Home / Events / ISS Seminar Report, Addis Ababa: Reflections on the 18th AU Summit: a Post-AU Summit Analysis Seminar
ISS Seminar Report, Addis Ababa: Reflections on the 18th AU Summit: a Post-AU Summit Analysis Seminar
Date: 8 February 2012
Venue: , ISS Conference Room, 6th Floor, Get House Building, Africa Avenue, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,


Organised by Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division, Addis Ababa Office in collaboration with OXFAM International, International Alert, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Open Society Institute for East Africa (OSIEA) and Centre for Citizens Participation in the African Union (CCP-AU)

The 18thAfrican Union Summit under the theme “Boosting Intra-Africa Trade”: A Post- AU Summit Analysis Seminar

Dr. Mehari Taddele Maru, Acting Director of ISS-Addis Ababa Office, opened the discussion by thanking both the panel and all the participants. He then explained that the aim of this Summit was to reflect and deliberate upon the main issues and decisions of the 18th AU Summit in Addis Ababa. He recognized that presence of more than110 participants mainly drawn from the diplomatic and academic communities in Addis Ababa.  The participants include AU Commission, Ambassadors and diplomats from Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana,Algeria, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Morocco, Angola, Burkina Faso,Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Italy, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Ambassador of the USA to the AU, Head of Mission of the UN to the AU, EU Delegation to the AU, League of Arab States, Economic Commission for Africa, the UN Women, ICRC, UNICEF, NATO, GIZ, ECOWAS, SADC, Oxfam International, International Alert,Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, EIIPD, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, aswell as the academic institutions. Dr Mehari further explained that the elections of the AU Commission leadership and the deadlock on voting made the Summit one of the important, rare and exciting Summits.  However, seen from different perspectives,while the deadlock could be problematic in the short-term, yet, if seized, thismay offer a unique opportunity for a stronger African Union Commission (AUC).He concluded by pointing out that the Lilongwe July 2012 Summit may benefitfrom such seminars that provide a platform for discussion various agenda items of the next summit.        

Chair,H.E Ambassador Mull Sebujja Katende, Ambassador of Uganda to Ethiopia and Djibouti, Permanent Representative to the AU, IGAD and UNECA

H.E. Ambassador Katende started deliberation by pointing out how pleased and happy he was to be chair the seminar. He was also delighted to see a large number of people attending this gathering. H. E. Katende recognised and thanked all the ambassadors present. He finally said that he was confident that this seminar would end with a good outcome. He called the panelist to make their presentation in time. 

Mr. Mr. Desire Asogbavi, Head, Oxfam International Liaison Office with the African Union, Addis Ababa started his speech reminding the audience that he would be giving a view from an external observer and that it was his personal view only. The AU Summit was to cover the intra-Africa trade as well as elect a new chairperson. He also reminded the audience that the inauguration of a new AU conference centre sponsored and built by China occurred during this Summit. Mr. Asogbavi pointed that the AU aimed at creating a free trade area by 2017 to boost intra-trade. He then referred to various decisions apart from the theme which included the Assembly`s decision not cooperate with the ICC. He also said that issues such as Sudan, South Sudan, Libya, Nigeria, theDRC and the problems linked to the Lords Resistance Army and the insurgency in Sahel has yet to be resolved. He finally pressed the AUC to accelerate the extending jurisdiction of the ACHPR.

Dr. Mehari was the next presenter on the title: The AU Commission Election: the Road to Lilongwe.   Head dressed six (6) points: the vital place of the AU Commission and its leadership for the effectiveness of AU, the need to reflect on  the election campaigning for the AU Commission position and the South African factors in setting the tone for the stiff competition,  the deadlock in outcome,the voting behaviour of member states and regions of AU, the short-term negative implications  the deadlock, the long-term potentially positive consequences of the deadlock, the mandates of the  Ad-Hoc Committee of Eight  and the road to Lilongwe what should be done to turn the crisis into an opportunity.

According to Dr Mehari even if the high competition was by default more than by designed, the South African candidate and the competition is a welcome contribution to Africa. However, South Africa should have either respected the unwritten rule of the ‘big countries` which stipulates that they should not run for the Chairperson post or conduct extensive consultations beforehand. The candidature of Mrs Dlamini-Zuma was a bombshell for many that they were not ready to support her. For some also this was considered at worst as contemptuous at best diplomatically immature for South Africa to present such candidate before consultation with the influential countries. As matter of election campaigning, Dr Mehari said that knowing the fact that there will be opposition from many of the influential countries South Africa has used micro-targeted campaigning. It focused on the regional bloc SADC and countries with special relations such as South Sudan but also tried to get as much support in the other regions. Perhaps due to his over-confidence,Dr Jean Ping began his campaign very late after learning the aggressive campaign of South Africa. Thus, Ping`s campaign was reactive and limited to  regions of his support and did not  extend his campaign to Southern and North Africa.  Historically, the Organisation of African Unity faced similar scenario in 1999 when Dr Salim Ahmed Salim was elected after the third round of voting only. According to Dr. Mehari the deadlock can be explained by the two following reasons: the required two-third majority procedure and a weak performance of the AU Commission aswell as the election campaigning strategy difference. Dr Ping`s failure to secure the support of 36 votes signifies a one-third of African countries donot have a confidence on his leadership. Yes, this Pings failure is not a victory for Mrs Dlamini-Zuma. If it was simple majority or first past-the post,Dr Ping would have been the winner as he has won all the three rounds of voting. And as a result, the caretaker mandate is extended and an ad hoc Committee of Eight was established to study the measures to take for the next elections in July in Lilongwe. Moreover, a Francophone/Anglophone dichotomy has also emerged.Even if for Dr. Mehari the best scenario is for both to with draw from the next competition, he said that it would be difficult for both the Gabonese and South African candidates to swallow their pride and withdraw from the electoral race next July. This according to him may lead to farther fragmentation and deadlock. The diplomatic way out is to seek other third or fourth candidates. At last for Dr. Taddele Maru, Lilongwe must deliver a strong commission but also request the disqualification of both Ping and Dlamini-Zuma.To avoid such deadlock, Dr Mehari suggested an amendment of the existing procedure to allow a fifth round with a simple majority vote.

H.E Mr Kwesi Quartey, Ambassador of Ghana to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the AU and ECA started his intervention mentioning how happy he is to speak at this seminar. Ambassador Kwesi Quartey was delighted to seethe candidacy of Dlamini-Zuma, who is a smart lady. He had first met her in2000 in Havana, Cuba. He also told the audience that Dlamini-Zuma reflects the strategic direction the African Union should take. According to Ambassador Kwesi Quartey, France does not want Africa to unite. And therefore, Paris manipulates Francophone against Anglophone. But the latter prefers self-government than a danger. He reminded the audience of the 1884 Berlin Conference that led to the colonialism of Africa and its scars which the AU is trying to undo.  He underlined that Africans are one people regardless of Anglophones, Francophone, Luzophone or Arabophone. And told the audience that Africans must choose their leaders for their quality and not regional background.

Dr. Jide Martyns Okeke, Senior Researcher on the African Peace and Security Architecture of the AU, Institute for Security Studies began his intervention by appraising the 18th AU Summit and its implications for peace and security. In doing so, he argued that there are serious gaps in the depth and level of engagement of prevailing security challenges in Africa. An overview of the state of peace and security in Africa was presented based on the PSC report dated 29-30 January 2012. That report provided a review of AU and, regional/international engagements on the following conflicts: Cote d`Ivoire, DRC, Egypt, Libya, Madagascar, Republic of Guinea, Somalia, Republic of Sudan (Darfur) and relations with South Sudan and, Lord Resistance Army(LRA). Despite focus on these conflict areas, Dr. Jide Martyns Okekedemonstrated that there are some gaps including the lack of attention on  Libya, security cooperation between AU member states and RECs especially in light of the policy dissonance in the response to post-election violence in Cote d`Ivoire and, inadequate attention on the growing terrorist attacks in Nigeria by Boko Haram. This presentation concluded that reflection of these gaps is crucial prior to the 19th AU Summit in Lilongwe, Malawi.

A Senior Advisor at the International Alert Dr. Lulsegged Abebe, pointed out two things overshadowed the trade issue at the AU Summit: the inauguration of the new building and the AUC elections. For Dr. Abebe, the inability for Ping to be reelected indicates a lack of African unity. Yet, this is not alarming but it is only a message for commissioners that a second mandate is not automatically granted.For Dr. Abebe, accountability and ability to address Africa issues are very important. This indicates that member states look for merit and not sympathy. Asa result, the issue of Africa intra-trade was overshadowed. He reminded the audience that president of Malawi once said he was looking forward to be able to travel freely to Addis Ababa indicating the problems in intra-Africa trade. Dr.Abebe argued that there was the need to remove the barriers of trade, to facilitate the free movement of people across Africa and that as a civil society;International Alert will continue to engage along Africa for Africa commerce and Africans.  For him, there are shared values in 2012. Dr. Abebe also argued that there was the need for a change at the AU.

Ms. Achieng Maureen Akena, AU Advocacy Programme, Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) commenced her remark by saying that African leaders and governments continue to privilege their sovereignty at the expense of their people. For her, Africans are separated by imaginary borderlines while at the population level, integration is already in place through mixed marriages. She therefore is waiting for governments to catch up with their people.  Ms. Akena called for the need to boost African trade which is also linked to the free movement of people. She reminded the audience that it was easier for Europeans to travel in Africa than for Africans themselves. For her, there is also urgency for the Auto become financially self-reliant underlining that 50% of the budget comes from outside partners. She also recalled that different studies have been done for alternative sources of finance. She agrees that the AU election was healthy but does not think that the deadlock is a good idea.  Regarding peace and security in Africa, Ms.Akena said that the conflicts in Darfur, Somalia or Cote d` Ivoire were ongoing for decades and it was therefore time for Africa to finally resolve them. She also said that Africans were fascinated by the Arab Spring but yet,counter-examples such as in Senegal, Malawi or Somalia need to prevail in Africa. She closed up her intervention saying that AU needs to follow up its decisions.

Dr. Taddele Maru finally thanked the panelists, the different partners and the participants. He extended a special appreciation to partners of the seminar the Open Society Initiative for East Africa, Centre for Citizens` Participation in the African Union (CCP-AU), International Alert and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation on 08 February 2012.  


ISS Conference Room
6th Floor
Get House Building, Africa Avenue
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Seblewongel Mulugeta

Tel: +251-11-5156320

Fax: +251-11-5156449


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