Thursday, 6 July 2017

Unanswered questions at the African Union

It was 'noises off' that dominated the first summit of the African Union under its new Commission Chairman, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on 3-4 July. As Chad's veteran Foreign Minister, it was hoped that he would be able to make progress on the continent's multiple conflicts, but sundry external political and financial quarrels overshadowed initiatives in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. The looming crisis in AU operations in Somalia next year, when troops from Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda could pull out and the European Union could end funding for the regional peacekeeping operation, was barely discussed.

The real work on the Sahel conflict was done when the leaders of Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania met in Bamako on 1-2 July and agreed to form a five-country force to fight terrorist groups in the region. Although the United Nations and the EU are backing it, the United States' refusal to contribute prompted a new panic about financing.

Conflicts such as the Kasai rebellion and the political deadlock in Congo-Kinshasa did not make the agenda. This was despite a strong warning to the AU from Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, and nine African former Presidents, that Congo was in grave danger unless a political agreement to hold elections this year was respected. Instead, President Joseph Kabila got the summit to back a resolution condemning 'outside interference' in Congo-K's politics, presumably a reference to European sanctions rather than African Presidents' warnings.

No comments: