A quick roundup of stories I’ll be watching over the weekend:
Severo Moto, leader-in-exile of Equatorial Guinea’s main opposition party, has disappeared. A central figure in last year’s bizarre coup plot – where Equatorial Guinea alleges that South African mercenaries, financed in part by Sir Mark Thatcher, were headed to Malabo, via Zimbabwe, to overthrow the government and install Moto as leader – Moto has not been seen in ten days, and speculation is growing that he may have been assasinated in Croatia or Italy. In the meantime, Equatorial Guinea has distinguished itself as one of the world’s most repressive countries, according to Freedom House. (Thanks to Ambiguous Adventure for the pointer to the Freedom House report.)
Despite protests and international concern, Togo’s interim president Abbas Bonfoh promised that Togo’s presidential elections would take place as planned, on Sunday. Yesterday, Togo’s Interior Minister Francois Boko held a surprise press conference, urging the government to delay the elections, warning of violence if polls were held this weekend – Bonfoh responded by promptly sacking Boko.
There are good reasons to believe that Sunday’s polls will not be free and fair and that there may well be violence. When Gnassingbe Eyadema died earlier this year, after ruling the nation for almost four decades, the Togolese government defied their constitution and installed Eyadema’s son, Faure, as president until international pressure forced him to step down. Faure Gnassingbé will now run against the opposition’s second-choice candidate, Emmanuel Akitani Bob, as opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio is not being allowed to participate in the elections. (Olympio has been living in Ghana and France since a 1992 assasination attempt forced him into exile. Togo’s election rules were changed in 2003 to require that any presidential candidate live in the country.) RSF is concerned that independent media outlets have been closed down prior to the election, and Head Heeb observes that there’s already been extensive pre-election violence.
Moving from small nations that few people read about to one that people can’t stop reading about: Rogers Cadenhead, blogger and geek, registered benedictxvi.com weeks before John Paul II’s death… along with ClementXV.com, InnocentXIV.com, LeoXIV.com, PaulVII.com and PiusXIII.com. Cadenhead was concerned that the domains would be bought up by pornographers, who have previously redirected domains like whitehouse.com to porn sites. Cadenhead is redirecting benedictxvi.com to Modest Needs, a matching service for small-scale charitable giving and reports today that the charity is receiving five times as many donations as on the average day. Dave Winer – Cadenhead’s friend and neighbor – has been urging him to use the domain for an independent journalism weblog focused on the new pope and his policies.
In the meantime, the new Pope has announced his email address – email@example.com.
All of which raises the interesting question: will future Popes look for original nom-de-Popes in the hopes of avoiding domain name conflicts?