Monday, July 12, 2004

African Union: assessments of the summit

The third African Union (AU) Summit was held July 6-8 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The following is the seventh of eight summit summaries.

Assessments of the summit ...

"African Union bares its teeth at summit gathering"
Agence France Presse
July 9, 2004
To a large extent, the summit vindicated the oft-voiced claim by the AU's architects: gone are the days of non-interference in the affairs of fellow members when the stability of the continent is at stake.

Instead, a spirit of collective responsibility, of determined trouble-shooting, prevailed, even if this meant stepping on toes.

[...] Not since the continent collectively rounded on Pretoria's apartheid regime has an African country [Sudan] found itself the target of such focussed pressure from its peers to change its ways. (source)

"Does Bigger And Bolder AU Have What It Takes?"
Dianna Games
Business Day (SA)
July 12, 2004
We are being asked to believe the report [on Zimbabwe's human rights situation] was drawn up in 2002 after Zimbabwe's presidential elections, that it was not presented to last year's AU summit because it had not been translated into French (although the AU, as a multilingual body, has readily available translation services), and now was presented to the meeting this year with Zimbabwe's government supposedly having no inkling of its existence.

It's either smoke and mirrors or sheer incompetence. [...]

[...] If the AU cannot even make public a report of deteriorating human rights abuses on the continent, let alone act on it, what are the chances the AU can even come close to projecting the continent into the 21st century? (source)

"AU Human Rights Report Angers Zimbabwe"
Jul 12, 2004
Several analysts say angry reaction in the state's powerful media, including the only radio and television stations, indicates that the human-rights report dented the government's confidence of absolute African support.

The top editorial executive at the weekly Zimbabwe Independent, Iden Wetherell, says the report was a watershed in the political landscape. He says the government had been able to dismiss allegations of human-rights abuses by western groups, and white countries in the Commonwealth, but it can not ignore Africa's opinion. (source)

"AU Must Not Repeat Mistakes of the Past"
Sunday Times (SA)
July 11, 2004
But the danger still lurks that the AU could evolve into the defunct, toothless bureaucracy it replaced - the Organisation of African Unity - as it strives to bring peace and prosperity to the continent. This is evidenced by the manner in which the continental body's own report on human-rights abuses in Zimbabwe was handled at the summit this week.

[...] If the AU wants to be taken seriously by the people it is supposed to serve, and by the rest of the world, it cannot afford to ignore the human-rights and political crisis in Zimbabwe for much longer. (source)

"Dreams, reality compete at AU"
Onapito Ekolomoit
New Vision (Uganda)
July 9, 2004
If wishes were countries, Africans would have got one in the last three days-complete with a government, flag etc

[...] The idea of one African government, previously associated with Libya's eccentric Muamar Qadaffi, appears to be more nursed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc. [AU Commission Chairperson, Alpha] Konare is seen as their creature, having been a peer.

The problem is that the dream is as old as the OAU/AU. It was the clarion call of the founding chairman of the organization, Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, way back in 1963. Nobody, however, appeared keen to remind Konare and Co. that we have been there before.

[...] This [economic integration and common defence] was as far as President Museveni's scope of realistic integration possibilities for Africa went. As to Africa having one government, an idea that has failed for nearly half a century, he slammed a big question mark.

"We should debate whether the whole Africa can have one government and whether it is even desirable seriously and not emotionally," he said. And clearly reminding the summit of the failed experiment, he added: "We must avoid utopian prescriptions."

The President gave his general reason for doubting the political integration of Africa - from Cairo to the Cape. It is not that he wants to be a big fish in a small pond.

"You need some degree of cultural homogeneity or at least compatibility," he said. (source)

Previous AU Summit summaries ....
  • African Union: dealing with Zimbabwe
  • African Union: dealing with Darfur
  • African Union: dealing with the DRC
  • African Union: "the mercenary threat"
  • African Union: location, location, location
  • African Union: who pays?