Calls for unity dominate Africa Day celebrations

Calls for unity dominated celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the continental organization that preceded the African Union (AU)

NAIROBI, Kenya — NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) —

Calls for unity dominated Thursday’s celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the continental body that preceded the African Union (AU) which represented 55 member states. But critics say the AU has become a paper tiger where there is a lot of talk but not much real weight to enforce its mandate.

Africa Day events across the continent honored the founding of the AU’s predecessor – the Organization of African Unity (OAU) – whose original purpose was to fight against colonialism before evolving in 2002 to incorporate the objectives of defending the sovereignty and independence of its members as well as encouraging their socio-economic integration.

In Addis Ababa, where the AU is headquartered, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stressed that unity is “no longer a slogan but a means of survival” in an increasingly complex world. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa echoed Abiy, calling for unity and “maintaining the bonds that frame our destiny”.

In his speech, Abiy argued for the need for a permanent African seat on the UN Security Council and proportional representation in the G7 and G20. Ramaphosa called for better governance on the continent amid conflict in Sudan as well as previous coups in Chad, Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.

“We use Africa Day to reaffirm the importance of consolidating democracy and consolidating good governance across Africa,” Ramaphosa said.

Critics say the AU has failed to achieve some of its goals, but supporters argue its powers are limited to allow member heads of state to retain control.

Kenyan political analyst and lawyer Danstan Omari says the AU is a “dead bulldog” that lacks mechanisms to enforce its mandate.

“It’s a talk show that has no impact. If you don’t have the mechanisms to enforce anything, then why are you here? So, in my opinion, this is a body that needs to be completely removed,” Omari told The Associated Press.


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