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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 11 March, 2003, 17:47 GMT
African media on Iraq diplomacy

As French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin returns from his visit to Angola, Cameroon and Guinea to drum up support for the French position on Iraq, the media in the three UN Security Council member countries debate the pros and cons of the vexed issue.

Angola's leading daily Jornal de Angola proclaims in a headline: "The country maintains an independent stand."

Angola could play a leading role in this game
State radio

It says Angola has made it clear it subscribes "to the general position of the African Union on Iraq", which has openly opposed the war option.

A commentary on Angolan government radio argues that although "the world can no longer accept the intolerance of dictators like Saddam Hussein", "human lives, notably those of civilians, must be spared".

"In the specific case of Iraq, civilians would be mere extras in the theatre of war."

"Angola could play a leading role in this game because as a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council it might hold the vote that could be decisive for the outcome of the present issue."

In Cameroon, the pressure is clearly perceptible. It is seen in the sustained courting of Biya by Washington
Le Messager

The radio suggests Angola's recent peace process "might be an example to be considered by leading nations, permitting them to realise that dialogue is the recommended course of action".

It argues that Iraq must be disarmed, but only as part of a multilateral effort through the UN.

Carrots and sticks

A leading Cameroon daily, Le Messager, says the country's president, Paul Biya, is caught between a rock and a hard place.

"In Cameroon, the pressure is clearly perceptible. It is seen in the sustained courting of Biya by Washington.

"Since no initiative could be too much, George Bush himself put his hand to the wheel," Le Messager continues. "He personally called the Cameroonian president on the telephone. This act takes on special importance in diplomacy."

"The message is clear: Washington is holding out a carrot that may be transformed into a stick."

The daily says while Mr Biya "can hardly go against the position expressed by France for fear of political and economic reprisals" he is "henceforth in the grip of the Americans".

He is confronting "the undanceable dance". "If the dancer moves one step forward, his father dies, if he moves one step backward, his mother dies and if he does not dance, he dies."
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Le Messager regrets what it says is "the lack of transparency with which the Cameroonian president is handling this dossier that he has made his personal business".

"In all countries involved in the Iraq crisis, their leaders inform their people on an almost daily basis on the initiatives they undertake. In Cameroon, only the president knows where he is leading the people."

Diplomatic overdrive

According to Guinea state radio, the country's diplomacy has gone into overdrive.

The foreign minister, Francois Fall, held talks on Monday in Washington with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice after an earlier meeting with Mr De Villepin.

The foreign minister noted that humanity found itself today at the crossroads at a time pregnant with danger and full of uncertainty
Guinea radio

"The foreign minister stressed the possibility of a rapid solution as demanded by the international community," Guinea radio reports.

"He noted that humanity found itself today at the crossroads at a time pregnant with danger and full of uncertainty with the risk of fundamentally questioning the common values that have always regulated relations between countries and which constituted the foundations on which the UN was built."

"While commending the efforts made for finding a happy end to the crisis, the foreign minister recalled the present state of the crisis," the radio concludes.

In neighbouring Ivory Coast, a commentary in the daily Fraternite Matin condemns what it sees as attempts to buy the votes of the three African nations.

"Each side would like to buy their votes. Yes, the United Nations, once the agent and guardian, has turned into a mafia of puppets without masks: They operate in daylight, offering to get votes in exchange of money.

Never before have three countries of the continent been so coveted as Guinea, Cameroon, and Angola
Gabonese Africa No 1 radio

"This is simply disgusting! When I think that tomorrow, the United Nations will send observers to African countries to supervise elections. Will they have any credibility?"

Gabonese Africa No 1 radio comments that "never before have three countries of the continent been so coveted as Guinea, Cameroon, and Angola".

"This is not because Western countries have suddenly become interested in the fate of these African countries or their people who are confronting various problems."

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The radio notes that "Cameroon's diplomacy is at the crossroads. The Iraqi crisis has sparked passions".

In Guinea, it reports that "the latest cabinet meeting in Conakry highlighted a slight leaning in favour of the US approach".

It says Guinea is facing social instability fuelled by record debt, a water and electricity crisis, financial mismanagement, an increase in fuel prices leading to riots, "as well as other political and electoral disturbances".

Conakry will need "to salvage Guinea's suspended economic programme with the IMF and the World Bank", the Gabonese radio 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.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


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