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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid