The African Union summit has concluded with a unanimous condemnation of any unconstitutional changes of governments on the continent.
In the past 18 months there have been six coups or attempted coups in Africa.
The issue of peace and security as well as setting a new public health order in Africa, were also some of the main agenda items.
With much to discuss and many problems to overcome, there was a lot to pack in to this two-day summit.
Dominating large parts of the conversation was the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government.
So far, four countries where that has happened recently: Guinea, Mali, Sudan and Burkina Faso are suspended from the activities of the African union.
AU Commissioner Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye says, ” This assembly has placed on record that they have zero tolerance for military tolerance. It is important that the media should know that none of our leaders is in anyway justifying the trend that we are seeing. Rather, they are all collectively wholesomely united in the same language of unequivocal condemnation of unconstitutional changes of government.”
The African Union has also raised concern on foreign military interference on the continent .
“From Cabo Delgado in Mozambique to Libya, we are also facing a new scourge, private foreign military contractors, as well as foreign fighters and mercenaries. But the African Union has always been seized in this matter because since 1977, we already have a convention on the elimination of mercenaries in the continent. So, this is the time to dust up that convention make it more active and work with the United Nations Security council the European Union security committee to make sure that we get the mercenaries out of our continent,” Adeoye added.
AU Summit | Professor Siphamandla Zondi joins discussion:
With a limited amount of time at this summit, the leaders have decided to have a special gathering in Equatorial Guinea in May, to discuss counterterrorism, as well as the impact of unconstitutional changes of government.
As expected, COVID-19 was also discussed extensively at this summit.
The leaders adopted proposals made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on how the continent can cushion itself from any further health shocks.
AU Summit I President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the 35th Ordinary Session virtually:
One idea he proposed was the establishment of an AU health work taskforce to evaluate the health needs of the continent.
Director of Africa CDC Dr. John Nkengasong says, “We need 6 000 epidemiologists on the continent. We only have 1 500. This is a continent of 1.3 billion people. So, if we really want to be prepared for the next pandemic, we need to examine that. This is why the president is calling for the establishment of this team that will define our needs in the areas of hard work to provide a content base workforce.”
The summit also endorsed South Africa’s idea for the need to establish an Africa pandemic response Fund.
“If you recall, there is a global dialogue to have a global intermediary fund for pandemic response, that will probably be housed at the World Bank. But what we are arguing is that, as a region, we need to have a regional approach, which is closer to where the issues are. So, the most important thing and the urgent thing is to have a structure – an instrument that can be used as a vehicle to collect or mobilise additional resources.”
Nkengasong also added that he was upbeat African countries would contribute to this fund.
“I have absolutely no doubt that everyone who has seen the devastation that this virus has caused on the continent will not hesitate to contribute to such a fund. A fund that can be used in future. There will be another pandemic for sure. When, I don’t know and nothing says that another pandemic cannot happen in the middle of this one.”
The leaders have also accepted a proposal to boost COVID-19 vaccination on the continent. So far, only 11% of the continent has received vaccines.
But on one controversial topic, no agreement was reached.
The AU summit has deferred the final decision on Israel being granted an observer status. The decision taken last year has been strongly opposed by countries like South Africa, which says Israel is committing violations against the rights of Palestine.
The AU has now formed a committee of six countries to look into the issue.