Letters

The irony of au in Addis, the cost of conflict

letter1-pic

Demonstrators take part in a rally in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on November 7, 2021, in support of the national defense forces. PHOTO | AFP

Summary

  • The Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, a former Nobel laureate for peace has handed to his deputy and joined the army in battling insurgents as earlier promised.
  • It is evident that former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo will return to Lagos without a brokered peace deal and any cessation of hostilities between the two warring parties.
  • As conflicts rage in Africa, the focus always turns to the African Union (AU) for the charge of having no teeth to bite.

It is now official that the Ethiopian conflict has taken a new shape and more instability and bloodletting will be eminent.

The Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, a former Nobel laureate for peace has handed to his deputy and joined the army in battling insurgents as earlier promised.

It is interesting if anyone was to wish him the very best on the battlefield.

Another influential Ethiopian figure, ex-international athlete Haile Gebrselassie, has expressed his readiness to join the war in defense against the Tigray Peoples` Liberation Front (TPLF) soldiers who according to media reports are making advances to the capital, Addis Ababa.

Gebrselassie is also a renowned businessman who is held in high esteem by the younger generation for the outstanding athletic prowess which earned Ethiopia a huge international pride.

As an elder, he once travelled to Tigray for peace talks at the start of the conflict.

As the plot deepens, it is evident that former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo will return to Lagos without a brokered peace deal and any cessation of hostilities between the two warring parties.

The situation is dire with African leaders doing little to inspire confidence.

Little humanitarian aid

According to reports, little humanitarian aid is flowing to the war-torn areas.

This complicates the matters for children who after missing food depend on nutritional supplements for survival, senior citizens who are exposed as their caregivers scatter due to the war and the young girls and women who apart from missing school are also finding it hard to access basic reproductive health provisions.

As conflicts rage in Africa, the focus always turns to the African Union (AU) for the charge of having no teeth to bite.

Statesman Obasanjo who commands global respect came to the headquarter of AU in Addis but is returning to Lagos with little to show in a bid to silence the guns and bring the various leading players to the national table of discussion, consensus building and accord signing.

The same drums of war are still reported in Mozambique, South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and there are enough pointers that more military outfits will claim responsibility of more war and conflicts.

Perhaps, the question could be:

Does the AU have in black and white stroke in dealing with threats to regional peace and stability, respect for human rights and advancement of access to all aspects of health as promoted in different charters?

The import is that if the majestic AU headquarters in Addis can`t be a symbol of unity in Ethiopia, it is only important and urgent that we question the beliefs and convictions of AU through the continent`s leaders.

Kids` gloves, looking elsewhere

Ethiopia has for long remained a classic example and inspiration to many African states and citizens but by the current African leaders choosing to punch in kids’ gloves and looking elsewhere, we are letting down the ordinary citizens of Ethiopia who inspired us through patriotic colonialism defiance.

According to a report issued in June by the World Governing Summit, worsening conflicts is a direct threat to the significant prosperity that Africa had achieved by the year 2000 when there was an improvement in the continent`s security situation.

In a continent where development is dependent on donor funding, the report further says, up to US dollars 7 billion is spent on efforts to find stability especially by the United Nations peace-keeping missions spread across the continent.

Thus, any additional conflicts stretch resources that could have been utilised to improve access to basic human needs and deepen trade amongst Africans.

In addition, the collateral damage to such conflicts is the suspension of major infrastructural projects in several parts of the continent.

These projects are the lifeline upon which the opening of intra-trade is dependent.

For instance, increased turmoil in East Africa and the Horn of Africa is rolling back the plans to execute projects to open and connect Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Southern Sudan and Uganda.

This hurts the region`s business potential through free trade movement, technology and skills transfers.

Unfortunately, unresolved and new conflicts in the continent will emerge as an impediment to the recovery from the fangs of COVID-19 and erode the gains already secured on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) platform.

For now, as Ethiopia walks on a tight spot and with the AU proving a textbook case study of leadership inaction, we anticipate more conflicts whose collateral damage is humanity and a lost economic advantage.

Benjamin Obegi is a Nairobi-based [email protected]