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A Continent in Crisis: How the African Union Failed Sudan and Continues to Fail the People of Africa
By Bare Abdi
Thursday May 4, 2023

Sudan is falling apart in our midst. Sudan is currently in a state of collapse, and the failure of the Union to effectively help Sudan is not a new occurrence. In the past, the African Union (AU) has similarly failed to intervene in crises in countries such as Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, Rwanda during the genocide in 1994, South Sudan, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Chad, Liberia, and Libya. In each of these crises, the AU has taken a backseat approach, leaving the people of these countries to fend for themselves while providing extra time for dictators and warmongers to commit atrocities. In the case of Sudan, the international community led by the US and others are leading multinational efforts to bring the conflict to an end and have managed to bring the two sides to agree to ceasefire even though it fell apart later.

Because of its incompetence and internal and regional infighting and power struggle, the AU Commission does not have the leverage and ability to get a breakthrough to mediate between the two sides, because some of the member countries are on both sides of the raging conflict. Another reason that has undermined the cohesion and unity of the organization has been and still continues to threaten its authority is the infighting, power struggle and regional economic, security and political organs of the continent. As many countries before it, Sudan will join a long list of countries in the region without an effective government where militias call the shots. If left unaddressed, Sudan could also become another breeding ground for terrorism and insurgency.

There are a number of regional blocs namely represented and/or that make up the African Union. They include IGAD, ECOWAS, SADC, COMESA, EAC, the Great Lakes region, etc. These regional bodies undermine the authority, unity, efficiency, and effective decision-making on domestic and international issues affecting the continent. As a result, they can’t speak with one voice on matters foreign and regional. 

It is the AU's responsibility to be the voice of the continent and lead it towards prosperity, development, peace, security, food security, and the alleviation of human suffering, poverty, diseases, coups, and civil wars. However, the organization has failed to achieve any of these goals. Instead, it has become an old-fashioned club of octogenarian oligarchs whose sole purpose is to squander and deplete the resources of this resource-rich continent at the expense of the world's most impoverished populations.

Due to the AU's ineffective and corrupt leadership, hundreds of thousands of young Africans risk their lives in perilous sea journeys to Europe in search of safety and better opportunities, escaping poverty, unemployment, endemic corruption, nepotism, mismanagement, poor governance, military coups, one-man rule, police brutality, and gross human rights violations. Unfortunately, the majority of countries under dictatorships in the world are in Africa, where leaders remain in power indefinitely by changing the country's constitutions.

The AU's nonsensical and rhetorical slogans of "African solutions to African problems" have never worked and will continue to be nothing more than empty words. To prove the ineptitude, lack of accountability, and responsibility of the AU, none of the United Nations missions in Africa are funded and operated by the AU. All of these missions are under the auspices of the UN Security Council resolutions, and they are funded and manned by the UN with the generosity of western and Asian taxpayers. The African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was built by the Chinese because the 54 member countries could not afford to mobilize their own resources and skills to build such momentous and iconic organization’s Headquarters.

It is high time to seriously review, reflect, re-evaluate, and re-examine the AU as an organization, its achievements, and its failures and reconfigure the organization to meet the continent’s current issues such as civil wars, military coups, one man rule and climate change among others. It is my belief that the AU has not achieved anything and has been a failure, a nightmare, a source of conflict, a burden, and a liability to every African person, living or dead.

It is due to the AU's lack of leadership that millions of people have become refugees within and displaced millions others, while millions died while trying to escape military coups, civil wars, and human rights violations. If there were avenues for legal redress and compensation, the AU and its leaders would be responsible for all refugees, IDPs, and those who continue to die in the high seas trying to escape violence. Until serious efforts are undertaken to address the structural, ineptitude, governance, internal disunity, and power struggles within the organization, Africa will always remain a crises manufacturing industry posing serious financial, economic, and security threats to the West. 

Bare Osman Abdi
[email protected]


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