News / Africa

Ping Defends AU Libya Policy in Summit Opening Speech

Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, speaks during a meeting of African economic blocs at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, January 25, 2012.
Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, speaks during a meeting of African economic blocs at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, January 25, 2012.

African Union Commission Chairman Jean Ping has offered a defense of AU policy on Libya during an opening address to the continental summit underway in Addis Ababa. Ping is favored to win re-election as chairman, despite a strong challenge from South Africa.

Speaking to Africa's foreign ministers Thursday, Chairman Ping said the AU's difficulty with handling the Libyan revolt was that it did not start with peaceful demonstrations, as with other “Arab Spring” uprisings.

The African Union came in for withering criticism during Moammar Gadhafi's last months in power for a mediation attempt that could have kept the Libyan dictator in power. Defending the policy, Ping said AU thinking had been based on concern that Libya might become a failed state like Somalia if Gadhafi were overthrown.

AU policymakers at the time expressed concern at reports the Libyan rebels were allied with al-Qaida. In the end, an AU mediation team was sidelined as NATO airstrikes ensured the inevitability of Gadhafi's fall.

Ping argued that Africa's voice has become more influential during his four years at the helm.

"At the international level, the commission observes with satisfaction that the voice of the African Union is heard increasingly on the international stage and in the community of nations," he said. "I want to recall that we will have the opportunity to have our voice heard at the G8 and G20, and the commission is being consulted by the U.N. system in all that affects and concerns the continent."

In a sign of dissatisfaction with Ping's leadership, South Africa has offered its home minister and former foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as an alternative candidate for the commission chairman's post. Dlamini-Zuma is a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle who has served in the cabinet of every president since Nelson Mandela.

But AU observers say the South African challenge is running into stiff opposition. Analyst Mehari Maru of the Institute for Policy Studies in Addis Ababa says Ping, a former Gabonese foreign minister, has the backing of small countries that object to one of Africa's most powerful nations leading the commission.

"Traditionally this position was held by a candidate from smaller countries," said Maru. "It's not a written rule, but the practice is big countries like South Africa and Nigeria do not run for this position. So this is the kind of kind of tacit or ghost agreement if you wish, and a change now by South Africa without consultations with the major powers, regional leading countries, is received with some surprise."

AU observers caution, however, that the selection of a commission chairman is by secret vote of African heads of state, and anything can happen in that group.

AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra is also facing opposition in his bid for re-election. Ethiopia, the summit host country, has offered its AU Ambassador Konjit Sinegiorgis as a candidate for the post. Lamamra is expected to win re-election, but he tells VOA the contest is a healthy sign of the continental body's democratic structure.

"This is democracy at work, so it's good to be questioned and it's good to see whether it's worthwhile continuing or not," said Lamamra.

The AU heads of states will also choose one of their own to the rotating position of African Union chairman.  By convention, the one-year post rotates by region, and this year is West Africa's turn. Observers say the two finalists for the job are Benin and Nigeria.

Heads of state arrive for a two-day meeting starting Sunday. Elections are expected to be among the first items on the agenda.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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