Thomas Sankara: An Upright Man

Thomas Sankara: An Upright Man

Source: Author: Adjei-Gyamfi Yaw

On 15 October, Africa joins hands with the people of Burkina Faso to celebrate the life and work of this great African icon.

Many nationalist leaders took up frontline roles to liberate their people from colonialism, regardless of the life-threatening conditions and consequences that prevailed at the time. African people were facing harsh conditions in their homelands due to colonial domination and exploitation. North of Ghana’s border is Burkina Faso, a country that owes its birth to a young, selfless and dynamic Pan-Africanist leader, Thomas Isidore Sankara. He was the leader of Burkina Faso’s revolutionary government from 1983 to 1987. To embody the new autonomy and rebirth, he renamed the country, changing from “Upper Volta” to “Burkina Faso”, which means “Land of Upright Men”.

(FILES) A file picture taken on February 7, 1986 shows Captain Thomas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, giving a press conference in Paris. An autopsy on the supposed remains of Burkina Faso’s iconic ex-president Thomas Sankara, who was killed in a 1987 coup, showed he was ‘riddled with bullets”, a lawyer for his family said October 13, 2015. Lawyer Ambroise Farama emphasised she was still waiting for the results of DNA tests to confirm the body was that of the revolutionary former army captain but said “there is every reason to believe” the remains exhumed from a cemetery in the capital Ouagadougou in May were his. AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GEORGE

In an interview, Ernest Harsch, the biographer of Thomas Sankara, paints a vivid image of the remarkable personality of this legendary African icon:
He did not like the general pomp that came with the office. He was interested in ideas. He’d think for a while, then respond to your questions. In terms of public events, he really knew how to talk to people. He was a great orator. He loved to joke. He often played with the French language and coined new terms. He often made puns. So, he had a sense of humour. In Burkina Faso, you’d see him riding around the capital on a bicycle or walking around on foot without an entourage.
Such was the affability and the humility of Sankara.
On 15 October, Africa joins hands with the people of Burkina Faso to celebrate the life and work of this great African icon. The continent celebrates his unwavering commitment and dedication to the resistance of the continued oppression of the Burkinabe people by the colonial authority of France.
Sankara is also remembered for the strides he made to develop his country in areas of education, health and gender empowerment, as well as his fiery desire to eradicate corruption and its effects. This article highlights the legacy of Sankara, with a clear reflection of what he stood for in his lifetime. Juxtaposed with the life and legacy of this illustrious son of Africa, the last section looks at the general bankruptcy of leadership in Africa today.
Exactly what did Thomas Sankara want for his country?
Noel Nebie, a retired professor of economics, told Al-Jazeera: “Sankara wanted a thriving Burkina Faso, relying on local human and natural resources, as opposed to foreign aid, and starting with agriculture, which represents more than 32 percent of the country’s GDP and employs 80 percent of the working population. He smashed the economic elite who controlled most of the arable land and granted access to subsistence farmers. That improved production, making the country almost self-sufficient.”

As an ardent advocate of self-sufficiency and a strong opposition to foreign aid or intervention, Sankara held the conviction that “he who feeds you, controls you”.

Sankara’s foreign policy was largely focused on anti-imperialism, with his government shunning all foreign aid. He insisted on debt reduction, nationalising all land and mineral wealth, and averting the power and influence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. His domestic policies were focused on preventing famine with agrarian self-sufficiency and land reform, prioritising education with a nationwide literacy campaign, and promoting public health by vaccinating 2,5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever and measles. As an ardent advocate of self-sufficiency and a strong opposition to foreign aid or intervention, Sankara held the conviction that “he who feeds you, controls you.” Sankara was vocal against the sustained neo-colonial penetration of Africa through Western trade and finance. He called for a united front of African nations to renounce their foreign debt and argued that the poor and exploited did not have an onus to repay money to the rich and exploiting. In a speech delivered by Sankara in October 1984, he declared, “I come here to bring you fraternal greetings from a country whose 7 million children, women and men refuse to die of hunger, ignorance and thirst any longer.”
Taking a similar stance to the revolutionaries Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara, Sankara voiced his displeasure over the arrogant treatment of the people of Burkina Faso by the rulers of the imperialist world. He vehemently criticised the impoverished conditions of the Burkinabe people and showed a strong determination to uphold the dignity of his people who had suffered savagely due to colonialism and neo-colonialism. Sankara had sworn to oppose the continued oppression of Africans and refused to subscribe to the economic bondage of class society and its unholy consequences.
To address prevailing land imbalances, Sankara embarked on a redistribution of land from the colonial ‘landlords’, returning it to the peasants. As a result, wheat production rose in three years from 1 700 kilogram per hectare to 3 800 kilogram per hectare, making the country self-sufficient in terms of food. He also campaigned against the importation of apples from France when Burkina Faso had tropical fruits that could not be sold. As a way to promote the growth of the local industry and national pride, Sankara impressed upon public servants to wear a traditional tunic, woven from Burkinabe cotton and sewn by Burkinabe craftsmen.
The modest nature of Sankara is one of the most prominent features of this African legend. He remained a humble leader who won the hearts and admiration of all his people and followers. He lived a relatively modest lifestyle, doing away with the luxuries widely associated with the oligarchs of Africa. As president, he had his salary cut to US$450 a month and reduced his possessions to a car, four bikes, three guitars, a fridge and a broken freezer. Sankara stood out from the leaders who led the freedom struggle for liberation in Africa. This was because he was a communist. He believed that “a world built on different economic and social foundations can be created not by technocrats, financial wizards or politicians, but by the masses of workers and peasants whose labour, joined with the riches of nature, is the source of all wealth”. A devoted Marxist, he drew inspiration for his fight for the emancipation of the working class from his belief that Marxism was not a set of “European ideals” that were alien to the class struggle in Africa.

Sankara agreed with the words of Marcus Mosiah Garvey: “Education is the medium through which a people can prepare for their own civilisation and the advancement and glory of their own race.” Sankara recognised the importance of education in order to liberate his people from colonial damnation.

He initiated a nation-wide literacy campaign, increasing the literacy rate from 13 percent in 1983 to 73 percent in 1987.
Sankara also understood the importance of women in the success of the revolution and the overall development of a nation. He empowered the women of Burkina Faso. As Pathfinder Press states, “From the very beginning, one of the hallmarks of the revolutionary course Sankara fought for was the mobilisation of women to fight for their emancipation.”
His commitment to women’s rights led him to outlaw female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy, while appointing women to high governmental positions.
In October 1983, he declared in a speech that “the revolution and women’s liberation go together. We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or out of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the revolution to triumph. Women hold up the other half of the sky”. He appointed women to high governmental positions, encouraged them to work, recruited them into the military and granted pregnancy leave during education. His commitment to women’s rights led him to outlaw female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy, while appointing women to high governmental positions.

Overthrow and death

On 15 October 1987, Thomas Sankara was murdered in a coup d’état, which was engineered by his trusted friend, brother and right-hand man in the revolution, Blaise Campaore. He was killed, along with 12 other officials, by his former colleague. Sankara’s body was dismembered and he was quickly buried in an unmarked grave, while his widow, Mariam, and their two children fled the nation. This was a disgraceful moment in the history of Burkina Faso. Campaore overturned most of Sankara’s policies and returned to the IMF. His dictatorship remained in power for 27 years until overthrown by popular protests in 2014.

General bankruptcy of leadership in Africa

At a time when Africans are desperately looking for development options and a way to regain an economically independent Africa, as envisaged by Sankara, Africa is bereft of such revolutionary-spirited leaders to spur on the fight for the economic emancipation and liberation of the continent. Much has been made of the discourse surrounding the potential re-colonisation of Africa by the emerging neo-colonial ‘kid on the block’—China.
October 14 marked the anniversary of the passing of another of Africa’s founding fathers of Pan Africanism, Julius Mwalimu Kambarage Nyere. In moments such as these, African leaders must revisit the ideals of these selfless leaders, who wished for nothing but the total emancipation of the African continent. Just as Sankara professed a week before his dastardly murder, “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.”
Poor governance is one of the factors that have plunged the continent into extreme levels of poverty and the far-reaching effects of low standards of living. Governance among Africans has been plagued with political and economic failures and this has seemingly provided proof of the incapability of Africans to rule themselves.
African governments are characterised by corruption, nepotism and political instability. Tsenay Serequerberhan (1998) posited that, “In fact, the 1970s and the 1980s have already been for Africa a period of ‘endemic famine’ orchestrated by the criminal incompetence and political subservience of African governments to European, North American and Soviet interests.” Corruption among leaders on the African continent has been a major setback to Africa’s attempt to realise successes in the globalised economy. This canker on the continent has blinded the leaders of Africa to appreciate the altruistic purpose for which they have been placed at the helm of affairs of the state. It is almost impossible to dissociate extreme poverty and wilful inequality from countries faced with sky-high levels of corruption. It is not an issue that affects governance only at the national level, but it also undermines collective African efforts at addressing common developmental challenges.
Corruption in Africa has helped to further concentrate income and wealth, which ought to be directed towards the development of her people, in the hands of the privileged few, to the detriment ofmany through the unequal and inequitable distribution of resources. Africa’s inability on the part of governments to deal effectively with poverty has been, to a large extent, due to corruption. Pan Africanism has lost its shine among African leaders, with African governments still under the shackles of neo-colonialism. The Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) was meant to be a glowing reflection of the achievements of Pan Africanism, but is nothing but a laughing stock that cannot fund its own budget: An office complex to host its meetings had to be a ‘gift’ from China. On a day when we celebrate the revolutionary spirit of Thomas Sankara, it is imperative to realise that “African leaders have so much to learn from Sankara about humility and public service”, as was said by Samsk Le Jah, a musician. For Alex Duval Smith, “While Burkina Faso’s former leader may not be the poster boy of revolution, like Argentine-born Che Guevara, many taxis across West Africa have a round sticker of him in his beret on their windscreens.”

Built And Broken By Revolution – The Rise And Fall Of Mugabe

Author and Published By: AllAfrica
Publication Date: 27 November 2018.

For some, he will always remain a hero who brought independence and an end to white-minority rule. Even those who forced him out blamed his wife and “criminals” around him. But to his growing number of critics, this highly educated, wily politician became the caricature of an African dictator, who destroyed an entire country in order to keep his job.

Communique of the 868th meeting of the PSC on the state of foreign military presence in Africa, held on 14 August 2019

Communique of the 868th meeting of the PSC on the state of foreign military presence in Africa, held on 14 August 2019

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Adopted by the Peace and Security Council during its 868th meeting held on 14 August 2019 on state of foreign military presence in Africa: Implications on the implementation of the Common African Defence and Security Policy:

The Peace and Security Council,

Taking note of the statement made by H.E. Albert Ranganai Chimbindi, Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of August 2019, and the presentations made by Dr. Admore Kambudzi, Director of Peace and Security Department on behalf of the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui; also taking note of the presentation by Ambassador Kio Amieyeofori, on behalf of the Chairperson of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; Further taking note of the statements made by the representatives of China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO);

Recalling its previous pronouncements on the issue of foreign military presence and external interference in Africa’s affairs, particularly communique PSC/PR/COMM(DCI) adopted at its 601st meeting held on 30 May 2016; communique PSC/PR/COMM(DCCLXXVI) adopted at its 776th meeting held on 24 May 2018; communique PSC/PR/COMM(DCCCXXIV) adopted at its 824th meeting held on 5 February 2019; and most recently, communique PSC/PR/COMM(DCCCLVII) adopted at its 857th meeting held on 5 July 2019, and communique PSC/PR/COMM(DCCCLXV) adopted at its 865th meeting held on 7 August 2019; In the above-mentioned communiques, the PSC strongly condemned the external interference, by whomsoever, into African peace and security issues, and warned that it will proceed to naming and shaming those involved in order to address this problem;

Underling the need for full implementation of Article 7(l) of the PSC Protocol emphasizing that external initiatives in the field of peace and security on the Continent take place within the framework of the Union’s objective and priorities as outlined in the AU relevant instruments;

Taking note of the fact that some AU Member States, within their sovereign status, have entered into bilateral and multilateral arrangements with non-African partners with a view to addressing and containing threats to peace and security on their respective territories.

Acting under Article 7 of its Protocol, the Peace and Security Council:

  1. Notes with concern over the increase in the establishment of foreign military presence and military bases in Africa; emphasizes that the defence and security of one country in Africa is directly linked to that of others as provided for in the Common African Defence and Security Policy and also in the AU Non-Aggression Pact; in this regard, underlines that these AU instruments constitute the bedrock of Africa’s collective defence and security; further expresses deep concern that albeit this increase of foreign military presence and military bases in different parts of the continent, the threats which they are supposedly expected to neutralize, continue to increase an intensity and geographic expansion in different parts of the Continent; also expresses concern that foreign military presence and military bases are contributing to the risk of rivalry and competition among foreign powers within Africa and undermining national sovereignty and peace efforts;
  2. Strongly condemns any external interference into the Africa’s peace and security affairs and urges that all external support to peace and security in Africa should be well coordinated and directed towards achieving AU’s objectives and priorities and should be provided within the framework of the relevant AU instruments;
  3. While appreciating the support of partners in the promotion of peace, security and stability in Africa, emphasizes that AU Member States and the AU Commission should enhance their efforts in popularizing and providing effective support towards the implementation of the Common African Defence and Security Policy and African States should guarantee that any external support, either bilateral or multilateral, is in conformity with this Policy;
  4. Underscores that collective defence and security in Africa is of high importance, taking into consideration the rapid increase of foreign military presence in the Continent; in this regard, appeals to all AU Member States that decide to host foreign military entities/bases in their countries to deploy necessary efforts to inform their neighbours, their respective Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanism (RECs/RMs) and the African Union and ensure that the signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) are in conformity with the provisions of the Common African Defence and Security Policy and other relevant AU policies on defence and security and that they contribute towards the objectives and priorities of the AU;
  5. Emphasizes the need for the AU Commission and the RECs/RMs to redouble their efforts to ensure the operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF), which is the primary home-grown model in the Continent, to enable Africa to enhance its defence and security arrangements for AU Member States and their people; such a capability would provide Africa with the means to timeously respond to threats to peace and security; furthermore, stresses the importance for African countries to put more focus on capacitating their national forces, as well as promote intelligence sharing among themselves;
  6. Emphasizes the primary role of the African countries in managing their internal affairs and reaffirms its commitment to respect the sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity of each African state; therefore, encourages to all AU Member States which need support in capacitating their national defence and security forces and institutions to explore available avenues in the United Nations (UN) system and those in the RECs/RMs to provide such support, with a view to continue building mutual trust, confidence and collective capabilities and strength among African countries;
  7. Encourages AU Member States to enter into bilateral agreements in the matters of common interests on peace and security, in order to enhance coordination and share expertise and experience; further encourages Member States to emulate best practices on military operations among African states and RECs/RMs in addressing threats to peace and security and sustaining stability;
  8. Underscores the important role played by information, experience and intelligence sharing platforms, such as the Nouakchott and Djibouti Processes and calls for their further strengthening at higher political level; further stresses the need for promoting similar processes in other regions of the Continent;
  9. Requests the Chairperson of the Commission to regularly brief the Council on the status of the implementation of the Common African Defence and Security Policy and other relevant AU instruments on defence and security in the continent, in line with Article 14 of the Preamble of the Solemn Declaration of the Common African Defence and Security Policy, with a view to providing the opportunity to Council to review implementation and address any challenges that may be identified; In this regard, agrees to receive such briefing at least twice a year with the participation of CISSA;
  10. Requests the PSC Military Staff Committee to undertake a comprehensive study on foreign military presence and military bases in Africa, its advantages and disadvantages and submit proposals on the way forward for consideration by the PSC; in this context, agrees to provide a special report, within the spirit of the efforts to silence the guns in Africa, and to do so simultaneously with the report of the PSC on its Activities and the State of Peace and Security in Africa to the ordinary session of the Assembly of the AU to take place in January/February 2020;
  11. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

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Ethiopia’s visa-on-arrival for all Africans starts November 9

Ethiopia’s visa-on-arrival for all Africans starts November 9

Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban

A hint from the Prime Minister in May 2018, then a confirmation of implementation by erstwhile president. In between both, the country began issuing visas online to tourists.

Finally, Ethiopia has announced a date for the start of a visa-on-arrival regime for all Africans. Africa’s second most populous nation will start visa-on arrival regime from November 9, 2018, PM Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff confirmed on Friday.

According to Fitsum Aregaa, the current move is: “Consistent with PM Abiy Ahmed’s vision of a closer and full regional integration in Africa — where minds are open to ideas and markets are open to trade.”

Abiy had earlier this year disclosed that following Rwanda’s lead, Ethiopia was going to allow a visa-free regime for all Africans. At the time, he was speaking at a state banquet held for his visiting Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame.

Abiy said: “The President (Kagame) invited all Africans to travel to Rwanda without visas, we will follow you very soon.” On June 1 the issuance of visas online for all tourists kick started.

Ethiopia boasts the continent’s best national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, which has made the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, not just a regional but global aviation hub.

The most recent time the issue was came up was when ex-president Mulatu Teshome at the opening of parliament said the visa-on-arrival regime was to be implemented in this year.

Mozambique opposition says peace talks on hold

Mozambique opposition says peace talks on hold

Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, said on Wednesday that peace talks with the government were on hold due to its allegations of fraud in this month’s local elections.

Renamo said the election authorities had falsified results and robbed it of victory in five of the 53 municipalities.

The October 10 polls were seen as a key test of the peace process between the ruling Frelimo party and Renamo, which maintains an armed wing.

The two movements fought a civil war until 1992, and new peace talks started in 2016 after another outbreak of fighting between the government and Renamo rebels.

“Now the peace negotiation is on hold,” Renamo spokesperson Andre Magibire told reporters shortly after the electoral commission confirmed the results.

Among the disputed municipalities is Matole, the country’s largest city, which borders on the capital Maputo.

“Our priority is to manage the electoral conflict,” he said. “We are struggling to recover the five cities which were stolen.”

The party has gone to court to challenge the results.

“The resumption of peace talk depends on what the Constitutional Court will say,” Magibire said.

“To negotiate you need to be happy. We’re frustrated with the fraud.”

President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo’s new leader Ossufo Momade had recently made progress on a key sticking point in the talks – the disarmament and integration of former Renamo rebels into the police and army.

But analysts cast doubt on future progress of the peace process.

“There is no trust between the parties. With the state apparatus being used for the victory of Frelimo, Renamo will not hand over the weapons,” Domingos do Rosario, a political scientist at Mondlane University in Maputo, told AFP.

Renamo fought a brutal 16-year civil war against the Frelimo government that left one million people dead before the fighting stopped in 1992.

Fresh violence erupted from 2013 to 2016 between Renamo rebels and government troops before peace talks began.

The electoral commission on Wednesday released complete results, handing Frelimo 44 municipalities, leaving Renamo with eight and a small opposition party with one.

Frelimo has ruled Mozambique since its independence from Portugal in 1975.

The AU’s role in peace and security goes beyond norm-setting

The AU’s role in peace and security goes beyond norm-setting

Institute for Security Studies

Clarifying the roles of the African Union (AU) and subregional organisations is a central element of the AU reforms. It is key in terms of managing expectations about what the AU can or cannot do, as well as coordinating Africa’s responses to avoid duplication of efforts. But this issue is also divisive, and it is unclear whether AU member states will reach a concrete decision on a division of labour at the upcoming extraordinary summit on reforms in Addis Ababa on 17 November.

The AU Constitutive Act and other legal documents, including the Peace and Security Council (PSC) protocol, envisage the AU as playing a leadership role in addressing challenges on the continent. Article 3(l) of the Constitutive Act mandates the AU to ‘coordinate and harmonize the policies between the existing and future Regional Economic Communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union’.

However, none of the core documents of the various regional economic communities and mechanisms (RECs/RMs), which emerged through different processes, refers to the primacy of the AU. In the area of peace and security, for instance, RECs/RMs claim parallel responsibilities in terms of leading peace processes.

An analysis of the major security concerns on the continent shows that subregional organisations are increasingly at the forefront of addressing security threats.

A diminishing role in peace and security?

Out of 10 major security situations mentioned in the January 2018 decisions of the AU Assembly, the AU is only taking a clear leading role in two: the military intervention in Somalia and the mediation to end the ongoing border dispute between Sudan and South Sudan.

On the other hand, subregional organisations and ad-hoc regional groupings are leading mediations in South Sudan, Burundi and Guinea-Bissau, as well as military interventions against terrorist groups in the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin and Central Africa. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) also leads the political mediation in Somalia, alongside the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), while the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has taken the lead in the situations in Lesotho and Madagascar.

Yet, in some instances there is strong cooperation between subregions and the AU and United Nations (UN). One such example is the attempt to address the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Finding solutions at the subregional level is in line with the 2008 memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the AU and subregional organisations and mechanisms. However, the memorandum is not clear on what role the AU should play in conflict situations.

Should the AU be restricted to norm-setting?

In July 2018 the reform team led by President Paul Kagame produced a draft paper on the division of labour between the AU and RECs – a paper seen by the PSC Report.

The paper suggests that ‘the AU should set the strategic direction, develop harmonized continental agendas, policies, texts, standards, coordination, lead resource mobilization for continental actions and be responsible for monitoring, evaluation and accountability’.

RECs/RMs are expected to be responsible for the actual implementation of AU decisions, including enforcing member states’ compliance with AU norms. This resonates with a 2010 assessment of APSA that notes that ‘some RECs/RMs are of the view that the AU Commission should not view itself as an implementing agency; it should rather play more of a coordination role’.

This would entail that the AU would act as a norm-setter, which in itself is not an easy task, given the security challenges and the diversity of governance standards on the continent. To be successful in setting norms, the AU will have to make sure these norms and policies are respected.

Therefore, while implementation at the subregional level is important, the AU should be empowered to provide checks and balances, especially when peace processes led by subregional organisations are compromised.

AU’s role when subregional peace processes fail

The CAR, South Sudan and DRC conflict situations show the deep involvement of neighbouring states in such crises. They are often accused of taking sides and arming or harbouring parties to the conflict. This raises concerns about the role of neighbouring countries in crises.

For instance, while IGAD’s mediation in South Sudan has recently seen some progress, South Sudan’s neighbours have been caught up in the conflict itself. Uganda supports President Salva Kiir’s government and sent troops in support of Kiir’s forces from 2013 to 2015, when the peace deal was signed. Sudan is accused of supporting South Sudan’s rebel groups.

Such concerns led UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to warn IGAD and neighbouring states against taking sides in South Sudan’s conflict.

It took a lot of international pressure for South Sudan’s neighbours to commit to the peace process, particularly after the resurgence of violence in July 2016. At the same time, these neighbours also blocked efforts to impose punitive measures on South Sudan elites.

An IGAD communiqué on 30 July 2018, for instance, argued that, ‘given the latest developments in the peace process and the need to implement the permanent ceasefire and achieve an inclusive peace agreement, it is not helpful to pursue punitive measures at this stage’. The meeting and communiqué came prior to a meeting by the AU Ad Hoc Committee on South Sudan on 30 July as well as a PSC meeting on 31 July, thereby discouraging any considerations of punitive measures.

Even though a new deal has been reached with the support of Sudan and Uganda, the lack of an international enforcement plan in the agreement raises doubts about its sustainability. South Sudan’s warring parties have violated several other agreements in the past. What stops parties to the conflict from violating the current deal? Indeed, violence is ongoing in several parts of the country despite the peace deal.

As such, AU reformers have to explore options to enable the AU to take over peace initiatives led by subregional organisations when the latter’s efforts are compromised.

When subregional actors are unwilling or unable to address security threats

In some conflict situations, such as those in Libya and Cameroon, subregional organisations tend to be unwilling and/or unable to address the security threats.

In Cameroon, for instance, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) is unwilling to put the issue either on its agenda or on the agenda of the AU. Most member states of ECCAS are led by like-minded elites who want to stay in power. This situation is complicated by the fact that ECCAS is a relatively weak REC when compared to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and SADC, and its member states are facing internal issues of their own.

Given that the AU often takes its cue from subregions before intervening, the AU Assembly and the PSC have not been proactive in considering solutions to the crisis in the anglophone part of Cameroon. The issue continues to be viewed as an internal affair, despite the fact that over 400 people have died.

Such situations present instances where the AU should step up and lead the peace process while co-opting subregional actors and the international community.

Indeed, for the AU to be relevant to the lives of ordinary citizens and its member states, the continental body has to do more than set norms and evaluate implementation. This includes taking proactive steps in situations where member states are unwilling or unable to respond to security threats.

Such a proactive role requires a substantive review of the MoU between the AU and subregional organisations and mechanisms to clarify responsibilities and highlight situations that require AU intervention.

Source – Reliefweb