The 24th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit: The tissues of the issues

The upcoming Summit of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa 30-31 January is likely to be drowned by more serious global security issues and the on-going CAF Championships in Equatorial Guinea.

The continued escalation of conflict in Ukraine and the geo-political cat and mouse jockeying by the US and Russia; the European siege and frenzy by terrorists (Jihadists); the successes and widespread atrocities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and many more will continue to dominate the headlines, drowning thereby the AU annual ritual – the Summit.

In actual fact, the African Union summit meetings officially kicked off in Addis Ababa, Monday January 19, with preparatory ministerial gatherings(the Permanent Representatives’ Committee of the African Union) meant to streamline the agenda.

The committee focuses on the reports submitted by AU institutions and specialized sectors about a wide range of political, social, economic, agricultural, technical, administrative, judicial, scientific, cultural, environmental and health issues. It also examines the topic of international cooperation and partnership.

Even though the theme for this year’s Summit is “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063″, there are several other pressing issues, especially peace and security issues that are likely to draw the attention of Africa’s leaders at the upcoming summit.

Key among them are the destructive civil war and catastrophic humanitarian disaster in South Sudan, the latest Boko Haram massacres in Nigeria and the growing threat of terror on the continent, the economic and security implications of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and the deteriorating security situation in Libya.

Indeed, the resolution of the current security situation in Libya is key to the mitigation of the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria and surrounding areas.

The violence in the Central African Republic and situations in Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and Mali are of equal concern.

Of great concern is the fact that several of the elections taking place this year could trigger violence. Eighteen African countries are scheduled to hold elections this year (2015) and a number of these are affected by conflict. In several cases, elections are expected to be held in a politically volatile environment.

The report on alternative source of financing for the AU and the election of the next chairperson of the AU Assembly, expected to be from Southern Africa, will also be issues worth watching during the summit. The EU is the major source of funding for the AU.

The partnership is now hiccupping because of perceived corruption and Europe’s unending crisis. Africa needs to look elsewhere. Africa need not look far to find that mis-governance is the source of her woes.

Corruption alone is killing Africa. According to the United Nations, illicit financial flows into and out of Africa may total more than $50 billion per year.

And yet Africa goes begging before it is able to partially do what it needs to do.

If Agenda 2063 is intended as “A global strategy to optimize use of Africa’s resources for the benefits of all Africans”, then the time is now for the Summit to design means of eliminating corruption from the governance systems in Africa.

The appropriateness of the theme for this year’s summit is seen in the fact that the African Union seeksto give a special attention to the empowerment of women as to the assessment of the efforts being undertaken by the AU and international groups in establishing peace and security on the continent.

The intrinsic link between women’s empowerment and peace and security on the continent is not doubtful; and that is why the conflicts we outlined above will have to be discussed extensively at the summit.

Agenda 2063 has the vision of “An Integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”.

It is definitely going to be difficult to implement any strategy to attain this vision when Africa is dotted all around with instability.

In the quest to eliminate war from Africa, the discussion should not just be who should help. Often times, we are quick to seek assistance from the US or Europe (NATO).

A seeming Cold War (New Cold War), which Katusa calls ‘The Colder War is unfolding.

Even though in the past the US has assisted with several interventionist programmes (the Pan-Sahel Initiative, Africa Crisis Response Initiative –ACRI-, ACOTA etc) we need to ensure that any and every assistance does not lead to expanding the Cold War back to Africa.

This column is aware of attempts to build brigades and bases in Africa under the pretext of assisting Africa combat terrorism. The Summit must set the agenda for programming peace in Africa.

Dr. V. Antwi-Danso

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