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Catfish and Cod
Thursday, July 17, 2003
 
Can we negotiate a peaceful end to the Sao Tome crisis?
(Link path: Voice of America)

The Sao Tome military stands to lose half a million dollars in US money if they don't back down. But that's for the navy and coast guard, not the army. The World Bank is stopping aid donations immediately, but that may not matter too much either. The Sao Tomean army has appealed for better living conditions, and it's not the first time. But somehow I doubt that the Army budget is the only motivation for the coup.

Meanwhile, somebody's itching for a Sao Tome invasion. It may be a threat to the coup leaders, or a chance to show that the African Union is more than dictator coddlers and tissue-paper treaties. Major Pereira had appalling timing: an AU summit is currently underway on the continent. But when "it's all about the oooooiillll", deeper motives can always be suspected. The US is understandably cool on the idea of military intervention by anyone. For the sake of democracy in Sao Tome, it will be far better to negotiate this fellow out of his newfound fame and fortune -- if we can. The irony: not one barrel of oil has even been proved, much less pumped.

On a more positive note: three ministers (or should we say "former ministers"?) have been released, if only to take a shower and get new clothes. Ahh, civilized thuggery. If only the rest of the world were so chivalrous!