Key Decisions of the AU Summit

(Non-official Summary)

The 28th African Union (AU) summit held in Addis Ababa on 30-31st January was a historical one given the landmark decisions adopted, including the admission of Morocco into the Union and a deep reform of the continental body.  The summit also renewed the leadership of the AUC and took steps towards financial independence  of the Union. Albeit the lack of strong country/context related decisions on Peace and Security issues, the Assembly adopted the Master Plan towards Silencing the Guns by 2020. Finally, the summit adopted the so called ‘collective withdrawal strategy’, a misnomer of a document which provides member states with  a roadmap for eventual individual withdrawal from the ICC in case AU’s claims and proposals regarding the court and some of its  on-going operations are not taken in consideration.


The Summit;

    • Took note of the recommendations for the proposed reforms to further strengthen the African Union, in the following five areas: a) Focus on key priorities with continental scope; b) Realign African Union institutions in order to deliver against those priorities; c) Connect the African Union to its citizens; d) Manage the business of the African Union efficiently and effectively at both the political and operational levels; e) Finance the African Union sustainably and with the full ownership of the Member States.
    • Decided to adopt the recommendations in the Report as amended by Member States during the Retreat’s deliberations (see below)
    • Mandated President Paul Kagame, in his capacity as the lead on the institutional reform of the Union, in collaboration with President Idriss Deby Itno, of Chad in his capacity as the outgoing Chairperson and President Alpha Conde, of the Republic of Guinea in his capacity as the current Chairperson, to supervise the implementation process;
    • The Incoming Commission elected at the January 2017 Summit shall put in place a Reform Implementation Unit at the AU Commission, within the Bureau of the Chairperson, responsible for the day-to-day coordination and implementation of this decision;
    • The Incoming Commission shall also make recommendations on a mechanism to ensure that legally binding decisions and commitments are implemented by Member States;
    • President Paul Kagame shall report at each Ordinary Session of the Assembly on progress made with the implementation of this decision.

Focus on key priorities with continental scope:

i) The African Union should focus on a fewer number of priority areas, which are by nature continental in scope, such as political affairs, peace and security, economic integration (including the Continental Free Trade Area), and Africa’s global representation and voice;

ii) There should be a clear division of labour and effective collaboration between the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the Regional Mechanisms (RMs), the Member States, and other continental institutions, in line with the principle of subsidiarity.

Realigning African Union institutions in order to deliver against those priorities

i) The Commission should initiate, without delay, a professional audit of bureaucratic bottlenecks and inefficiencies that impede service delivery and the recommendations therein;

ii) The Commission’s structures should be re-evaluated to ensure that they have the right size and capabilities to deliver on the agreed priorities;

iii) The Commission’s senior leadership team should be lean and performance-oriented;

iv) NEPAD should be fully integrated into the Commission as the African Union’s development agency, aligned with the agreed priorities and underpinned by an enhanced results-monitoring framework;

v) The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) should be strengthened to track implementation and oversee monitoring and evaluation in key governance areas of the continent;

vi) The roles and functions of the African Union judicial organs and the Pan-African Parliament should be reviewed and clarified, and their progress to date assessed;

vii) The Peace and Security Council (PSC) should be reformed to ensure that it meets the ambition foreseen in its Protocol, by strengthening its working methods and its role in conflict prevention and crisis management;

viii) The Permanent Representatives Committee’s (PRC) Rules of Procedures should be reviewed and be in line with the mandate provided for in the Constitutive Act of the African Union. The PRC should facilitate communication between the African Union and national capitals, and act as an advisory body to the Executive Council, and not as a supervisory body of the Commission.

Connecting the African Union to its citizens

i) The Commission should establish women and youth quotas across its institutions and identify appropriate ways and means to ensure the private sector’s participation;

ii) The Commission should establish an African Youth Corps, as well as develop programs to facilitate cultural and sports exchange among Member States;

iii) Member States should make the African passport available to all eligible citizens as quickly as possible, in line with the Assembly decision Assembly/AU/Dec.607 (XXVII) adopted in Kigali, Rwanda in July 2016

iv) The Commission should identify and provide a set of new capabilities or ‘assets’ in the form of common continent-wide public goods and services valued by Member States and citizens. Such services could include the provision of neutral arbitration and competition services, or a common technical platform for the data and analysis needed to assess Africa’s progress toward its development goals;

v) Member States should engage their Parliaments and citizens, including civil society, on the African Union reform process.

Managing the business of the African Union efficiently and Effectively, at both political and operational levels

Political management of the Union

i) The African Union Assembly shall handle an agenda of no more than three (3) strategic items at each Summit, in line with the Me’kelle Ministerial Retreat recommendations. Other appropriate business should be delegated to the Executive Council

ii) The Assembly shall hold one Ordinary Summit per year, and shall hold extraordinary sessions as the need arise

iii) In place of the June/July Summit, the Bureau of the African Union Assembly should hold a coordination meeting with Regional Economic Communities, with the participation of the Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities, the AU Commission and Regional Mechanisms. Ahead of this meeting, the AU Commission shall play a more active coordination and harmonisation role with the Regional Economic Communities, in line with the Abuja Treaty;

iv) External parties shall only be invited to Summits on an exceptional basis and for a specific purpose determined by in the interests of the African Union;

v) Partnership Summits convened by external parties should be reviewed with a view to providing an effective framework for African Union Africa should be represented by the Troika, namely the current, incoming and outgoing Chairpersons of the African Union, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, and the Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities;

vi) To ensure continuity and effective implementation of Assembly decisions, a troika arrangement between the outgoing, the current, and the incoming African Union Chairpersons should be established. In this regard, the incoming chairperson shall be selected one year in advance;

vii) Heads of State shall be represented at Summits by officials not lower than the level of Vice President, Prime Minister or equivalent;

viii) The current sanctions mechanism should be strengthened and enforced. This would include consideration of making participation in the African Union deliberations contingent on adherence to Summit decisions.

Operational management of the Union 

i) The election of the Chairperson of the AU Commission should be enhanced by a robust, merit-based, and transparent selection process;

ii) The Deputy Chairperson and Commissioners should be competitively recruited in line with best practice and appointed by the Chairperson of the Commission, to whom they should be directly accountable, taking into account gender and regional diversity, amongst other relevant considerations;

iii) The Deputy Chairperson role should be reframed to be responsible for the efficient and effective functioning of the Commission’s administration;

iv) The title of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson may also be reconsidered;

v) A fundamental review of the structure and staffing needs of the organisation, as well as conditions of service, should be undertaken to ensure alignment with agreed priority areas.


The Summit;

  • Adopted the ICC Withdrawal Strategy and called on member states to consider implementing its recommendations… But  many countries entered reservations to the text.
  • Requested the Group of African States Parties in New York in collaboration with AU Commission to actively participate in the deliberations of the Working Group on Amendments to ensure that African proposals are adequately considered and addressed;


The Summit;

  • Welcomed the request from the Kingdom of Morocco as it provides the opportunity to reunite the African community of states around the Pan-African core values of the Founders of solidarity, unity, freedom and equality, in accordance with the Principles and Objectives of the Constitutive Act. This will strengthen the ability of the African Union to find African solutions to African problems;
  • Decided to admit the Kingdom of Morocco as a new Member State of the African Union in conformity with Article 9(c) and Article 29 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union;
  • Requested  Morocco to deposit their instrument of accession to the Constitutive Act of the African Union.


The Summit;

  • Noted with deep concerns the continued impasse in the search for a solution to the conflict in and underlined the urgent need for renewed international efforts to facilitate an early resolution of the conflict. In this respect, the Assembly called again to the UN General Assembly to determine a date for the holding of the self-determination referendum for the people of Western Sahara and protect the integrity of the Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory from any act which may undermine it.
  • Urged the UN Security Council to fully assume its responsibilities in restoring the full functionality of United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), as it is indispensable for overseeing the ceasefire and organizing the self-determination referendum in Western Sahara, as well as in addressing the issues of the respect of human rights and the illegal exploration and exploitation of the Territory’s natural resources, particularly in line with the important judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union issued on 21 December 2016, on the arrangement between the EU and Morocco signed in 2012, on the mutual liberalization of the trade in agricultural and fishing products.


 The Summit;

    • Emphasized the need for all AU Member States, in particular the PSC, to give more focus on conflict prevention, early warning and early response, in order to prevent, for future, occurrence of full blown conflicts in the continent.
    • Endorsed the African Union Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by year 2020, as a guideline for Africa’s efforts to this end.
    • Directed the PSC to establish a monitoring and evaluation mechanism on the basis of which the Assembly will periodically review progress in the implementation of the Master Roadmap;


The Summit; 

i) The Committee of Ten Finance Ministers should assume responsibility for oversight of the African Union budget and Reserve Fund and develop a set of ‘golden rules’, establishing clear financial management and accountability principles;

ii) After funding of the budget of the African Union and the Peace Fund, the  balance of the proceeds of the 0.2% AU levy on eligible imports, the Committee of Ten Finance Ministers should look into placing surplus in a Reserve Fund for continental priorities as decided by the Assembly;

iv) The current scale of contributions should be revised based on the principles of ability to pay, solidarity, and equitable burden-sharing, to avoid risk concentration.


AU Chairperson for 2017: H.E. President Alpha Conde – Guinea

AU Learders elected 2017.jpg

Credit photo and draft decisions: African Union Commission

Gambia: Is the Swearing in of the President-Elect Legal?

See the French version here:

The new Gambian President Adama Barrow has just been sworn-in in an extraordinary circumstances. The ceremony took place at the Embassy of the Gambia in Senegal because of the refusal of the outgoing President Yahya Jammeh to leave power. Is it a legal act? I am sharing  my personal opinions on the issue:

The legitimacy of the President comes essentially from his election by the people of Gambia who hold the national sovereignty exercised through elections. The majority of the Gambians have thus entrusted this sovereignty to the President by the elections that took place in December 2016.

The swearing in (or the taking of oath) is a statutory declaration of the President-Elect made before a judge or an oath officer during a public ceremony to formalize the President’s installation. What is important in the swearing in is the formula, provided for by law and read by the President. The oath is a promise announced in a ceremonious and public manner, insisting on the sacred and unswerving character of the words spoken with the affirmation of a divine bearing. It has to be done in front of a judge, a lawyer or a commissioner of oath. The place of the oath therefore has no bearing on its legal value. In fact, the constitution of the Gambia remains silent on the place where the taking of the oath should happen. It only referred to a “prescribed oath”.

Why was it important that President-elect Adama Barrow takes an oath on the 19th January?

If President-elect Barrow has not taken the oath on this date there would be a power vacuum in the Gambia and anything could happen…including the army re-taking power. In addition, now that he has taken the oath, he becomes the legitimate president of Gambia and can now request a military intervention of ECOWAS to re-establish order in the Gambia including kicking the outgoing president out by all means without having the approval of the UN Security Council.

Is an embassy part of the national territory?

Contrary to popular belief, the embassy is not part of the national territory of the sending state. The Vienna Convention of 1961 on Diplomatic Relations does not provide for the extraterritoriality of embassies. However the mission is normally considered as a property and symbol of the state and the authorities of the sending state have absolute control over what is happening inside the embassy. Its inviolability is thus guaranteed by the Convention. For example, agents of the host country are prohibited from entering in, except with the consent of the head of the mission, and must “take all appropriate measures to prevent invasion of the premises of the mission”. Some countries even consider that their own national law and regulations apply inside their embassies.

In conclusion, the swearing in of President elect Adama Barrow took place on Senegal’s  territory but it retains all its legal value.

Read my anticipated scenarios for Gambia’s next? here:

Gambie: La Prestation de Serment du Président-élu est-elle légale?

Voir la version en Anglais ici:

Le nouveau Président Gambien Adama Barrow vient de prêter serment. Fait rare, la cérémonie a eu lieu à l’ambassade de la Gambie au Sénégal  à cause du refus du président  sortant  Yahya Jammeh de quitter le pouvoir. Est-ce un acte légal ? J’aimerais  partager ici mon opinion sur la question.

La légitimité du Président vient essentiellement de son élection par le peuple Gambien qui détient la souveraineté nationale  exercée  par les élections.  La majorité du peuple Gambien a donc confié cette souverainement au président par les élections qui ont eu lieu en Décembre 2016.

La  prestation de serment est une déclaration solennelle du Président élu faite devant un juge, un officier public ou un commissaire à l’assermentation au cours d’une cérémonie publique destinée à officialiser  l’installation du Président. Ce qui est important dans la prestation du serment est la formule, prévue par la loi et lue par le président.  Le serment est une promesse annoncée de manière cérémonieuse et publique en insistant sur le caractère sacré et indéfectible des paroles prononcées avec l’affirmation d’une portée divine. Le lieu du serment n’as donc aucune incidence sur sa valeur juridique. D’ailleurs la constitution de la Gambie est restée muette sur le lieu de la prestation de serment du president.

Pourquoi était-il important que le président élu Adama Barrow prête serment le 19 janvier?

Si le président élu Barrow n’a pas prêté serment  à cette date, il y aurait un vide constitutionnel en Gambie et tout pourra arriver … y compris l’éventualité que  l’armée reprenne le pouvoir. En outre, maintenant qu’il a prêté serment, il devient le président  légitime et peut demander une intervention militaire de la CEDEAO pour rétablir l’ordre en Gambie, y compris bouter le président sortant  dehors par tous les moyens sans l’aval du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies.

Une ambassade fait-elle partie du territoire national ?

Contrairement à la croyance populaire l’ambassade ne fait pas partie du territoire national de l’Etat d’envoi. La Convention de Vienne de 1961 sur les relations diplomatiques ne prévoit pas l’extraterritorialité des ambassades. Cependant la mission est considérée comme une propriété  et un symbole de l’Etat et les autorités de l’Etat d’envoi ont un contrôle absolu sur ce qui se passe à l’intérieur de l’ambassade.   Son inviolabilité est donc garantie par la Convention. Par exemple les agents du pays hôte ont interdiction d’y “pénétrer, sauf avec le consentement du chef de la mission”, et doivent “prendre toutes les mesures appropriées afin d’empêcher que les locaux de la mission ne soient envahis”.

Certains pays considèrent même que c’est leur loi nationale qui s’applique au sein de leurs ambassades. Ceci pourra aussi dépendre des pratiques de l’Etat d’accueil puisque le droit international est resté muet là-dessus.

En conclusion, la prestation de serment d’Adama Barrow a bien eu lieu au Sénégal mais elle garde toute sa valeur juridique.

Vos commentaires sont les bienvenues.

Lire mes previsions de scenarios pour la crise Gambienne ici:

Political Crisis in The Gambia: Scenarios of the Next Days

French version here:

On the 19th January 2017 the presidential term of Yahya Jammeh should end after his electoral defeat that he officially recognized before changing his mind a few days later. The man who took power by force 23 years ago persists in his refusal to hand it over to his rival Adama Barrow, the winner of the elections, and currently in “exile” in Senegal. Jammeh certainly counts on his army and especially on the new Generals that he has just made in the rush … He may also be counting on his “magic” powers.

Adama Barrow now has the support of the international community including the African Union, the UN and a significant number of Western partners.

ECOWAS is determined to make the Jammeh case a historic precedent that would give a strong signal to Africa that nothing will be the same in the region going forward. ECOWAS is supported by the African Union in its hard line: “Yahya must leave power or be driven out by force.”

All the indicators are showing that the prior dialogue initiated by ECOWAS is unlikely to succeed before 19th January 2017 when Jammeh will have no constitutional legitimacy.

Morroco is now  trying hardly to persuade Jammeh and his family to leave Banjul as soon as possible. A special mission sent by King Mohamed VI is currently in Banjul.

I am sharing possible scenarios for the next few days:

Scenario 1: Yahya Jammeh persists… On 19th January, Yahya Jammeh remains on power in the Gambia and prevents the swearing in of Adama Barrow to happen, defying ECOWAS. Either he relies on the army to remain in power, or the army re-seizes the power, taking the power vacuum as an excuse and re-entrusts it to its leader, Yahya Jammeh. The killings and forced disappearance continue in the army and within the political class, the media, human rights defenders and even among the civilian population.

ECOWAS intervenes militarily with the green light of the UN Security Council (this is not guaranteed in view of the current political and ideological tension between permanent members of the Council) and the political support of the African Union. Because of the lack of sophisticated equipment and other means such as intelligence, intervention takes time to materialize. There is a big loss of human life on both sides, and there is division and retaliation in the armed forces, within civilian populations as well as in the political class. In his wickedness Jammeh  orders the execution/killing of those who do not support him and creates chaos… this is the biggest risk of an military intervention.

Yahya Jammeh manages to escape or is arrested to be tried. Despite his resistance the Gambian army ended up capitulating. Adama Barrow takes power but there is a lot of death. A bitter victory…

Scenario 2: The Gambian army drops Jammeh: Like some of the members of Jammeh’s government, the Gambian army drops Jammeh close to the deadline and pledges allegiance to Adama Barrow. There is less damage … This is my most preferred scenario… A coup d’etat against Jammeh is not to be excluded either.

Scenario 3: Adama Barrow swears in at Gambian Embassy outside the country: In this case, he becomes the legitimate Head of State and has the power to solicit the military intervention of ECOWAS  without going through the UN Security Council … then we have some of the outcomes of Scenario 1…

Scenario 4: Yahya Jammeh leaves the country by the 19th January for a known or unknown destination…Adama Barrow, supported by ECOWAS, is inaugurated in Gambia and takes office. There is still a serious risk of revenge and witch-hunting among the population and the army. In this case Barrow has the responsibility to strongly call for unity and threaten to prosecute those who will be guilty of attacks on their fellow citizens. A big step is marked towards democracy. ECOWAS takes more authority and legitimacy. People are looking for Jammeh to prosecute him…

Which scenario is most likely to happen? … Share your opinion with me on the blog.


Crise Politique en Gambie: les Scenarios des Prochains Jours

La version en Englais ici:

Le 19 Janvier prochain le mandat présidentiel de Yahya Jammeh devrait prendre fin après sa défaite électorale qu’il a d’abord reconnue officiellement avant de changer d’avis quelques jours après. L’homme qui a pris le pouvoir par la force il y a 23 ans persiste dans son refus de transmettre le pouvoir à son rival Adama Barrow, vainqueur, présentement en “exile” au Sénégal. Jammey compte certainement sur son armée et surtout sur les nouveaux Généraux qu’il vient de fabriquer dans la précipitation… il compte peut-être aussi sur ses pouvoirs “magiques”.

Adama Barrow a maintenant le soutien de la communauté international y compris l’Union Africaine,  l’ONU et un nombre important de partenaires occidentaux.

La CEDEAO est déterminée à faire du cas Jammeh un précédent historique qui donnerait un signal fort  à L’Afrique que rien ne sera plus comme avant dans la région. Elle est soutenue par l’Union Africaine dans sa ligne dure: “Yahya doit quitter le pouvoir ou on le chasse par la force”.

Tout porte à croire que le dialogue préalable, amorcé par la CEDEAO n’a pas de chance d’aboutir avant le 19 Janvier 2017 date à laquelle  Jammey devra perdre la légitimité de son pouvoir.

Aux dernières nouvelles, le Maroc  a envoyé une mission de la dernière chance à Banjul pour convaincre Jammeh de quitter le pays.

Je vous propose quelques scénarios pour les prochains jours:

Scenario 1: Yahya Jammey Persiste…Au 19 Janvier, Yahya Jammey reste au pouvoir en Gambie et empêche la prestation de serment d’Adama Barrow défiant la CEDEAO. Soit Il s’appuie sur l’armée pour se maintenir au pouvoir, soit  l’armée reprend le pouvoir à la faveur de la vacance du pouvoir et le re-confie à son chef, Yahya Jammey. La purge continue dans l’armée et au sein de la classe politique, des medias des défenseurs des droits de l’homme et même dans la population civile.

La CEDEAO intervient militairement avec l’accord du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies (Ceci n’est pas garanti eu égard à la tension politique et idéologique entre les membres permanents du Conseil) et le soutien politique de l’Union Africaine mais à cause du manque de moyens sophistiqués, l’intervention prend du temps pour se concrétiser et se réaliser.  Il y a beaucoup de pertes de vie humaines des deux côtés, des règlements de comptes ont lieu dans l’armée, dans la population civile et dans la classe politique. Dans sa méchanceté Jammeh ordonne l’exécution de ceux qui ne le soutiennent pas. C’est le plus grand risque lié à l’intervention militaire.

Yahya Jammeh réussi à s’enfuir ou est arrêté pour être jugé. Malgré  sa  résistance l’armée gambienne fini par capituler. Adama Barrow est installé au pouvoir mais on compte beaucoup de mort. Une victoire amère…

Scenario 2: L’armée gambienne lâche Jammeh: A l’instar de certains membres du gouvernement, l’armée gambienne lâche Jammeh en dernière minute et fait allégeance à   Adama Barrow. Il y a moins de dégâts… C’est le scénario que je souhaite le plus...  Un coup d’état contre Jammeh n’est pas à exclure non plus.

Scenario 3: Adama Barrow  prête serment dans une ambassade gambienne à l’extérieur du pays…, Il devient donc le Chef d’Etat légitime et a le pouvoir de solliciter l’intervention militaire de la CEDEAO sans passer par le Conseil de Sécurité… On a la même suite qu’au scénario 1…

Scenario 4: Yahya Jammey quitte le pays le 19 Janvier ou avant pour une destination connue ou inconnue…Adama Barrow, soutenu par la CEDEAO prête serment en Gambie et s’installe au pouvoir. Il y a toujours un risque sérieux de règlement de comptes et de chasse aux sorcières au sein de la population et de l’armée. Barrow doit jouer rapidement au rassembleur et menacer de juger ceux qui seront coupable d’attaques sur leurs concitoyens. Un grand pas est marqué vers la démocratie. La CEDEAO prend d’avantage d’autorité et de légitimité. On cherche Jammeh pour le juger…

Lequel des scenarios est le plus probable ?… Jugez-en vous-même et faite moi part de votre opinion sur mon blog.