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The African Union’s Indifference on Libya

The African Union’s Indifference on Libya

Yes, you heard it right, the AU’s Peace and Security Council reportedly failed on Monday to agree on a common position on Libya. Instead the body has deferred the decision to a Friday meeting of the AU’s heads of states’ leadership meeting. Frankly, I am not surprised and do not expect the 15 heads of states who sit on the body to come up with a unified position on the Libyan crisis. Since the start of this conflict in early February of this year, what we have seen from the continent’s top body is nothing but a posture of indifference, ambiguity and indecisiveness. Apparently, condemning and holding accountable one of their own matters more than ordinary African people. In fact, this is the fundamental problem with the AU: in situations of conflict/crisis of democracy on the continent, they tend to side more with the heads of state than with the ordinary people… the suffering masses. Is this African Union for the heads of states or for the African people? That question needs to be answered if the body wants to make a qualitative impact on the continent politically, socially and economically.

The truth is that had the continent’s top body pronounced its position unequivocally on Libya right from the start of the crisis, just as many Western and Arab bodies did, the suffering and the loss of innocent lives would have been prevented. Instead the AU insists on sticking to a rather vague roadmap to peace without really providing details of the concrete steps toward that political settlement.

Apparently the reason why the AU could not reach an agreement on Libya this time around is “the fact that Libya funded a major part of the AU’s budget and the bloc feels beholden to [Ghadafi].” But the other unspoken reason—let’s face it—is the fear that most of them [heads of state of member nations] will follow the same fate since many of these leaders are dictators in their own countries.

Here is a situation where it is a clear victory against a brutal dictatorship… a situation where it is clear that the majority of Libyan citizens in the streets of Libyan cities are greeting rebels (citizen-rebels, I should say) with shouts of “Allahu akbar,” or God is great. And here is a situation where rebels are in control of most Libyan cities with Western and Arab nations recognizing the rebels’ transitional authority as Libya’s legitimate government, yet the AU, and most African countries remain mute. What would move the AU and African countries to side with the ordinary African people?

Whatever the misgivings about the intervention in Libya, now is the time for the AU and African countries in general to accept that the Ghadafi era is gone. And now is the time for the continental body to step up and take leadership as the Libyan conflict enters a dangerous stage.



Ndumba J. Kamwanyah

Ndumba Jonnah Kamwanyah, a native of Namibia in Southern Africa, is an independent consultant providing trusted advice and capacity building through training, research, and social impact analysis to customers around the world. Mos recently Ndumba returned from a consulting assignment in Liberia in support of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
In his recent previous life Ndumba taught (as an Adjunct Professor) traditional justice and indigenous African political institutions in sub-Saharan Africa at the Rhode Island College-Anthropology Department.

He is very passionate about democracy development and peace-building, and considers himself as a street researcher interested in the politics of everyday life.
Twitter: NdumbaKamwanyah