Friday, May 02, 2003

Hope in the Horn of Africa
Jean-Jacques Cornish
HARGEISA, 3 MAY 2003--The quiet American noticed the blue on his chinos and cursed: "Goddamn! These are my good pants." Then, as Somalilanders queued in the blazing sun outside to vote in their first presidential elections, he told the waiter: "You may prepare my lunch."

The man from the United States embassy in Nairobi was not one of the 35 international observers who came to witness Dahir Riyale Kahin squeak in as the first elected president of this enclave of relative stability on the troubled Horn of Africa.

With much bigger fish to fry across the Gulf of Aden, the US was not one of the 15 countries that sent observers to this country that has been shunned by the international community since breaking its union with Somalia 12 years ago.

Nevertheless the American tucked into his rock lobster taken only hours earlier off the coast at Berbera. That port still boasts the longest aircraft runway. It was built by the Russians and later extended by the Americans, testifying to the ebb and flow of the Cold War in this country that has pulled itself up by its bootstraps. MORE (MAIL & GUARDIAN-SA).

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