Real estate statesmanship
Cpt. Moussa Dadis Camara, who declared himself president on Christmas Eve 2008 — just in time to help himself to some gifts out of the national treasury — is your classic African despot: low-ranking army thug, riding a panzer-limo sort of vehicle, sporting a cherry beret, olive fatigues, plenty of medals and a pair of designer sunglasses, while ruling through a combination of fixed bayonet and foreign backing. A promotion to field marshal can’t be far away.
Now, since he’s been receiving some bad press for massacring protesters, he’s obviously anxious to underline his vast international support, pointing to how he’s being bankrolled by great nations like Morocco and Libya. King Mohammed VI has even, the captain claims, offered to build him “a private palace”. But what with him being a modest son of the people, he responded that he’s “fine for now.”
Probably a wise move. If the normal pattern of Maghrebine diplomacy stands, this means Algeria will soon offer to construct not just a palace, but throw in a private rollercoaster theme park, too, if he’ll just switch his stand on the Western Sahara conflict — and when Libya ups the bid, he’s looking at a future on Neverland Ranch. Until the next coup, that is.