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 In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent — Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail 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.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

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