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President Obasanjo’s AU ‎Chairmanship

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President Obasanjo’s AU ‎Chairmanship

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By Somalilandtimes network

President Olusegun Obasanjo was, for the past 18 months, a very busy man. Besides his onerous job as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he was the Chairman of the African Union(AU). In his capacity as chairman of the AU, he piloted and coordinated the business of the AU Assembly, which is the highest decision making body of the AU. Between July 6, 2004 and January 24, 2006, the burden of taking the AU nearer the goals or ideals upon which it succeeded the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on July 9, 2002 rested on him. He was the voice of the continent as well as its chief negotiator in its relationship with the Group of Eight(G8) most industrialized countries in the world, the European Union and indeed the rest of the world.

In the estimation of former President of Mali, Alpha Oumar Konare, who is the chairman of the African Union Commission, the secretariat that is responsible for the day-to-day running of the business of the AU, throughout these long months President Obasanjo successfully elevated the AU with the support of his peers. The voice of Africa was heard and the presence of Africa on the world stage was strengthened. He did not falter for one second despite the many distressing personal trials that befell him and all the adversities Nigeria experienced.

We are gladdened by President Olusegun Obasanjo’s remarkable feat at the AU. We recall that the AU aims to achieve greater unity and solidarity between African countries and the peoples of Africa; defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its member states; accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent; promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples; encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; promote peace, security, and stability on the continent; promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance; promote and protect human peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments; establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations; promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies; promote cooperation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of African peoples; coordinate and harmonize the policies between the existing and future regional economic communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union; advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, in particular in science and technology; and work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health on the continent. These goals require strong efforts of a very strong and purposeful leadership and we are gratified that our own President Olusegun Obasanjo was able to set a standard that would accelerate the actualization of the ideals of the AU.

We are particularly happy that President Obasanjo’s performance justified his rating as one of the most dedicated Pan-Africanists on the continent. He brought to bear his passion and love for the continent on the job. What makes his success story more outstanding is the fact that it was not only Nigeria that was faced with adversities. The continent was faced with many challenges. From the account of the AU as published in its website the AU, under the watch of President Obasanjo, had grappled with issues ranging from health to wars. The continent had to combat malaria and the HIV pandemic and political issues as totalitarianism and undemocratic regimes and the legal status of Western Sahara, which was admitted by the AU as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The AU had to mediate in many civil wars and conflicts that include the Algerian Civil War; the Casamance Conflict; the Chadian-Sudanese War; Second Congo War; Somali Civil War, including Somaliland’s claim for independence; North-South Conflict in Sudan, Ivorian Civil War, Conflict in northern Uganda and Zimbabwe’ political crises. On the economic front, the age long problem of the poor standard of living of the majority of Africans persisted. Desertification continued to exacerbate famine on the continent. The Darfur crises had escalated and attracted world attention, which has up to this moment divided along the lines of those who believed it to a humanitarian tragedy that passes for genocide and those who feel otherwise. In all of these problems, President Obasanjo demonstrated his sterling international leadership qualities.

Under his watch, the AU handled the political crises that Togo was faced with after the death of Gnassingbe Eyadema with maturity. We recall that when Gnassingbe Eyadema died on February 5, 2005,his son Faure Eyadema was named his successor. The AU responded by calling the act a military coup. Togo's constitution call for the speaker of parliament to succeed the president in the event of his death. By law, the parliament speaker must call national elections to choose a new president within 60 days. The AU's protest forced the young Eyadema to hold elections, which he won May 4,2005.

But it was not all that rosy for President Obasanjo. The AU could not reverse the August 3, 2005 coup in Mauritania and the Darfur crisis is still lingering. Cote d’Ivoire is still hanging on the balance. But the peaceful election in Liberia that produced the first elected female African head of state, and the debt relief that many poor Africans, including Nigeria received make up for all of these sore areas. The handling of the Sudan Summit that produced Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Congo Brazzaville is also an indication of President Obasanjo’s able stewardship. The success story of President Obasanjo’s stewardship at the AU would surely urge analysts to ask why he has not been able to replicate that in his handling of Nigeria!

Source: Daily Independent

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