King of kings

The BBC reports that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been chosen as this year’s chairman of the 53-nation African Union at the AU summit in Ethiopia.

The BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt in Addis Ababa says it was the turn of North Africa to lead the bloc, and Col Gaddafi was seen as the obvious choice. However, some African leaders believe the Libyan leader is too erratic to be AU chairman.

Before he arrived at the summit, he circulated a letter saying he was coming as the king of the traditional kings of Africa and he wanted to be seated as the king of kings, our correspondent says.

Col Gaddafi has previously outlined his vision for African unity.

He wants a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move within the continent.

Last August, a meeting of more than 200 African kings and traditional rulers bestowed the title “king of kings” on the Libyan leader. 

Hat tip: Leopoldo

With Bush in Africa

Travelling through Africa with President George W. Bush for Time, Bob Geldof sees and hears the genuinely good qualities of the U.S. leader, as well as the things that are possibly not so good:

I have always heard that Bush mangles language and I’ve laughed at the satires of his diction. He shrugs them off, but I think he’s sensitive about it. He has some verbal tics, but in public and with me he speaks fluently and in wonderful aphorisms, like:

“Stop coming to Africa feeling guilty. Come with love and feeling confident for its future.”

“When we see hunger we feed them. Not to spread our influence, but because they’re hungry.”

“U.S. solutions should not be imposed on African leaders.”

“Africa has changed since I’ve become President. Not because of me, but because of African leaders.”

Defending the Absurd

“The way the British think of the teddy bear – as far as Christmas is concerned, and toys are concerned – we don’t have any teddy bears over here, so in Sudan, for us, it is a fierce and dangerous animal.”

Dr Khalid al Mubarak, a spokesman for the Sudan embassy in London, quoted by the BBC in the case of Gillian Gibbons, incriminated by the Sudanese government, and facing a possible jail term or lashing for allowing the schoolchildren in her care to name a teddy bear “Mohammed”.

Putin in South Africa

As Vladimir Putin begins his visit to South Africa, the first by a Russian leader, some points for reflection. For one thing, Putin goes as head of a country in which racially motivated incidents are showing a marked increase. A timeline from 2004 to March 2006 shows a staggeringly long list of racial assaults committed against groups and individuals from countries in Africa and Asia, as well as against Russia’s own non-white minorities.

It’s no secret that many of today’s leading South African politicians and political figures, including President Thabo Mbeki, received training and support in the Soviet Union as far back as the 1970s. Thus, Putin’s visit further confirms the growing movement of Kremlin foreign policy towards the strategic and ideological orientations of the past.