35th AU Summit in Addis Ababa
Last weekend, the 35th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union took place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, with Senegalese President Macky Sall taking over the chair from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Félix Tshisekedi. The summit, which was actually held under the motto “Building Resilience in Nutrition on the African Continent”, was dominated in particular by security and health policy issues. The attending heads of state and government unanimously condemned the recent coups d’état in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan. The suspension of the membership of these four countries set a negative record in the history of the AU, being the highest number of suspensions over a span of 12 months. In view of these developments, the Union advocated close cooperation with the regional economic communities (RECs) concerned and announced tougher sanctions. In addition, Uganda and Tanzania were admitted as new members of the AU Peace and Security Council. On the other hand, the mandate of Ethiopia, where the AU has been criticised for not acting decisively enough in the Tigray conflict in the north of the country, was not extended. With regard to the Covid-19 pandemic, ways to increase the continent’s low vaccination rate of currently only 11% were discussed. It was decided to upgrade the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to a public health authority and thus separate it from the AU Commission in order to make the institution more flexible and efficient. The African Medicines Agency (AMA), newly created at the end of 2021, will also be responsible for vaccine licensing and thus represent a step towards pharmaceutical sovereignty for the continent. So far, Africa is the only continent that relies on authorities from other regions for vaccine approvals. Meanwhile, the decision on a conflict-laden issue has been postponed: Israel’s observer status, approved by AU Chair Moussa Faki in July 2021, is not to be voted on until 2023. At the current summit, a committee of eight heads of state and government was formed to hold consultations between member states in advance. A number of states, in particular South Africa and Algeria, are strictly opposed to the inclusion of Israel as an observer. Both states are to become part of the committee, along with the DRC, Cameroon, Nigeria and Rwanda, among others. Finally, the AU member states spoke out for more responsibility and greater participation of the continent on the international stage. They called for the African continent to be allocated at least two permanent and five non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council. The current architecture of the Security Council no longer reflects the current world order.
EU ends sanctions against Burundi
On Tuesday, after several months of political dialogue with Burundi, the European Union (EU) announced the early termination of sanctions against the East African state. Only last November, the sanctions had been extended until October 2022. The EU justifies its decision to end the suspension of all direct financial assistance earlier than planned with the peaceful political process since the parliamentary and presidential elections in May 2020. With this step, the international community declares its support for promoting the rule of law in Burundi and for stabilising and consolidating democratic institutions. At the same time, the EU stated that it continued to see challenges for the country in the area of human rights, reconciliation and good governance. With the lifting of sanctions, the EU follows the US, which had already ended its sanctions against Burundi in November last year, citing reforms by current President Évariste Ndayishimiye. The US measures had been in place since the end of 2015, the EU sanctions since 2016, after Burundi fell into a severe political crisis in the wake of the 2015 elections that saw former President Pierre Nkurunziza win a controversial third term. Several thousand people lost their lives in riots and protests. High-ranking government officials and security forces were accused of serious human rights violations. At the time, 50% of the state’s annual budget was supported by external budget support, and the EU was Burundi’s largest donor. Reactions to the current decision from Brussels are mixed:. Burundian Foreign Minister Albert Shingiro thanked the EU for the resumption of bilateral relations and the East African Community also welcomed the decision. However, non-governmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch are strongly critical and see too little progress in the current political developments to justify such a decision. As recently as September 2021, a UN Commission of Inquiry found that the country’s human rifghts had deteriorated since Ndayishimiye, who is considered to be an ally of the the late ex-president Nkurunziza, came to power.
Senegal defeated seven-time champions Egypt 4-2 on penalties in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final at the Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé, Cameroon on Sunday. It was the first time the West African country won the continental football championship after losing two finals in 2002 and 2019. On their return to the capital Dakar, the team was extensively celebrated by enthusiastic fans, not only in the streets and on social media. President Macky Sall interrupted his trip abroad to welcome the Lions de la Teranga, as the national team is also known, on their return to Dakar and declared Monday a bank holiday in recognition of the historic success. At a ceremony on Tuesday at the presidential palace, Sall awarded cash prizes and plots of land to the victorious players. As early as the end of March, Senegal and Egypt will meet again in the decisive battle for one of the five African places for the World Cup in Qatar.
South African photographer Zanele Muholi has been documenting the lives of her country’s Black LGBTQIA+ community since the early 2000s. Her subjects range from sexual politics and racist violence to community resistance and self-assertion. From 26 November to 13 March 2022, Moholi’s first comprehensive solo exhibition in Germany will be on view at the Gropius Bau.