A university professor says he expects U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to urge the African Union [AU] to be proactive in resolving conflicts on the continent at a meeting scheduled for the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, today [Monday].
“I expect that is going to be one of the central messages that Mrs. Clinton is likely to take to the African Union leadership,” said Professor Kabiru Mato, director of the political science department at the University of Abuja in Nigeria.
He says the continental body lacks what he described as the necessary tools to decisively deal with conflicts on the continent.
“The African Union itself is seriously handicapped in terms of its capacity to address very pressing continental problems that manifest themselves in terms of the protracted conflicts in some of the countries,” said Mato.
He also said the continental body lacks the capacity to “reinforce” decisions it often takes to resolve conflicts, including the ongoing crisis in Libya and the escalating tensions in Sudan.
While in Ethiopia, Secretary Clinton is scheduled to meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
She is also expected to focus on regional issues when she visits the African Union (AU) headquarters and meets with AU Chairperson Jean Ping, in addition to holding bilateral meetings.
She will also meet with civil society to draw attention to their innovative and enterprising work.
Mato said it is unclear if Secretary Clinton’s message will have the desired impact on the leadership of the Africa Union.
“About whether the message is going to result in any change of positive attitude or otherwise is what am exactly not sure about,” said Mato.
He also said that the African Union is in a dilemma over how to deal with the ongoing crisis in Libya. Mato rejected criticisms that the African Union has continually failed to resolve conflicts on the continent.
“The political will might be there, but the material as well as other logistics required to enforce whatever political decisions are taken…are absent,” Mato said.
He also attributed many African conflicts to endemic poverty.
Mato’s comments came after Secretary Clinton warned African leaders of a creeping “new colonialism” on the continent from foreign investors and governments, who she said are only interested in extracting natural resources to enrich themselves.
She also encouraged leaders of the continent to ensure that foreign projects are sustainable and benefit all of their citizens, not only elites.