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SOUTH AFRICA



Published: Mon, April 8, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Business Day, Johannesburg, April 2: This promises to be one of the most absorbing weeks in recent South African history. The inquiry into the causes of the collapse of the rand late last year comes to a head with testimony from South African Chamber of Business boss Kevin Wakeford and from the people he is most likely to accuse of trashing (the) currency, the local officers of the Deutsche Bank.

The gradual impoverishment, in global terms, of the South African economy since the African National Congress came to power in 1994 has been a constant thorn in our politics, dividing citizens on color and ideological lines.

Institutional collusion: Wakeford's claims earlier this year that he had evidence of institutional collusion in driving down the value of the rand quite rightly triggered the establishment of an official commission into the affair.

(But) the evidence was so thin that it seems Wakeford would be unable to survive public life unless, when he stands before the commission today, he is able dramatically to give it substance.

BRITAIN

The Times, London, April 2: When Tony Blair arrives in Texas on Friday, he will begin a weekend visit to President Bush's ranch that will be as cordial as it is difficult. There is plenty to talk about -- the war on terrorism, Afghanistan, Iraq, the bloodshed in the Middle East, Russia and the proposed enlargement of NATO.

Many of the issues look more intractable than they did a few months ago. And the political and largely domestic constraints on both men are far greater than they were when Britain and America stood shoulder to shoulder in September.

Strength of purpose: The folksiness of the Texas setting should not disguise the importance of the meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair. The two leaders, who have both shown strength of purpose over the past few months, must again prove that their leadership qualities are equal to the daunting tasks ahead of them.

JORDAN

Jordan Times, Amman, April 2: Despite his attempts to project a different image, Israeli prime Minister Ariel Sharon is on the last legs of his political career. The barbarous war he has launched on the Palestinians is a desperate act of a shortsighted politician who has failed on every front. Sharon is going down, and he is trying to take the whole region down with him.

He must be stopped.

Bankrupt policies: For over a year, Sharon has been systematically working to increase the level of tension in the region. In addition to destroying the Palestinian National Authority, the Israeli prime minister has sought to push the Arab world into adopting hardline policies which he would use to justify his abandonment of the peace process. But the Arabs did not fall in his trap and instead responded with a historic peace offer which has exposed the bankruptcy of Sharon and his policies.

In these trying times, emotions can easily defeat rational strategies. But the duty toward the Palestinian people dictates that wisdom guides the course of action governments take to help them overcome their plight.

Sharon wants war. He should not get it.

GERMANY

Frankfurter Allgemeine, Frankfurt, April 2: The language used by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to call Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat an "enemy of Israel" and declare Israel in "a war against terrorism" echoes the words chosen by U.S. President George W. Bush after the outrage of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Like Bush, Sharon also sees his country facing a threat to its existence and involved in a war that is not of its choosing.

Thus, he too feels compelled to act against the terrorist infrastructure he faces by using military means.

Arafat's isolation: However, even if Mr. Sharon is using the legitimation provided by the U.S. offensive against terrorism and has Arafat isolated physically, the Israeli military offensive will not prevent further suicide bombings.

Israel cannot win this war, but it could end up even more isolated.

BRITAIN

The Guardian, London: Next week's Westminster Abbey funeral will be a farewell to a woman who held a very special place in the heart of the nation. But it will tell us who we were, not who we are. It will be the formal laying to rest of an era that in other respects finished long ago and cannot be recreated.

Most people seem instinctively and sensibly to grasp that. When the pomp is done, therefore, and the captains and the kings depart, this country will need to consider how much longer the monarchy can properly continue to hold the place in our national life that the Queen Mother did so much, so remarkably, to sustain in defiance of the times.

Let debate begin: It will be no disrespect to her for this debate to begin properly now. On the contrary, it is yet another tribute to her, She was unique and an impossible act to follow. But that is just the point. It is time to look to the future and to a different Britain.




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