African Union and The Economic Community Of West African States
Recent events in Cote d'Ivoire and Libya have exposed the ineffectiveness and obscurity of the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS). Both organizations have remained on the sidelines while uncertainty, insecurity, and authoritarians have held the African continent ransom. Indeed Pan-Africanist leaders like George Padmore, W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe would be mortified by the paralysis and ineptitude in the most natural endowed continent of the world. So called rulers in sub-Saharan African nations have indolently sat by while Black and Brown Africans are murdered in Libya. In Cote d'Ivoire the situation is at best pathetic and at worse criminal negligence.
Due to the dictatorial tendencies of our heads of governments who do not seem to be constrained by constitutions and/or term limits, ECOWAS and AU have tacitly allowed Mr. Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan to continue clinging on to power. While stubbornly refusing to handover power after occupying the presidency of Cote d'Ivoire for ten years, Mr. Gbagbo has spearheaded the mass murder of innocent civilians including unarmed women protesters. Sadly this same individual who was once incarcerated and forced out on exile is now the conduit of undue hardship to his people. The Ivorian army has derogated their responsibilities to their citizens while clamoring to maintain the hegemony of a particular sect in the country. Streams of Ivorians are now forced to flee their beloved country to become refugees, paupers, and prostitutes in neighboring countries.
However, in response to the crisis in Abidjan the ECOWAS countries have allowed their threat to use force with installing President Alassane Ouattara the legitimate winner of the November 28 2010 elections, fall on deaf ears. The African Union (AU) has also been shameful in dealing with contemporary situations in the continent. When they met in Addis Ababa Ethiopia for the just concluded African Union Summit, the AU enshrined Dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea as the next chairman of the organization. The aforementioned tyrant and fraudster who has been in power since 1979 after he executed a bloody coup was charged with the task of resolving the impasse in Cote d'Ivoire. In a continent that is at the precipice of holding elections in one-third of her 55countries, no better choice was made for the chairperson of the AU. As a testament to how out of touch with reality the African Union and our so-called leaders are, they literally rolled out the proverbial red carpet for Dictator Obiang Mbasogo.
Furthermore, the AU banded together with their opaque notion of solidarity and ignoring other pressing issues in the continent. Ironically, people in Sudan, Tunisia, and Egypt were voting and protesting against the “recolonialization” of their nations by rulers and systems who view their countries as personal properties and wealth mines. As Egypt was burning and true peoples' democracy attempted to wrestle power from Dictator Hosni Mubarak, our dear AU kept mute and instead accepted his delegates to the summit in neighboring Ethiopia. This deafening silence and apathy have continued with the developments in Tripoli Libya. The AU and ECOWAS have stood by as sub-Saharan Black African have been stereotyped, brutalized, and murdered by both Dictator Muammar Gaddafi and some in the pro-democracy movement of this North Africa nation.
Press reports indicate that there are thousands of Black Africans stranded in the Libyan-Tunisia, Libyan-Egyptian, and Libyan-Algerian borders. Individuals and families with children have been relatively abandoned as refugees in faraway lands to fend for themselves. There does not appear to be any progressive (proactive) logistic plans to get the Nigerians, Ghanaians, and Malians who are the majority of strained Black African refugees back home. The powers that be in ECOWAS and by extension sub-Saharan Africa have not thought it wise to send out their presidential jet fleets to liberate their people. The governments in Abuja and Accra appear to be incognito in regional and global affairs that demand accelerated response from them. Until now no statements and/or ultimatums have been issued to the Libyan government and people to protect and preserve the lives of Black Africans who are victims, caught up in these ongoing North African disputes. Neither has transparent diplomatic channels and pressures been brought to bear on the mad Dictator in Tripoli.
Nnamdi Frank Akwada, MSW, BA
Social Justice Activist