Saturday, 7 February 2009

Gaddafi: What manner of AU Chairman?

Now that Muammar Gaddafi (or is it Qadaffi or Al-Gathafi ?) has been 'elected' by his presidential peers to head the African Union at the just concluded Addis Ababa summit, what next for governance and politics on the continent?

It appears that after all the effusive praise and glowing statements from State Houses & Presidential Palaces across Africa on the emergence of Barack Obama as America's President, they decided to go down a cynical & humorous route in their choice of AU Chairman 10 days after Obama's inauguration. Gaddafi is the anti-Obama in almost every regard. But I digress and we'll leave that to the political scientists and conspiracy theorists to work out!

It appears that while people in other land's are seeking to find their own Obama moments, we in Africa (or at least the rulers/leaders) have gone for a man who is a throwback to the era of military coups. There are many reasons for Africans to be sad about in Gaddafi's 'election' as AU Chairman at this time, but I'll focus only on two.

In his book - My Vision, published in 2005 and co-authored with Edmond Jouve, Gaddafi shared some insights that might help posit his current role in better light. Here are some revealing excerpts (on pages 83 & 86) from an exchange with Jouve, a French political science professor and Libya expert.

Jouve: We are told that Libya was planning to withdraw from the Arab League...Is your decision final? What are the reasons for it?
Gaddafi: That is true. The heads of most Arab states telephoned me. I received visits from several Foreign Affairs Ministers who questioned me about the matter. It must be remembered that Libya is now a member of the African Union. From now on there is no room for Nationalism and ethnic claims. International communities based on regions and continents are more appropriate in our age. As a result, two-tier politics is no longer possible. Libya belongs to the African continent and as the Africans have decided to create the United States of Africa, we cannot run two types of policy at the same time: one for the Arab League and another for the African Union. It would be too difficult!

Jouve: Speaking of the recent past, there is the case of the black people who were expelled from Libya. What is the explled from Libya. What is the explanation for that, when everything I have read, in The Green Book, in the Great Green Charter, or elsewhere, goes against that? Libya is a huge country, so what is the problem?
Gaddafi: In actual fact this problem is perfectly comprehensible. It was not suprising that it should arise at the time when the African Union process was underway particularly between the inhabitants of North Africa, who are white, and those of sub-Saharan Africa who are black. In most case, it is a question of personalities...

Gaddafi's withdrawal of Libya had not yet taken place over 6 years after his November 2002 interview with Jouve. His country is still listed as a member state of the Arab League. His "two-tier politics" appears to be well on track.

This 'African king of kings' also finds expelling 'black Africans' from his 'kingdom' perfectly comprehensible? So much for the free movement of people in his proposed United States of Africa.
The second reason is his support for the coup plotters in Guinea and Mauritania. Enough said.

Muammar Gaddafi is not the best foot Africa can put forward, especially not at this moment in time. The mllion dollar question for 2009 is: Can any good somehow come out of his 'election?' His track record doesn't suggest so.

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