It's time an 'African Spring' swept through the AU By RAY NALUYAGA | Monday, June 11 2012 at 17:38
It is rather shocking to see the entire African Union and Heads of State taking orders from Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir!
The Sudanese leader whose integrity is tarnished over accusations of killing his own people in Darfur, commanded the AU to move its July summit from Malawi, where he was threatened with arres, to Ethiopia.
The AU complied.
What is more shocking is the failure of both President al-Bashir and the AU to engage on the various platforms they use to denounce the International Criminal Court (ICC) to explain the Sudanese strongman’s “innocence.”
Instead, the AU is busy brushing off the ICC’s arrest warrant on very cheap reasoning: that the court is biased against Africans and that Heads of State enjoy ‘sovereign immunity'.
As was once observed by the new ICC chief prosecutor, the Gambian Fatou Bensouda, are the Africans who are tried at the ICC answering charges of crimes committed against white men or against fellow Africans?
"We say that ICC is targeting Africans, but all of the victims in our cases in Africa are African victims. They are not from another continent. They are African victims and they are the ones who are suffering these crimes," she stressed.
That logic should not be too difficult for the AU to comprehend.
On the AU’s website, the organisation’s vision reads: “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”
The AU says this vision of a new, forward-looking, dynamic and integrated Africa will be fully realised through “relentless struggle” on several fronts and as a long-term endeavour.
It adds: “The African Union has shifted focus from supporting liberation movements in the erstwhile African territories under colonialism and apartheid, as envisaged by the OAU since 1963 and the Constitutive Act, to an organisation spearheading Africa’s development and integration.”
However, the AU’s actions on Malawi with regard to President al-Bashir make this vision highly questionable.
Last week, Malawi announced it will not host the upcoming AU summit because of the bloc's insistence on inviting the Sudanese president who is wanted on international war crimes charges.
"After considering the interests of Malawians, I want to inform Malawians that the cabinet met today and decided it was not interested in accepting the conditions by the African Union; therefore Malawi is not hosting the summit," Vice-President Khumbo Kachali told journalists in a brief speech broadcast on State radio.
The AU Commission had made it clear that if Malawi was not willing to host al-Bashir, the venue would be shifted to another country, in this case Ethiopia where the AU headquarters is located.
It should be remembered that Malawi’s interests on this matter are economic. When the late President Bingu wa Mutharika hosted President al-Bashir last year, the visit cost Malawians some $1 billion in frozen aid from the US and UK alone.
When this happened, the AU never come to the rescue of poor Malawians....
No, not even al-Bashir himself. As Malawians suffered, the Sudanese leader continued to spend his petrodollars fighting his own conflict with South Sudan.
Probably Malawians would have found the insistence for them to host al-Bashir understandable if he and the AU had offered to compensate the poor country for the frozen aid.
As it were, the Malawians know better the consequences of hosting this man, and it would have been nice of the AU to factor in these before keeping up with a person who cannot prove his innocence.
Malawi’s position on not hosting al-Bashir is actually what is in line with the AU’s stated vision. The organisation’s departure from this vision only goes to prove the old saying that the AU is a dictator’s club.
Africa has for several months witnessed the awe-inspiring Arab Spring where a people rose up against long-serving dictators like Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak.
The time has come for this movement to spread continent-wide to oust the AU and refashion a more people-centred organisation which puts the interests of the ordinary African first.
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