African Union: Setting an example

Winds of change sweep Africa

Not so many years ago, the exchange of a few million dollars might have swayed many a decision in Africa. Today, this is not the case. Despite having the backing of East and North African nations, Sudan was not chosen for the Chairmanship of the African Union due to its considerable internal problems, despite hosting the African Union Summit (16th to 14th January).Africa

The Presidency of the African Union should have come to East Africa this time around, since it has been given on a rotating basis. However, given that the Presidency of the African Union has as one of its main functions the resolution of crises, it did not make sense to award this position to Sudan, given the serious human rights record in Darfur, where the situation is again worsening.

In three years, over 200,000 people have lost their lives at the hands of government-backed Janjaweed Arab militia, who have attacked the local negro African population in Darfur, giving rise to over two million displaced persons and a tremendous refugee crisis in the region.

With the motto of “An efficient and effective African Union for a New Africa”, choosing the Sudan for the Presidency would make a mockery of the great progress that has been made in recent years.

The country chosen to host the presidency for the coming twelve months is the Republic of the Congo, with Sudan being indicated for holding the possible Chairmanship in 2007, if it resolves its internal problems.

Under the Chairmanship of the Congo's President, Denis Sassou-Ngessou, the Summit has concentrated on its main theme, Education and Culture.

The decision to force Sudan to set its own house in order is another typical example of the new spirit coursing through the veins of the African Union, launched in July 2002 in Durban, South Africa.

Libya's Muammar Al Qathafi had started postulating the idea of as United States of Africa in the late 1990s and despite initial scepticism, the idea had developed into the Constitutive Act, signed in Lome, Togo in 2000.

Today the African Union is the encarnation of the New African Initiative, a merger of the Omega economic initiative presented by President Wade of Senegal and the MAP economic plan, written by Presidents Thabo Mbeki (South Africa), Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria) and Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Algeria).

Under the New Partnership for Africa's Development, investment plans are transparent and all parties are held responsible and accountable for all stages of the agreement. Therefore the old saying, much heard around the world, that “Africa is corrupt” or “Africa doesn't pay” is very much an anachronism in Africa today.

The decision to give the Sudan twelve months to sort out Darfur is very much in keeping with this new spirit of responsibility and transparency.

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Author`s name Olga Savka