Is African Union Good for Africa and Ethiopia?
Amanuel Biedemariam January 25, 2018
On January 4, 2018 The African Union (AU) made a statement about the prevailing political situation in Ethiopia for the first time. Clearly, the statement was not intended to draw attention or, to help resolve the dire-situation in Ethiopia. Rather, it was intended to boost the image of a criminal regime that is brutally ruling Ethiopia in the doorsteps of the AU. The AU Commission’s Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat wrote,
“The African Union welcomes the announcement made by the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, pardoning or suspending ongoing judicial cases of members of political parties and other individuals. He commends the Ethiopian authorities for this important and farsighted decision, and for their commitment to foster national consensus and widen the democratic space. The Chairperson of the Commission underscores that the steps initiated by the Prime Minister will help create a conducive environment for the pursuit and consolidation of the impressive socio-economic gains Ethiopia has made over the past decade. These steps will also enhance the country’s stability, which is of paramount importance for the region and Africa as a whole. The Chairperson of the Commission calls on all Ethiopians, irrespective of their political affiliations, to embrace and sustain the spirit of forgiveness and unity in the interest of their country.” Emphasis added.
According to the statement, “Ethiopia has made impressive socio-economic gains over the past decade.” The statement however, contradicts with the reality on the ground. According to Foreign Policy’s article January11, 2018 “Ethiopia Falling Apart” by Jefrey Smith and Mohammed Ademo:
“And its claims of a rapidly growing economy have always been dubious at best. The status quo can no longer hold. In an effort to boost lagging exports, authorities devalued Ethiopia’s currency, the birr, by 15 percent last October. The country is also struggling to mitigate the effects of massive youth unemployment, high public debt, rising inflation, and a shortage of foreign currency. The economic woes that have beleaguered Ethiopia have fueled the increasing unrest. Amhara and Oromo protesters decry economic marginalization and systemic exclusion at the hands of powerful ethnic Tigrayan leaders.”
Also, on a recent interview with VOA, former US Ambassador to Ethiopia Herman Cohen said,
“I worry about Ethiopia today because US embassy in Ethiopia is openly cautioning and sending signals of dire conditions in the country.”
Ambassador Cohen elaborated, when US, a traditionally-protective friend and ally of Ethiopia makes alarming statements like this, it means the situation is much-worse. Hence, the regime must open its doors to all parties and establish a transitional process. Furthermore, according to The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) published by Oxford University,
“Ethiopia ranks the second poorest country in the world just ahead of Niger. 87.3% of Ethiopians are classified as MPI poor, while 58.1% are considered destitute.”
It is therefore, baffling to witness the chairman undermining the reality in a manner that diminishes the AU further. But, African Union’s complicity with Ethiopian regimes is not new.
In 2005, Ethiopians overwhelmingly voted to change the government of the late Meles Zenawi. However, the minority regime managed to hold on to power by force. In subsequent elections of 2010 and 2015, the EPRDF learned its lesson and held sham elections and claimed to have won 99% of the votes. The regime denied EU and other international observers access but allowed African Union as the main observer. The AU sent observers and the missions head Hifikepunye Pohamba, a former Namibian president reported,
“The AU Election Observers’ Mission concludes that the parliamentary elections were calm, peaceful and credible as it provided an opportunity for the Ethiopian people to express their choices at the polls.” Emphasis added.
This statement did not reflect the situation in the ground. Ethiopia, a nation of 100 million people did not vote for the regime let alone 99% of the votes. The minority regime comes from a region that represent 6% of the total population and they are despised by the people of Ethiopia. Yet, the AU concluded Ethiopians “expressed their choices at the polls.”
The African Union is Neither African nor for Africans
The African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa was built by China as a gift for Africa. During the opening tour of the facility, the late Meles Zenawi bragged how he single-handedly lobbied Chinese officials to build the new headquarters and how he incentivized the project with tax exemptions on all Chinese imported construction materials.
Furthermore, 80% of the AU’s funds come from international donors. As a result, the organization has no African bone and runs no African agenda. All its agendas are directed by directives from superpowers. Pre-1991, the Soviet Union and US and after the fall of the USSR, the US, and over the past 15 years, China and the US are competing to influence African agendas.
One can go over the list of all the agendas that received endorsements from the AU. Be it wars they endorsed in the name of Africa; military campaigns they participated-in as peacekeepers; health, education and poverty measure they agreed to pursue in Africa. It is all been initiated by the West in pursuit of Western agendas. Nothing about it has been African.
For example, on May 2004, Tony Blair launched “Commission for Africa.” In 2005 “Make Poverty History” was born out of the Blair Africa Commission. On June 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles England, Make Poverty History was put in motion and became the number one African agenda endorsed by the G8 countries.
Under the guise of good accountable governance, the core of the Commission’s agenda was a blue print on how to impose regime-change in countries of interest. One can easily guess who represented Africa in Gleneagles? PM Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.
The commission’s recommendations were swiftly forwarded, and AU member countries passed it unanimously. No public debate was conducted on the matter, but it passed with endorsement of AU. The UN adopted it as African initiative and made it the global agenda du jour with fanfare. Meles was hammer they needed at the AU to hammer-through the agenda and he delivered.
The irony, the Blair Africa commission’s main stated goal was to make African leaders accountable to their people. However, totally disregarding the 100 million Ethiopians that voted on May of 2005 for change and rejected Meles Zenawi with overwhelming rebuke; the Blair Africa Commission made Meles Zenawi the representative for Africa just days after hundreds of innocent civilians were shot point-blank in the streets of Addis for demonstrating peacefully.
African Union as Tool for Global Powers
The African Union is deadly for African countries. Recent developments in various parts of Africa point to how the AU is easily manipulated and entrapped by its Western handlers.
On March 17, 2011 if just one of the three African countries on the Security Council namely Gabon, Nigeria and South Africa had abstained, resolution 1973 would-not have passed. Instead they all voted and passed it as African initiative giving green light to the No-Fly Zone that ultimately led to the outright invasion and destruction of Libya. Which is now slave trade central.
What stands out, however, is the role the merchants of mayhem, the late Meles Zenawi and President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan played. They facilitated for Gadhafi’s ouster by assisting NATO. Sudan was a staging ground for the destruction and Bashir shamelessly bragged about it. This was not African initiative. Far from it. It was hatched in-the Whitehouse by Barack Obama, the hawkish Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice.
On Christmas of 2006, the late Meles Zenawi invaded Somalia a sovereign African nation. The invasion was a preemptive unprovoked assault on the people of Somalia under the pretext of preventing terror. Meles copied the preemptive attack invasion of Iraq on another African country. Again, the African Union witnessed the wanton destruction of African nation by a rogue regime and remained mum.
Worse yet, soon thereafter, the AU legitimized the invasion and joined the act as AMISOM, so they can earn stipends as peacekeepers and pursued Washington led agenda as African initiative. Millions of Somalis were displaced and forced to flee to Kenya to be exploited as refugees indefinitely.
Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia was pretext for the occupation of a sovereign nation as was discovered later. Before the Ethiopian invasion The Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a group of Sharia Courts established-order in Somalia briefly. The ICU made tremendous progress and managed to bring relative stability and controlled most of the country. If stability and peace were the objectives ICU was the answer. For the first time in decades the ICU achieved relative peace and stability. The invasion changed that.
Peace and stability in Somalia did not serve the interest of Ethiopia and Washington. The invasions aim, therefore, was to kill nationalism. Because a sovereign, nationalist Somalia was deemed a threat to Western and Ethiopian interest.
Libya and Somalia represent small sample of how the West exploits AU using “African Initiative” as the operative term and used it to initiate actions against countries of interest. The AU does not have the authority to initiate agendas and craft language in the Security Council or anywhere in the international arena.
Ignored African Agendas
Africa is beset by huge issues detrimental to the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans. Yet, the people have no representation thus voice on matters that affect their lives. The African Union and its predecessor the Organization of African Unity (OAU) have been asleep on the wheel from the beginning. From the founding of the organization to-date, there are no significant achievements, if any, the people can point to.
The OAU was missing in action during the Rwandan Genocide. Horrific events in Sierra Leon that shook the world. Liberia, the civil war that displaced millions. South Sudan botched peace effort by the minority regime in Ethiopia and Western manipulated agreement that engulfed the nation to civil war. Cote d’Ivoire’s France manipulated election which led to the ouster of Laurent Gbagbo . The horrific situation in Congo which some African countries exploit at the expense of stability, peace and future of the people and the region. There exist no region, country or people in Africa that can claim the AU or OAU have done a good job at any time or place in its history.
The 1984 famine that cemented the image of starving Ethiopian kids. The Ebola epidemic, HIV AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and other communicable diseases are international concerns that AU failed to address or addressed based on directives from the West. The latest migration crisis that affected nearly every African country is handled not by AU, but Europeans who are largely responsible for the crisis in Libya and other African countries to begin with.
The African Union in Ethiopia Addis Ababa is nothing but a Trojan horse to Africa. It is the most dangerous organization in the world. Because the West, China, Russia and now Turkey, Qatar etc. have figured out how to manipulate it to get their ways.
These problems are made worse by those who are supposed to say something when things go wrong and are not since they are comfortable with the arrangement. China has no incentive to go against the collective voice of Africans. The problem; the voice of the AU is not theirs it is coerced by the regime in Ethiopia. China has ambitious interests in Ethiopia. For example, China just built a rail system at the cost of $4 Billion. Can China go against Ethiopia at the UNSC? The simple answer is no. On April of 2015, former US Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn said this about China and Ethiopia relations:
“At the political level, China and Ethiopia have been supportive of each other. The Ethiopian Parliament passed a resolution in support of China’s Anti-Secession Law. Ethiopia has joined other African countries in stopping resolutions in the UN Human Rights Commission that censor China’s human rights practices. Former prime minister Meles Zenawi stated emphatically that Tibet is an internal affair and outsiders have no right to interfere… Increasingly, Ethiopia sees China as an alternative to the West and, especially, Western political conditionality.” Emphasis added.
Ethiopia as a host to the AU is important to China precisely for this reason because it can galvanize African support when needed. The same goes for the US and others. What is lost in this is justice. Ethiopia can invade Somalia without fear of repercussions. Ethiopia can undermine international court decision and occupy sovereign Eritrean territories without thinking twice. Ethiopia can commit crimes against humanity in Addis Ababa in front of the AU as it has on 2005 elections. During the Red Terror-reign of Mengistu Hailemariam, Eritrean villages and ports were bombed daily. Ethiopian children got killed on the doorsteps of the OAU. After Eritrea got her independence, 1997-98 massive ethnic cleansing of Eritreans took place where 80,000 Eritreans were forcibly evicted from Addis Ababa. No one voiced a concern.
The African Union is held hostage by the minority regime in Ethiopia. Genuine African agendas are lost and not tended to. The people of Ethiopia are held hostage by the African Union also.
Since the government fears no international or African pressures, it exercises a free hand. The AU’s constitution is clear, “No interference on internal affairs of another nation!” As a result, Ethiopians are suffering because there is no country that can speak on their behalf.
This raises the question to all Ethiopians. Is the AU in Ethiopia a blessing or a curse to Ethiopians? Is the AU in Addis a blessing or curse for Africans? No matter the response, the solutions are in Ethiopia for Ethiopians. Ethiopians can decide to act if they so choose. The people of Ethiopia must accept their true role and unite Africans against this incompetent organization that is a curse to Africa!
African people have no say in this because they don’t have access to the AU. The African Union has shunned its responsibility to the African people. However, if the AU decides to change its ways, they have opportunity since the minority regime in Ethiopia is at its weakest.
For the first time in its history, the African Union headquartered in Addis Ababa in the capital of Ethiopia must face itself, look at the mirror and ask what it stands for.