Sharing my perception of the African Union (AU)

27 Jan

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
My picture of the African Union (AU)

    Am not sure I could be the best judge. However, I am reacting to what seemed an earnest request by Yibeltal Gebreegziabher, a Twitter friend. He asked me in a private mail my views about the ongoing AU meetings. For some reason, I sympathised with his friendly request. And these are my views about the African Union.

I begin with the question: who could take the AU seriously? . See the TPLF ongoing massacres in Ethiopia and robberies by mafia ensconced in state power; the endless deaths in Burundi, Congo/Kinshasa and South Sudan. The AU is at peace in its slumber! Africa can manage without it!

Interestingly, the Congo leader Kabila a press conference for the first time in five years. Wt used all the time to demean the United Nations, the country’s intermediary the Catholic Church, Western nations. In spite of the tens of daily deaths, he said Congo is stable. One regional organisation he did not attack was the African Union (AU).

Based on my experience — as a person who had first served as head of UN Division & later headed Ethiopia’s activities in most international organisations from the foreign Ministry; even later after I joined the United Nations as an International Civil Servant first in New York & Geneva, so far I have not seen anything that has persuaded me to think and believe the AU meets the criterion to qualify as a regional organisation.

That’s how even AU was treated by the international community. The AU was the last to hear when the military intervention by France, UK and US, among others, was to put to his knees Gaddafi in Libya, a member of the African Union.

I have some sympathy to the intervention, since African leaders have sold themselves, paid by Gaddafi for their indulgence, as well as funding of the AU itself. Why can’t African leaders be despised?

AU, the club of dictators

For a long time now, I have stood behind my conviction and tell you that the AU has not been able and cannot serve the interests of the peoples in any African nation & that of African states that pretend to be its masters.

This is simply because, as the last quarter century has shown, the AU has proved to be a club of dictators.

That is the main difference between the OAU, which was very much appreciated and respected by peoples at home within Africa and abroad. That is due to its commitment to principles, and its purposefulness, its mission being decolonization of Africa. Now it’s a shop. dictators exploit it to leverage international aid and ‘friendship’ of the powerful, if you saw yesterday the business Trump transacted with Rwanda’s Paul Kagame who takes over as AU Chairman. See my tweets

On the other hand, the AU may have programs elaborated by ideological demagogues who do not even understood the implications of what they advocate. Vacuous as they have been, their objectives are designed not to be realized!

For instance, on human rights & econ growth, it is mute. On the latter, it tried to copy the Lagos Plan of Action, which was long dead and buried. Now, as you heard from Davos days ago – in the era of properly and judiciously unexploited growth -the President of African development Bank Adsenia had to embarrass leaders of countries such as Ethiopia that often masquerade with their highest GDP growths that for the majority of Ethiopians do not put food on the table. He reminded these leaders at Davos, “People can’t eat GDP figures”!

Who could quarrel with this, save the TPLF nincompoops that are sold to their greed? In response Friday, I said my piece in my tweets!

In other words, the head of the only regional bank for Africa, to which non-Africans contribute lion’s portion of its capital, is frustrated about the deception in poverty reduction in Africa.

Ebola and AU

As far as the AU is concerned it has proved traitor to the interests of the peoples of Africa! I could go on citing examples. During the outbreak of Ebola, African leaders were meeting in Guinea. They had heard about its outbreak! They closed the summit without devoting a one sentence statement of concern, or pronouncing themselves to request international assistance, nor were they able to make appeals to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which could have been operationalized.

That is why, at the time, I thrashed the AU explaining may rational, for which you may consult my article from that time. At the time, I never supported the criticisms that were labeled against WHO by the AU maggots who have nothing better to do that the defense of their masters.

Also AU’s criticism of WHO, a United Nations specialised agency, was senseless. It is not without reason, the UN Security Council praised WHO in both statements from the floor and its Resolution 2177 (2014), which under Chapter VII of the Charter declaring Ebola “threat to international peace & security”, while acknowldeging and calling on WHO to utilise its capacities to provide technical leadership in this fight.

Ato Yibeltal Gebregziabher, since you asked, that is my view of the African Union.

Ethiopia’s lost opportunities as headquarters nation

TPLF everywhere and in every situation has been petty.

After it seized Addis Abeba, one of its first tasks was the removal of the Ethiopian Assistant Secretary-General of the AU Yilma Tadesse. Why, as a very able diplomat, with whom I had worked in the foreign ministry, he had given them a hard time as ambassador in the Sudan, although Sudanese security were all for them in Khartoum.

On our envoy’s return in Addis Abeba, he was nominated and selected to the high-level post at the OAU. Ethiopia-AU connection is now based on individual officials (cadres) transacting the nation’s interests, doing business with foreign and international organisations’ representatives in forex trade and imports of goods duty free.

As a headquarters nation, Ethiopia in the past 30 or years with TPLF’s short-term interests — the quid pro quo of personal-sorts — such as TPLF senior cadres ‘family ties’, friends & mistresses’ employment entreaties have hurt it. Also that has continued to become among the cancers that have eaten away the regional organisation – resulting in Getachew Assefa’s people behind it benefiting from trading forex in the parallel market.

When a host country government begins to lick the boots of hawks in regional organisations, it demeans itself. The previous AU Commission Chair was given informal signals by Ethiopian security to threaten her from the outset if ever she thought she could capitalize on human rights against the TPLF. She obliged. But the TPLF has discredited the value of being host to international organisations – even if we ignore the prospects of it being saved today from killing Ethiopians at every turn and the danger of its inevitable toppling at some point.

I am trying to state here a corrupt group whether in the trenches or raised to state power and leadership cannot escape attraction toward the illegal. What it is missed there is the fact that its strength could have been the law, if judiciously applied its strong coat of arm, without any consequences of illegality or contempt by the diplomatic community. As a matter of fact, the TPLF has hurt not only long-term interests of Ethiopia, but also itself as a mafia, Africa’s & the regional organisation’s future.

While it was too late for the TPLF agency to buy an AU official, with offer of a villa to own the refusal was not unexpected. As a candidate, she had her eye on becoming president of her country!

In the image of its members

Let me finally say, who does an international organisation look like is a question that arises often. Those familiar with such organisations have an automatic response: they say it looks like its membership (the states).

While that indeed is true, the role of a visionary host country that has commitment to principles, most of them enshrined in UN Charter, other international law precepts could be guide, as well as the nation’s and people’s history.

Unfortunately, as a dictatorship the TPLF would not like it. Without a snippet of doubts, I understand, those are inimical to the Front’s interests. Its eyes are always on the cookies, while the long-term interests of Ethiopians are harmed, as Africans are too.

Most of all, wedded to small short-term gains, TPLF-run Ethiopia has proved fiercest enemy of its own long-term interests. Of course that goes to the peoples of Africa too. Depraved as TPLFites are, dictators may not see it that they have become damaged goods.

If at all they care, therefore, TPLF is neither for people, peace, and betterment of human and societal life; nor does it care about the future they have no sense at all, not even do they care about history!

All said and done, the TPLFite world is defined by debauchery, newly-acquired habits, power and wealth have aroused. The preoccupations of these leave them no time to attend to real human needs of our citizens as well as other Africans. That is why the TPLF has always been insecure, dishonest and destructive!

The question Ato Yibeltal Gebreegziabher asked me to reflect on is about the current meeting. Going into fake agendas of the Union does not help, if you wanted sincere in look. I had reviewed the agenda. The outcome will be the same like TPLF /EPRDF meetings/conferences. Within a week after the conferences, they go to their killings, corruption and everything now all existing regional and international instruments prohibit them from doing anything meaningful!

I found my moment of sadness, when I saw the TPLF foreign minister struggling in his maiden AU press conference. Because in my days, growing up in Ethiopia and as a freshman at the Haile Selassie I University in 1969/70, I had seen foreign ministers and prime ministers that did not need to buy PhDs or MAs, or whatever their qualifications and steadily lucent.

They were able to proudly represent the country and present their ideas, which more often Africa unhesitatingly embraced! Believe me when I say, behind their ideas was conviction the ideas they presented were listened. They truly had Africa’s interests at heart, not the emperor’s since he had won with grace what his time had allowed him.

I had a night out with former Foreign Minister Ketema Yifru in New York in late 1980s. The most I enjoyed first hand was what he shared with me, especially how the emperor allowed free discussion on issues with fewer interjections from him during cabinet meetings.

When HIM felt sufficient discussion had taken place, the late Ketema Yifru told me, he would sum his understanding. The first question, if it is a diplomatic or foreign affairs issue, he would turn and ask is “Ketema can you live with this? Would you have difficulties delivering? What?…” The same with other ministers, I was told. It does not mean there would not be contentions and he had to call a few of the ministers to meet with him.

Developmental State comes with a hammer to find solutions to policy problems! That is the TPLF dictators! Be it the deceptive Meles, or Hailemariam now in the last five years, the man whom even ordinary citizens vaguely remember his existence, aware that he is only a tool of the Tigrean minority in power!

After the TPLF foreign minister’s press conference sast week, I tweeted my sense of embarrassment, as well as disappointment when he blabbered in a police way to edit, for instance, the corruption item in the agenda. I don’t know why he did that, whether out of opposition or disbelief. It did not tally with my reading of the Union’s agenda before that press conference moment.

Another irritant is the focus on Ethiopian Airlines; they campaign to dominate the African skies. While important in terms of transport and trade, I have strong feeling that Ethiopian is being reduced to propaganda both by the TPLF media and its harebrained developmental state officials.

Tigrean Airlines at our expense! (Credit Gondar Time)

Ethiopian Airlines, if its financial and human resources health is to pass through this turbulent years, it does not need the TPLF habitual mendacity. After all, it is ETHIOPIAN — founded on solid management principles that now the TPLF has been trying to replace it with its ethnic domination interests.

I hear the TPLF ‘licks individuals’ like mosquito to sort them out. That is the ethnic test, whether he is Tigrayan from Adowa, loyal to TPLF.

In the case of others, non-Tigrean Ethiopians, things won’t go as far as licking. The litmus test is to send spies all around the candidate(s) and trying to see if he/she has ‘decency’ to tolerate TPLF thefts and deceits, when it transfers funds, goods or planes to its ownership or in Tigrqy’s name Ethiopian Airlines paying or painting its own planes.

They may have plans to be realised by the appointed time to transfer the nation’s civilian planes to TPLF ownership, as it has all of Ethiopian Airforce fighter and transport jets. Today, the process has started and we see Ethiopian Airlines plane labeled TIGREAN. If you think it has not been already tried, you are on your own. Then you can decide whether it is the real thing or a mirage, when the time comes.

The African Union would be the first to sit in a meeting and decide that the TPLF has a point! Ask Senegal, how efficient the AU is. It has gotten the taste of its shrewdness, when Tedros Adhanom with the help of the TPLF and Tigray regional state government arranged to take the ministerial meeting of the AU in 2016 to buy the souls of African delegations (with delights of all sorts) only to vote for him! African government representatives being a reflection of their governments, they voted the satisfaction of their flesh.

When international organisations meet away from their established headquarters, they have regulations they must get formal decision from member states. This has financial implications. I understand the national treasury was made to pay for the delegations travelling to Mekelle, the feasts and fanfares. After all, it is the native son that was running to the post.

For the Mekele AU ministerial meetings, the brother-brother gang within the AU: Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Angola and Liberia were sufficient to sway and carry the day! Recall what happened to the shameful AU decision that called African states to withdraw from the membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The TPLF needed the support of the vociferous group to kill the organisation in the event they landed on its dock! They have managed to weaken it. Fortunately, the ICC is still alive!

Someday, if and when Tigray’s divorce from Ethiopia the TPLF has been plotting is to come true, decision by the AU means the brother-brother gang taking the lead. It would be the one that decides, even as serious a matter this one. Luckily, it has not managed to secure freedom for Sudan’s Al Bashir! There are many things it cannot, and sensible Africans will not, allow the AU brother-brother gang, to be able to do those cavalier things!

That much for the AU, its summits, conferences and meetings!

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