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Europe

European Press Review: Troubles in Africa and the Middle East

Monday’s European newspapers commented on events in Africa – including elections in Rwanda – as well as trouble spots in the Middle East.

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Rwanda's presidential election on Monday is the first since acts of genocide in 1994.

The Belgium paper, Le Soir on Monday looked at Rwanda’s first presidential vote since the 1994 genocide that killed up to one million people. Rwandan voters have to place their thumb print on the picture and name of their candidate, a common method in countries with high illiteracy Rates. But, the paper noted, many of the rural farmers are afraid to leave their ‘signature’ for fear that city people will find out if they voted ‘wrongly.’

Britain’s Financial Times commented on the United Nation’s peace-keeping role in Africa. Despite the demand, the paper opined that international intervention in west and central Africa has been painfully slow, largely because the United States has been reluctant to set an example. The paper also said the UN deployment in Congo was a traumatic experience, and since then Africa as a whole has proven a difficult terrain for peace missions. The paper accused the UN of leaving a trail of failures behind because in part of it’s ‘past dismal record in the most marginalized of continents.’

Moscow’s Kommersant said much of Palestine’s violence and controversy has a lot to do with the disputed roles of politicians who want peace and those who push for conflict. Under international pressure, Yasser Arafat appointed Mahmoud Abbas to Prime Minister which many think is a good choice. But the paper argued, Abbas can hardly be called a liberal, peace-willing politician. Abbas and his security minister are only acting against terrorist groups because of pressure from the United States and Israel. The paper said this image change within the Palestinian government is just another one of Yasser Arafat’s tactics.

Copenhagen’s Information said Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is being left alone with too much responsibility. He lacks charisma and support from the people. The paper wrote he was only put in his position because of American and Israeli pressure. It noted his political career could possibly be saved if he honestly made a move to stop the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. But, the paper concluded, in order for him and the peace plan to succeed, he needs more help than a friendly invitation from Washington. Germany’s Frankfurter Rundschau commented on Iraq’s dilemma. Since the end of major combats in May, there have been many coalition casualties. Last week UN headquarters was bombed where UN top envoy Sergio de Mello and 19 colleagues were killed, and recently three British soldiers were killed in Basra. It’s become a guessing game to figure out who is carrying out the attacks – Saddam loyalists, Al-Qaeda... the paper said anything is possible and such terrorism is exactly what U.S. President Bush wanted to avoid with his regime change in Iraq.