MJ_left.jpg MJ_right.jpg VW_left.gif VW_right.gif africanpost-left.gif africanpost-right.gif gucci_left.gif gucci_right.gif ss-left.gif ss-right.gif watch_left.gif watch_right.gif
MJ_left.jpg MJ_right.jpg VW_left.gif VW_right.gif africanpost-left.gif africanpost-right.gif gucci_left.gif gucci_right.gif ss-left.gif ss-right.gif watch_left.gif watch_right.gif

Sidebar

Dr. George B.N. Ayittey, Ph.D - President of the Free Africa Foundation based in Washngton, DC.

Each time a crisis erupts in Africa, the instinctive reaction of the African Union (AU) is to bury its head in the sand or look for a foreign conspiracy and then appeal and appeal to the international community for relief assistance. So when the Libyan crisis erupted in March, few expected the African Union (AU) to distinguish itself in resolving it. After all, it is a den of dictators, led by a dictator - President Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. A dictator can hardly be expected to be told to relinquish power or negotiate with rebels.  The AU similarly found itself in a bind over the Ivorian crisis, which was sparked by the refusal of another dictator, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, to accept defeat at the Nov 28 polls and concede to Alassane Ouattara, the new president. That crisis degenerated into a civil war tore the country apart along ethnic/religious line: the Muslim North versus the Christian South.

 

Dr. George B.N. Ayittey, Ph.D - President of the Free Africa Foundation based in Washngton, DC.
Dr. George B.N. Ayittey, Ph.D - President of the Free Africa Foundation based in Washngton, DC.

Dr. George B.N. Ayittey, Ph.D - President of the Free Africa Foundation based in Washngton, DC.

Each time a crisis erupts in Africa, the instinctive reaction of the African Union (AU) is to bury its head in the sand or look for a foreign conspiracy and then appeal and appeal to the international community for relief assistance. So when the Libyan crisis erupted in March, few expected the African Union (AU) to distinguish itself in resolving it. After all, it is a den of dictators, led by a dictator - President Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. A dictator can hardly be expected to be told to relinquish power or negotiate with rebels.  The AU similarly found itself in a bind over the Ivorian crisis, which was sparked by the refusal of another dictator, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, to accept defeat at the Nov 28 polls and concede to Alassane Ouattara, the new president. That crisis degenerated into a civil war tore the country apart along ethnic/religious line: the Muslim North versus the Christian South.

 

Nor has the African Union distinguished itself in handling the threat of mass starvation in the Horn of Africa. The United Nations estimates that 1.2 million people are at risk and about $1 billion in famine relief assistance would be required. When the AU convened an emergency summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in August to address the famine situation in the Horn of Africa, only 15 representatives showed up. Of them, fewer than 6 were heads of state and the total sum raised was a miserable $50 million. And how much did South Africa contribute to the famine relief effort? A paltry $1 million. Now, the AU blames international indifference for Somali famine deaths.

Like its hopelessly useless and defunct organization that it replaced - the OAU, known for its glitzy annual jamborees at which dictators pat themselves on the backs for their longevity in office  - the AU is yet to solve a single African crisis. To resolve Sudan's crisis, it dispatched a feckless contingent of peacekeepers to Darfur. But when their Haskanita base in El Fasher in northern Darfur came under rebel assault on October 1, 2007, the AU peacekeepers fled.

On the Libyan crisis, the AU became a comical tragedy of contradictions. It was in a quandary, not knowing which side to support. It couldn't support the Transitional National Council (TNC), lest it sanctions violent insurrection as a legitimate means of removing an African dictator.  Article 30 of its Constitutive Act debars the AU from recognizing governments that come into power through unconstitutional means. Yet, there are many African leaders, such as Khaddafy, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Isaiah Aferki of Eritrea, and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia who are members of the AU but came to power through military coups and rebel insurgencies. At the same time, however, the AU couldn't fully support Moammar Khaddafy on account of the atrocities he was committing against his own people.  The AU dithered, as Libyans were being slaughtered. It issued a feeble ceasefire, which both sides ignored. Then it appealed to them to negotiate. Only a few African countries distinguished themselves in offering clear leadership and direction on the Libyan crisis. on Sept 7, Botswana became the 11th country on the continent to recognize the TNC, sparking strong criticism from SA.

In August, Gabon was the second [Senegal recognized the TNC in June) African country to recognize the council, followed by Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Chad, Niger and Togo have also recognized the council. South Africa has so far refused to do so and withheld approval for the release of $2.5 billion of Libyan assets frozen by the United Nations to be given to the TNC. Ironically, it has been the small countries that have shown leadership on the resolution of the Libyan crisis. 

Consider President Ali Bongo of Gabon, for example. He was instrumental in getting the United Nations to pass Resolution 1973, which established a no-fly zone and authorized the international community to use any means necessary to protect Libyan civilians.  This required considerable risk and put him at odds with senior African leaders.  At the same, time, President Bongo recognized that governing a post-Kaddafy Libya would be difficult and kept communication channels open to both sides.  He is pursuing reconciliation between the parties to maintain some semblance of unity among the fractious tribes and ensure delivery of social services to a beleaguered population.  President Bongo allowed the Libyan Ambassador to remain in Gabon, even offering political asylum should he choose to defect.  But he declined the offer. After Gabon's recognition of the TNC, the Libyan Ambassador was told to leave Gabon.  By contrast, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe expelled the Libyan Ambassador when he expressed sympathy with the rebels.

The AU has been torn asunder by the Libyan crisis and it is doubtful if will heal very soon. As President Bongo remarked, "the AU was weak [on the Libyan crisis] and efforts had to be made to build its capacity to respond swiftly to any crisis." This however will be a gargantuan task as the AU was not strong to begin with. It was hastily and haphazardly created on shaky foundations, amid grandstanding, political theatrics and intrigue.

The AU was the brainchild of the Libyan strongman and came into being when it became apparent that its predecessor - the Organization of African Unity (OAU) -- had become a irrelevant dinosaur. In March, 2001, Moammar Khaddafy gathered African leaders in Sirte (Tripoli), Libya to announce the Declaration of the African Union. Khaddafy hailed the Declaration as the "beginning of a new balance of power," in a uni-polar world, where the U.S. holds sway. OAU chairman and Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema, then one of the longest serving African autocrats, described the Declaration as "victory and an ambitious step towards the African Union."  In July 2001, the OAU convened its 37th Summit in Lusaka, Zambia, at a time when the organization was in dire financial straits. It was burdened with a $54.53 million debt, representing non-payment of dues by 45 of its 54 members. The OAU threatened to lock out from the July 2001 Lusaka Summit those member states which had not paid their dues. When Khaddafy settled their arrears, they overwhelmingly approved Khaddafy's African Union concept -- 36 members ratified the Constitutive Act to form the AU, while 17 signed on. [Morocco was not in attendance as it had suspended its membership in the OAU over Western Sahara territorial dispute.]

The new organization, the African Union, got off from a rocky start. On May 8, 2002, the transformation of the OAU into the AU was postponed -- just two months before it was scheduled to happen. Senior officials overseeing the transformation said more time -- three to four years -- was needed to complete the process of setting up the 17 key components of the new body. The 17 components were to include a Pan-African parliament, a court of justice, a central bank and a body equating to the United Nations Security Council, which will seek to resolve conflicts on the continent. Libya insisted in hosting the Pan-African parliament when it had no parliament, no military institutions, no political parties, no unions, no non-governmental organizations and holds no elections. Further, there was nothing original about the African Union as it was modeled after the European Union. Even then, it was a bad copy. Whereas there are eligibility criteria or membership requirements, there were no such requirements for the African Union; any rogue state could become a member.

Credit however must be given to the new organization for focusing on African economic development. Over the past two decades, all sorts of grandiose initiatives and mega-plans have been announced by African leaders at various summits to launch Africa into the golden age of prosperity. Nothing was subsequently heard of them after the summits. In the late 1980s, there was much excitement about the creation of the African Economic Community. Nothing came out of it. At the 35th OAU Summit in Algiers (July 15, 1999), President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa shocked the delegates by reminding them that little has been done to implement the 1991 Treaty of Abuja that established an African Economic Community (The Washington Times, July 15, 1999; p.A14).

There were other grand initiatives too: The Algerian, and South African initiative, the Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery (MAP) and the Omega Plan, spearheaded by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. They were finally integrated into a single plan called the Compact For African Recovery by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Subsequently, COMPACT metastasized into NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) -- a synthesis of the plans and touted by Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. All these plans commit African leaders to democratic ideals, establishment of peace, law and order, respect for human rights and basic freedoms, and a better management of their economies, among other things. For example, the official NEPAD document undertook "to respect the global standards of democracy, whose core components include political pluralism, allowing for the existence of several political parties and workers' unions, fair, open, free and democratic elections periodically organized to enable the populace to choose their leaders freely." It also included a "peer review mechanism" by which African leaders who misrule their countries would be subject to criticism by fellow African leaders according to commonly agreed standards. NEPAD was trumpeted as "Africa's own initiative," "Africa's Plan," "African crafted," and therefore "African owned."

However, there were serious problems with NEPAD. First, it was not original; it was modeled after a foreign plan: The U.S. Marshall Aid Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II. How then could NEPAD be "African crafted" or how could Africa claim ownership over someone else's idea? Second, the $64 billion in investment NEPAD sought from the West reflected the same old aid dependency syndrome.  Moreover, the investment resources Africa desperately needs can be found in Africa itself. According to the AU, corruption alone costs Africa $148 billion a year. Cutting that in half could provide more than the $64 billion the AU was badgering the West for. Third, NEPAD was "crafted" without consultation with Africa's NGOs and civic groups.

To be sure, the African Union, NEPAD and the peer review mechanism were all great ideas but were debauched by political intrigues, theatrics and super-inflated egos. The architects of the AU and NEPAD did not even take themselves seriously. Instead of working collectively to advance NEPAD as an "African initiative," South Africa spearheaded NEPAD with Nigeria, Algeria and Senegal, in a group known as "the powerful G4" (group of four), leaving the other countries chafing with little role to play. Even then, by 2006, President Wade of Senegal - one of the masterminds behind of NEPAD - had had enough, declaring on June 28, 2006 that NEPAD had not produced results. "NEPAD has failed. We did not choose the right people, they are not managers able to complete projects. NEPAD has not built a single mile of road," Senegal's official news agency APS quoted Wade as saying during a two-day visit to Tehran, Iran (http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/africa/06/28/africa.nepad.reut/index.html ). The following year, Moammar Khaddafy delivered an even more stinging rebuke, declaring the AU - his own brainchild - as a failure. Speaking in the Guinean capital Conakry on 26 June, 2007, Khaddafy  said the African Union was a failure and reiterated his view that the current arrangement of individual states was unsustainable. He called on African leaders attending the African Union summit in Ghana in July to agree to create a federal government for the continent.  "At the Accra summit we are going to get straight to the point," Khaddafy said. "Let those who are hesitating, get out of our way. For 40 years all the summits have failed. Our micro-states have no future." (http://www.meed.com/nav)

By 2010, not only NEPAD but the concept of the United States of Africa was also dead. At the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January 2010, Col. Moammar Khaddafy " delivered a rambling rebuke of fellow African heads of state after they chose to replace him as chairman of the African Union and failed to endorse his push for the creation of a United States of Africa" (The New York Times, Jan 31, 2010; p.A7). South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria were among the countries that opposed Khaddafy's attempts to form a continental government, which many viewed as impractical given the political and economic disparities in Africa.

How then does the AU resolve the crisis in Libya when its own creator had rejected the organization as a failure?

 


__________________________
George Ayittey, a native of Ghana, is president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington.  His new book, Defeating Dictators, will be published by Palgrave/MacMillan in October.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and does not reflect The African Post editorial policy.


Source: George B.N. Ayittey, Ph.D

  • Video
  • Latest News
  • Spotlight
  • Opinion
  • Telling the African Story: Komla Dumor.
  • Africa Straight Up - Official Film.
  • Ethiopian Ancient Architecture and its History.
  • Aliens Visit to Ethiopia Sacred Places.
  • My Love & Pride - The Other Side of Africa.