News

    Controversy, Possible Somalia Breakthrough Mark AU Summit

    The 13th African Union summit opens Wednesday in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte, birthplace of the continent's longest serving leader, host Moammar Gadhafi. The pre-summit buzz is all about who is attending, as well as how many, and which African leaders may stay away.

    President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan will be there in defiance of an ICC war crimes indictment, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Brazil's President Lula da Silva are also on the guest list. Talk on the street is that North Korea is  sending an observer delegation. But perhaps the biggest news is that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may make an appearance.

    The 81-year-old Egyptian leader has not been to a gathering of African leaders since he escaped an assassination attempt during a summit of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa in 1995.

    VOA was unable to obtain a visa to attend, but diplomats and journalists who did say the summit site is taking on a festival atmosphere. The pre-summit chatter is dominated by the big name guest list.

    The last summit in February drew only 21 heads of state to see Moammar Gadhafi sworn in. There was concern the turnout this time might be no better. But with Mr. Gadhafi talking about ramming through some of his controversial proposals for a United States of Africa, many would-be stay-at-homes may show up after all.

    Summit sideline events have already produced an apparent breakthrough, this one on Somalia. Reporters in Sirte say IGAD, the regional grouping of East African countries will ask the summit to change the weak AU peacekeeping mission AMISOM to a robust fighting force.

    IGAD, which comprises six East African countries is said to be looking at reversing an earlier ruling that prohibited Somalia's neighbors from sending troops to AMISOM. Two IGAD powers, Ethiopia and Kenya border Somalia, and are being urged in many quarters to play a more significant role in helping their neighbor.

    Kenneth Mpysi of the Institute for Security Studies in Addis Ababa says the summit come none too soon for Somalia, the Horn of Africa nation whose future hangs by a thread.

    "I think IGAD will push the African Union to continue and strengthen its role in terms of political will from the wider body, now we might be seeing increased political will as the situation aggravates. So Somalia might be one of the areas where we might see something significant coming out of it, particularly because there is this push from IGAD," he said.

    Other security issues slated to receive summit attention include the recent political troubles in Niger, and unconstitutional changes of government or attempted coups in Madagascar, Mauritania, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

    Also on the agenda will be an attempt by some member states to express the continent's unified opposition to the war crimes indictment against Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

    The pending ICC (International Criminal Court) indictments were a hot topic at the last meeting in February. But an attempt to forge a consensus failed at a pre-summit session in Addis Ababa last month, when only a handful of countries supported a Libyan and Sudanese backed initiative to withdraw in unison from the ICC's founding agreement.

    The three-day Sirte summit begins with an public session Wednesday, and closes with another open meeting Friday.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora