Thursday, February 5, 2009

Gaddafi’s Africa stillborn

Col Muammar Gaddafi lived up to his billing as a flamboyant advocate of a vast kingdom to be known as the United States of Africa.

But the majority of African Heads of State who attended the African Union summit in Addis Ababa would have none of it.

Why, in the first place, Gaddafi was elected AU chairman was one of the mysteries of the summit. After all, Libya has held no democratic elections since he seized power 40 years ago.

The second is why the Libyan leader is so fixated on trying to bring together disparate geographical entities into a political union, even when it is clear that loose regional economic blocs have not worked well.

But to give the man his due, he did articulate some of his reasons, which include the failure of ‘‘imposed’’ multiparty politics, globalisation, as well as endemic poverty and never-ending conflicts.

However, it is not clear how these challenges are to be overcome. Nor is it clear how countries characterised by a myriad political systems can be poured into one melting pot and result in a single polity.

Nevertheless, the AU did adopt a notable resolution, changing its Commission into an Authority that will have the powers to regulate on some continent-wide issues, including regional commerce, climate change, soil degradation and food security.

These are noble goals. But how a secretariat which is already under-funded will handle these added responsibilities remained a secret.