The AU Commission chairperson steps down this month, leaving behind a mixed bag of failures and successes.
Up until the last moment, many thought it wouldn’t happen – and then it did. The live question-and-answer session – broadcast from Addis Ababa to the continent, with the five candidates vying for the position of African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson – was a definite first for the African Union (AU).
The death of longtime Cuban ruler Fidel Castro last month led to tributes for the larger-than-life revolutionary leader from all over the world. In Africa, from the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa to Harare and Pretoria, leaders praised Castro’s contribution to anti-colonial struggles on the continent.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (92) is famous for quirky responses when asked why he has stayed in power since 1980. Asked by journalists whether it isn’t time he said farewell to the people of Zimbabwe, he replied: ‘Why, where are they going?’ On a serious note, he also angrily told journalists who asked about his decades-long presidency: ‘Have you ever asked the Queen that question, or is it just for African leaders?’ According to Mugabe: ‘Only God who appointed me can remove me’. Are term-limit changes a threat to democracy in Africa?
The presidential elections in Gabon have been keeping those following the outcome of the race on the edge of their seats for several days. While the results were announced, tensions are rising as the opposition is challenging the outcome and disgruntled citizens take to the streets.
There are few places as desolate as the camps of the Polisario Front in western Algeria. Over the years, infrastructure has been built to accommodate the tens of thousands of Saharawi refugees who live in the camps, but it remains a temporary shelter for those who dream of returning to the Western Sahara, which they claim as their home. Some of the refugees have been in the camps for over forty years.
The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is showing new signs of life. With the nomination earlier this year of well-known South African academic, Eddy Maloka, as new head of the APRM, things are looking up for the mechanism, which has been ‘dormant’ for the past four years.
With less than three months to go before the mid-July summit of the African Union (AU) in Kigali, Rwanda, candidates have started vying for the position of the chairperson of the AU Commission (AUC). The post has been occupied by South African politician Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for the last four years.
Cameroonian journalist Richard Onanena’s recent trip to neighbouring Chad to cover the first round of elections on 10 April was a harrowing experience. Due to the restrictions on communications imposed by the government, he was unable to send messages or reach his colleagues at the BBC Africa service’s headquarters in Dakar.