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15 Feb, 2024 11:07

Coups, violence and crises threaten Africa – AU Commission head

The bloc’s chairperson also condemned Israeli assaults on Gaza, warning that ongoing conflicts could reverse development gains
Coups, violence and crises threaten Africa – AU Commission head

African Union (AU) Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat has warned that the continent is facing growing threats from military coups, electoral violence, and humanitarian crises sparked by war.

Faki made the remarks in a speech at an AU Executive Council summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday, where he also denounced the Israeli offensive in Gaza as a “war of extermination” and called for Palestinian sovereignty.

“The suffering of the Palestinian people, deprived of their fundamental rights to freedom and to the constitution of a viable and sovereign state, is being compounded before our eyes by a war of extermination,” he said.

The AU leader had previously stated that Israel’s war on Gaza since October had “shaken up” Africa.

The continental union’s leader pushed for united action to achieve peace and security in Africa, where several countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), Somalia, and Sudan, have been embroiled in protracted armed conflicts.

The 55-nation bloc has struggled to resolve internal political disputes, which have exacerbated divisions in several regions, including West Africa.

Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger recently served notices to “immediately” withdraw membership from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), accusing it of serving foreign interests and posing a threat to their countries. The regional authority has imposed sanctions on the three former French colonies to pressure them into restoring democratic rule after coups deposed civilian governments in Ouagadougou, Bamako, and Niamey.

ECOWAS has asked the coup leaders to reconsider their exit decision, which it says does not comply with the rules and would cause more hardship for their citizens. All three military governments have insisted on withdrawing “without delay.” 

The AU has said it deeply regrets the move by the Sahel nations and called for dialogue “far from any external interference” among the parties to preserve unity within ECOWAS and Africa.

At the two-day Addis Ababa summit, which ends on Thursday, Dhoihir Dhoulkamal, Comoros foreign affairs minister and chair of the AU Executive Council, said the withdrawal of the Burkinabe, Malian, and Nigerien governments from ECOWAS is “not likely to promote a rapid return to institutional normalization.” 

“It is up to ECOWAS to enter into frank and sincere discussions with its three member states as soon as possible in order to find a way out of this situation, which is harmful to both parties, quickly and upwards,” he said.