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by Yacoob Cassim
The African Union (AU) has had an interesting first half of the year. There have been new challenges across the continent; this includes tension between Eretria and Djibouti over a disputed border territory, which has intensified.
The Horn of Africa Nations is contesting control of the Doumeira region following the departure of Qatari peace keepers from the location earlier this week. This region is situated near the Bab El Mandeb Strait, a strategic waterway at the foot of the Red Sae through which nearly four million barrels of oil are shipped daily to Europe, the United States and Asia.
The AU is has urged both these small nations to show “restraint” as tensions over disputed territory. Moussa Faki Mahamat, AU commission chairperson, said on Saturday that the union would send a “fact-finding mission to the Djibouti- Eretria border.”
The AU is “ready to assist Djibouti and Eritrea to normalize their relations and promote good neighbourliness within the framework of relevant AU instruments,” he said. So now there is also the matter of what would happen when a peaceful solution is found to the current crisis that things are sorted out.
A high level delegation which includes of African Heads of State, accompanied by senior officials of the AU Commission and the United Nations, is ready to be dispatched to Libreville, as soon as conditions for such a visit are to be met,”AU chairman and Chad President Idriss Deby said in a statement.
Meanwhile President Jacob Zuma hasn’t turned up for the Heads of State meeting on 3 and 4 July, it will be because of timing. The summit coincides with the ruling party’s policy conference from 30 June to 5 July – an event the embattled Zuma can’t afford to miss.
So it looks like Zuma will have to find a solution to the issue of his absence since Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will not be attending the summit as well and only a President, Prime Minister or their second in command is allowed to attend.The lack of any South African presence at the Summit would be an embarrassment.
Although one would sympathise with a more inward-looking South Africa at a time of internal strife within the ANC, but a no -show could be damaging for its image.Zuma as a result has been absent from African Continent’s relations with the rest of the World.
Many of the regional body’s current initiatives to take the AU forward are driven by leaders like Rwandan President Paul Kagame and AU Chairperson President Alpha Conde of Guinea. The latest ANC policy document on foreign policy, to be discussed at the up-coming conference emphasizes the continued need for African Unity.
This is a time for the developing World, including Africa, Latin America and South East Asia, to put forward their own version of how to remake the Global Order.The decline in Western influence has led to a resurgence of influence for China and Russia. This new world should not bedetermined by Moscow or Beijing alone. The AU needs to get its priorities straight and show what it is capable of. South Africa like-wise should not be beholden to the shackles of its former colonial past, but look to its future.
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