African Union: Symbolic or Real?

As the African Union (AU) prepares for the election of the Commission Chairman following deadlock in the last January election that failed to produce a clear majority winner, attention of analyst are firmly focused on what would transpire in the election game particularly with the divide within the commission. In a short publication, Franz Wild and William Davison argues that division in the Commission could only spell division, doom and pervasive crisis in the continent. In as much as it is important to look at the dangers of division especially between the two major powers in the continent, it is as equally important to ponder if actually there is Unity in the AU as symbolic to the name African Union.

Here I present a quick poser on the decision of Malawi not to host the Summit and the implication for the unity of African Union as a continental body. On June 8th, Malawi announced its decision not to host the AU summit because of the commission’s insistence that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who is allegedly indicted for genocide, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity by ICC will attend the Summit. Dr Jide Okeke reflects on the division in the AU and the imperative for draft Protocol on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights in order to avert future scenario.  The decision of Malawi signifies lack of unity and paints a picture of disunity within the AU. States interest and economic stability is very much a crucial factor in determining the extent to which they abide by and support the Commission’s decision, how there ought to be mechanism for ensuring state compliance with commission resolution when one particular State’s action is tantamount to betrayal especially when such decision was based on other contested international Treaty like ICC indictment on Omar al-Bashir.

I wonder therefore if ICC indictment on a serving African Head of State like the case of ICC on Omar al-Bashir supersedes the Commission’s resolution? Should Member State act contrary to the Commission’s resolution and recognition? How could AU avert such embarrassing outcome in future? Do we need an expansion of role and functions of the African Court of Justice?  Is there a need for an African Protocol restricting Member States from acting contrary to AU resolution in favour of an internal contested Protocol?  I leave the answer to  you.

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