Tuesday, January 24, 2006

AU: shame on you!

As feared, the African Union blew it when it chose its next chairman, though not in the way most expected. Many had feared that Sudan's regime, which is committing genocide in the western region of Darfur, would be named to head the AU. Instead, Sudan withdrew (sort of) and Congo-Brazzaville's dictator Denis Sassou-Nguesso was chosen to head the organization and be its public face to the international community.

I suppose this is a negligible improvement, but the choice is disturbing for two reasons.

One is that a compromise solution was reached whereby Sudan is expected to succeed Congo in the AU presidency in 2007.. It's not snubbing Sudan completely, merely delaying its ascendancy until after the world likely will have forgotten about the Darfur genocide, because it may be complete by then.

Additionally, the human rights' record of Sassou's regime is pretty lamentable in its own right.

There are many African leaders fit to head the AU. The organization could've given another term to its current head Nigeria's President Obasanjo or to South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, who was the AU's first chairman. Both of these presidents have their flaws but they have been decent AU chairmen. Or it could've given a first term to to Ghana's John Kuffour or Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade or to Botswana's Festus Mogae or to Mali's Amadou Toumani Touré.

While Africa is not overflowing with statesmen, they are hardly non-existent. It's shameful that the AU overlooked these leaders in favor of a repressive regime to be succeeded by a genocidal one.

When Sassou's reign is up, the AU should skip politics and worry about its credibility. It should refuse a term to the genodical Sudanese regime and offer the chairmanship to one of the several meritorious leaders mentioned above.


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