Monday, January 28, 2013

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) ‘Stop coups in Africa’

‘Stop coups in Africa’
Sunday, 27 January 2013 00:00
Mabasa Sasa in Addis Ababa

The African Union should sanction any countries where unconstitutional power transfers occur, Foreign Ministers from across the continent have said. Since the 1950s, there have been at least 85 coups or attempted coups in Africa — many of them in the same countries — as states continuously fail to put in place constitutional structures and institutions that guarantee peaceful power transfers.

While the number of coups has slowed down since the 1980s, the rate at which coups occur remains a major development challenge in many African countries.

In just the past 10 years, there have been coups or coup attempts in the Central African Republic (2003), Chad (2004), Equatorial Guinea (2004), Mauritania (2005), Chad (2006), Madagascar (2006), Guinea-Conakry (2008), Mauritania (2008), Madagascar (2009), Niger (2010), Guinea-Bissau (2010), the DRC (2011), Niger (2011), Guinea-Bissau (2011), Libya (2011), Egypt (2011), Tunisia (2011), Mali (2012) and Guinea-Bissau (2012).

That is nearly two coups or coup attempts per year over the past decade.

This is despite there being the Lome and Algiers Declarations that empower the African Union to sanction countries in which such power transfers occur, often at the great loss of human life and much infrastructure and economic damage.

African Foreign Affairs Ministers now want to stop that by asking the AU Heads of State and Government to amend the two declarations.

They said this at their meeting under the banner of the Executive Council of the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last Thursday.

The meeting was held ahead of the 20th Summit of AU leaders, the same Heads of State who the Foreign Ministers want to get tough on the issue of coups.
Chair of the Executive Council Minister Nassirou Bako Arifari of Benin said under the Lome and the Algiers Declarations, the AU could impose sanctions that include trade restrictions.

“We need the amendments to the protocol to criminalise coups. We also need a model law on universal jurisdiction on international crimes,” Minister Arifari said.

Addressing the Executive Council, AU Commission Chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma emphasised that there could be no development without stability.

“The persistence and re-emergence of old conflicts and the development of new threats to security continues to require our urgent and focused attention and, in particular, understanding and addressing the root causes of conflicts.

“To this end, amongst other things we must do, is to accelerate the operationalisation of the Africa Standby Force, so that the continent has the capacity for rapid response, when the situation requires.”

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