"We cannot be kept into a limited space by African leaders who are holding on to petty little states" President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal.
For decades the dream of an African continent united under one leadership, one government with a prosperous people with shared values, shared interest, common citizenship and with a common destiny and taking their place in the world community of nations has escaped the leadership in Africa. On the 12th of February 2009 Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade is quoted as saying: "The United States of Africa will be proclaimed in 2017, to allow for the time needed to work out the different African institutions," Source: Pan-African News Agency, 12th of February 2009.
If the United States of Africa is realized it will be a milestone for many who want to see a united Africa with a common foreign policy, trade policy, common agricultural policy, common environment, immigration and economic policy. There are many sceptics who doubt Africa's ability to achieve unity but I strongly believe it is possible to achieve unity if we work together. Unity in Africa is achievable if we eschew the bickerings and the misunderstandings that characterized earlier effort to unite.
African leaders must first and foremost recognize that unity in Africa is in our best interest and the only option we have if we want to attain peace, stability and economic development. We all must recognize that we can only make progress if North, South, East, Central and West Africa come together as one, act together as one and speak with one voice. Unity is the only key to our economic success. We can only make progress if we dismantle the artificial boundaries that have divided our peoples for quite too long. We can never develop if we continue to hold on to the artificial colonial divisions that divided tribes, peoples and regions without considering the needs of the people. We must unite as one people if we are to guarantee the future survival of our continent, its people, its resources. We can only guarantee the rights of our children and their children´s children to be the owners of our great continent if we take steps to unite our countries.
There can never be peace and development if we are not united. Africans must remember that it was our disunity in the past that enabled Europe to exploit our continent for centuries and even today it is being exploited by the so called super powers to our own disadvantage. We have had our people carried into slavery because of disunity, we have had our resources looted by foreigners because of disunity, we have had our countries invaded, and even today we are under siege from foreign powers and their corporations who are raping the continent of its valuable resources for their own selfish gains. We are helpless because we are fragmented. We are helpless because we cannot speak with one voice. We are helpless because we are disunited. We cannot act together to bring peace to Somalia, Sudan and DR. Congo because some of our leaders with the connivance of foreign defence companies and contractors are benefiting from those conflicts.
If Africa is going to make it then the leaders must act together as one, eschew their personal interests and put the needs of the continent first.
Julius Nyerere in an interview about Africa´s unity said this:
"Kwame Nkrumah and I were committed to the idea of unity. African leaders and heads of state did not take Kwame seriously. However, I did. I did not believe in these small little nations. Still today I do not believe in them. I tell our people to look at the European Union, at these people who ruled us who are now uniting. Kwame and I met in 1963 and discussed African Unity. We differed on how to achieve a United States of Africa. But we both agreed on a United States of Africa as necessary... After independence the wider African community became clear to me. I was concerned about education; the work of Booker T. Washington resonated with me. There were skills we needed and black people outside Africa had them. I gave our US Ambassador the specific job of recruiting skilled Africans from the US Diaspora. A few came. Some stayed; others left. We should try to revive it. We should look to our brothers and sisters in the West. We should build the broader Pan-Africanism. There is still the room – and the need" — Julius Nyerere interviewed by Ikaweba Bunting, The Heart of Africa, New Internationalist Magazine, Issue 309, January-February 1999.
There are many African leaders who are dragging their feet and are drowning the Africa Union initiative. Such leaders are only interested in the power and titles that they have in their own countries. They are not asking the hard question as to why Europe is uniting and what will it be for Africa if we are not united. They are not asking why Mexico, US and Canada are uniting to form the North American Union and they are not asking why US is seeking to establish military bases in Africa through the Africa Command (AFRICOM) project. All these countries are strategising for the next phase of global politics which will centre on who controls what vital resources and in which area. This underscores the reason why US is seeking military bases in Africa to protect her interest and to ensure that its resource needs are met at all cost. How will a small country like Gabon respond if her oil becomes a target of US occupation? Does Equatorial Guinea has the military capability to withstand an all out invasion by Europe if they decide to take her resources by force as America has done in Iraq?
The shortage of resources in Europe and America and its abundance in Africa means in the near future Africa is going to be a battle ground by these countries for the control of the resources. US has projected that by the end the next decade 85% of its oil needs must come from Africa. China too wants Africa's oil. India wants it and the EU is not staying idle either. How is the US going to ensure that the 85% target is met don't you think her Africom project makes sense? How do we respond if we are not united? How do we ensure that Western countries will not exploit our weak and insignificant countries for their own advantage? Currently there are signs that Africa is going to be a battle ground between Europe, US, China and Russia. All of them are vying for control and influence in Africa. It may get very nasty: it may mean wars between these superpowers, it may mean coups in resource rich countries, it may mean civil wars; it may mean assassinations, blackmail, and arm twisting all of them tools used by these super powers during the cold war. What are we going to do in the face of these threats and don't we also need these resources ourselves and what are we going to do to protect them if we are not united?
There is strength in unity and that is why Europe is uniting, that is why North American countries are uniting.
Fearful of what Africa could achieve if united, Europe led by France one of the beneficiaries of Africa disunity is proposing what they term ´Mediterranean Union´ an association that encompasses all nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea including the five north African countries, a move largely seen as an attempt by Europeans to weaken Africa´s effort to unite. This is the divide and rule policies of Europe that has ensured that continental Africa never gets united to do things central to their own people.
"The Mediterranean Union project is also rife with hidden agendas, including the promotion of French national interests, while ignoring some of the biggest dangers in the former European colonies in West Asia and Africa… France´s real motive, though, is to establish a French southern sphere of influence to counter Germany´s dominant position in central and Eastern Europe".--www.livemint.com, Fri, 1 Aug 2008.The secrecy and the hidden agenda of the Mediterranean Union project was rightly noted by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal:
"But of course there are other obvious goals behind the Union for the Mediterranean initiative like Algeria's oil and gas and Libyan oil,". The same secrecy and hidden agenda surround America's Africom. It can never be about any other thing than the resources in Africa.
We must fight this divide and rule policies if we are ever going to make it as a continent and as a people., Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt can never be called Europe and will never be accepted as Europeans no matter what French president Nicolas Sarkozy says and the earlier the leaders in North Africa realise it the better. We must resist and fight every attempt to weaken and destroy our effort to unite. We must be very wary about US, Europe, China, Russia and their intentions.
Today Europe is moving forward with political and economic integration while it is making effort to weaken Africa with the hope that a weakened, fragmented and disunited Africa will make it easier for the resources of these countries to be exploited and looted as is currently going on in Nigeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, DRC, Angola, Congo where American and European multinational corporations are paying close to nothing for the resources they take.
Leaders in Africa who are dragging their feet and only interested in the sovereignty of their insignificant countries must recognise that a united Africa is in their best interest and those of their children and their children´s children. They may be less concerned and not interested in Africa unity because they may be enjoying power in their respective countries but how can they guarantee the future of their own countries, the future of their children and their children's children when they are weak economically and continue to rely on foreign aid for the survival of their governments?
I believe President Abdoulaye Wade was right when he said: "We cannot be kept into a limited space by African leaders who are holding on to petty little states". By any margin each of the countries in Africa is weak politically, economically and militarily to stand on its own and it is only by uniting and integrating our economies that we can stand on our feet and be recognized as people. We must not hold on to our small, weak and powerless states in the name of sovereignty, we must unite for the good of Africa and its people.
"Sovereignty also masks the weakness of Africans at a time when other people have pooled political power in vast territories like China, India, Brazil, Russia and the United States of America. The very colonial countries that were the "foreigners" against whom independent African states wished to protect their sovereignty are themselves building the European Union as a bigger source of power in the global arena"--http://allafrica.com/stories/200908061022.html, 6 August 2009. Where as there is common sense as why Europe is uniting, there is no common sense as why Africans who are weak in every sense of the word are not uniting. If the powerful are uniting definitely, the weak must be uniting too.
We must achieve unity at all cost. There are many in East and South Africa that favour United States of Africa through the regional groupings whereas those in the North and West favour a more rapid integration. We can not allow this to delay and detract our effort to unite. Therefore I suggest we allow our diplomats, intellectuals to dialogue and negotiate as which approach suits us best but the 2017 deadline must be met.
We stand to gain if we are united. Unity has the added advantage of defeating the divide and rule policies of Europe. It has the advantage of ending the wars that continue to ravage many parts of the continent. It has the advantage of helping us to pool resources together to tackle the many challenges facing the continent. Unity will end the disputes between Nigeria and Cameroon regarding the ownership of the Bakasi Peninsula. It will end the near escalated tension between Kenya and Uganda that we saw this year over the Migingo Island in Lake Victoria. Unity will end the Yumbe border dispute between Uganda and Sudan; it will end the Katuna and Mutukula border area dispute between Rwanda and Tanzania. If we are united as one people and as one country there will be no need for the many border disputes including the one between Morocco, Algeria and Western Sahara. Unity will make it unnecessary for Uganda and Rwanda to cross several times into DR. Congo to take resources for the development of their countries. It will end the border dispute between Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Unity will enable us to speak with one voice, deal with Europe, America, China, Russia and India through the government that will represent all of us. We can harness the resources in Africa for the good of all us so that Niger, Mali, Rwanda, Ethiopia and other resource poor countries will not have to go to war before having access to the resources they need.
Hutus, Tutsis and other tribes in the Great Lake region will not have to fight each other for control of land and resources since they will not be bound by space. They can come to Ghana live anywhere, farm and enjoy their live. That is what unity can bring us.
To make the United States of Africa possible we must stop thinking in terms of Anglophone, Francophone, and Arabs or Mediterraneans. We must think as Africans not as French or English or German or Dutch, Spanish or Portuguese, or Arabic speakers and not as Anglophone and Francophone. We must think as Africans not as Muslims or Christians We are all God's children. We are all Africans and Africa is our home and we must all work to protect its people, its cultures, its peace, its stability its economy, its democracy, and above all its unity not only for ourselves but for our children's children. These divisions and categorisations only serve France and Britain´s interest not us. These categorisations have been exploited by those who want to see Africans poor. Those who for centuries manipulated us, exploited our resources, imprisoned our leaders, overthrew our governments and assassinated our leaders and still want to control us. If we do not unite against the external forces bent on seeing us weak and fragmented then we have ourselves to blame.
The people of Southern Sudan, Northern Sudan, and Darfur must see themselves as Africans not as Southerners, Northerners or Darfurians. Those categorisations only serve the interest of those who want the wars to continue so they can exploit our resources while we are busy fighting. We must know that there is no Nigeria but Africa; there is no Egypt or Algeria, Libya or Sudan, Kenya or Tanzania, South Africa or Ghana but Africa. If we think as Africans and work together we can accomplish a lot for our peoples.
There is no doubt that there are differences in language, religion, and traditional or cultural practices among our peoples but that should not be a source of division, wars and hatred but rather they must be a source of inspiration that drive us together. We cannot refuse to acknowledge the various types of political systems currently evidence in Africa: monarchies, democracies and autocracies as well as the huge size of the continent, the high level of illiteracy, wide infrastructural gaps and different levels of poverty, however if we put the interest of the continent and its people first I am convinced these challenges can be solved no matter how difficult they are. All that we need is for our political leaders to commit themselves to the idea of United States of Africa, get the people sensitised, and have a sense of purpose and direction as to where we want to go, when we want to go and how we want to get there. We should not let Nkrumah, Nyerere, Sekou Toure and the other independent fathers down. It was their dream to see Africa United and we must carry the torch and make it a reality by the 2017.
The European Union worked because Germany, France, Britain and the political leadership made huge sacrifices. Therefore some countries must make economic and political sacrifices if we are to realise the US-Africa. South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Kenya, DRC, Botswana, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Angola must make political commitment to bring peace and stability in Africa. The unity of Africa depends on the cooperation and the sacrifices of these countries.
We must recognise that individually we cannot deal with the United States, the European Union, Russia or China; we cannot because we do not have the strength to act and bring pressure to bear. If we want to make our influence felt as the world´s natural resource power house then we must unite and speak with one voice, unite and have one foreign policy, unite and have one economic policy, unite and have one agricultural policy, unite and have one trade policy.
Currently at the United Nations there are more countries from Africa than from Europe and North America combined yet we do not have any say on what goes on in there because we are not united, we do not speak with one voice.
China which is just one country makes a lot of impact at the United Nations than all the over 50+ countries from Africa. If we want to change this unfavourable balance of power, take the destiny of Africa into our own hands, protect its people and its resources from external exploitation and develop the economy to benefit its people then we have no option than to unite.
AU leaders must recognise that Africa cannot harness her strategic importance in this new global order unless there is unity, unless there is peace and stability, unless there is democratic and institutional reform that will rid the continent of the absolute dictators and their corrupt machinery which for so long a time have been responsible for poverty that we see throughout the continent.
At its inauguration in 2002, the Africa Union (AU) sets itself ambitious goals "to promote peace, security, and stability on the continent; to promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance; to promote and protect human and peoples' rights. It also aims to establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations and to promote co-operation in all fields of human activity (in order) to raise the living standards of African peoples. The ultimate goal of the AU is to establish a United States of Africa" Source:http://www.africa-union.org
There are many issues that may derail the AU from achieving the goals it has set itself however the most critical of these issues has to do with the very kind of people who constitute the AU leadership. For example the current Chairman of AU in the person of Gaddafi has been a dictator since 1969. For forty years he has ruled his country with iron hand jailing opposition members, restricting freedom of speech, assembly and limiting political activities in attempt to stay in power for good. He frowns on any idea about democracy and has consistently argued that democracy is foreign and unAfrican.
Museveni of Uganda came to power in 1986 and has since ruled his country as his personal estate. In 2003 he had the presidential term limit set by the constitution abrogated so he could be president for life. Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea came to power in 1979 after overthrowing his own uncle and executing him. In that same year Dos Santos of Angola took over power and begun to rule. Both are still president today. In Burkina Faso Blaise Campore has been in power since 1987 and is still adamant about leaving office. Congo Brazzaville´s Denis Sassou Nguesso has used every means just to stay in power. Since 1982 Paul Biya of Cameroon has won every election is his oil rich but economically impoverished country and likewise Hosni Mubarak of Egypt who since 1981 has been president of the North African country. Ben Ali of Tunisia has resisted every attempt to leave office changing the country´s constitution just to stay in power.
Gaddafi has never been elected in his forty year reign as the head of state of Libya. Omar Al Bashir has not been elected. There are no words to describe Mamadou Tandja of Niger and Yahyah Jammeh of the Gambia. Iddris Derby of Chad and Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea have spent more than a decade in power and there is no sign that they are prepared to leave. Ethipoia´s Meles Zenawi is still prime minister after 18 years and it is a waste of time to talk about the tactics he has used to stay in power.
The last time I checked more than half of the over fifty countries that make up the AU had leaders who are unelected and deeply corrupt. Even the rest who claim to have been elected more than half have had their elections questioned by both local and international election observers. Yar´Dua of Nigeria, Ali Bongo of Gabon, Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Mugabe and the elections that brought them into power have all been questioned. The resignation of the head of the electoral commission in Mauritania just immediately after election confirmed what everyone was saying privately at the time.
Thus from Libya where Gaddafi has managed to misrule his country for forty years, to Zimbabwe where the old man still thinks of himself as one that Zimbabwe cannot do without; to Uganda where Museveni and his family are anything but thieves; to Gambia where Jammeh continue to ridicule himself and that of his country with his treatment of HIV/AIDS sufferers; to Kenya where Mwai Kibaki refused to leave office after a humiliating defeat and had to resort to violence to keep himself in power; to Nigeria where corruption and embezzlement have produced a failed state; to Niger where Mamadou Tandja has staged a coup against his own government in an effort to rule for life; to Angola, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo where a cabal of corrupt leaders preside over the looting of their countries´ oil revenues; to Ethiopia where Meles Zenawi has turned his country into a prison; to Eritrea where Isaias Afewerki has turned from a freedom fighter to a brutal despot and to Gabon, Togo and DRC where children of former corrupt dictators have assumed the mantle of leadership apparently to continue where their parents left off (including the systematic looting and mismanagement of their countries´ treasuries) there is no sign that continent is going to achieve the lofty goals it has set itself. One needs not look far to see how their incompetence and monumental failures have contributed to the demise of the continent, the countries swimming in rich natural resources yet the people lacking the basic necessities of life.
There are two main characteristics of these leaders which directly go to affect the achievement of the goals set by the AU. First they are all corrupt dictators who are unwilling to relinquish power despite their colossal failures. And second none of the leaders seem to have any good political, economic or social record. Their countries are deeply soaked in poverty. The key question is how is the AU going to promote peace, security, and stability on a continent full of unrepented dictators and how is the AU going to promote democratic principles, popular participation and good governance when the people at the helm of affairs on the continent consistently kick against those laudable ideas?
There is no point arguing that there are strong and direct link between dictatorship in Africa and the high level of insecurity and instability seen all over the continent. We need not to look too far to see how dictatorship, corruption and unfair distribution of resources (poverty) led to many civil wars, coups and counter-coups in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and even this 21st century. The logic is that if people who are poor cannot democratically change their leaders they will have no other alternative but to use force and violence to bring about a change of government hence the many conflicts and wars seen in Africa.
This logic of violent removal of governments was correctly echoed by President Julius Nyerere who warned against the consequences of over staying in power and stealing resources meant for the people:
"We spoke and acted as if, given the opportunity for self-government, we would quickly create utopias. Instead injustice, even tyranny, is rampant…We can try to carve for ourselves an unfair share of the wealth of the society. But the cost to us, as well as to our fellow citizens, will be very high. It will be high not only in terms of satisfactions forgone, but also in terms of our own security and well-being." Julius Kambarage Nyerere, from his book Uhuru na Maendeleo (Freedom and Development), 1973.
The consequences of a continent dominated by tyrants as echoed by Nyerere was given a boost by Obama in a speech to Ghana´s Parliament in which he linked tyranny and corruption in Africa to the high level of poverty, instability and conflict:
"But history offers a clear verdict: governments that respect the will of their own people are more prosperous, more stable and more successful than governments that do not. Democracy is about more than holding elections - it's also about what happens between them. Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end". He added: "Make no mistake: history is on the side of these brave Africans and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions". People everywhere should have the right to start a business or get an education without paying bribe. We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don't" Source: http://www.ghana.gov.gh.11 July 2009.
As Nyerere and Obama correctly hypothesized you can only expect wars, instabilities and conflicts in an environment where tyrants and dictators dominate. Hence one may not be surprised to hear that Somalia is burning, or the Lord´s Resistance Army is heading to Kampala, or rebels have encircled N´Djamena the Chadian capital, or the Great Lake Region is in turmoil they are the consequences of dictatorial rule, bad governance, nepotism, cronyism and rampant corruption. The high number of dictators making up the AU leadership, their unwillingness to allow democracy to work will only continue to breed instability, conflicts and wars and hence will defeat the AU´s key goal of promoting peace, security, and stability upon which all the other goals depend.
Where is the AU heading with these dictators still in office? Can any progress be made towards Africa´s unity and can the United States of Africa be realised with all these tyrants in power? The answer is a big no. The fact is that if the AU is ever going to transform itself into a respected democratic institution made up of democratic member countries then it must as a necessity purge itself of these tyrants and their children who are holding the organisation in bondage.
The question is how can the AU rid itself of these selfish leaders? There are a number of things the AU can and must do.
It must first and foremost abrogate the automatic membership. Throughout the world all serious bodies have constitutions and charters that set out the benchmarks that would-be members must attain before they are admitted. This contrasts the AU where membership is automatic no matter the record of a government or the means by which it came to power. This system is not only wrong but it is also self defeating. It is one of the reasons why AU is full of corrupt dictators and tyrants. It is this automatic membership that has ensured that Mugabe could wrought violence against his people and still has the audacity to attend AU meetings. It is this automatic membership that has ensured that Nguema, Museveni, Nguesso, Santos, Afewerki, Tandja, Kibaki, al-Bashir, Mubarak, Gaddafi, Campore, Biya and Jammeh can do whatever they like in their respective countries and still attend AU meetings. The automatic membership must be abolished and benchmarks set for would-be members to attain before being accepted. That is AU must be made up of serious minded countries committed to democracy, rule of law, protection of human rights, peace, stability and fight the against corruption and poverty. Members must demonstrate their commitment to democracy, rule of law, and fight against corruption and poverty before being admitted as is seen in the EU. This must change if the AU is ever going to be a United States of Africa. In the European Union where membership is earned all the 27 members have democratic governments that respect human rights. Romania and other Eastern European nations whose governments were corrupt were forced to reform before they were admitted into the EU and we know how hard Turkey has tried to become a member without success despite the huge internal reforms it has carried out over the last couple of years. We cannot make the AU a body of no standards AU must have standards and benchmarks if it is ever going to eliminate dictatorship from its ranks.
The effort by some leaders to transform the AU into a Commission with more powers to conduct business on behalf of the continent has met fierce resistance and continues to be thwarted by these old corrupt guards who see every reform as a threat to their power and corrupt lifestyle. These tyrants continue to torpedo every effort of AU to move from its current position as a talking shop into serious solution solving body. Mugabe and his cohorts and their sons are holding the AU in bondage through their hold on power. They continue to resist every attempt to transform the AU into a useful body. These corrupt dictators have and still continue to frustrate the good intentions of the body but the AU must not capitulate but work to adopt and implement resolutions that will force these tyrants to improve human rights, empower women, fight corruption and poverty, promote democracy and ultimately give up power.
Furthermore, to prevent the AU from being dominated by tyrants and their children the Africa Union must insist that leaders who are not democratically elected by their citizens cannot become a Chair of the body. If a leader of a country wants to be the Chair of the august body then he/she must subject himself/herself to rigours of elections in his country. Such simple demands by the AU will make these tyrants consider their positions carefully. They will be ashamed to request for a chairmanship position when they know they are not democratically elected. The current situation in which Gaddafi a lifelong dictator chairs the body is not only unacceptable but is also an insult to all the democratically minded people in Africa.
Additionally to boost its position to rid itself of these tyrants the AU must lobby the democratically elected leaders like Senegal´s Wade, Ian Khama of Botswana, Ghana´s Atta Mills, Zuma of South Africa, Benin´s Yayi Boni and others to persuade these tyrants to adopt democracy. The tyrants must be persuaded to stand down and allow free and fair elections to be held. Any tyrant who refuses to stand down should be suspended until free and fair elections are held. The AU is not going to make any progress if the leaders are pampered to do what they want. AU leaders must recognise that Africa cannot harness her strategic importance in this new global order unless there are democratic and institutional reform that will rid the continent of absolute dictators and their corrupt machinery which for so long a time has been responsible for the misery and high levels of poverty seen throughout Africa.
Again the AU should push for genuine democracy in its member countries like the one in Ghana. I am not talking about just elections I am talking about free and fair elections that give opposition equal access to state media and resources. The situation whereby incumbent governments monopolise state resources and employ all manner of tactics to win power as happened in Equatorial Guinea, Congo, and Zimbabwe is a recipe for disaster.
In addition, the AU must insist that children of former dictators cannot automatically replace them when they leave office. The current situation where children of former dictators have been installed as presidents in sham elections is not only an insult to people of these countries but is an indictment on the credibility of AU as a body. It is unacceptable for Faure Eyadema of Togo, Joseph Kabila of DR Congo and Gabon Ali Bongo of Gabon to replace their fathers as presidents. These precedents and developments seem to have encouraged Gaddafi, Museveni and Hosni Mubarak who are busy grooming their children to replace them. This trend is not only dangerous but it is also a recipe for conflict and instability and the earlier the AU sends a clear message to these leaders the better. These dictators and their children must be prevented from establishing dynasties in Africa.
Also the current practice where a country is only suspended when there is coup is not fair to the citizens of Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Niger, Gambia, and Eritrea who suffer human right abuses on the daily basis. AU should not suspend only countries where coups have taken place but must also suspend all countries whose leaders engage in human rights abuses and corrupt practices that push their citizens into poverty and economic annihilation. If a country is suspended because a coup has taken place, is it also not morally right to suspend a country when its leaders loot their resources, and engage in human rights violation? If citizens of a country like Libya are denied a say on how their leaders are elected or how their country is governed is it not enough to suspend that country until the citizens are given the opportunity to determine who should lead them?
Again the AU must make sure its institutions are headquartered in countries that respect human rights and rule of law, eschew corruption and is a democracy. I cannot imagine Gambia being made the headquarters of the AU´s Human Right Commission when Jammeh is busy killing journalists in cold blood and has threatened to annihilate people who freely express their views in that country. It is very shocking that the AU seems to be pampering these leaders. I can hardly comprehend why and how a nation whose leader is known to be abusing the rights of its citizens is made the headquarters of a human right commission. AU has got to be really serious if it wants the rest of the world to take it serious. Therefore certain criteria must be met before headquarters are cited in a country and the AU must not hesitate to remove the headquarters when the situation there changes. Ethiopian leaders must demonstrate their commitment to democracy, rule of law, justice and equality before the law. The eroding of democratic values in that country must be of much concern to the AU. I strongly believe Ethiopia should loose its headquarters status if the leaders continue on the path of dictatorship. This will send a clear message to the rest of the leaders that dictatorship and human rights abuse will not be tolerated in the new AU.
Moreover, AU must compile annual reports about human rights, corruption, and abuse of power in all member countries and sanction those countries found to be in breach of AU Charter. If we are ever going to rid ourselves of the dictators and the rampant corruption and abuse of power associated with their regimes then the AU must act and apply sanctions.
AU should engage the people of Africa in its programmes. Very few people know what goes on at the AU headquarters and we are not going to build a successful Africa when the people who make up the continent are excluded from its activities. Universities and other institutions of higher learning must be involved in AU´s activities to sensitise the people and to build grassroot support in member countries. Therefore AU Chapters must be established across Africa: in universities, colleges and high schools to make the people aware of what AU is doing. AU must organise symposia and debates and other competitions in schools. The advantage is that since the students are going to be the future leaders and policy makers in Africa their involvement will help inculcate and build support for AU. To add to this AU must publish news letters and distribute them to schools, civil society organisations, government departments and other institutions to create awareness. Since we are in the information age internet, e-mail and other information distribution methods must be employed to deliver information about the AU to the people. Editors of both print and electronic media must be encouraged to cover AU activities and events.
The AU must also involve the intellectuals, diplomats and technocrats in Africa. President Julius Nyerere the illustrious son of Africa says:
"...intellectuals have a special contribution to make to the development of our nation, and to Africa. And I am asking that their knowledge, and the greater understanding that they should possess, should be used for the benefit of the society of which we are all members." Julius Kambarage Nyerere, from his book Uhuru na Maendeleo (Freedom and Development), 1973.
In short the people of Africa of whom the AU belong must be involved, but this involvement of the people will come to nothing if the dictators are not persuaded to hang off their glove.
Above all, the tyrants themselves must acknowledge that it is in their own interest to give up power and allow democracy and rule of law to prevail. The cost of holding on to power may be costly not only in terms of satisfactions forgone, but also in terms of their own security and well-being.
If the prosperity and stability Obama spoke about and the contribution of intellectuals Nyerere mentioned above as well as the AU´s own long term goal of a United States of Africa are to be realised and have effect in Africa then the AU must at any cost rid itself of the corrupt dictators and their children who are lining up to take their position. You cannot ask intellectuals to play a role while the dictators are undermining their effort.
The AU will not be able to reverse decades of low per capita income, low productivity, slow pace of social and economic development, poor state of infrastructures and weak economies if steps are not taken to ensure that democracy is established on the continent, and that all leaders subject themselves to the rigours of election, fight corruption and poverty and promote peace, stability and development.
If the AU is ever going to realise any of the goals it has set itself then it must as a matter of necessity purge itself of the dictators and their sons.
By Lord Aikins Adusei
The author is a political activist and anti-corruption campaigner.
http://www.causes.com/causes/288492-africa-for-democracyDemocracy is not just a word. It is the wheel through which both the poor and the rich are given the opportunity to influence decisions that affect their lives including education, jobs, electricity, housing, transportation, and all the freedoms known to mankind. But recent developments in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Cameroon, Gabon, Ethiopia, Gambia and Ivory indicate that achieving democracy always come with a price. Since January protests have rocked the North African states of Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya. Similar protests have taken place in Gabon and Cameroon. The protesters have embraced jet fighters, helicopter gunships, armoured carrier assaults, water cannons, camel charge, tear gas and police brutalities.
Thousands have died. But we cannot remain aloof while thousands are massacred for demanding the right to elect their leaders, to speak their mind freely and to have access to basic necessities of life. Our silent means victory for the autocratic regimes littered across the continent. The people of Libya need our support and so are the people of Cameroon and Gambia. They need our prayers, and our encouragement. Let's us support them. Join Africa for Democracy now and let the world know how you feel about it.
Protest Message to the Politicians and Governments in Africa
You know I am crazy over you
THE ROT IN GHANA'S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
Immortal Technique - The 3rd World
THE 4TH BRANCH
MYSTERIOUS GIRL BY PETER ANDRE
R TO A CJ LEWIS
POINT OF NO RETURN (IT)
Quote of the Day
"But history offers a clear verdict:governments that respect the will of their own people are more prosperous, more stable and more successful than governments that do not.No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery".PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
HAVE YOU HEARD OF AFRICOM?
LIKE COLONIALISM AND IMPERIALISM, AFRICOM IS THE NEW US MILITARY PROJECT THAT SEEKS TO ESTABLISH MILITARY BASES ACROSS AFRICA WITH SOLE PURPOSE OF SECURING AFRICA'S RESOURCES FOR US CONSUMPTION.