News / Africa

Security Developments Play Havoc With AU Summit Agenda

18th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 27, 2011
18th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 27, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

African foreign ministers meeting in Addis Ababa are being confronted with several late-breaking developments as they survey the continent’s rapidly changing security landscape. Reports of non-agenda items such as Tunisia, Egypt and – more recently Gabon – have inserted themselves into the dialogue.

These African Union foreign ministers talks were meant to be primarily about Ivory Coast, Somalia and Sudan. These three countries are slated to be the subject of special mini-summits when heads of state arrive beginning Friday.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be on hand to co-chair those meetings.

But events have a way of disrupting the best-laid plans. Hallway chatter at Thursday’s opening session of the foreign minister’s meeting was more about the arrest warrants issued for Tunisia’s former president Zine El Abedine Ben Ali, the unrest in Egypt, and the story of the opposition leader in Gabon who declared himself president this week, then sought UN protection.

AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping brought up the Tunisian question Thursday in his address to the opening session of the foreign ministers meeting. Hours earlier, he issued a strong statement about events in Gabon.

Mr. Ping, a former Gabonese foreign minister, condemned the opposition leader’s actions, saying they were likely to undermine the integrity of legitimate institutions.

AU spokesman Noureddine Mezni says delegates at these AU meetings are keeping a close eye on the latest developments in North Africa.

"These issues are not inscribed on the agenda of the summit, but of course I’m sure the member states will discuss among themselves,” Mezni said. “And as you noticed, Ping just mentioned the Tunisian case."

With the rapidly changing events in North Africa, the AU halls were abuzz Thursday with word that one regular summit attendee, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, might miss this event. When asked whether Mr. Gadhafi was coming, Libya’s Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa turned and walked away.

Thursday’s opening ministerial session was addressed by visiting ministers from Japan, Denmark, India and Australia.  Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen noted the recent trend toward democratization, and welcomed the African Union’s determination to halt the phenomenon of unconstitutional power grabs.

"It is unfortunate that recently we have seen a number of challenges to electoral processes and institutions, latest in Cote d’Ivoire,” said Espersen. “While these incidents are disappointing, the continent’s firm response has shown that Africa possesses a well-developed framework of agreed democratic standards, and a set of institutions to deal with such challenges."

Observers Friday will be watching closely to see whether South African President Jacob Zuma attends a special Heads of State level meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council on Ivory Coast.

Mr. Zuma is due to fly to Addis Ababa from Switzerland, where he has been attending the World Economic Forum. But news of Nelson Mandela’s hospitalization has sparked speculation he may go straight home to be at Mr. Mandela’s bedside.

Statements from the government and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have indicated the 92-year-old icon of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle is in no danger.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid