Critical Times: AU Leaders Converge to Address Coups, Conflicts, and Crises

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    Critical Times: AU Leaders Converge to Address Coups, Conflicts, and Crises

    African leaders convened a two-day summit on Saturday amid the continent's grappling with military takeovers, disputes, political turmoil, and regional conflicts.

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African leaders convened a two-day summit on Saturday amid the continent's grappling with military takeovers, disputes, political turmoil, and regional conflicts.


Prior to the meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the head of the African Union Commission, expressed concern about the widespread violence affecting many African nations and other parts of the globe.

Sudan was described as being in turmoil, Somalia faced a jihadist threat, the Democratic Republic of Congo dealt with enduring tensions, the Sahel region confronted a terrorist menace, and Libya continued to experience instability.

Faki addressed African foreign ministers on Wednesday, highlighting the resurgence of coups, violence before and after elections, and humanitarian crises resulting from warfare or climate change, all of which are significant concerns.

A smaller summit aimed at revitalizing the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo, involving the Congolese leader and his Rwandan counterpart, commenced on Friday alongside the main AU meetings and was scheduled to continue on Saturday.

However, the effectiveness of the 55-member bloc has long been criticized for its lack of action in the face of numerous conflicts and power struggles.

Nina Wilen, director of the Africa program at the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations, expressed skepticism about the likelihood of significant decisions being made, citing the AU's limited influence on countries affected by recent coups.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attended the summit, while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was absent due to flight issues.

Gabon and Niger were suspended from the summit due to coups last year, joining Mali, Guinea, Sudan, and Burkina Faso, which were also excluded.

The situation in Senegal, sparked by President Macky Sall's decision to postpone this month's elections, is expected to be discussed.

Outside of Africa, the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza was a prominent topic, with Faki referring to it as a "war of extermination."

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh attended the summit, but an Israeli delegation was not invited, according to Faki's spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo.

The AU managed to avert a crisis regarding the one-year rotating AU chairmanship, with Mohamed Ould Ghazouani set to take over from Comoros President Azali Assoumani following negotiations.

The AU's accession to the G20 in September signaled its desire for a stronger global presence, although analysts emphasize the need for the organization to quickly establish consensus on its approach within the G20.

However, the AU faces challenges in addressing security crises across the continent, with Ethiopia itself dealing with internal conflicts and disputes with Somalia.

Additionally, 19 presidential or general elections are scheduled in Africa this year, posing further challenges for the AU.

The AU's ability to fulfill its institutional commitments and effectively utilize mediation and peacekeeping tools is hampered by limited political and financial resources, according to the International Crisis Group.

Member states prioritize their sovereign interests over collective security, leading to a lack of investment in AU initiatives.

Discussion at the summit is expected to focus on transitioning the AU to rely more on African states for funding its budget rather than foreign donors, following a UN Security Council resolution in December to finance AU-led peace missions.
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