Monday, July 03, 2006

Seen in Whitehall

On Friday I was going up Whitehall (from the Royal United Services Institute to the House of Lords, since you ask) and stopped to watch and listen to that day’s demonstration opposite Downing Street.

People in colourful African clothes, a few trying to look sinister in the fatigues most African countries’ militias wear and lots of drumbeat would stop anyone dead on a hot Friday afternoon in Whitehall. But there were other reasons. The hand-painted signs were protesting against developments in DR Congo. Why here, I thought.

The answer was that apart from the odd sign criticizing Joseph Kabila, most were directed at the EU and the UN with slogans like: “EU – UN army out of DR Congo”, Koffi Annan – DR Congo is not for sale”, “Stop the EU-backed lying elections”, “70% Congolese cannot vote – EU out” and the one that appealed to me best of all: “Down with the Belgian slavery supporter Louis Michel”.

Commissioner Michel is in charge of Development and Humanitarian Aid. Given the country’s history, Belgium may not have been the most sensible choice to provide the commissar to fill that position.


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