African Union Summit – July 2017: What to Expect?


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.


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Burundi: The African Union Must Catch Up Quickly!

La version en Français ici:

The situation in Burundi is becoming more and more serious. Police is firing live ammunitions at protesters; armed militias are terrorizing citizens. 24,000 people have already fled the country, including mayors of some areas … At least 12 people have died dozens were seriously injured and over 600 arrested and detained in inhumane conditions…

Yesterday, the Vice President of the Constitutional Court of Burundi Sylvère Nimpagaritse denounced pressures and death threats on his person during the assessment of the constitutionality of 3rd term of the incumbent president. He then fled the country. During deliberations of the Court, while 4 out of 7 members thought the 3rd mandate is unconstitutional, the court deferred its decision. Thus, the death threats started by the government … It is now clear that this court is no more credible and none shall consider its decisions.

The African Union Must Catch up

In its communiqué of 28 April 2015, The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union has merely ” took note that the Burundian Senate has seized the Constitutional Court on the interpretation of the Constitution regarding the eligibility of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s candidature for re-election and urged all Burundian stakeholders to respect the decision of the Constitution”. The Chairperson of the AU Commission took the same position on her Twitter account a few days before… I had already found this position as weak and ineffective in view of the gravity of the situation on the ground, being aware of the strong influence of the political authorities on the State institutions. Limiting the solution of the Burundian problem to the decision of the current Constitutional Court is simply paving the way for a constitutional coup by the current authorities.  Everyone knows about this practice in many countries in our continent.

Given the gravity of the situation in Burundi, it is no longer enough to just ask the “stakeholders to respect the constitution and the Arusha Agreements.” The African Union must be clear and state that a 3rd term is purely against the constitution and the spirit of the Arusha Agreement.

I believe that the African Union has a certain influence on Burundi. In the past, the AU has led with success a peacekeeping operation in Burundi. The AU has invested its troops and resources in Burundi. Today, the African Union must avoid hesitation and be categorical. We can no more allow a new civil war in Burundi. Our continent has no mean to handle it. We already have too many problems to solve; too many challenges to face. The last civil war in Burundi killed 250,000 people.

Now that the Constitutional Court has no more credibility, the African Union and the PSC must seek advice of their legal bodies on the constitutionality of the 3rd term in Burundi in order to fix this issue once and for good. It is a historic responsibility. Yesterday our continental body missed similar opportunity in Burkina Faso until citizens ousted their dictator. Today a new opportunity shows up for the African Union to join the rest of the world and isolate President Nkurunziza.

The risk of a military coup in Burundi is very high right now. We should not get there. Africa must stop projecting the image of a continent with brutal methods. Political isolation of President Nkurunziza by the African Union will certainly force him to pull back…

The Peace and Security Council must meet urgently to denounce the interference of the Burundian authorities in the functioning of the Constitutional Court, dissociate itself from any decision of a court being ordered by the political power and declare the 3rd term unconstitutional and against the Arusha Agreements.

Note: My opinions are absolutely personal and do not commit my organization

L’Union Africaine doit Sauver le Burundi en Urgence !

English version here:

La situation au Burundi devient de plus en plus grave. La police tire à balle réelle sur les manifestants, les milices armées par le pouvoir en place terrorisent les populations. 24,000 personnes ont déjà fui le pays y compris des maires des localités… Au moins 12 personnes ont déjà trouvé la mort des dizaines sont gravement blessées et plus de 600 personnes arrêtées et détenues dans des conditions inhumaines…

Hier, le vice-président de la Cour Constitutionnelle du Burundi Sylvère Nimpagaritse a dénoncé des pressions et menaces de mort sur sa personne dans le cadre de l’évaluation de constitutionalité de la 3eme candidature du président sortant, et a fui le pays.  Lors des délibérations de la Cour, alors que 4 membres sur 7 pensaient que le 3eme mandat est inconstitutionnel, la cour a reporté sa décision. Dès lors, les menaces de mort ont commencé de la part du pouvoir en place… Il est désormais claire que cette cour n’est plus crédible et personne ne dois plus prendre en compte sa décision.

L’Union Africaine doit vite se rattraper !  

Dans son communique du 28 Avril 2015, le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité de l’Union Africaine s’est borné à « prendre note de la saisine de la Cour Constitutionnelle par le Sénat burundais pour l’interprétation de la Constitution du Burundi en ce qui concerne la recevabilité de la candidature du Président Nkurunziza pour réélection », en demandant aux parties prenantes burundaises de respecter la décision que prendra la Cour Constitutionnelle. La Présidente de la Commission de l’Union Africaine a pris la même position sur son compte Twitter quelques jours au paravent… J’avais déjà jugé cette position de faible et inefficace eu égard à la gravité de la situation sur le terrain étant conscient de la mainmise des autorités politiques  sur les institutions de l’Etat.  Ramener la solution Burundaise à la décision de la « Cour constitutionnelle c’est tout simplement paver la voie au coup d’état constitutionnel du Président Nkurunziza ; tout le monde connait cette pratique de certains pouvoirs africains.

Face à la gravité de la situation au Burundi, il ne suffit plus de demander  aux «parties prenantes de respecter la constitution et les accords d’Arusha». L’Union Africaine doit être claire en déclarant que le 3eme mandat est inconstitutionnel et contre les accords d’Arusha.

Je crois que L’Union Africaine a une influence certaine sur le Burundi, l’Union y a mené dans le passé, avec un certain succès des opérations de maintien de la   paix, l’Union y a investi ses hommes et ses ressources. Aujourd’hui,  l’Union Africaine doit éviter la tergiversation et être catégorique. Il n’est pas question de laisser une nouvelle guerre civile se déclencher au Burundi. Notre continent n’a pas de moyen pour la gérer. Nous avons déjà trop de problèmes à régler ; trop de défis à relever. La dernière guerre civile au Burundi avait fait 250,000 morts.

L’Union Africaine et le CPS devraient avoir demandé l’avis de leurs organes juridiques sur la constitutionalité du 3eme mandat au Burundi et en découdre une fois pour de bon. C’est une responsabilité historique. Hier, notre institution continentale a raté l’occasion de s’imposer au Burkina Faso jusqu’à ce que les citoyens Burkinabè aient chassé eux-mêmes leur dictateur. Aujourd’hui une nouvelle chance s’offre à l’Union Africaine  de se joindre au reste du monde pour isoler le Président  Nkurunziza.

Le risque d’un coup d’état au Burundi est très grand en ce moment. Il ne faut absolument pas en arriver. L’Afrique doit cesser de projeter l’image d’un continent aux méthodes brutales. Une isolation politique  et catégorique du Président Nkurunziza par l’Union Africaine pourra certainement le faire fléchir….

Le Conseil de Paix et de sécurité doit se réunir d’urgence  pour dénoncer l’entrave des autorités burundaise au fonctionnement de la Cour Constitutionnelle, se désolidariser de toute décision d’une Cour aux ordres du pouvoir politique et  déclarer le 3eme mandat inconstitutionnel et contre les accords d’Arusha.    

NB : Mes opinons sont absolument personnelles et n’engagent en rien mon organisation.