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Africa: The AU’s Chequered History With Military Coups

Picture: Xinhua

Emmerson Mnangagwa and Robert Mugabe (file Photo).


In The aftermath of the intervention Through the Militia in Zimbabwe that led to the day past’s resignation of President Robert Mugabe, there was once a powerful call from Zimbabweans for the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Construction Community (SADC) to Not get involved.

Zimbabwean newspaper magnate Trevor Ncube, as an example, launched a collection of tweets with the hashtag #SADCBackOffZim. Zimbabwean author and journalist Peter Godwin tweeted: ‘There’s A different location in hell for any person – SADC, Zuma, AU – that tries to get between a scorned dictator and his People. Zimbabwe has been cheated of real alternate before; it may possibly’t be allowed to occur Once More.’

Those hostile to the AU and SADC’s intervention feared that these Enterprises Could stall the departure of the growing old Mugabe, regardless of the movements of the Military, the Zimbabwe African Nationwide Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the masses of extraordinary Zimbabweans who had taken to the streets to ask Mugabe to leave power. Zimbabweans additionally knew that the AU has a History of propping up unpopular leaders like Mugabe, who even served as AU chairperson in 2015.

The prior intervention By Way Of SADC Within The mid-2000s that resulted in the federal government of National Harmony (GNU) from 2008-13, led By Using Mugabe, was once additionally criticised in lots of quarters. Particularly, an important provisions of the worldwide Political Settlement that led to the GNU were not applied. The AU additionally many times rubber-stamped elections in Zimbabwe regardless of severe allegations of fraud.

The AU’s response to the occasions in Zimbabwe came a day after the primary Defense Force vehicles had been noticed on the outskirts of Harare. In a statement dated 15 November, AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat urged stakeholders to deal with the placement in response to Zimbabwe’s constitution. Mahamat said the main issue need to be resolved in a manner that promoted democracy and human rights, and the socio-Financial Construction of Zimbabwe. There was no direct call that Mugabe be maintained as head of state.

Rotating chairperson Guinean President Alpha Condé said: ‘We Can by no means settle for a Militia coup d’état. We insist on the honor of the constitution and a return to constitutional rule.’ This preliminary response By Condé was once consistent with the then Organisation of African Team Spirit’s Lomé Declaration of 2000 that outlawed unconstitutional modifications of presidency. This principle was once therefore taken up In The African Constitution on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the AU’s 2007 African Constitution on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

These continental selections followed three many years of political instability in lots of parts of Africa, characterised By Using Defense Force coups that ended in brutal Militia regimes in places equivalent to Nigeria, Uganda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan and somewhere else. For The Reason That adoption of the Lomé decision, there were a number of coups in a lot of international locations the place, for the most part, the AU caught to this concept.

In Niger in 2010, in Guinea in 2008, in Madagascar in 2009, in Mali in 2012 and Within The Valuable African Republic (CAR) in 2013, the AU straight away suspended these international locations from the Agency and imposed sanctions on the coup leaders. Mediation and intervention from the AU and the Regional Economic Organisations then aimed to come these international locations to constitutional rule, continuously via transitional mechanisms adopted By Using elections.

But AU interventions In The above-talked about cases were steadily difficult since the management that the AU was once defending in opposition to Military rule was itself compromised. the automobile’s former president François Bozizé, as an instance, who was overthrown By Means Of Seleka rebels, got here to power originally via a coup in opposition to his predecessor Ange-Félix Patassé in 2003. In some cases, coup leaders simply exchanged their Defense Force uniforms for formal attire, held elections and yes the AU that they were now decent.

The 2011 Arab Spring that introduced the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya to a fall posed a conundrum to the AU. Could the Company reject the need of the Folks, on condition that the leaders they overthrew led authoritarian undemocratic regimes? The AU’s Peace and Safety Council (PSC) mentioned this quandary going through the Organization and its devices and in a commentary acknowledged that ‘unconstitutional adjustments of presidency’ have been ‘deeply rooted in governance deficiencies’. It entreated governments to ‘uphold the guideline of regulation’ and ‘deepen democracy’.

The p.c.acknowledged that the Arab Spring confirmed up the weaknesses In The AU’s normative frameworks and that this created a ‘credibility problem’ for the Supplier. The %really helpful that an in-depth review be launched into all of the AU instruments touching on unconstitutional adjustments of presidency. Yet no binding resolution adopted and after all, the AU did nothing.

Again, at the finish of 2014, with the well-liked overthrow of former president Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso, the Lomé Declaration was once put to a very powerful test. The Armed Forces to a degree piggybacked on the facility of the streets and Lieutenant-Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida declared himself president. The AU refused to just accept the new regime and exhorted Burkina Faso to position in position a transitional civilian govt, which it did within two weeks. Elections followed.

Zimbabwe’s Militia leaders – and Mugabe – certainly know this Historical Past. Otherwise it might had been rather easy to take hold of energy and instate the previous vice chairman Emmerson Mnangagwa in Mugabe’s place.

The AU did not make from now on statements on the placement in Zimbabwe in mild of the exceptional summit of SADC held in Angola the day gone by.

It Is clear that the location in Zimbabwe as soon as Once More illustrated the weaknesses of the AU’s governance devices. The AU must No Longer limit its focal point on Militia coups, However act when there are flagrant human rights abuses or contraventions of constitutional rule in any one among its member states.

Liesl Louw-Vaudran, ISS Advisor

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