of adultery and has promised to guarantee the security of all those connected with the contest".
It also devotes space to considering the nature of Sharia law and the "political" uses to which it has been put.
"Only few people believe that the expanded Sharia legal system would degenerate to the present level. In fact, the whole thing started as a political reaction. It began as a protest from a perceived marginalized section and graduated into a political platform on which every politician in the Northeast and Northcentral stands."
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.
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