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Friday, 19 October, 2001, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Annan's award raises Rwandan issue in Africa
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
"Annan ignored warnings of genocide in Rwanda"

In Africa Media Watch this week, sections of Africa's media question whether UN Secretary General Kofi Annan deserves the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

"After all the mess he made in Rwanda, how can such a highly respected institution award him the prize?" The Guardian of Nigeria asks.

The paper notes that Rwandans have "fiercely criticised" Annan for standing by, as 800,000 people were massacred in Rwanda, while he was head of UN peacekeeping.

It says that the award could be interpreted in some circles as "a mockery of all that peace stands for".


The award of the Nobel Prize to Annan ... is a gratuitous compensation for being a good servant of the West

Nigeria's The Guardian

"The praises ...and the prestige might continue to linger.

"Yet the award of the Nobel Prize to Annan and his staff is a gratuitous compensation for being a good servant of the West," the paper says.

A columnist for the Ugandan newspaper New Vision is no less scathing in his remarks.

" I could not think of any reason why the UN secretary general or the UN at these very dangerous times could be considered for such an award," he says.

"Where is the UN in the Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia? " the writer asks.

He adds that the UN had "stood by watching events as they happen, merely providing vacuous statement and appeals that fell on deaf ears and blind eyes".

"Distasteful"

"It is on Rwanda that both the failure of the UN institution and the personal responsibility of the UN secretary general combine to make the award most distasteful," the paper says.

UN peacekeeper
The UN was criticised for turning its back on Rwanda

"Annan was the responsible officer who did not act, when he should have...," the paper recalled.

Yet "inaction over genocide never harmed the rise and rise of the UN secretary general", it says.

The paper says the Nobel Peace Prize "is a reward for keeping quiet, looking the other side, or providing legitimacy for the USA and her allies to do as they please".

In Uganda's The Monitor, a reader writes that many Africans are proud that Kofi Annan overturns the long-held stereotype that Africa had a deficit of leaders".


Annan focuses more on the conflicts in Europe, the Middle East and Asia than on his mother continent

The Monitor, Uganda

"Yet he appears more focused on conflicts in Europe, the Middle East and Asia than on the chaos in Congo, Angola, Sudan, Sierra Leone and other hotspots on his mother continent," he writes.

"In judging Annan's suitability for the award, we must not ignore his inadvertent role in the worst genocide of the last century in Rwanda," the writer says.

Humility

The Sierra Leone website, expotimes.net, remarks that other African leaders could do well to emulate the UN chief, whose "humility is rooted in his cultural values".

"It is not surprising that these leaders rule Africa with foreign values despite the abundance of positive African values that can be exploited for policies that suit Africans," he says.

"In Mr Annan, we see the triumph of African values over foreign ones," he writes.

"Africans have come to see their leaders as chronic liars... grossly insensitive, destructively arrogant, and always blaming outside forces for their failures and weaknesses.

By comparison, "Mr Annan has never been accused of looting the UN treasury like Mali's Moussa Troure or Nigeria's Sani Abacha.

"Instead, he has created hope for Africans," the column says.

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.

See also:

12 Oct 01 | Europe
UN wins Nobel Peace Prize
12 Oct 01 | Europe
The Nobel Peace Prize
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