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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More