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Discussion: Gaddafi named chairman of AU. So what?

February 5, 2009

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was named this year’s chairman of the African Union. After he had used the spotlight to promote his illusion of a unified African confederation – the United States of Africa – he went on to strike a more serious note. The tawdrily dressed autocrat diagnosed Africa’s most serious problem: multi-party democracy. Because African societies are based on tribal structures, democratic systems based on competing parties would only lead to conflicts, according to Gaddafi. After all, political systems should be more like his: undemocratic

The question I’m posing here is whether you believe that Gaddafi’s chairmanship is actually going to have an impact on the African Union’s position towards unconstitutional turnovers? Libya has a long history of supporting rebel movements and has on numerous occasions been suspected to have been a driving force behind mainly military coups. In the political mess in Mauritania he is likely to have his say and in look-alike Guinea he is a friend of military stability. So far the African Union has always been quite keen on condemning unconstitutional turnovers and expelling states. Will Gaddafi be able to use his financial incentives to alter the African Union’s position? And what do you guys think will be the implications regarding the current situation in post-coup states and their international acceptance? 

5 Comments leave one →
  1. hannes permalink
    February 6, 2009 17:20

    in a similar vein at reuters..

  2. ibnkafka permalink
    February 9, 2009 17:01

    Well, what is the relevance of the AU as a whole? Granted, some of its members – Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Libya – play an important role in some regional conflict situations, but is there a single conflict that has been resolved thanks to the AU? Is the advice and consent of the AU keenly sought by outsiders? Don’t think so, generally speaking at least.

  3. February 10, 2009 17:46

    Seems to me that Libya’s influence is more related to the price of oil and how much cash they can throw around than anything to do with the AU.

  4. February 18, 2009 14:49

    Ibn K. – Well, direct conflict resolution, no, but I can’t honestly say that I recall the EU doing much of that either. The hope should rather be that it can function as a framework for more consensual politics, unify political positions, integrate markets and so on, slowly slowly, in the longer term. Not that it will be able to put boots on the ground to save Darfur or do anything conflict-related where there isn’t already consensus around a ripe solution. In fact, one of the biggest dangers to the AU may be the unrealistic expectations people have on it. Its whole involvement in Darfur, for example, seems like disastrous over-reach to me — not only is the AU’s standing hurt, but the end result is also that peacekeeping in Darfur turned from a plan to stop hostilities into a cover for continued war.

    (Also, as I see it, if the AU serves no other purpose whatsoever, keeping Qadhafi busy is still worth every penny.)

    Hannes – I don’t think he’ll do much damage except to the AU’s international image, which he is bound to screw up with some crazy statements. Perhaps he’ll give his unification plan another go, or perhaps he’ll settle for some lesser project. But given how long he’s dreamed of being Africa’s top za3im I expect him to at least try one of his grand schemes.


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