African Union to fix DRC and more

2013-05-26 22:19
Incoming chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma  with chair of the AU Commission, Jean Ping at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. (Mulugeta Ayene, AFP)

Incoming chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma with chair of the AU Commission, Jean Ping at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. (Mulugeta Ayene, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Addis Ababa - African Union leaders met on Sunday to tackle ongoing conflicts on the continent, a day after the pan-African bloc threw itself a lavish birthday party celebrating everything positive in its 50 years of existence.

Long-running unrest in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo dominated the start of the two-day AU meeting, as leaders from the Great Lakes region met for the first time since signing an agreement in February aimed at restoring peace in the region.

"A lot of progress has been made... I think we will be able to fix it, the Congo is going to be fixed," Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said after the meeting, on the sidelines of the main summit at AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital.

Tanzania is sending 1 280 troops to join a new United Nations brigade with a mandate to conduct "targeted offensive operations" against rebels in DR Congo's mineral-rich east.

However, UN chief Ban Ki-moon was more hesitant, saying that while progress was being made, promises on paper must be enacted on the ground.

"We will need the test of implementation," said Ban, who visited the flashpoint Congolese town of Goma last week as part of a regional tour.

Leaders were also discussing a proposal to urge the International Criminal Court to back off the trial of Kenya's leaders on charges of crimes against humanity.

The proposal, agreed by AU foreign ministers on Thursday, would ask the ICC to refer the trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto back to their home country.

The proposal would have no legal impact on ICC proceedings if passed, but would significantly boost Kenyatta's standing on the continent.

Avoid justice

Kenyatta and Ruto, elected in March, both face trial in The Hague for their alleged roles in orchestrating deadly violence after previous elections in 2007.

However, after hours of talking, diplomats said members were divided on the proposal.

If passed, it would be first time the pan-African body has moved formally against the ICC, even though Kenyatta is the second African leader to face trial after genocide charges were brought against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Amnesty International has urged leaders to throw out the proposal it said was a "worrying attempt by the Kenyan authorities to avoid justice".

The rights group called on the 34 AU members who have signed the ICC's founding Rome Statute - including Kenya - to "protect the international justice mechanism they have committed to".

Mali is also expected to be discussed at the summit: it is about to receive a UN peacekeeping force to support French soldiers who have been fighting Islamist rebels in the country's desert north since January.

War-torn Somalia, where an AU force is battling Islamist insurgents, is also being discussed, including the thorny issue of a breakaway southern region, which threatens to create rifts between the central government in Mogadishu and neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia, both with troops inside the country.

Rhetoric

Despite optimistic rhetoric at Saturday's anniversary celebrations praising the spirit of pan-Africanism, the continent and the 54-member bloc is riven with divisions.

Splits revealed by the 2011 conflict in Libya - when members squabbled between those wanting to recognise rebels and those backing leader Muammar Gaddafi - showed its disunity and lack of global clout.

Gaddafi's death also stripped the AU of a major source of funding. Leaders will discuss finding backers for the cash-strapped body at the summit meeting opening Sunday.

Africa remains the world's poorest continent and its most war-prone, but development indicators - including health, education, infant mortality, economic growth and democracy - have improved steadily in the past 50 years.

The continent is also home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund, and has attracted huge amounts of foreign investment in recent years.

Brazil announced on Saturday it was cancelling $900m worth of debt in 12 African countries as part of a broader strategy to boost ties.

Read more on:    international criminal court  |  au  |  ethiopia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.