African leaders have just concluded another their 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union with some interesting outcomes and a lot to think about as we head towards the World Cup in June and the September UN summit on the MDGs, two defining moments for African engagement with the international community on the future of the continents development progress.
The 14th summit focused on positioning the continent to benefit from the use of Information and Communication Technology and President Kagame set the tone by appealing to the continent’s leaders to work hard to harness the potential of broad band and urged leaders to replicate the successes achieved across countries in the mobile technology industry and to some extent the internet. He also noted that as of 2009, continental communication technology usage was estimated at approximately 280 million compared to 11 million in 1998.
This summit also witnessed the handover of chairmanship of the group from President Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya to President Mutharika of Malawi after intense negotiations by Gaddafi who was seeking a second term. President Mutharika emphasized the importance of Africa developing Africa and said he would focus on food security during his tenure. This is great news for the continent which desperately needs to focus on food production and self sufficiency. President Mutharika, who has been President of Malawi since 2004, holds the agriculture portfolio in his own country and in a 2007 cabinet reshuffle, he also took on the education portfolio.
In further summit developments, the AU Heads of State also endorsed the selection of Zimbabwe to the AU Peace and Security Council, one of the AU’s most powerful blocs responsible for resolving conflicts between member states and with helping to sort out domestic political turmoil. Given the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe, with the political parties deadlocked over lingering contentions in the power sharing agreement signed in 2009, this was a surprising decision by the AU. Zimbabwe was elected into the council for three years along with Libya, Nigeria and Kenya. The others, elected for a two-year term, include Chad, Djibouti, Rwanda, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea and Burundi. The peace and security council did approve a plan to give more power to the AU to act against unconstitutional changes of power. The new plan includes calls on various international organizations to apply sanctions as soon as an unconstitutional change occurs. The AU is still working on the approval for the implementation of a 2007 treaty, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance which has been approved by 29 countries but only 3 countries have ratified it, not enough to enable the treaty to come into force. At least 12 other state signatories are required before it becomes binding. The next AU summit (scheduled for July) is going to consider the proposed merger of the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights with the African Court of Justice with a new mandate to handle serious offences like war crimes.
Another outcome of the AU meetings was the resolution to adopt the dissolution of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and replace it with a new agency which will be known as the New Partnership for Africa’s Developments (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA). The new agency will be a technical body of the AU and will facilitate the implementation of continental and regional priority programs and mobilize resources and partners in support of their implementation. They have been allocated $3 million to start the new structure. The NPCA will now be supervised by Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping.
AU members also agreed to increase pressure on Madagascar’s leader Andry Rajoelina (Madagascar is still suspended from the AU, along with Guinea, for an unconstitutional change in government last year). It was also agreed that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi will remain chief negotiator in the next two global climate change conferences. The next AU meetings are scheduled for July 25th – 27th, a few weeks later than the usual end June/early July mid-year annual meeting. This is to ensure that the meetings do not clash with the World Cup. There is widespread excitement amongst populations across the continent in anticipation of the World Cup and leaders, recognizing the importance of this moment, are keen to tap into the attention in their favour.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.