Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gadaffi's AU a Waste of Time for Botswana

In a press conference shown on BTV, Vice President Mompati Merafhe and Minister of Foreign Affairs Phandu Skelemani could barely hide their annoyance at the manner in which the just ended African Union (AU) Summit in Libya was held. The new chairperson, Colonel Muammar Gadaffi seems to be intent on running the AU just as he runs his country- by decree and order, something that didn't go down well with the Botswana contingent.

International media has covered the decision, apparently made by the entire summit, that African countries would not abide by the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to arrest Sudan President Oma Al-Bashir. Vice President Merafhe said that this decision was misleading as it did not represent a decision that came about from a democratic process. According to him, Gadaffi brought the decision to the meeting and announced that a conclusion had been made. No debate on the issue was allowed. Both Botswana and Chad opposed the decision publicly and, according to Merafhe, other countries agreed with them though they only voiced their opinion in private. Merafhe wondered how Botswana, and many other African countries, can be signatories to the documents that created the ICC and then at the same time undermine their work. Botswana has said publicly that if the Sudanese President comes to the country they will arrest him and hand him over to the ICC.

At the same time, Merfahe would not be drawn into a discussion regarding an agreement the Botswana government entered into with the former US President George W Bush in which Botswana agreed that should American citizens be taken to the ICC, Botswana would not participate in their arrest. BTV reporter, Christopher Inyanga, asked the Vice President if this agreement was still in force with the new American administration, but the VP ignored the question.

Skelemani's disgust at how the meeting was held could not be disguised when he related how documents were brought to the general meeting that the chair said were documents made by the Executive Council, of which Skelemani was part. He was surprised to see that the documents put before the general meeting were not the ones that they had submitted. Members voiced their concerns about this. Skelemani told the local press that, "We were given wrong documents despite our complaints and we couldn't debate systematically. It is for your own judgment if this is the kind of Africa you want."

When asked if Botswana is considering pulling out of the undemocratic AU, the Vice President said that that wasn't an option. He still believed talking over issues wherever they can is the best way to solve the continent's problems.

1 comment:

Helen Ginger said...

Not good. And I would imagine, a bit scary.

Straight From Hel