Sunday, January 15, 2006

The AU stirs to life

Two very small signs of life from the African Union, the zombie institution:

Sudan's bid to take over the African Union leadership is by no means certain despite a tradition the nation chosen for a summit gathering would automatically chair the alliance, African diplomats, U.N. and U.S. officials said on Friday.

Instead, he said there was a possibility Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo would stay in the chair a bit longer.

At least the are discussing it and realize that for Sudan to chair the summit would be embarrassing to say the least.

Naturally, Thabo Mbeki, a.k.a. "the Chirac of Africa", will support Sudan's bid, both because he seems to get his kicks from watching humanitarian crises unfold (Aids, Zimbabwe, Darfur, Ivory Coast) and to spite his foe Obasanjo.

Furthermore, in a related development:

The African Union (AU) has said it backs proposals for a UN peacekeeping force in the Darfur region of Sudan, despite opposition from its government.

A senior AU official told the BBC it was not down to Sudan to dictate what action was taken to end violence there.

The other timid stirring came from the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR), which falls under the African Union, condemning human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

AN AFRICAN Union (AU) committee has directed rare criticism at Zimbabwe's human rights record and urged African leaders to send investigators to the country. Rights groups said on Thursday the report by the AU's human rights committee signalled a shift by African leaders who have largely remained silent on the deepening crisis in the country, blamed by critics on President Robert Mugabe's government.

Mugabe, of course, has first denied knowledge of the report and then dismissed it as a ploy of the commission to get money from donors. However, despite his pathetic and empty rhetoric, his friends are becoming fewer and fewer, and if the AU is serious in pursuing the issue, he will soon have none left.

Although it may seem a routine report that echoes similar others issued by western countries and the UN, the fact that the AU has finally found the courage to censure "one of the club" is encouraging.

Is the African Union awakening from its lethargy? (Translation: have they understood that the world has almost given up on Africa?).

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