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Feature Article of Monday, 21 May 2012

Columnist: Yekin, Kofi Ali Abdul

Africa Must Unite- Behind Who? (Part1)

This coming month of July is again for another African wide election to be held during the 19th Africa Union Summit in Lilongwe, Malawi between 15th -16th July 2012 that will be deciding who shall be manning the AUC (Africa Union Commission) for another four years. Interestingly, with barely a month to go, the Ad hoc Committee of eight set up to present the 54 AU Assembly members with potential candidates have met first on the 17th March, 2012 and again on the 14th May, 2012 in Cotonou, Benin without a final outcome. It is even more interesting to know that the Ad hoc committee is planning for a final meeting on the eve of the AU election to decide who the AUC Chairperson candidates shall be, thereby giving the delegated as electorates barely less than twelve hours to make a choice on who shall be the AUC Chairperson.
The four year term of Jean Ping popularly referred to as “AU Era of Diplomacy” come to an end in January 2012 and in his effort to seek for another four years mandate to man the AU, he contested the position with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in a fierce election battle that ended with no clear winner. After repeating the contest for the third time, Jean Ping ended up standing alone as the rival step down and despite this, all that the incumbent AUC Chairman was able to master was 32 votes with 4 votes less to the required 36 votes to qualify him for another four years term. The initial reaction of the AU Assembly to the election outcome was for the Vice AUC Chairman Erastus Mwencha to serve as an interim Chairman of the AUC for six months till another election is held but this was later reversed for the incumbent to serve the interim period.

Unlike any election ever held at the AUC level this inconclusive AUC Chairmanship election of the 31st January, 2012 between the incumbent Ping and contender Nkosozana, exposed the significance of the office under contention in the business of the AU. In fact, the AUC Chairmanship as an office conferred on a single person confirmed itself as the most important and the highest single institution of all the AU institutions. This is different from whatever we have seen in the past 49 years of the Union’s history.

This recent election proved that if some slight modifications are employ in broadening the participation and the procedure of arriving at who occupy the highest single office, the AUC Chairmanship will easily assume equal status to the President of America or China or at the least, India. This then will be saving us all the humiliation of having the AU divided member states leaders, as is currently the case by Professor Atta Mills of Ghana, Boni Yayi of Benin and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia running to the USA at the bidding of Barak Obama to seemingly be attending the G8 Summit. Of course this tradition used to be the privileges of Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Jacob Zuma of South Africa until they lost the favour. But what does anyone expect from a people who are not controlled by anyone as none of us is united behind particular person at the continental level despite our cry of leadership vacuum across Africa? Have we all empowered anyone among us to discipline anyone who defies our set African Union standard?
Now on this sudden surge of interests of on who assume the AUC Chairmanship, why are these interests reflecting themselves in this fierce battle for Africa? Why at this time and why the AUC Chairmanship in particular? Could this be said to be purely the normal disagreements that has traditionally characterized the decision making among the 54 members of the AU Assembly or there is more to this than that? Could this be a resurrection of the Cold War between the Euro-American interests against the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) on the continent of Africa?
Now that other interests are viciously contesting for whose interest reflects in the AUC Chairmanship, to what extent then is the interest of the ordinary citizens of the 54 AU member states represented on the continent of Africa? Does this election indeed make room for the interest of the ordinary man on the street of the Africa Union’s fifty four member states?
The January election and now, the coming July’s are now challenging the minds of the ordinary people on the continent of Africa and the world at large, on who runs the Africa Union? These two elections on the decision of the person who run the Union for a period of four years poses lots of questions to the minds, and worst still, at a time when the continent is being pressured by the realities around her. This exposes our common consensus on leadership vacuum as the problem of Africa.
In today’s world the Euro-American interest does not only exist on the continent of Africa but are openly felt by anyone on the continent, regardless to creed or race. The last AUC election, as has been the case all these while with less of our attention being drawn to it, openly exposed the Europeans and Americans activities on who they believe will be sustaining their interest better in the AU. One even read in the reports from Addis Ababa of the presence of individuals with specific reference to the French taking command from Nicholas Sarkozy and the EU Commission in Brussels, shuttling among electorates to ensure their favoured candidates gets the Africa highest position. So with 25 AU member states being French colonies and considering the strong influence of the French on their colonies, one will be marvelling at the outcome in which Jean Ping could not make the 36 simple majority requirements to win the position.
The anomaly in the January election of the AUC Chairmanship indeed affirmed the presence, power and influence of the BRICS on the continental body. It must be recalled that within the same period the Chinese doled out a magnificent present of $200 AU Complex to the Union. It is also important to bear in mind that South Africa is a member of BRICS and Nkosozana manning the AUC automatically translates into a citizen of a BRICS member state also as the one in charge of the AUC, so a better way of advancing the interest of BRICS and South Africa’s in Africa. But who blames BRICS for advancing their interest through South-Africa and Nkosozana, when no one sees anything wrong with Jean Ping’s tendency to sustain French-EU interest as a citizen of Gabon?
We were all born with the slogan “Africa Must United” that gave birth to the formation of the OAU (Organization of the Africa Unity) in 1963. Most of us are also aware of the sole purpose for the formation of the continental body and now the AU (Africa Union), as a united and a stronger front in place of the relatively weaker member states, to advance of the best interest of her people. So the consensus prior to 1963 by all the founding fathers is that of a decimated Africa with a sad past that needs a new future for her people behind one person under the banner of a Union. In short, the purpose of the AU is to address the naturally inherent competitive environment that set the AU states against one another to the advantage of external interest. (Continue in Part2)

Kofi Ali Abdul Yekin
Chair/Coordinator
Action Group of Africa (AGA), www.aga4fed.com, and skyp as kofialiabdul1

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