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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid