It is not clear whether it is because the leadership of the so-called African Union is largely made up of unregenerate dictators and tentative democrats, or it is simply because it has absolutely no vision and/or development and progressive agenda for the continent that in its most recent attempt at negotiating a feasible settlement of the Libyan crisis, the AU leadership, reportedly, came to the table with the rebels totally devoid of the fundamental criterion of having Col. Muammar Gaddhafi immediately stand down from the position that he forcibly seized from a legitimately appointed King Iddris and the Libyan people in September 1969?
Or maybe these AU leaders thought that pointless talk-shopping of the kind that characterized the erstwhile Organization of African Unity (OAU) is what makes the AU tick. Either way, it was crystal clear from the get-go that the talks with the Benghazi-based rebel leadership was bound to fail.
It is also quite quaintly evident that South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma would be far better off tackling his own “Strauss-Kahnian” problems than presuming to use a virtual political dead-end like Messrs. Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin’s Russia to resolve the Libyan stalemate. While, indeed, as a Veto Power and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia is a formidable force to reckon with, nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that the dead-set course of the rebels could either be reversed or even significantly impeded well enough to satisfy the lurid desire and wishes of the Gaddhafi “Amen Corner” among the leadership of the African Union. One also fervently hopes that leaders like Mr. Zuma were footing their junketing bills from out of their own wallets.
We are also significantly informed that the latest AU Road Map woefully failed to impress the Benghazi rebels, precisely because it insolently preferred to envisage matters through the megalomaniacal eyes of the Monster-of-Tripolitania. This is how one reporter tersely cast the latest AU faux-pas: “The AU also said that Kadhafi has agreed to stay out of the negotiations, but the 53-nation bloc was unable to take a position on his future. [Further:] the agreement contained no direct criticism of Kadhafi [vis-à-vis his perennially gross human rights violations] and even called for an amnesty for crimes committed [by the Libyan dictator] during the conflict and the [immediate] unfreezing of Libyan assets abroad” (See “Libyan Rebels Reject African Plan, Prepare Advance” Modernghana.com 7/4/11).
What the preceding simply means is that the African Union is the least qualified continental body to attempt to facilitate an effective and meaningful resolution to the Libyan crisis. For starters, calling for the de-freezing of Libyan assets abroad risibly implies the unsavory desire of the AU leadership to finding an escape hatch for the Libyan strongman to steal as much of his country’s public dole as possible, without having to answer to either the Libyan people or the global community at large.
In other words, the foregoing is just another impudent affirmation by the leadership of the African Union that it is willfully complicit in the good political fortunes of Mr. Gaddhafi. And even more flagrantly that given a free rein, the AU would rather oversee the stringent enforcement of the status quo ante than brook and rambunctious attempts by the Benghazi rebels to rock the boat.
Already, Turkey, a significant NATO member, a predominantly Muslim country and a staunch ally of the United States, has officially recognized Benghazi as the new capital of Libya, at least until such time that the Gaddhafi menace has been extirpated. And there is every reason to believe that but for a cynical pocket of personal interest here and there, the Libyan leader has almost no reliable ally in the West.
Also, to-date, the boldest boost to the yeomanry efforts of the rebels by members of the NATO alliance has come from France, in the form of munitions drops. What the foregoing means is that whenever the epic history of the Libyan democratic struggle gets written, President Nicolas Sarkozy and his compatriots are bound to occupy a prime spot. Here in the United States, however, cynical Republican congressional opposition to President Obama has meant that the man whose historic address to the Muslim and Arab world may well have accorded direct vent to the proverbial “Arab Spring,” has to wistfully contend himself with playing a supportive, albeit miserly, role in the salutary Libyan onslaught.
Of course, those equally cynical critics and faux African nationalists who, curiously, believe that the latest African Union attempt to deviously and viciously thwart the epic efforts of the Benghazi rebels in their revolutionary attempt at ousting Mr. Gaddhafi’s 42-year stranglehold on the Libyan people is the best thing that ever happened to the latter, are entitled to their warped and jaded opinion. Still, whether such dastardly ploy by the AU leadership to stalling the beneficent emergence of Libyan democracy is a deed of which to be unreservedly proud, or even one that is tantamount to the AU standing tall, is one that ought to be properly determined by the historic out-turn of events.
Personally speaking, there is absolutely nothing worth bragging about the abject refusal of the AU to execute the arrest warrant served on Mr. Gaddhafi by the International Criminal Court. The fact of the matter is that other than Nigeria in the Taylor Affair, even in good and staid times, the African Union leadership could not be counted upon to deliver a 5-lb chicken for the preparation of a continental Inter-Presidential feast in Addis Ababa.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of 22 books, including “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011), his most recent volume of poetry.