Monday, October 30, 2006

Maybe they need an Islamist government

Today's coverage of the Congolese elections by the New York Times chooses to highlight negative aspects of the vote.

"It was supposed to be a bright moment in the country’s history, the culmination of the first free vote in more than 40 years, but the leaky skies and the possibility of violence cast a pall over the day....

The United Nations has spent $500 million on this election, more than any other in the organization’s history, saying that Congo is crucial for establishing peace in all of central Africa. But the voting seems to have driven a dangerous wedge into the middle of Congo, a country of 60 million that is the size of Western Europe but has only 300 miles of paved roads.
There is no doubt that moving DR Congo towards a democratic future is not going to be easy. There is every reason to be skeptical about the ability of Joseph Kabila or Jean-Pierre Bemba to help in that process. But millions of Congolese are willing to give at least one of them a shot. Of course, it would be great if they could base their vote on the candidate's position on health care or education reforms, but Congolese history hasn't given them that luxury.

I wouldn't be particularly critical of the Times coverage of the election had it not been for the warm and fuzzy feelings the same Africa correspondent seems to have about the Islamists in Somalia.

We are permitted to be cautiously optimistic when religious radicals take control of a failed state, but not when a nation transitions toward democracy. Jeffrey Gettleman doesn't seem to feel that African's are capable of democracy. Sadly, Muslims form a small minority in DR Congo, so it seems unlikely it will become the Islamic Republic of Congo any time soon. I'm not sure that the Catholic Church is ready to take over the leadership of a country these days, but I guess we could give Benedict a call. If all else fails, maybe they could ask the Belgians to return, sure there was that business with the raping and the pillaging, but they brought order. And the Times feels that is what's best for the natives.

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