Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Africa News blog:

Are African governments suppressing art?

By Cosmas Butunyi

The dust is finally settling on the storm that was kicked off in South Africa by a controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed.

The country that boasts one of the most liberal constitutions in the world and the only one on the African continent with a constitutional provision that protects and defends the rights of  gays and lesbians , had   its values put up to  the test  after an artist    ruffled feathers by a painting that questioned the moral values  of the ruling African National Congress .

For weeks, the storm ignited by the painting  called  ‘The Spear’, raged on, sucking in Goodman Gallery that displayed it and City Press, a weekly newspaper that had published it on its website. The matter eventually found its way into the corridors of justice, where the ruling ANC sought redress against the two institutions. The party also mobilised its supporters to stage protests outside the courtroom when the case it filed came up for hearing. They also matched to the gallery and called for a boycott of City Press , regarded as one of the country's most authoritative newspapers.

The controversy  has cooled down now that the newspaper  has  removed the artwork from its website, the gallery pulled it down  after it was defaced. The ANC  has withdrawn its lawsuit.

from Africa News blog:

Was South Africa right to deny Dalai Lama a visa?

By Isaac Esipisu

Given that China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner and given the close relationship between Beijing and the ruling African National Congress, it didn’t come as a huge surprise that South Africa was in no hurry to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama.

Tibet’s spiritual leader will end up missing the 80th birthday party of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a fellow Nobel peace prize winner. He said his application for a visa had not come through on time despite having been made to Pretoria several weeks earlier. (Although South Africa’s government said a visa hadn’t actually been denied, the Dalai Lama’s office said it appeared to find the prospect inconvenient).
Desmond Tutu said the government’s action was a national disgrace and warned the President and ruling party that one day he will start praying for the defeat of the ANC government.

Cometh the hour, cometh Van Rompuy?

van rompuy2Three months ago, Herman van Rompuy might have struggled to be recognised on the streets of his native Belgium, let alone Paris or London. The bookish former prime minister, a fan of camping holidays and Haiku poetry, was nothing if not low-key; a studious consensus builder in the world of Belgian politics.

Three months on and Van Rompuy, 62, may not outwardly have changed much, but his title and the expectations surrounding him certainly have. In November he was chosen to be the first permanent president of the European Council, the body that represents the EU’s 27 leaders, and on Thursday he will host those heads of state and government at an economic summit in Brussels — the first such gathering he has chaired.

Can Cyprus “comrades” clinch a deal?

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The leaders of Cyprus’s Greek and Turkish communities sipped coffee and called each other “comrade” as they launched a new round of talks on reuniting the island, whose 34-year division has exasperated the most committed of mediators.     
 Cypriot President Christofias shakes hands with Turkish Cypriot President Ali Talat during a news conference after their meeting in Nicosia                            
This time, foreign diplomats and analysts say, a solution is in sight, thanks largely to the two moderate, leftist men heading the negotiations – Greek Cypriot Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat.

Although it has been years since any violence has erupted on the island, the simmering feud has far-reaching effects onTurkey’s EU aspirations, its relations with fellow NATO member Greece and politics in the eastern Mediterranean.

How much damage will Mauritania’s coup do to Africa?

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a-man-walks-in-front-of-mosque-in-central-nouakchott-february-2-2008.jpgSoldiers took power in a coup in Mauritania on Wednesday after presidential guards deposed President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi when he tried to dismiss senior army officers. Abdallahi took over only last year after winning elections to replace a military junta that had ruled since it toppled the previous president in a bloodless coup in 2005. The largely desert nation, one of Africa’s newest oil producers, has suffered five coups since 1978 but Africa as a whole has transformed its reputation for violent government ousters in recent years after notching up around 80 successful coups and many more abortive attempts between the 1950s and 2004.

There have only been a handful of military seizures in the last five years compared to the heyday of military takeovers in the 1960s. In the mid-70s around half of African countries had military governments. Since then, democracy has gradually made ground and attempts to seize power are strongly frowned upon.

Update-Is ICC setting its sights too high in Sudan?

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bashir1.jpgOn Friday I wrote that the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor was readying a genocide charge and arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.  It came to pass today. A defiant Khartoum has said it will not bend to the court and has warned of an eruption of violence; the opposition too has said the warrant could threaten peace. Is this a case of justice versus peace and do the two have to be irreconcilable?

Here’s Friday’s blog:

BashirProsecutors at the International Criminal Court are readying arrest warrants for senior Sudanese officials, possibly even President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, sources at The Hague court have told Reuters. The Washington Post said it understood Bashir would face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

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