The African Union (AU) is on the spotlight again, this time after failing to make bold decisions on its members. First it was the Burundi conflict, where president Pierre Nkurunziza manipulated loopholes in that country’s constitution to seek a third term.
Despite all evidence that majority of his people were against his move, Nkurunziza went ahead and forced his third term in office amid violent protests that claimed hundreds of lives.
To this day, a month after the disputed elections and his proclaimed victory, there are reports of killings of his opponents, the latest being a top military officer a week ago.
Amid all this, the AU has been silent and has done little to intervene and stop the massacre of Burundians at the hands of their leader. Even after the much publicised address by president of United States of America, and son of an African, Barack Obama, the AU did little to stop Nkurunziza from going against his country’s constitution.
In the first address of AU by an American president, Obama warned that African problems are caused by leaders who think that they are the only people blessed with wisdom to run their countries and therefore should stay in power forever.
Just not far away from Burundi, in the Horn of Africa, a silent killer is raging in Eritrea. A dictatorship has been going on for long, but the AU seems disinterested in finding a solution to this. Two months ago, Eritrean national team came to play with the Zebras. When the time came for them to leave, 10 of the players refused to go stating their reasons as the human rights abuses they have
This week, the BBC ran a special report on Eritrea dictatorship stating that close to half of that country’s population has left and now live in refugee camps in neighbouring Ethiopia, where AU headquarters are built. We wonder why the influx of refugees into another state should not ring a bell that things are not well. It does not take a rocket scientist to realise that a country is going through a dictatorship and AU should be at the forefront to determine that. First, the AU should establish intelligence that will gather information to inform its decision making.
We hope that the AU Commissioner, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is working day and night to reform this institution to make it a more proactive institution that can avert disaster, and not one that only responds to disasters. We hope that the AU has learnt lessons from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Libya that they should not wait for a genocide to happen before taking action. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why AU should enhance its relationship with other world bodies such as the United Nations Security Council and International Criminal Court.
The AU should adopt a policy of targeted sanctions against individuals of any undemocratic regime.
“Eritrea is becoming a “giant prison” due to its government’s policies of mass detention, torture and prolonged military conscription.”
– Human Rights Watch.