News / Africa

Gadhafi Maintains Africa Policy Influence, Even With Rule in Doubt

This image taken from Libya State TV shows Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, March 15, 2011
This image taken from Libya State TV shows Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, March 15, 2011

An African Union committee is meeting this week to consider a proposal by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to transform the AU bureaucracy into a powerful continental authority. The eccentric Libyan leader still casts a long shadow over African affairs, even as his 42-year rule is under threat at home.

Gadhafi's vision: United States of Africa

The proposal is often referred to as the United States of Africa. For years, Moammar Gadhafi has relentlessly pursued his vision of a European-style union with broad authority over the continent, including a standing army.

Though he denies it, many African leaders believe Gadhafi sees himself as the future chief of this continental body, the "king of kings." 

At summit after African summit, Gadhafi has pushed the union issue forward, despite opposition from other heads of state irritated by his arrogance, and concerned that he was trying to move too fast.

African diplomats say summit sessions devoted to creating the authority were brutal, with a powerful anti-Gadhafi leadership bloc making it clear they see the idea as premature.

Those summit squabbles are usually kept behind closed doors. But with Libya embroiled in civil war, one leader of the anti-Gadhafi faction offered a rare glimpse into the organization’s inner workings.

Zenawi criticism

Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi (File)
Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi (File)

Amid reports that African mercenaries are fighting alongside Libyan troops, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said any of his countrymen joining pro-Gadhafi forces would be seen as "despicable criminals."

"Everyone knows we have had our differences with the authorities in Libya. And we have had them in public, we have had them in private," Zenawi said. "So there is no possibility whatsoever of any Ethiopian fighting on the side of the current government in Libya. That would be a criminal act."

Still, Gadhafi wields great influence within the African Union. His policy of using Libya’s oil wealth to aggressively pursue his pan- Africanist vision has paid rich dividends.

Contributions

Libya’s annual dues amount to nearly 15% of all contributions from the 53 AU member states. In addition, Gadhafi pays the dues of several poorer countries, an estimated $40 million a year in all.

So when the international community asked for African support this month for a "no fly zone" and sanctions against Libya, the continental body pretended not to hear. AU watcher Delphine Lecoutre of the French Center for African Studies at Addis Ababa University says even leaders who find Gadhafi’s behavior repugnant fear his wrath if the organization should anger him.

"Libya is a very special state. This is one of the fears. If Libya is sanctioned for what's going in the country currently, it could lead the country to withdraw from the AU," said Lecoutre. "And of course in that case it could have implications because Libya is one of the big five contributors to the organization."

Influence

So this week, even with Gadhafi’s fate in Libya in doubt, experts are gathered at AU headquarters to consider making his pan-African dream a reality.

Chief AU legal counselor Ben Kioko, however, says the continental authority concept being discussed here has long ago outgrown the seed planted by Moammar Gadhafi.

"Even though the original idea may have come from Gadhafi, it doesn’t mean it is his idea now, because whatever he proposed was discussed, amended and then owned by the assembly," said Kioko.

Supporters see the current AU authority concept as a means to build a desperately needed continental infrastructure. Nigerian legal expert Richard Nzerem says the authority could also defend small and relatively weak African nations against divide-and-rule tactics employed by big foreign powers.

"There’s a feeling that the more we operate as single sovereign nations, the easier it is for the people who want to influence certain states in certain directions to achieve their aims," said Nzerem. "But if they work through a central union government, it would be more difficult for the divide-and-rule policy to succeed."

Hopes for AU's future

African Union's 18th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (File Photo - January 27, 2011)
African Union's 18th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (File Photo - January 27, 2011)

Another committee member, Ghana’s Kofi Kumado, foresees the day when Africans will be able to travel freely between AU member countries, just as Europeans do within Europe.

"I’m quite optimistic that ten years from now I probably won’t need a visa to come to Addis Ababa or to go to many other African countries because the harmonization process has already begun," said Kumado.

Libya’s civil war leaves open the question of whether Gadhafi will be around to realize his vision of a United States of Africa. AU watchers say he is more likely to be remembered as a symbol of an era of African despots who stayed in power too long.

But even his detractors admit the Libyan leader is forcing the leaden African Union bureaucracy to take a critical look at itself, and to think about the future.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

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 Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein 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 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 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.

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