AU club for African leaders – Experts

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African union

African Union (AU) has come under serious criticism as experts described it as a club for African leaders.

They said that the continental body has failed to solve development challenges.

The experts pummelled AU during a discussion at the three-day Mo Ibrahim Governance Weekend hosted in Kigali, Rwanda.

The experts described AU as a club for presidents and powerful individuals.

“The AU always defends African leaders when their stay in power is being questioned legitimately or illegitimately, but is not quick to react to challenges met by ordinary Africans, such as the asylum seekers stuck in the treacherous desert, leaving their homes in Nigeria, Niger or Eritrea,” said Nanjala Nyabola, a Kenyan writer and activist.

“There is a fixation on being anti-Europe within the AU, and this is a fallacy and a misleading argument.

“What we want to be talking about as Africans is free speech, democracy, freedom of association, economic empowerment – not differences with Europe.”

Dr Confort Ero, the Director of International Crisis Group, argued that whereas the AU is still needed on the continent, it has failed and therefore required massive reforms.

She said that the pan-African body lacked a clear strategy on managing the refugee crisis that hit Sub-Saharan Africa in the past years and also turned a blind eye to African leaders whose quest for power caused violence and economic slowdown.

“The AU is a bureaucratic body that has no immediate answers for the widespread support for third-termism by African leaders today. The body was created to bring about democratisation, constitutionalism and peace — and yet — these are exactly the same problems we still surfer today,” Ms Ero said.

“The body has to adapt to the needs of the Africans today; stop missing in action in the matters of its member countries and champion the aspiration of ordinary Africans.”

Dr Donald Kaberuka, the former president of the African Development Bank, however, defended AU saying dissolving the body would be an “absolute disaster” for the continent.

Dr Kaberuka — who is also member of the AU Reforms Advisory Committee — said that whereas change is needed, AU had overseen some of the largest milestones the continent has made such as signing the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) treaty, the world’s largest single market.

More: EastAfrican

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