Thursday, 7 April 2011


Institute for Democracy in Africa (IDASA) has called for honest debate on African Union’s (AU) capacity to resolve conflict on the continent.
In its statement on the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya, IDASA executive director Paul Graham stated that the horrors unfolding in the Ivory Coast  and Libya provide lessons, not only for Ivorians  and Libyans about how to move forward, but more importantly for the continent as a whole when facing similar conflicts.
“We recognise the role of the African Union in determining African solutions to African problems, but call for honest debate on its capacity and willingness to do so. At the same time, we also recognise the responsibility of the international community to protect civilians but believe there is an urgent need for clarity on the UN Security Council resolution 1973 on Libya, adopted under Chapter VII of the 1945 Charter, which is concerned with acts of aggression and maintaining peace. It explicitly mentions the UN’s mandate to protect civilians, but fails to declare the UN’s “responsibility” to civilians. We question the UN’s rejection of heavy weaponry and not all forms or weaponry and we are concerned that the media focus on the “no fly zone” diverted attention from what intervention is permitted on the ground,” Said Graham. “ Most especially we want to raise the apparent disparity in UN action in the case of Libya and Cote
 d’Ivoire; events in Libya demonstrate that much clearer rules of engagement are required for international interventions in situations where the rights of self determination are superseded by the need to protect innocent civilians in conflict between governments and their peoples.”
Graham called for respect of democratic, electoral processes and outcomes as Africa moves in the direction of democracy, growth, development and prosperity.
He urged the AU, the United Nations, development agencies and think tanks to engage in a very honest appraisal by all parties of the transition processes currently in practice on the continent.
“What is presently happening in the Ivory Coast is a sad moment for all Africans. It raises questions about election management, conflict solving and peace building methods in our continent, and it would be a great mistake to allow the events in Cote d'Ivoire to be left uncriticised,” said Graham. “While it is true that each country in Africa has to face its own demons in its own way, the continent as a whole has to reaffirm its commitment to recognising the voice of the people in the process of transferring power, and to respecting the democratic process, and its universally recognised principles of citizen participation, government accountability and transparency, and legitimate elections as the only reliable means of changing governments.”
He said Idasa welcomes the spread of pro-democracy protests in countries in North Africa and the Middle East in which citizens have declared their clear rejection of unelected and non-accountable governments and honours the courage shown by those individuals who have come out in their thousands to demand an end to decades-long rule in their countries.
“We now can see the wisdom of former South African president Nelson Mandela’s decision to remain in office for one term only. We recognise that in ceding power to Frederick Chiluba after 27 years in power, Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda avoided plunging his country into an Ivory Coast-type scenario. In Ghana in 2009, John Atta Mills peacefully took over the reins of power from John Kufuor, who had defeated him in the 2000 and 2004 polls,” said Graham. “Collegial discussion is needed now to assess what went wrong - and of course to prevent it from recurring at a time that so many countries in our continent face, or are demanding, the imminent transfer of power.”

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