African Union Summit – July 2017: What to Expect?

Friends;

As usual, I would like to share with you the following preliminary notes and analysis on the upcoming 29th Ordinary Summit of the AU policy organs being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as follows:

  • Permanent Representative Committee (Ambassadors): 27 – 28 June 2017
  • Executive Council (Ministers of Foreign Affairs): 30 June – 1st July 2017
  • Assembly of the Union (Heads of State and Government): 3-4 July 2017

In addition, several statutory meetings of various AU organs and parallel events are scheduled. The official agenda of the Summit is not yet publicly available. This Summit will be the first to be organized by the new leadership of the AU Commission.

With or without observers?

It is unclear if the corridors of the Summit will be open for observers during the sessions. The Assembly has already decided in January 2017 under Kagame’s Report that “external parties shall only be invited to AU Summits on an exceptional basis and for a specific purpose determined by the interests of the African Union”. The question here is to know if African citizens’ formations/CSOs are also considered as “external parties” knowing that the AU claims to be a people driven organization.

Permanent/Resident Representatives of Non-African States and International Organizations will likely be invited for the official opening and closing ceremonies of the Assembly and the Executive Council. The Media is normally invited.

Key strategic issues likely to be on the Agenda of the Summit: (Youth, AU reform, Peace and Security, AU Funding, Election of two remaining Commissioners, Agenda 2063 10-year implementation plan and Continental Trade Area …)

1/ Youth (Theme of the year): “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the Youth”

A presentation and a presidential debate of more than 2 hours to be led by President Idriss Deby (Chad) is planned on the 3rd July. The youth are unlikely to be invited to this debate on the “Roadmap on harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the Youth” developed by the AU Commission … It was agreed that such a roadmap should be domesticated and implemented by each member state. A couple of countries have in fact, already done a national launch.  The Roadmap has the following pillars: 1- Employment and Entrepreneurship, 2- Education and Skill Development, 3- Health and Wellbeing, 4- Governance and Youth Empowerment.

A presidential solemn declaration on the youth may be adopted following the debate.

Burkina Faso has proposed for consideration an African Decade for Technical, Professional, Entrepreneurial and Employment Training in Africa (2017-2027)

2/ Institutional Reform of the African Union

President Paul Kagame (Rwanda) is expected to present a report on the implementation of his proposed reform plan for the AU, adopted by the Assembly in January this year. A decision will be taken on what has been done and what remains to be done.

Building on his success back home, President Kagame is intensifying the pressure to put the continental body on tract for effectiveness and efficiency to meet the on-going challenges that our continent is facing and to implement the ambitious Agenda 2063.

3/ Peace and Security

The Chairperson of the AU Commission is expected to provide a report on the state of peace and security in Africa with recommendations for the Assembly. Highlights will likely include South Sudan, CAR, Somalia, DRC, Mali etc… as well as emerging security threats such as cybercrime and trending threats such as maritime security and piracy, terrorist, fundamentalism and religious extremism etc.

Since he took over the chairmanship of the Commission in March this year, Chadian diplomat Moussa Faki Mahamat has clearly shown through his movements that peace and security is among his top priorities.  In fact, “silencing the guns in Africa” has been his top message while campaigning to win his position.  In just a few months, Moussa has already visited Africa’s major hotspots. A report on the implementation of the master roadmap of practical steps to silencing the guns in Africa by 2020 will then be considered by the Summit.

Silencing the guns by 2020?

Last year the African Union prepared a Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020. It is a well elaborated document with the correct analysis of the situation … but then what is next? Let’s face it: Are we really moving towards silencing the guns in the next 3 years ? if so, what are we doing collectively and individually in our various capacity to get there? Can we silence the guns without ensuring democratic governance, decent and true elections, responsible and fair management of our natural resources? Can we break the vicious circle of conflicts without insuring justice and accountability for the heinous crimes being committed on our people by our people? …Alternation on power is one of the problems that we need to resolve collectively without further delay . There is an imperative in all societies to renew political leadership from time to time through credible elections.  Since we are still struggling to ensure credible elections in Africa, alternation in power must be tabled and courageously discussed and adopted.

Beside the already burning conflict zones, I am worried about the silence and/or inaction of the continent on several potential and on-going risky situations such as  Zambia, DRC, Cameroon, Zimbabwe etc.) where unacceptable pressures are being made on independent media, civil society and political opposition. Without abiding to our shared values contained in the various policies standards and treaties that we have adopted, I am afraid “silencing the guns” will remain a beautiful slogan!

We know the guns are mostly carried by desperate and vulnerable youth who, most of the time, have nothing else to lose. They are in Somalia, South Sudan, Darfur, CAR, DRC, Nigeria, Mali etc… They are in many other countries, they are trained and graduated  but without job… some of them are choosing  to leave the continent at any cost… In 2017 alone, more than 1,500 young Africans have perished in the Mediterranean Sea and many other died of thirst in the Sahara Desert, while trying to reach Europe.

Efforts made by the chairperson of the Commission on this issue must be matched by member states’ political will to guarantee democracy and rule of law and if most of the political regimes in our continent continue failing on democracy and rule of law, the road to peace and security, prerequisite for our development agenda will be long, very long…

A contribution to the ways forward: We need to imagine courageous tools and make bold steps to change the paradigms… the Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020 has very useful ideas… but how do we ”force” the power holders to make these happen? We all know the main root causes of our conflicts… So the 1st step for silencing the guns  is an environment of democracy, respect of the human rights and the rules of law and a decent and inclusive management of national wealth aiming at reducing inequality…  But again how do we monitor this and ensure it is happening?   I am imagining, an  independent High Level Task Force on democracy, rule of law, human rights and good governance to be appointed by the Assembly of the Union  in order to systematically track the implementation by member states, of democracy, rule of law and human rights and equality/inclusivity standards contained in our various instruments, especially their relation with fragility and conflicts in different countries in the continent. The Task Force shall be able to make public without any condition, its Report of the state of democracy rule of law and human rights in Africa… so it will become clear to all of us which regimes are undermining our common aspirations.  The said Task Force shall obviously work with and build on the existing mechanisms (APRM, AGA, APSA, Panel of the Wise…) What I wish to see here is a Task Force that is directly accountable to African people without the obstruction of the leadership… This may bring a heavier pressure them… Please share your views and comments on this…

We must stop praising the evil doing among ourselves,  but rather start exposing and sanctioning them in line with our shared values. A lot must be done at country  then regional levels… (see recent example from ECOWAS in The Gambia), then the AU Commission and other organs shall support… We all have a role to play in this… our people must stand up, like recently in Burkina Faso, and say a big NO to bad and irresponsible leadership, make sure that their votes are counted and their money are properly used, not stollen. The elite class has a big responsibility in sensitizing and mobilizing other  for the good cause…

4/ Budget and Funding of the Union

According to the current projections, in 2018, the African Union will need about 800 Million USD for its operations ($154M), programmes ($296M) and peace support ($350M). The approved 2017 budget amounts 782 Million USD.

 It is unlikely that AU Member states meet this year, their commitment made in 2015/2016 to cover 100% of AU operational budget, 75% of programme budget and 25% of peace support operation budget.

So far AU Member States have been paying less than 30% of the overall budget of the Union. More than 70% is paid by external partners.

Uncertainty on the source of funding of the Union: Donald Kaberuka, the High Representative for the AU Peace Fund is expected to provide an updated report on the implementation of the new funding strategy adopted by the Union in July 2016 in Kigali, by which 0.2 % levy on eligible imports should be collected from each member state to fund the AU. According to on-going technical discussions in closed doors, a number of AU member states are dragging their feet on coming up with domestic legislation to implement the Kigali Decision, evoking different excuses including those relating to the WTO rules… I have 2 questions on this: 1- Where were our member states’ technical experts on international trade at the time this  decision was discussed?… 2 – Is it not the mechanism ECOWAS has been using for years? What is different here? Please share your views/comments below…

It is however encouraging to know that some member states (Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana etc) have been moving in the right direction by taking legislative national measures to implement the 0.2% commitment.

5/ Election of 2 Commissioners

In January, the Assembly elected the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson and appointed 6 Commissioners elected by the Executive Council out of 8 portfolios. The remaining following 2 Commissioners will be elected during the upcoming Summit.

  • Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology
  • Commissioner for Economic Affairs.

According to the gender and geographical representation policies of the AU, the 2 commissioners should be 1 male from the Eastern Region 1 female from the Central Region.

At the closure of the deadline, the AUC received the following application from the Deans of the regions:

Candidates for the post of Commissioner for Human Resources Science and Technology:

  1. Sarah Mbi Enow ANYANG AGBOR from Cameroon, Female, Central Africa Region
  2. Dr. John Patrick KABAYO from Uganda, Male, East Africa Region

Candidates for the post of Commissioner for Economic Affairs

  1. Hon. Yacin Elmi BOUH from Djibouti, Male East Africa region
  2. Newaye Christos GEBRE-AB from Ethiopia, Male, East Africa Region
  3. Victor HARISON from Madagascar, Male, East Africa Region
  4. Marthe Chantal Ndjepang MBAJON from Cameroon, Female, Central Africa Region

For the election of Commissioners, the statutes of the AU Commission imposes a pre-selection process at the regional level. Each region shall nominate 2 candidates for each portfolio. The nomination process shall be based on modalities to be determined by the region.

6/ Agenda 2063 : First 10-year implementation plan

A progress report on the implementation of the Agenda 2063 will be presented to the Summit. An African Economic Platform has been held for the first time this year with the aim to discuss cross-cutting issues that affect Africa’s economies and ways of which opportunities and options from these could be harnessed to ensure continental transformation. The other progress made is the domestication of the agenda into national planning frameworks done by several member states, the process on the Continental Free Trade Area and the African Commodities Strategy as well several discussions held with traditional and new partners. We should not however forget the fact that the realization of the Agenda 2063 is conditioned by a peaceful environment within the continent.

On the implementation of decisions: Less than 15% of African Union decisions are actually implemented and the upcoming summit will make more decisions… It is important to insist on the urgent need to change the rules of the game and to do things differently in terms of realizing the promises made through   agreed policy frameworks and standards. If our leaders cannot implement their own decisions, why are they continuing meeting to take more decisions? Up to 5,000 delegates or more attend the AU summit 2 times every year to take an average of 40 decisions per summit. In between summits, hundreds of other policy meetings are held in different capitals. The average cost of a full member states meeting is between 300,000 – 1Milion USD… Some Specialized Technical Committees meetings cost up to 1.5 Million USD. At the end, if only less than 15% the  decisions made are implemented… how can we make it to 2063?

This article will be updated regularly until the Summit startsLast update: 9 June.

=======

Get more targeted updates & analysis on  African Politics from my twitter account : https://twitter.com/Assodesire and feel free to send me your comments, suggestions & questions by email to:  assogbavi@me.com or directly on this blog below.

 

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.

INSTITUTIONAL REFORM

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.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC)

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;

ADMISSION OF MOROCCO

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.

WESTERN SAHARA

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.

PEACE & SECURITY

 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;

FINANCING THE AFRICAN UNION

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.

ELECTION AT THE LEADERSHIP OF THE UNION –

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: https://assodesire.com/2017/01/19/gambie-la-prestation-de-serment-du-president-elu-est-elle-legale/

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: https://assodesire.com/2017/01/17/political-crisis-in-the-gambia-scenarios-of-the-next-days/

Perspectives pour l’Afrique en 2017:

English version here : https://assodesire.com/2016/12/27/africa-in-2017-opportunities-and-challenges/

Nous venons d’entrer dans l’Année 2017. Elle se présente à l’Afrique  avec un cortège d’incertitudes mais elle porte aussi en elle des semences d’espoir…

Comme je le fais au début de chaque année  j’aimerais partager ici avec vous des réflexions personnelles sur les défis et opportunités majeurs auxquels notre continent, ses institutions, ses filles et fils pourront faire face en 2017 et bien sûr au-delà.

En 2017 et au cours des années à suivre l’inégalité, les conflits et l’insécurité, la jeunesse et l’emploi, la migration, la démocratie électorale, l’espace civique, la libre circulation des personnes,  la chine, la nouvelle politique américaine etc. seront des sujets qui occuperont le débat politique et la vie quotidienne des Africains. L’Afrique attendra beaucoup des promesses faites par l’Union Africaine avec son nouveau leadership et une structure améliorée mais les communautés économiques régionales auront de plus en plus de responsabilités dans la gestion des crises liées à la gouvernance démocratique et aux conflits. La Banque Africaine de Développent avec sa nouvelle équipe dirigeante pleine de dynamisme a un rôle de taille à jouer   dans  notre espace économique et principalement en ce qui concerne la jeunesse et l’emploi. Dans les lignes qui suivent je toucherai quelques-uns de ses sujets.

Croissance Economique,  Inégalité et Pauvreté

Le taux de croissance moyen du continent continuera de dégringoler jusqu’en dessous de 2%, son niveau le plus bas depuis 20 ans  principalement à cause de la chute du prix du pétrole des matières premières et des difficultés des principales économies du continent (Nigeria, Afrique du Sud) mais certain pays maintiendront un bon record, un taux toujours élevé  pour diverses raisons (Rwanda, Ethiopie, Tanzanie, Cote d’Ivoire, Sénégal) selon de récentes estimations. La croissance économique n’ayant pas d’impact automatique et immédiat sur la réduction de la pauvreté, le problème le plus important pour nous est d’assurer que les produits de la croissance sont repartis de façon juste et qu’ils ne servent surtout plus à creuser davantage  l’écart entre riches et pauvres, sachant que ceci est une  source importante de conflits.

L’Afrique a maintenant de bonnes raisons pour investir dans l’agriculture, encourager et soutenir la productivité, introduire la modernisation dans le secteur et bien sûr, augmenter l’espace cultivable. Ceci aura le triple avantage de subvenir aux besoins alimentaires de nos populations, de créer de l’emploi et de diversifier notre économie pour ainsi réduire la pauvreté. Ceci aura aussi l’avantage de  promouvoir les échanges entre pays Africains.

L’Année Africaine de la Jeunesse

L’Union Africaine a décrété l’année 2017 comme celle de la jeunesse. Les deux Sommets des Chefs d’état en Janvier et en Juillet ainsi que d’autres grand rendez-vous continentaux y seront donc consacrés. Il est évident que les préoccupations majeures seront l’emploi, la migration et la formation. Il importe que les différents acteurs du continent et leurs partenaires d’ailleurs s’accordent à donner  à la jeunesse le coup de pouce dont elle a besoin ici et maintenant pour son insertion et son émancipation.  Le Forum Africain pour le Développement qu’organisera cette année la Commission Economique des Nations Unies pour l’Afrique  se penchera essentiellement sur la question de migration avec une perspective Africaine. La Chancelière Allemande Angela Merkel  a aussi promis d’en faire une priorité au cours du prochain sommet du G20. Elle évoque même un « Plan Marshal » pour l’Afrique en vue de booster l’investissement et créer de l’emploi. Je n’aime pas personnellement l’idée d’un «plan Marshal» pour l’Afrique. Si nos partenaires occidentaux peuvent nous aider à mettre un terme aux 60 milliards  de dollars de flux financiers illicites qui sortent de l’Afrique chaque année – un montant systématiquement volé par des multinationales en complicité avec nos propres dirigeants – cela nous suffirait.  A Addis Abéba fin Janvier, l’Union Africaine se penchera certainement sur un plan d’action à court et moyen termes pour mieux « exploiter le dividende démographique de l’Afrique en investissant dans la jeunesse ».

Reste à savoir si la volonté politique et les moyens financiers seront au rendez-vous pour mettre en œuvre un éventuel plan. En tout cas, il faut vite faire pour éviter que cette tranche importante de nos populations, vulnérable, ne tombent d’avantage dans la tentation de la radicalisation et de l’extrémisme comme c’est déjà le cas à  certains endroits du continent.

Notre jeunesse est l’espoir du continent. Elle doit être entretenue avec minutie pour contribuer à relever le défi du développement  durable.

La Libre Circulation des Personnes en Afrique : Un Préalable  Incontournable

Tout plan en faveur de la jeunesse Africaine doit inclure la libre circulation des personnes sur le continent comme un préalable. Le processus en cours à l’Union Africaine doit être accéléré au maximum afin de permettre l’échange d’expérience entre les jeunes du continent.  En attendant l’élaboration et l’adoption du traité de libre circulation pourquoi ne pas  prendre une décision panafricaine et immédiate d’annulation de visas pour court séjour, ou du moins d’obtention de visas à l’arrivée? Quelques pays Africains l’on fait récemment.

Droits de l’Homme, Gouvernance et  Démocratie Electorale : Chantier Inachevé

Décrétée comme Année des droits de l’homme par l’Union Africaine, 2016  a plutôt été l’année ou les droits et libertés publiques, l’espace civique et démocratique, la justice, la protection des civiles etc. ont malheureusement et systématiquement reculé sur notre continent sous le silence presque total des institutions régionales et continentales. En Gambie par exemple un jeune activiste a été torturé à mort par la police en 2016 et de nombreux opposant politiques arrêtés et incarcérés sans procès…

L’Afrique doit trouver un moyen pour sortir du cercle vicieux des conflits liés à la crédibilité des consultations électorales et  à l’alternance politique au pouvoir. Sans cela, notre continent continuera sa décente progressive aux enfers sapant ainsi toute perspective de développement économique.  Les pays à observer en 2017 sont entre autres la Gambie, la RDC, le Cameroun, le Liberia, le Kenya, le Rwanda, l’Angola, la Libye,  la Sierra Leone, le Zimbabwe… Les pays ou le hold-up électoral a été déjà consommé ne sont pas à l’abri de soucis (Gabon, Congo, Uganda, Guinée Equatoriale etc).  L’alternance au pouvoir fait partie du jeu démocratique surtout quand les institutions sont encore faibles et que le système électoral est  vulnérable.  Nous devons avoir le courage de parler de la limitation des mandats tôt ou tard. C’est le seul moyen de se débarrasser des assoiffés de pouvoir qui s’accrochent. Pour l’instant les bons élèves sont encore peu dans ce domaine : Ghana, Sénégal, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Afrique du Sud…

Par ailleurs, l’année 2016 nous a montré en Ethiopie que l’idéologie de l’Etat développementaliste ne suffit pas   à elle seule pour garantir la paix et la stabilité, gages du développent durable. Il faut une  dose plus importante de démocratie multipartiste et plus de libertés publiques.

L’espace citoyen en danger: L’Union Africaine place les citoyens du continent au centre de son programme de développement : l’Agenda 2063. Un catalyseur essentiel de ce programme est le droit des citoyens de s’organiser, et leur capacité à agir contre la pauvreté, les inégalités et l’injustice. En fait, l’UA a proclamé 2016 comme « Année des droits de l’homme ». Pourtant, à travers le continent, il se dégage une tendance alarmante et croissante de restriction des droits fondamentaux de réunion, d’association et de liberté d’expression des citoyens. L’UA elle-même met en cause son engagement à la contribution des citoyens en limitant formellement la participation des organisations de la société civile à un de ses deux sommets biannuelles. En plus un certain nombre de gouvernements sont en train de (mal) utiliser les lois pour limiter la création d’organisations légitimes, restreindre leurs activités et contrôler leurs sources de financement. Depuis 2012, au moins 29 lois restrictives ont été adoptées en Afrique. Ce qui est sûr est que dans les années à venir le mouvement citoyen va plutôt se consolider et se renforcer  en Afrique peu importe les restrictions, ce qui comporte et sérieux risque de bras de fer et de conflit entre pouvoir et citoyens. Nos institutions régionales et l’Union Africaines doivent tabler ce problème pour discussion le plus tôt possible. Elles doivent par exemple envisager une étude sur les lois restrictives en Afrique et un moratoire  pour les arrêter.  (Voir le blog que j’ai récemment publié conjointement avec un collègue sur la question ici : http://oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/why-is-africas-civil-society-under-siege/#.WFJTocPTjhI.twitter).

L’Union Africaine un Nouveau Départ ?

Si tout va bien comme prévu, le leadership actuel de la Commission de l’Union Africaine sera renouvelé. La Présidente, la Sud-Africaine Dlami-Zuma, le Vice-président le Kényan Erastus Mwencha  et la plus part des commissaires devraient  remettre leur tablier à de nouveaux élus fin Janvier pour 4 ou 8 ans. Des 5 candidats en lis, le poste de Président de la Commission se jouera essentiellement entre le Sénégalais Abdoulaye Bathily, ancien Représentant des Nations Unies en Afrique centrale, le Tchadien Moussa Faki Mahamat, ancien Premier Ministre et Ministre des Affaires étrangères et la Kenyane Amina Mohamed, Ministre des Affaires Étrangères.

En plus Le Président Guinéen Alpha Condé  est en passe d’être désigné  Président en exercice de l’UA pour 2017 en remplacement du Tchadien Idriss Deby.

Le projet le plus important et le plus attendu est la réforme en profondeur de l’Union Africaine  confiée au Président Rwandais Paul Kagame par ses pairs. Il devra présenter les grandes lignes de cette réforme lors du Sommet de Janvier à Addis Abéba.  La réforme devra tenir compte de la question épineuse de la dépendance financière de l’Union déjà amorcée par son compatriote, l’ancien patron de la BAD Donald Kaberuka.

Valeurs Partagées : S’il est clair   que l’Union Africaine dans sa structure actuelle n’est pas adaptée pour mettre en œuvre l’ambitieux Agenda 2063, il nous est aussi certain que le changement structurel de l’Union et de ses organes ne suffira pas à lui seul pour  faire avancer les choses. L’Union Africaine a besoin d’un changement profond et courageux dans sa façon de fonctionner en termes de respect de ses propres principes fondamentaux et de ses « valeurs partagées ». Il faut à l’Union  un mécanisme sérieux de « redevabilité » par rapport à ses principes et valeurs.  Il lui faut une Commission forte et dotée de pouvoirs réels pour « contraindre » les états membres à respecter et mettre en œuvre leurs propres décisions.

En matière d’élections par exemple, l’Union Africaine doit avoir la prérogative et la capacité  de relever, dénoncer et faire cesser les manquements graves aux standards et  fraudes électoraux.  Si non,  ce n’est pas la peine que l’Union continue d’observer les élections. Ce ne sera rien que du gaspillage. C’est un peu gênant de voir que les élections en Ouganda, au Congo, au Gabon en Guinée équatoriale etc. aient été qualifiées de justes, équitables, transparent et démocratiques sans autres formes de procès…

Paix et Sécurité :

La Paix et la Sécurité demeurent les conditions sine qua non pour le développement et le progrès de notre continent et le bien-être de nos populations. L’Afrique n’a pas progressé assez dans ce domaine au cours des dernières années. Dans beaucoup de cas comme au Burundi et au Soudan du Sud nos institutions n’ont  pas tenus comptes des signes avant-coureurs et  alertes précoces qui  pourtant étaient assez visibles. En réalité ce dont nos institutions régionales ont besoin est le courage et la volonté politique de couper avec les anciennes méthodes. Par exemple la Commission de l’Union Africaine et plus précisément son leadership doit devoir et pouvoir crier haut et fort toutes les fois que nos valeurs partagées sont en train d’être violées  par les leaders nationaux. C’est pourquoi nous avons besoin d’un leader fort et audible à la tête de la Commission.  En 2017  l’Union Africaine  doit encore gérer le chaos au Burundi et au Soudan du Sud. Le risque de nettoyage ethnique dans ces deux pays doit être absolument pris au sérieux.  L’UA doit consolider le progrès en Somalie et en République Centrafricaine, et accompagner le processus politique et sécuritaire, redoubler de vigilance au Mali (même si l’ONU est techniquement en charge),  soutenir le dialogue politique amorcé par l’Eglise Catholique en RDC et ses avancées encourageantes mais demeurer ferme sur le respect des principes démocratiques les droits de l’homme, l’Etat de droit et la justice.  Le chantier inachevé du Darfour  ne doit pas être négligé et le Soudan entier doit être sous sérieuse observation.

Faire Taire les Armes à l’horizon 2020 : Au-delà du Slogan: L’objectif demeure malheureusement un slogan sans action sérieuse pour le réaliser.  Soyons clair : on ne peut pas taire les armes si on laisse les dictateurs terroriser et martyriser leurs populations à gré et en toute impunité  en violation flagrante des principes démocratiques des droits de l’homme et des valeurs partagées adoptées par l’Union, et de plus, s’accrocher au pouvoir à vie ! On ne peut pas taire les armes si on ferme les yeux sur les massacres des populations civiles pour des raisons politiques. On ne peut pas taire les armes si on promeut l’impunité des chefs d’Etat sans considération de la gravité des crimes dans lesquels ils sont  impliqués contre leurs populations.  On ne peut pas taire les armes si les votes des citoyens sont systématiquement volés, les leaders de l’opposition politique harcelés et mis en prison. Par-dessus tout, les ambitieux  projets de développement du continent ne peuvent se concrétiser que si  la paix et la sécurité sont au rendez-vous.

L’Union doit mettre une plus grande pression sur les acteurs Sud Soudanais, Burundais, Congolais etc et s’assurer que les autres pays fragiles et à  risque rentrent dans le jeu démocratique.

Avec ou sans le Maroc ?

Fin Janvier, nous saurons si le Maroc fera sa rentrée historique dans l’Union Africaine et dans quelles conditions ? Toutes les formalités procédurales ont été déjà accomplies. Le Sommet des Chefs d’Etat pourra donc prendre une décision là-dessus. Le Maroc devra donc souscrire à tous les principes fondamentaux de l’Union y compris le droit des peuples à l’auto-détermination et accepter de cohabiter avec la République Sahraoui Démocratique en tant qu’Etat membre de l’Union. Logiquement le retour du Maroc dans l’organisation continental est une reconnaissance tacite du Sahara Occidental par celui-ci. C’est juste une simple logique si on se souvient de la raison pour laquelle le Maroc a claqué la porte en 1984.  J’espère que l’adhésion du Maroc à l’Union  Afrique créera une opportunité de régler l’épineuse question du Sahara Occidental, considéré comme la dernière colonie en Afrique à libérer. Les Etats membres de l’Union, surtout les « amis » du Maroc (au moins 28 sont connus) doivent veiller à ce que le retour du Maroc contribue à consolider l’Union plutôt qu’à la diviser ou à  la faire voler en éclat. (Voir mon blog sur cette question ici : https://assodesire.com/2016/10/02/le-retour-du-maroc-a-lunion-africaine-une-opportunite-ou-un-challenge/ )

La Chine, L’Amérique et les Autres

L’Afrique a tout à gagner en continuant la diversification de ses partenaires économiques. L’entrée en jeux spectaculaire de la Chine et des autres nouveaux partenaires a ouvertement changé les rapports de force avec les partenaires traditionnels et réorienté l’économie africaine.  Mais nous devons garder les yeux grandement ouverts…  Nos partenariats (anciens comme nouveaux) doivent contribuer à la realisation de nos agendas 2030 et 2063 et nous devons veiller à ce que les standards sociaux, des droits de l’homme et d’équité soient absolument respectés dans la poursuite de ces partenariats. Les acteurs non-étatiques ont un rôle majeur de veilleur à jouer ici.

Avec Donald Trump au pouvoir aux Etats-Unis, il est peu probable que l’Afrique figure au rang des priorités de « l’Oncle Sam », ce qui donnera libre cours à la Chine et aux autres de mieux se positionner en Afrique : avantage ou challenge ? Seul l’avenir nous le dira.

Calendrier – Quelques Grands Rendez-Vous

13-14 Janvier : Sommet Afrique-France : Thème: Partenariat, Paix et Emergence –  Bamako, Mali.

23-31  Janvier : 28th Sommet de l’Union Africaine –  Thème : Jeunesse – Addis Abéba, Ethiopie

23-28 Mars : Conférence Continentale des Experts et Ministres Africains des Finances, du Développent de la Planification et de l’intégration  – Dakar, Sénégal

3-5 Mai : Forum Economique Mondial pour l’Afrique, Thème : Croissance Inclusive – Durban Afrique du Sud

Fin Juin : Sommet de l’Union Africaine, Thème : Jeunesse

Date à déterminer : Forum pour le Développent de l’Afrique, Thème : Migration, UNECA, Addis Abéba.

 

 

Prospects for Africa in 2017

French Version here: https://assodesire.com/2016/12/27/lafrique-en-2017-opportunites-et-defis/

We have just entered into the year 2017! It is bringing a number of uncertainties but it also carries with it, seeds of hope…

As I always do at the beginning of each year, I would like to share with you some personal reflections on the major challenges and opportunities that our continent, its institutions and sons and daughters will face in 2017 and of course beyond this year.

In 2017 and in the years to come inequality, conflicts and insecurity, youth and unemployment, migration, electoral democracy, civic space, free movement of people, China, new American policies etc. will occupy the political debate and the daily life of Africans. Africans will expect much from the promises made by the African Union with its new leadership and an improved structure, but the regional economic communities will have increased responsibilities in the management of crises linked to democratic governance and conflicts. The African Development Bank with its  new “High-Fives” and its dynamic leadership team, will have a major role to play in our economic space, especially in the area of youth and employment. In the discourse below, I  touch on some of these issues in details.

Economic Growth, Inequality and Poverty

The continent’s average growth rate will continue to plummet to below 2%, the lowest  in 20 years, mainly due to the fall in commodity and oil prices and the difficulties faced by the largest economies on the continent (Nigeria, South Africa). Interestingly, some countries will maintain a good record, a high rate for several reasons (Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal) according to recent estimates. Given that economic growth does not have an automatic and immediate impact on poverty reduction, the most challenging task for us is to ensure that the products of growth are distributed fairly and that they are no longer used to widen the gap between rich and poor, knowing that this is an important source of conflict.

Africa now has good reasons for investing in agriculture, encouraging and sustaining productivity, introducing modernization in the sector and, of course, increasing cultivable lands. This will have the threefold advantage of meeting the food needs of our people, creating jobs and diversifying our economy to reduce poverty. This will also have the advantage of promoting regional trade among African countries.

2017: The African Year of Youth:

The African Union declared 2017 as the year of youth. The two Summits of Heads of State in January and July as well as other major continental gatherings will dedicated to this – focusing mainly on  unemployment, migration and education. It is important that the different actors on the continent and elsewhere and their partners agree to give young people the necessary push that they need  for both their integration as well as emancipation. The African Development Forum that will  be organized  by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) will focus on the issue of migration from an African perspective. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also promised to make it a priority during the next G20 summit. She has even evoked a “Marshal Plan” for Africa to boost investment and create employment. I do not personally like the idea of a “Mashal Plan” for Africa though. If our Western partners can assist us to stop the 60 Billion illicit financial flows out of Africa every year – an amount systematically stolen by multinationals from Africa in complicity with our own leaders – we would be fine and in absolute no need for Marshal plans. At the end of January, the African Union in Addis Ababa will certainly consider a short- and medium-term action plan to better “harness the demographic dividend of Africa by investing in the youth”. It remains to be seen whether the political will and the financial means will be there to implement a possible plan. In any case, it is necessary to quickly work on this important part of our populations to prevent that they fall further into the temptation of radicalization and extremism as it is already the case in certain parts of the continent. Our youth are the hope of the continent. We must carefully take care of them so that they are fully part of the progress towards our sustainable development agenda.

Free Movement of People in Africa: An Unavoidable Prerequisite

Any plan for African youth must include free movement of people on the continent as a prerequisite. The process under way in the African Union must be accelerated to the maximum in order to allow exchange of ideas and experience among young people. Pending on the drafting and the adoption of the Treaty on Free Movement, why not take an immediate Africa-wide decision to cancel visas for short stay, or at least allow the issuing of visas upon arrival? A few African countries have already recently done so.

Civic Space at Risk: According to the African Union’s new vision expressed in the Agenda 2063, citizens are front and centre of our development and our people are a critical enablers of this vision. Citizens must have the right to organise themselves and  the ability to speak out against poverty, inequality and injustice. Yet across the continent, there is an alarming and growing trend of citizens’ fundamental rights to assembly, association and free speech being restricted. In addition, many governments are (mis)using new and existing laws to limit the creation of legitimate civil society organizations (CSOs), restrict their operations, and control their funding. Since 2012, 29 restrictive laws have been adopted in Africa… What is certain is that in the coming years citizens’ movements will rather consolidate and strengthen in Africa regardless of the restrictions and this brings a serious risk of conflict between power and citizens. Our regional institutions and the African Union must table this problem for discussion as soon as possible. For example, they should consider a study on those restrictive laws in Africa and come up with a moratorium to stop them. (See the blog I recently published jointly with a colleague on the issue as well as Oxfam’s policy brief  here: http://oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/why-is-africas-civil-society-under-siege/#.WFJTocPTjhI.twitter)

Human Rights, Governance and Electoral Democracy: Unfinished Business

Declared as the Year of Human Rights by the African Union, 2016 was rather the year when liberties and freedoms, civic and democratic space, justice, protection of civilians etc. have been shamelessly and systematically reduced in our continent mostly under the silence of regional and continental institutions. In the Gambia for example a young activist has been tortured to death by the police in 2016 with no consequence for the perpetrators; opposition leaders were arrested for no reason and a President lost elections and refused to go.

Africa must find a way out of the vicious circle of conflicts related to the credibility of elections and the political alternation in power. Without this, our continent will continue its progressive falling into hell, thus undermining any prospect of economic development. Countries to be observed in 2017 include the Gambia, DRC, Cameroon, Liberia, Kenya, Rwanda, Angola, Libya, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. Countries where an election hold-up has already been consumed are not safe from worries (Gabon, Congo, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea etc.). The alternation to power is part of the democratic game especially when  institutions are still weak and the electoral system is vulnerable. We have to talk about limiting presidential terms sooner or later. This is the only way in many of the current cases to get rid of leaders who are permanently clinging on power. For the moment good students are still few in Africa: Ghana, Senegal, Botswana, Burkina Faso, South Africa.

In addition, 2016 showed us in Ethiopia that the developmental state ideology alone is not enough to guarantee peace, stability and sustainable development. A bigger portion of pluralist democracy and more respect of civil liberties are needed.

The African Union: a New Start?

If all goes as planned, the current leadership of the African Union Commission will be renewed. The current President of the Commission, the South African Mrs. Dlami-Zuma, the Vice-President Erastus Mwencha from Kenya and most of the commissioners should hand over power to new elected officials late January for 4 or 8 years. Out of the 5  current candidates, the battle for the post of President of the Commission will be mainly between the Senegalese Abdoulaye Bathily, former Representative of the United Nations in Central Africa, the Chadian Moussa Faki Mahamat, former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Kenyan  Amina Mohamed, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In addition Guinean President Alpha Condé is likely to be appointed Chairman of the AU for 2017 to replace  Chadian President Idriss Deby.

The most important and most expected project is the in-depth reform of the African Union spearheaded by  Rwanda President Paul Kagame. He will propose the headlines of this reform during the January Summit in Addis Ababa. The reform will have to take into account the thorny issue of the financial dependency of the Union that his compatriot, the former boss of ADB Donald Kaberuka is already working on.

Shared Values: While it is clear that the African Union in its current structure is not suited to fully implement the ambitious Agenda 2063, it is also certain that the structural change of the Union will not suffice on its own to make progress. The African Union needs a profound and courageous change in the way it operates in terms of respect for its own fundamental principles and “shared values”. The Union needs a serious mechanism of accountability in relation to its principles and values. It needs a strong Commission with real powers to “compel” member states to respect and implement their own decisions.

In the case of elections, for example, the African Union must have the prerogative and the capacity to raise, denounce and put an end to serious breaches of electoral standards and frauds. If not, it is not worthwhile that the Union continues to observe elections. It will be nothing but a waste of resources. It is very embarrassing to see that elections in Uganda, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and so on have been described as fair, equitable, transparent and democratic without further debate.

Peace and Security:

Peace and security remain the sine qua non conditions for the development and progress of our continent and the well-being of our people. Africa has not made enough progress in this area in recent years. In many cases, such as in Burundi and South Sudan, our institutions did not take into account early warning signs that were nevertheless quite visible. In reality what our regional institutions need are courage and the political will to cut with old methods. For example, the African Union Commission and, more specifically, its leadership must be able to speak out loudly whenever our shared values are being violated by national leaders and challenge them. That is why we need a strong and audible leader for the AU Commission.

In 2017 the African Union will still have to manage the chaos in Burundi and South Sudan. The risk of ethnic cleansing in these two countries must be taken seriously. The AU must consolidate the progress made in Somalia and in the Central Africa Republic and accompany the political and security process. The Continental body should redouble vigilance in Mali (even if the UN is technically in charge), support the political dialogue initiated by the Catholic Church in DRC and its encouraging progress, but remain firm on the respect for democratic principles, the rule of law, human rights and justice. The unfinished business of Darfur should not be neglected and the entire Sudan should be under serious observation.

Silencing the Guns by 2020: Beyond the Slogan: This campaign unfortunately remains a slogan without serious action to realize it. Let us be clear: we cannot silence the guns if dictators are allowed to continue terrorizing and martyrizing their populations willingly and with impunity in flagrant violation of democratic principles, human rights and the shared values adopted by the Union and more, clinging to power for life! We cannot silence the guns if we close our eyes to the massacres of civilian populations for political reasons. We cannot silence the guns if we promote impunity of heads of state without considering the gravity of the crimes in which they are implicated against their own populations. We cannot silence the guns if the votes of citizens are systematically robbed, leaders of the political opposition harassed and jailed before, during and after elections. Above all, the continent’s ambitious development projects can only be realized if there is peace, security and stability.

With or Without Morocco?

At the end of January, we will know if Morocco will make its historic comeback to the African Union and under which conditions…  All procedural formalities have already been completed. The Summit of Heads of State should therefore be able to take a decision on this. If all goes well, Morocco will have to subscribe to all the fundamental principles of the Union including the right of peoples to self-determination and agree to cohabit with the Sahrawi Democratic Republic as a member state of the Union.  Logically the return of Morocco to the continental organization is a tacit recognition of Western Sahara. It is just a simple logic if we remember the reason why Morocco slammed the door in 1984. I hope that the accession of Morocco to the Union will create an opportunity to settle the thorny question of the Western Sahara, considered as the last colony in Africa to be liberated. Member States of the Union, especially the “friends” of Morocco must ensure that the return of Morocco contributes to the consolidation of the Union rather than to divide or shatter it. (See my blog on this topic here: https://assodesire.com/2016/09/29/moroccos-return-to-the-african-union-opportunity-or-challenge/ )

China, America and Others

Africa has everything to gain by continuing to diversify its economic partners. The spectacular entry and positioning of China and other new partners in Africa has openly changed the balance of power with traditional partners and reoriented African economy and development process. But we must keep our eyes wide open … Our partnerships (old and new) must contribute to the realization of our agendas 2030 and 2063 and we must ensure that social, human rights and equity standards are absolutely respected in the pursuit of these partnerships. Non-state actors have a major watchdog role to play here.

With Donald Trump in power in the United States, it is unlikely that Africa will be among the priorities of “Uncle Sam”. This may give free way to China and others to better position themselves in Africa. Is this an opportunity or a challenge? Only the future will tell us.

Calendar of key meetings in 2017

13-14 January: Africa-France Summit: Theme: Partnership, Peace and Emergence – Bamako, Mali.

23-31 January: 28th African Union Summit – Theme: Youth – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

23-28 March: Continental Conference of African Experts and Ministers of Finance, Development, Planning and Integration – Dakar, Senegal

3-5 May: World Economic Forum for Africa, Theme: Inclusive Growth – Durban South Africa

End of June: 29th African Union Summit – Theme: Youth

Date TBC: 10th Africa Development Forum, Theme: Migration, UNECA, Addis Abéba, Ethiopia.

Le «Retour» du Maroc à l’Union Africaine: Une Opportunité ou un Challenge?

Le Royaume du Maroc a présenté officiellement une demande d’adhésion à l’Acte Constitutif de l’Union Africaine pour «redevenir» membre de l’Union. La demande a également été remise au Président de la Commission de l’UA,  Dr Dlamini-Zuma par le conseiller du Roi Mohammed VI aux Affaires étrangères, Taieb Fassi Fihri, le 22 Septembre 2016, lors d’une réunion tenue en marge de la 71e session de l’Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies à New York.

S’il est géré de bonne foi et en respectant les principes de base de l’Union Africaine, le retour du Maroc à l’Union Africaine pourrait avoir de nombreuses répercussions positives pour l’UA et potentiellement faciliter la résolution du conflit du Sahara Occidental. Dans le cas contraire, cette évolution comporte tous les risques de dangereusement diviser l’Union Africaine.

J’aimerais partager ici mes opinions personnelles sur certaines des implications de ce «retour». Voir la version en Anglais de l’article ici: http://wp.me/p4ywYV-bh

En juin et juillet 2016, le Maroc a entrepris une campagne diplomatique en prélude au Sommet de l’Union Africaine. Des émissaires marocains ont visité le Sénégal, la Côte-d’Ivoire, la Zambie, le Cameroun, l’Ethiopie, l’Egypte, le Soudan, le Kenya et la Tunisie. Quelques jours avant le Sommet, le Président Paul Kagame du Rwanda, pays hôte du Sommet a eu une visite de deux jours au Maroc et a été décoré avec la plus haute distinction d’honneur du Maroc. De même, la Zambie a envoyé son ministre des Affaires étrangères à Casablanca où il a annoncé la décision de son pays d’annuler la reconnaissance de la  République Arabe Sahraouie Démocratique.

Au cours du Sommet de l’UA à Kigali, le Roi du Maroc a envoyé une lettre officielle au Président de l’Assemblée de l’Union Africaine indiquant que le Maroc souhaiterait revenir à l’UA. Le Président en exercice de l’UA, le  Tchadien Idriss Deby aurait refusé d’inscrire  ladite lettre à l’ordre du jour du Sommet. Au cours de la deuxième journée du Sommet, les délégués ont vu circulée une motion demandant la suspension de la République Arabe Sahraouie Démocratique de l’UA. La motion, qui aurait été approuvée par 28 États a été catalysée par le Président du Gabon Ali Bongo avec le soutien d’autres alliés tels que le président Macky Sall du Sénégal. La motion n’a cependant pas pu être présentée.

L’entrée du Maroc à l’Union Africaine Pourrait être Positif

Le Maroc, membre fondateur de l’Organisation de l’Unité Africaine (OUA) avait claquée la porte y a 32 ans suite à  l’admission de la RASD comme Etat membre de l’Union. Au cours des années 2000s, l’OUA a été transformée pour devenir l’Union Africaine avec un nouveau traité ; l’Acte Constitutif de l’Union et des objectifs renforcés. Sur le plan juridique, l’UA donc est une nouvelle organisation et tous ses 54 membres actuels ont souscris à ses visions et principes fondamentaux en ratifiant le nouvel Acte Constitutif. Pour le Maroc il s’agira donc d’une adhesion, pas d’un retour…

Je n’ai pas vu le contenu de la requête du Maroc mais une telle demande implique  forcement l’acceptation sans réserve par le Maroc des principes de base de l’organisation. Le Maroc devra alors cohabiter avec tous les membres de l’UA, y compris la RASD. Ceci ouvrerait aussi la porte à une résolution pacifique et acceptable du conflit du Sahara Occidental. L’UA pourra alors regagner de l’influence pour faciliter le processus.

Des Avantages en Matière de Paix et de Sécurité : L’entrée de Maroc dans l’Union Africaine pourra augmenter les chances d’une solution africaine aux crises dans la région du Maghreb, le Maroc étant un acteur majeur en matière de sécurité en Afrique du Nord et un leader dans la lutte contre l’extrémisme et le sécularisme islamique. L’Union du Maghreb Arabe (UMA) a été la Communauté Economique Régionale la moins fonctionnelle. L’engagement du Maroc ou de l’UMA dans les opérations de soutien à  la paix  de la Force africaine en attente pourrait augmenter sa capacité de façon significative. La lutte contre le terrorisme a été l’un des défis les plus importants pour lesquels le Maroc pourra être un allié sérieux  s’il devient membre de l’Union.

Un Gain Economique Majeur: la réussite économique du Maroc serait un sérieux atout pour le programme d’intégration économique de l’Union africaine et des programmes spécifiques tels que l’Agenda 2063.

Une avancée Historique: Le retour à L’Union Africaine d’un Etat clé de l’histoire du panafricanisme projetterait une image positive du continent.

pic-blog2

Un Retour «Forcé» du Maroc Pourrait Dangereusement Diviser l’Union Africaine

Dans une récente interview, le Président Macky Sall du Sénégal soutenant le retour du Maroc a déclaré: «Le Maroc a décidé de revenir et a demandé que la légalité constitutionnelle internationale soit respectée, conformément aux principes de l’ONU où le Sahara Occidental n’est pas représenté comme Etat indépendant ”, se référant ainsi à la récente tentative avortée de 28 pays pour suspendre la République Arabe Sahraouie Démocratique de l’UA par une motion. Le Président Hery Rajaonarimampianina de Madagascar a également  salué la décision du Maroc et a promis de tout faire pour que ce retour légitime se concretise dès le plus vite possible.

Le Maroc multiplie des actions en faveurs des Etats membres de l’Union à travers la création et le renforcement de liens diplomatiques et économiques. Le Maroc élargis son cercle traditionnel d’amis (Afrique de l’Ouest) à d’autres régions du continent notamment avec le renforcement récent des relations diplomatiques avec le Rwanda,  l’Ouganda et la Zambie. L’élargissement de ce cercle constitue à n’en pas douter une menace réelle  pour la RASD. L’Union Africaine prend normalement ses décisions par consensus mais il est peu probable d’avoir ce consensus sur la question de maintenir la  RASD ou non au sein de l’Union Africaine. Même une majorité simple sera difficile à obtenir dans la configuration actuelle.  D’ailleurs, il n’existe aujourd’hui aucun mécanisme permettant d’expulser un Etat  membre de l’Union Africaine en dehors du cas de suspension pour non-paiement de cotisations ou en cas de coup d’Etat.

Les Etats super-influents comme l’Afrique du Sud, l’Algérie et le Nigeria sont loin de laisser passer une motion d’expulsion ou de suspension de la  RASD  de l’Union Africaine. Même au pire des cas, une action dans ce sens remettra en cause le sacro-saint principe du droit à l’autodétermination, un des principes fondateurs de l’OUA. L’Union Africaine en sortirait profondément affaiblie et devisée.

Le Maroc pourrait également utiliser une stratégie différente qui serait de faire entrée soft dans l’Union Africaine en acceptant la position actuelle de l’organisation sur le Sahara Occidental, mais continuer la bataille contre la RASD au sein de l’Union avec le soutien des alliés. Cela me semble être le scénario le plus probable mais aussi le plus facile pour intégrer  l’Union … Mais le Maroc et ses alliés réussiront- ils à bouter la SADR dehors? Telle est la question…

Il est important de souligner ici que l’Afrique a beaucoup plus a gagner d’un règlement pacifique du conflit Sahraoui sur la base des principes fondateurs de l’Union Africaine, des droits fondamentaux de l’homme et du droit international.

Morocco’s “Return” to the African Union: Opportunity or Challenge?

The Kingdom of Morocco officially submitted a request to accede to the African Union Constitutive Act and become a Member of the Union. The letter was also handed over to the Chairperson of the AUC, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma through the adviser to the King Mohammed VI on Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco, H.E. Taieb Fassi Fihri, on 22 September 2016, at a meeting held on the margins of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

If it is managed in good faith and the respect of African Union basic principles, Morocco’s return to the African Union could have numerous positive implications for the AU and potentially bring about the long awaited for “resolve” to Western Sahara conflict. If not, this development has every risk of dangerously dividing the Union.

Here are my personal views on some of the implications of this development:

See the French version of the article here: http://wp.me/p4ywYV-bx

In June and July 2016 Morocco undertook Pre-AU-Summit Campaign through Moroccan envoy Salaheddine Mezouar who visited Senegal, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Cameroon Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia and from 15 July, Morocco sent Special Envoy Taieb Fassi Fihri to Kenya. Preceding the AU Summit, President Paul Kagame of the host nation Rwanda held a two-day visit to Morocco and was decorated Morocco’s highest national award of honour. Equally,  Zambia sent its Minister of Foreign Affairs to Casablanca where he announced the country’s decision to “de-recognise” Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

During the AU Summit in Kigali in July 2016 the King of Morocco sent an official letter to the Chairperson of the Assembly  the African Union indicating Morocco wishes to return to the AU. The Chadian Chairperson of the AU Idriss Deby reportedly refused to table the letter at the Summit. During the second day of the Summit, delegates saw a motion calling for the suspension of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic from the AU. The motion, allegedly endorsed by 28 states was catalyzed by the President of Gabon Ali Bongo alongside other strong allies such as President Macky Sall of Senegal. The motion however failed to be presented.

Morocco’s return for the African Union could be a positive development

Morocco, a founding member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) left OAU 32 years ago over the admission of SADR and the subsequent refusal to expel  SADR from the Union.  In the year 2000, the OAU has been transformed to the African Union with a new Constitutive Act and enhanced objectives. So, legally talking, the AU is a new organization and all its current 54 members have subscribed to its visions and principles.

I have not seen the contents of Morocco’s application for membership to the AU but such a request to “return” to the AU should naturally entail an unconditional acceptance of the basic principles of the organization. Morocco will then have to cohabit with all members of the AU, including the SADR. This also brings the hope of a peaceful and acceptable resolution to the Western Sahara Conflict. The AU will then regain full leverage to facilitate the process.

Gains on Peace and Security:  African solution or approach to crisis in the Maghreb region would be greatly enhanced by cooperation with Morocco a major security actor  in North Africa and a lead in countering violent extremism and management of secularism. The Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) has been the least functional Regional Economic Community (REC) the strength, Military engagement of the AMU in Peace Support Operations and the African Standby Force could increase significantly. Countering Terrorism has been the most prominent challenge with which Morocco can also assist if it becomes a member of the Union.

Economic Gains: Morocco’s economic success would be a serious asset for the African Union’s economic integration agenda and specific programmes such as Agenda 2063.

Historical Win: The return of one of the leading Pan African States in the history of Africa and a founding member of OAU will project an excellent image of the continent.morroco-pic1

A “Forced” return of Morocco could dangerously split the African Union

In a recent interview, President Macky Sall of Senegal, in full support of Morocco’s move declared: “Morocco has decided to come back and has requested that international constitutional legality be respected in accordance with the UN where the Western Sahara is not represented as an independent state’’, referring to the recent failed attempt of 28 countries to kick the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic out of the AU by a motion. President Hery Rajaonarimampianina of Madagascar also ‘welcomed’ Morocco’s decision and promises that he will ‘work to ensure that this legitimate return be effective as soon as possible.’

Morocco is building relationships and depositing favors with member states through creating and strengthening diplomatic and economic ties. Morocco’s traditional stronghold in West Africa is expanding with recent allies in Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. With this warm welcome and increased support, Morocco will be able to garner within the Union, so, the standing of Western Sahara could be increasingly threatened.

In any case, there is currently no mechanism within AU policies and regulations to expel a member state from the Union except the cases of suspension for non-payment of contributions or for unconstitutional change of government. The AU normally makes its decisions based on consensus which is unlikely to be the case for this particular question on whether SADR should be kept in the AU or not.  Even a majority vote would be difficult to attain on this. In this case, the political decision making process of the AU would be strained and split on the question of Western Sahara.

The “expulsion” or “suspension” of SADR is unlikely to succeed within the current geopolitical framework of the African Union. Powerful members such as South Africa, Nigeria,  Algeria, Ethiopia etc would surely stand against such a move. Any forced attempt to expel SADR by whatever mean legal or political could dangerously split the African Union.  If this were to happen, in the worst case scenario the AU, as an organization which inherited the decolonization agenda, would violate one of its sacred principles of the right of people for self-determination. This would terribly weaken the organization’s standing.

Morocco may also use a different strategy which is to softly land in the African Union by accepting its current stand and position on Western Sahara but then continue the battle against the SADR from within the Union with the support of allies. This seems to me as the most likely scenario that Morocco may use and the easiest to get accepted in the African Union… But would Morocco and its allies succeed to push SADR out? That is the question…

It is important to stress here that Africa will rather gain from a peaceful resolution of the Western Sahara conflict based on the founding principles of the African Union, fundamental Human Rights and the international law.

Questions, Comments? email me: assodesir@gmail.com