By Stephen Twinoburyo, Pretoria | 27 September, 2011 00:02: iLIVE
In the past week, the African Union finally recognised Libya’s National Transitional Council as the new rulers of the country.
Looking back, I wonder what lessons the AU has taken from its handling of the Libyan crisis and what impact this has had on South Africa’s diplomatic efforts on the continent.
The composition of the AU mission was the first obstacle it presented itself. By including on its panel people like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni (in power for 25 years and brutally clamping down on dissent) and Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso (in power for close to 30 years), both men having shot their way to power, it was a failure from the word go.
I am among those who believe the AU emerged the loser in this whole episode. At the time of their recognition of the NTC, there was no indication that the NTC had met any of the demands the AU had communicated through its high-level panel that met in Pretoria barely a week earlier.
It is interesting to note that, at the last panel meeting, the two presidents who travelled to South Africa to discuss democracy in Libya are those considered corrupt dictators by their own people, who have greatly benefited from Muammar Gaddafi’s patronage – Museveni and Sassou Nguesso.
Many Africans are happy that Africa is one despot less, and if it was Nato to do it, so be it. The AU can learn from this and start talking to their long-serving despots and convince them to hand over power. That’s where “African solutions” will make sense.
The AU’s “African solutions” seem to be working only to entrench despots.
This is the similar kind of solution South Africa wanted in Ivory Coast, but looking at it, the Nigerian (and Ecowas ) stance of threatening force made Laurent Gbagbo give in.
Ecowas looked much more effective than the AU, and the South African Development Community.
Their central bank even suspended Ivory Coast because democracy in the country had been abused.
These are interventions that will make our regional bodies much more credible.
South Africa seems to make the mistake of assuming that the same solution that worked in this country will work in all conflict situations in Africa.
South Africa had parties that were willing to negotiate.
The Libyan crisis is definitely not the last in Africa as long as we still have many despots leading us.
This story appeared in the South African Times newspaper on the following link: