News / Africa

AU Summit Reveals Growing African Resentment Toward Western Values

Malawi President and president of African Union Bingu wa Mutharika, front second left, stands with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as they pose for a group photo with other African heads of states at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 30, 2
Malawi President and president of African Union Bingu wa Mutharika, front second left, stands with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as they pose for a group photo with other African heads of states at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 30, 2

This week’s African summit was partly a celebration of shared values, and partly a display of Africa’s growing resentment at what many perceive as values imposed from outside.

This semi-annual summit ended, as always, with words reaffirming the continent’s commitment to democracy, good governance and human rights. The newly-elected AU Chairman, Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, spoke in Spanish with an interpreter as he hailed the emergence of a pan-African value system.

"Africa has ratified its confidence in itself and in the shared values as means for establishment of the future progress of the continent and the attainment of a shared vision of unity and integration," Obiang said.

But beyond the words, diplomats and summit observers noted signs of increasing resistance to what many Africans see as pressure to accept standards and institutions created by Western powers.

For the second time in three years, the continental body will be led by a man seen by many in the West as a dictator. Two years ago it was Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.

Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch says this year’s choice, President Obiang, is in the same category.

"It’s unfortunate for the African Union and for Africans to be represented on the world stage by President Obiang.  He took power in a coup 30 years ago, overthrowing his uncle. Since then we’ve had a regime in which human rights are systematically violated, in which torture is widespread, and opposition parties are harassed. It’s not a country that should be held up as a model for the shared values this summit represents."

But when a reporter asked Mr. Obiang at a news conference about his past, AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping interrupted, calling the question improper. Speaking in French through an interpreter, he said no one says anything when other organizations, such as the European Union, choose leaders with questionable backgrounds.

“I’m of the view that you shouldn’t perhaps, how should I put this, be involved in harassment,” Ping said. “You are not being fair, and you have to treat us and place us on the same footing as other organizations. It’s as if you’re applying double standards.”

Several African leaders complained during the summit that western-controlled institutions such as the International Criminal Court had aggravated African disputes, imposing short-sighted or misguided prescriptions for African problems. A common slogan was “African solutions for African problems.”

A summit communiqué strongly backed Kenya’s effort to block ICC prosecutions of those accused of masterminding ethnic violence after the 2007 elections.  Leaders expressed annoyance that the U.N. Security Council had denied a previous request for a deferral of the genocide indictment against Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

Chairman Ping lashed out at the international community’s failure to support AU conflict-resolution efforts in places such as Somalia, Sudan and Ivory Coast. He termed international attempts to settle Ivory Coast’s leadership dispute "ill informed and short-sighted," and named a panel of AU heads of state to prescribe a legally-binding African settlement.

But Ivory Coast’s foreign minister in the government of President Laurent Gbagbo seemed to reject the AU panel’s efforts in advance. The minister, Alcide Djedje, said Mr. Gbagbo would only accept the panel’s recommendations if he were allowed to remain in power.

Djedje blamed the Ivory Coast’s crisis on foreign meddling by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former colonial power France.

"Mr. Ban Ki-Moon has no role in the African Union. Several heads of state have given their views, saying they would not accept foreign interference in African issues. Because interference like the one of France is exactly the cause of the situation we’re going through now.  It is France that encourages Ban Ki-moon in his attitude and decisions in Cote d’Ivoire," he said.

This summit’s focus on shared values was intended as a show of Africa’s commitment to good governance and human rights, the values of the western donor community. Instead, it revealed an emerging conviction among Africans that their values may not coincide with those of western donors, who are often seen in their eyes not as benefactors but as neo colonialists with less than honorable intentions.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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