News / Africa

AU Chief Leaves Mixed Legacy

AFRICA-AU/
AFRICA-AU/
Jean Ping, the outgoing African Union Commission chairman, will hand over his position Monday at the organization’s headquarters in Addis Ababa.  Ping was often criticized for the quality of his leadership, but his defenders said he did the best he could given his position.
 
Jean Ping lost a fierce and competitive race with South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in July to hold on to his position as head of the AU Commission. The sometimes harsh rhetoric during the months of campaigning exposed some deep divisions in the African Union.
 
As one of his last acts in office to soothe tensions, Ping attended his final U.N. General Assembly in New York last month accompanied by his successor Dlamini-Zuma.

Failing on Libya
 
In his four years as AU commission chairman,  Ping faced numerous challenges across the continent, from political turmoil in Madagascar and Ivory Coast, to crises in Tunisia and Niger.
 
But the issue he was most criticized for was for the AU’s slow response to the crisis in Libya during the Arab Spring uprising - and not backing the growing call for then-Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to step down from decades in power.  
 
African Union Commissioner of the Peace and Security Council Ramtane Lamamre worked with Ping on a daily basis. He said it is not fair that all the criticism was focused on the chairman.
 
"Ping has not made decisions in isolation.  Rather, the commission has made recommendations to the member states, in particular to the Peace and Security Council and the panel of five heads of state, which was set up to handle the Libya crisis," said Lamamre. "And, the membership overwhelmingly endorsed the recommendations by the commission.”
 
Lamamre feels he was more responsible for the handling of Libya than Ping was. “I was in charge of the peace and security portfolio as I am now," he said.  "And therefore, I take responsibility for much of what we have done in the Libya crisis or any other crisis that we had to manage together with Dr. Ping.”
 
In the case of Libya, Michael Battle, the U.S. ambassador to the African Union, felt that one has to acknowledge the limitations the chairperson faces.
 
”Serving in a multilateral organization like the African Union, without the power to actually make things happen, because the chairperson of the African Union Commission cannot make things happen on behalf of the continent, they can implement the continent's policies,” said Battle.
 
Ping understood those limitations and dismissed criticism that he often failed to promote effective cohesion in dealing with crises such as those in Libya and Ivory Coast, saying it would be impossible to get all 54 diverse member-states on the same page.
 
Looking back at the Libya situation, independent African Union specialist Mehari Taddele Maru argued that Ping’s leadership on Libya actually gives the outgoing chairman a positive legacy.
 
“I think Jean Ping was very strong in his position on Libya, and as such, most of the pressure was on him," said Mehari. "But he was able to maintain head of the secretary of the AU to reflect the position of the African continent, as such, but at the same time to do it with a graceful manner, without being simply marginalized and without being also too much isolated from the landscape, political landscape.”

Horn of Africa drought
 
Ping's leadership of the AU response to the 2008 drought in the Horn of Africa is cited by many as another positive addition to his legacy. Ambassador Battle said the chairman organized a conference where African countries donated over $350 million to assist each other.
 
“This was the first time in all of the history of the continent that the continent had convened to say that we want to help ourselves, while we are seeking help from donors," said Battle. "And, Ping fought very, very, hard to make sure that that donor conference took place.  Interestingly enough, as a by-product of that, Kenya implemented a program called Kenyans for Kenyans.  Kenya raised over $10 million among Kenyan people to help Kenyan people in this time of the drought and the famine.”
 
Jean Ping also forged strong ties with China - itself controversial.  China financed the $200 million AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, which critics say has bought the Asian giant undue influence on the African continent.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid