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Delegates at an African Union summit. Delegates attend the opening session of the 33rd African Union Summit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 9, 2020 (AP photo).

When It Comes to African Crises, the African Union Is No Solution

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021

A number of recent developments, including the civil war in Ethiopia and a spate of military takeovers in Mali, Guinea, Sudan and Chad, have exacerbated longstanding concerns of democratic backsliding, the return of military coups and the viability of the nation-state in Africa. The reactions of regional bodies and the African Union to these developments have been typified by carefully worded diplomatic statements, suspension of erring member states from group activities and weak sanctions, evoking familiar criticisms of those organizations as “dictators’ clubs” beholden to national leaders at the expense of the citizens they ostensibly serve.

The inability of these bodies to effectively mediate in regional conflicts or reverse illegal power grabs, let alone prevent them, raises questions about their effectiveness in enforcing “good governance” in their regions and across the continent. And for many other observers, the crises in Ethiopia, Mali, Guinea, Cameroon, Sudan and elsewhere also call into question the commitment of member states to enforce protocols they signed up to, and highlight the structural, institutional and ideational hurdles that handicap the ability of these organizations to enforce their policies. ...

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