In Preparation for AU Summit
In response to the overwhelming inquiries from our subscribers for more information on the themes, potential advocacy avenues and logistical details for the upcoming AU summit in Addis Ababa, the AU Monitor has put together a short summary with relevant information.
The African Union summit will be held in Addis Ababa in January 2008. The summit will include the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) meeting from January 25-26, the Executive Council (EC) meeting from January 28-29 and the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments from January 31 to February 2. It is customary that civil society forums, debates and panels be held in advance of the PRC – these are expected to be held between January 20 and 25. If your organisation is planning a pre-summit event, please send details to hakima at fahamu.org for inclusion in the AU Monitor calendar and newsletter.
At this January’s summit, three issues are likely to dominate attention and discussion:
1. Election of Chairperson to the African Union
His Excellency President Oumar Alpha Konare has reached the end of his term as Chairperson of the African Union Commission. Elections for a new chairperson are due to take place, along with the election of Commissioners, at the January summit. The final list of candidates for chairperson and commissioners is available at the AU Monitor.
Candidates for the position of Chairperson of the African Union include two women, Mrs. Antoinette Batumubwira of Burundi and Mrs. Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika of Zambia, as well as four men, Mr. Abdulai Osman Conteh of Sierra Leone, Mr. Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini of Swaziland, Mr. Jean Ping of Gabon and Mr. Cassam Uteem of Mauritius.
What can you do?
If you have a candidate in your country or region, try to contact him/her and find out what he/she plans for their term at the African Union Commission, how they hope to strengthen the work of the Commission and what they see as the role and potential for civil society and citizen engagement. Write an article or conduct an interview based on these responses from the candidates that will inform others. Please share any such information through the AU Monitor. The more we are able to hear the platform upon which each candidate is running, the more able we will be as the people of Africa to hold him/her accountable to those commitments once they are elected to the Commission.
2. African Union Audit Review
At the last summit in Accra, Ghana, the AU Heads of States and Governments decided to establish a high-level panel to review the African Union. This panel has held consultations with various stakeholders since September, including a civil society meeting, and is currently finalising its report. In complement, the AU Monitor has launched a call for submissions and contributions from African civil society and citizens to deliver to national delegations during the January summit.
The significance of the Audit Review, and complimentary Peoples’ Audit, lies not merely in the fact that it will provide an overview of the achievements and challenges the Union has faced and hence lay the foundation from which new strategy and direction will be established as new Commissioners are elected, but, it is hoped that the review will also provide a framework for future assessment and strengthened accountability of the Union by providing benchmarks and goals for performance and activity.
What can you do?
You can provide recommendations on a thematic or regional issue of importance to you for inclusion in the Peoples’ Audit. Please send all contributions directly to hakima at fahamu.org. You can also hold public consultations in your country to solicit feedback from a broad range of citizens on the African Union’s performance, impact on the lives of African peoples and future direction. For guiding questions for these public consultations, please visit http://www.aumonitor.org/comments/443/. Please also submit any resulting reports to the AU Monitor for inclusion in the Peoples’ Audit and bring these reports to the attention of your national ministers and media so as to inform the national debate and policy during the January summit.
3. Union Government
Following the adoption of the Accra Declaration in June 2007 where a decision on the Union Government was effectively postponed, a Ministerial Committee was set up to attempt to formulate actionable points and definitions based on the deliberations in Accra and with a view of creating consensus during the January summit of the AU. This committee is made up of ten ministers from Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Uganda, Botswana, South Africa, Cameroon and Gabon. The third meeting of the Committee of Ten was held between the 27th and 28th of November.
The committee is mandated with the “identification of the contents of the Union Government concept and its relations with national governments; identification of domains of competence and the impact of the establishment of the Union Government on the sovereignty of member states; definition of the relationship between the Union Government and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs); elaboration of the road map together with timeframes for establishing the Union Government; and identification of additional sources of financing the activities of the Union.”
During the debate in Accra, a number of civil society organisations attempted to formulate a consensus position through the Continental Conference which resulted in the Accra CSO communiqué as well as by soliciting and disseminating a variety of views gathered through public consultations and “Peoples’ Voices” interviews.
What can you do?
Contact your national ministry, particularly if you are a citizen of the States included in the Committee of Ten, and ask for a clear statement on the national position on the Union Government. Mobilise citizens and civil society in your country or region to debate and discuss the Union Government proposal and inform the national ministry of the outcome of such consultations.
We hope you will find this information useful and of interest. The AU Monitor will continue to circulate news, information and analysis on these and other issues prior to and during the AU summit as it becomes available. In particular we will endeavour to make available logistical information as soon as possible.
Your input and contribution is always valued. Please do not hesitate to write to hakima at fahamu.org with any questions, comments or feedback.