Security, mandates, finances, governance… African Union: 20 years for nothing?

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Are Africans losing faith in the AU?

By Mathieu Olivier

Posted on Wednesday, 3 August 2022 14:51, updated on Tuesday, 11 October 2022 11:16
Opening of the 40th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU), in Addis Ababa, on February 2, 2022. © MONTAGE JA: XINHUA-REA

A Commission under scrutiny, a powerless Peace and Security Council, a neglected instrument of self-evaluation... A journey to the heart of an organisation where pious appeals for good governance poorly mask a realpolitik that reigns supreme.

This is part 2 of a 4-part series

Comfortably seated in his large armchair in the plenary hall, Faustin-Archange Touadéra is impassive. Under the intense white light of the Malabo Congress Centre, the doctor of mathematics knows he is being watched. Behind his back or on the balcony, some advisers who have followed the debates are on the lookout for a smile or, on the contrary, a look of sorrow.

But Faustin-Archange Touadéra, with his usual good-natured expression, remained unperturbed. On Saturday 28 May, on the second day of an extraordinary summit of African Union (AU) heads of state, the Central African president approved, like his peers, a declaration condemning “unequivocally all forms of unconstitutional change of government” and recognising the “negative impact on peace” of “private military companies” and other foreign “mercenaries. And did all this without batting an eye.

Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra after his election, in Bangui, January 18, 2021. © ANTOINE ROLLAND/REUTERS

Two days earlier, in Bangui, more than 1,000 kilometres to the east, a member of parliament from his party, the United Hearts Movement, presented a draft amendment to the constitution to the National Assembly. The aim (among other things) was to abolish presidential term limits and allow Faustin-Archange Touadéra to run for a third term.

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