Magazine article New African

Pax Africana: (Part 1) We Sacrificed Lives Winning Back Our Sovereignty but Every Year Because of the Conflicts That Plague Us, We Give Away Large Pieces of This Hardfought Sovereignty

Magazine article New African

Pax Africana: (Part 1) We Sacrificed Lives Winning Back Our Sovereignty but Every Year Because of the Conflicts That Plague Us, We Give Away Large Pieces of This Hardfought Sovereignty

Article excerpt

No man is an island, so we know that we have already pooled part of our sovereignty, first, with our local regional bodies, then with the AU and then with the UN. But every time we cannot settle disputes amongst ourselves, "the adults"--in this case the UN or "the international community"--get involved.

To illustrate this, we could take any example, but let's take the disputed Kenyan elections in 2008. Kenya, a sovereign nation, reached an internal impasse. A large number of people believed the elections had been stolen and began agitating. The head of the electoral commission, the body that was supposed to referee a fair contest, abdicated his responsibility, behaving disgracefully and without impartiality. Then the chief justice, the country's most senior person empowered to provide arbitration and fair judgement, crowned Mwai Kibaki president, endorsing a vote many felt had been won not by right, but by might. And the police began to enforce this might, but the army, to its eternal credit, stayed out of the argument.

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At this point, peace disappeared and the country exploded. The violence and conflict was an admission of two things--first, that Kenyans could no longer resolve their problems by themselves; and second, they were going to begin trading away their sovereignty and independence. This happened almost immediately as the opposition quickly sought to internationalise the conflict.

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As noted earlier, all our countries have already pooled their sovereignty, first, with local regional bodies, then with the AU and then the UN. Having failed at a national level to resolve the crisis, you would expect Kenyans to immediately seek arbitration at the regional East African Community (EAC), or AU level. Instead, at the early stages of the crisis, there was a great deal of resistance and lack of trust of the EAC and AU within large parts of Kenyan society. There were strident demands for the UN or the "international community" to get involved before wiser counsels prevailed and Kofi Annan was finally appointed mediator by the then AU chairman, President John Kufuor of Ghana. The danger here was clear--if your national, regional and continental bodies cannot be trusted to resolve conflicts, what kind of sovereignty are we talking about in Africa? …

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