Blair criticises Mugabe and Bashir

Outgoing British PM called "very good friend of Africa" by Mandela in Johannesburg.

    Tony and Cherie Blair are in Africa as part of a
    farewell tour of the continent [AFP]

    Leaders of Sierra Leone - where Blair visited before his South African leg of the tour - crowned Blair an honorary chief for sending in British troops to end an 11-year reign of terror by rebels who hacked off limbs and committed mass rape and murder.

    Repression

    Septimus Kaikai, the country's information minister, said: "Blair is Sierra Leone's knight in shining armour."

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    Blair urged African leaders to pressure Robert Mugabe into economic and political reform, saying that decades of repression had forced up to one-third of Zimbabweans to flee and slashed life expectancy from 60 in 1990 to 37.

    On Darfur, he said the conflict had killed an estimated 200,000 people, left 4 million dependent on food aid nearly 2.5 million fleeing.

    "We must offer President Bashir a choice. Engage with us on a solution. Or, if you reject responsibility for the people of Darfur, then we will table and put to a vote sanctions against the regime."

    Spread of terrorism

    Blair urged rich countries to embrace the poor to thwart the threat of the spread of terrorism in Africa.

    Njongonkulu Ndungane, Cape Town's Anglican archbishop, who is a vocal critic of Western policies, said Blair must "stiffen his spine" at next week's G-8 summit and pressure other leaders to make concessions in crisis-ridden world trade talks and end agricultural subsidies that penalise producers in poor countries.

    And he said that Blair should encourage more concrete investment in Africa rather than aid.

    Boakai Jaleiba, a student political activist in Liberia, was blunt: "Blair did not in any way and form assist Africa. Africa will remember him for that."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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