February 2, 2016 AU threat to withdraw from UN is challenge to the West – Mugabe
BY THE GUARDIAN REPORTER
AU chairman and President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe
The threat issued Saturday by the African Union (AU) that the continent will withdraw from the United Nations (UN) if the former is not given at least two seats in the Security Council is seen by analysts as a challenge to the hegemony of the West.
Speaking during the 26th AU Summit meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Saturday, the outgoing AU chairman and President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe called for immediate inclusion of two members of the African states in the world’s decision making organ on issues relating to peace in the world.
Mugabe charged that with the current structure, Africa had remained an artificial member of the council with no representation.
“If the UN and the Security Council is to survive we must be equal members. They must understand that we as Africans are also human,” he said during the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary session of the AU.
According to Tanzania analysts, this is a clever maneuver by Africa prompted by the fact that the global power structure is changing from the all-powerful West to the emergence of other mighty powers in the East, especially China.
“It is true that Africa has all along been treated as a junior partner in the UN system. The message is that Africa wants to be an active player,” said political scientist Bashiru Ali of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).
He noted that although the threat cannot be ignored as inconsequential, Africa still has a challenge to prove that it really matters by strengthening its own governance and justice systems for it to earn the respect and place it wants in the world.
He pointed out situation in countries such as Central African Republic, Burundi, Libya and the unfolding events in Zanzibar as indication that Africa still needs to do more to convince the rest of the world that it can sort out its problems before it can fully be trusted in global organs.
Prof Mwesiga Baregu agreed that Africa deserves a fair representation in the UN and did the right thing to bargain but warned that such a move should only be launched from the point of strength and not weakness.
“My only worry is that when they don’t get the seats and time comes for withdrawing, will they get continental consensus to do so?” he asked.
But Prof Kitila Mkumbo of the UDSM’s school of education disagreed with the threat trick, arguing that it was the right strategy to the wrong target.
“UN is a highly diplomatic organisation. You don’t do something by giving threats,” he said, adding that it is diplomatic lobbying and power that open the way.
It is about what one contributes to the UN and the world; not the number of people no matter how loud one can speak, Mkumbo said.
“This is not an era of political liberation; it is an era of economic liberation and AU leaders and Africans should know that,” he said.
The Security Council has five permanent members. Amongst them, China, France and the United States – while Africa and non-aligned member states, ten in total, have none.
Attempts to launch formal negotiations on expanding the council have failed. A number of African countries have criticised the security council of being heavily skewed in dealing with matters concerning African.
Mugabe who handed over the reins of AU chairmanship to Chad’s President Idriss Deby said that Africa would walk out of the UN unless it was given permanent representation on the UN Security Council because Africans were tired of making hollow speeches at the UN with no results.
The AU summit which ended yesterday also adopted, without amendments, a proposal by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya to develop a roadmap for withdrawal from the Rome Statute.
Speaking during the 26th AU Summit meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was disappointed by the way cases brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) were handled.
He said the court had subjected him and Deputy President William Ruto to “cases built with weak investigations and pursued with politicised zeal.”
President Kenyatta earlier faced crimes against humanity charges at the court but his case was terminated in March 2015 after prosecutor Fatou Bensouda withdrew the charges against him due to lack of sufficient evidence.
Currently, DP Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang facing similar charges at The Hague-based court.
Leaders from western Kenya and Rift Valley regions have been calling on President Kenyatta to intervene in the case facing his deputy and Sang.
In his address at the AU Summit, President Kenyatta said the weaknesses of the two remaining cases were “clear for all to see” and called for their withdrawal.
“The Prosecution seeks for the court to proceed without evaluating evidence. In any criminal justice system, these cases would never have come to trial. It is our expectation that the law will be applied and cases terminated,” President Kenyatta said.
He urged African nations to relentlessly strive to reform the ICC.
“It is my sincere hope that our ICC reform agenda will succeed so that we can return to the instrument we signed up for.
“If it does not, I believe its utility for this continent at this moment of global turmoil will be extremely limited. In that eventuality, we will be failing in our duty if we continue to shore up a dysfunction instrument,” the President said.
He, at the same time, called for the AU to insist on the termination of the case against DP Ruto which he said had already “collapsed.”