News / Africa

African Presidents Facing Tough Decisions on Ivory Coast, Libya

Ivory Coast's internationally-recognized President, Alassane Ouattara, right, addresses journalists following a meeting with African Union commission chairman Jean Ping, left, at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 5, 2011
Ivory Coast's internationally-recognized President, Alassane Ouattara, right, addresses journalists following a meeting with African Union commission chairman Jean Ping, left, at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 5, 2011

Several African heads of state are meeting in Addis Ababa (Wednesday and Thursday) to consider responses to two of the continent’s most vexing challenges, Ivory Coast and Libya. The organization’s credibility, and a chunk of its financing, are on the line.

Alassane Ouattara attends AU meeting

Internationally-recognized President Alassane Ouattara is attending; the defiant incumbent Laurent Gbagbo is absent as the African Union high-level panel on Ivory Coast holds two days of closed-door talks in the Ethiopian capital.

The panel, including five African presidents, is struggling to settle Ivory Coast’s leadership dispute against a backdrop of political violence that has claimed nearly 400 lives since December. Gbagbo’s snub in staying away is a measure of the challenge African leaders face in persuading one of their own to leave office when his time is up.

Following the panel’s deliberations Thursday evening, the AU Peace and Security Council, or PSC, will hold an extraordinary heads-of-state level meeting. The agenda will include Ivory Coast, as well as one of the most glaring examples of the continental body’s lack of commitment to democratic values, Libya.

Security contain clients standing outside the headquarters of the Bicici bank as they came to withdraw money in Abidjan, March 3, 2011
Security contain clients standing outside the headquarters of the Bicici bank as they came to withdraw money in Abidjan, March 3, 2011
The challenge facing the heads of state on the Peace and Security Council is all the more daunting as both Libya and Ivory Coast currently hold seats on the 15-member body, though Ivory Coast’s membership is suspended.

Scholars and AU watchers say this is a defining moment for the organization.

AU credibility is a bit on the line, says expert

Laura Seay, an Africa specialist at Morehouse College in Georgia said the Peace and Security Council, whose other leaders include Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and the current AU chairman, Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema may be hesitant to take tough action against autocrats and dictators.

"I think the AU credibility is a bit on the line," said Seay. "Whether they are going to be able to formulate effective and coherent responses, and saying that violence against civilians is unacceptable to the African Union. That’s going to make a big difference on whether they have credibility not only on the international scene, but also with their own people."

Libya - a special challenge

The Libyan case presents a special challenge, since Moammar Gadhafi has used his country’s vast oil wealth to become one of the AU’s most influential figures. Libya, along with north African states Egypt and Algeria, are among five AU nations that contribute nearly two thirds of the membership dues in the 53-member organization.

Delphine Lecoutre, a researcher with the French Center for Ethiopian Studies, points to a weak statement issued last month as an example of the Peace and Security Council’s timidity in facing up to the behavior of its leaders.

"There was a Peace and Security Council meeting on Libya, which resulted in
a cosmetic communiqué hardly condemning the violence in Libya and putting it
in a [clever] way, loss of human life and destruction of property, but nothing regarding the political situation in the country," said Lecoutre. "It is difficult for the AU to deal with that case."

Lecoutre points out that until recently, when protests erupted in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, no North African country had ever been the subject of a Peace and Security Council meeting. In 259 meetings over seven years, the body had dealt only with crises in sub-Saharan Africa.


Libyan rebel fighters run for cover as shells explode nearby during a battle with forces loyal to leader Moammer Gadhafi, just few kilometers outside the oil town of Ras Lanuf, March 9, 2011
Libyan rebel fighters run for cover as shells explode nearby during a battle with forces loyal to leader Moammer Gadhafi, just few kilometers outside the oil town of Ras Lanuf, March 9, 2011
She says while AU leaders might worry about losing Libya’s financial support if they impose sanctions, sub-Saharan countries annoyed by the north’s financial and political domination of the organization might welcome the chance to bring a powerhouse like Gadhafi down a notch.

"It is an opportunity for sub-Saharan countries to tell, 'Yes, you in the north are also part of this continent, because we from the southern part, we can talk about your issues and have an opinion about it,'" she said.

African leaders would welcome Gadhafi's departure

Africa specialist Laura Seay says many African leaders are quietly fed up with Moammar Gadhafi’s antics, and would welcome his departure.

"Some parts of Africa will change very little without Gadhafi," said Seay. "Several leaders, Zuma, Museveni and Goodluck Jonathan will be relieved to see him go."

Western diplomats and AU observers are watching with interest to see how Africa responds to the hard questions posed by Ivory Coast and Libya.

A senior diplomat, who asked for anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly, said the international community is looking for an unequivocal statement declaring Alassane Ouattara the winner of Ivory Coast’s presidential election. He said most western governments see no merit in settling Ivory Coast’s leadership question through a power-sharing agreement, as has been tried with limited success in Zimbabwe and Kenya.

The diplomat also said the west is looking for a more determined statement on Libya. He said anything less than suspension of Libya from the organization and possibly endorsement of a no-fly zone would be viewed as a stalling tactic.

But AU officials, speaking privately, said those were unlikely outcomes of these two days of meetings.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid