Sunday, January 22, 2006

Moment of Truth for the African Union

As African leaders convene in Khartoum this week, they must decide whether to elect Sudan's Omar Hassan al-Bashir to Chair the African Union, in total and irredeemable violation of the African Union's declared principles and goals. There is nothing that the government of Sudan could do in the next few days to change the meaning of such a decision, although naturally the human rights activists who have been detained during the AU summit should be released, and any steps that the government takes to actually comply with UN Security Council resolutions would be welcome.

This moment of truth for the African Union may also become a moment of truth for the rest of the world. If the African heads of state make the wrong choice, world leaders will be faced with the fact that their efforts to prevent to genocide in Sudan--whether they are honest about it or not--have utterly failed. The feebleness of international support for the AU mission will no longer be at issue. The community of nations will be forced to either act directly and immediately to prevent genocide, or let it continue, in total and irredeemable violation of declared principles.

A contingent of African nations is vocally opposed to Bashir's candidacy, so there is yet hope that the African Union can have a role in bringing an end to the violence, and that an adequately equiped and provisioned international force will be mobilized to support the current mission. But my optimism is wearing thin. In any case, I'll be closely following Eugene's coverage of events in the coming days.

Update. Congo's Denis Sassou Nguesso has been chosen to chair the African Union. Eugene covers reaction from the US State Department.

posted by Fido the Yak at 11:57 AM.


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