Ethiopia in The African Union dissction on passport issue despite ‘acknowledging the legitimate demands of the Libyan people’ and proposing a five point road map to deal with the crisis, was unable neither to stop the killing of civilians nor to influence the parties to stop warring and resolve the crisis. Division and inaction at the AU justified the international intervention which had a clear agenda of regime change in Libya. Ironically, at the end of the civil war, Sirte, where all the well-crafted words of CADSP were adopted in 2004, was left in ruins, and the document unable to save the very city that gave birth to its name.
It is with the memory of Libya still fresh and the role of external powers in Africa still debated that the outgoing chair of the African Union and president of Benin, Thomas Boni-Yayi requested for a NATO intervention to fight the Islamists and Touareg rebels who seized power in northern Mali. In his statement on January 9, 2013 the President said that the Malian conflict was an ‘international question’ and called on NATO to intervene just as it had done in Afghanistan. Subsequently the French forces started aerial and ground operation in Mali without even notifying the African Union.
Once again Africa has failed itself and its pan-Africanist document of the Common African Defense and Security Policy (CADSP) left out to dry.
‘Integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa’
The AU which celebrates its half a century existence this coming May envisions the creation of an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa….driven by its own citizens.’ The vision has it that peace would be a pre and co-requisite for integration and prosperity. The institutional transformation from the OAU to AU emphasized on the departure from the non-interference policy of the OAU to a non-indifference stance by the new body. Most of AU’s energy, resources and time were spent on its peace and security agenda and the operationalization of the continental peace and security architecture that combines conflict prevention, resolution and management mechanisms.
To be fair, the continental organization has made a significant progress in establishing normative frameworks and strengthening the ability of regional organization like IGAD to prevent and respond to crisis in a timely manner. Though delayed, its most ambitious project, the idea of a single army for Africa, which was inspired by the Nkrumahist movement and recalibrated in a rather less receptive manner by the late Gaddafi, is undergoing. The AU claims the operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF) in 2015 would create a collective defense mechanism against internal and external threats in the continent. For the first time in its history the AU Assembly also decided to use the AU budget to support peace and security operation by contributing $50 million to cover approximately 10% of the peace support operation in Mali even before the UN has allocated any funding for the mission.