The democratic setback implied by the recent wave of coups and the jihadist advance, together with the challenge of extending vaccination against covid-19 and economic recovery, are the great challenges that Africa faces in 2022, according to revealed by the continent’s leaders meeting at the African Union (AU) summit held last weekend in Addis Ababa. The meeting has also served to elect a new president, the Senegalese Macky Sall, who replaces Félix Tshisekedi, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose presidency has ended without much progress on the most burning issues.
African leaders on Sunday strongly condemned the recent wave of coups in Africa, citing those in Mali, Guinea-Conakry, Burkina Faso and Sudan, all countries suspended from participation in this continental body. “Every African leader in the assembly has unequivocally condemned the model, the revival, the cycle, the wave of unconstitutional changes of government,” said Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. However, African leaders once again tiptoed around without condemning the coup in Chad, where the late President Idriss Déby’s son, General Mahamat Idriss Déby, took power after his father’s death without due process. of relief established in the Constitution.
The advance of jihadism in the Sahel due to the inability of the national armies and the failure of foreign military interventions, especially by France, is at the origin of two of the military riots, those in Mali and Burkina Faso. The AU has expressed its concern about this phenomenon that gangrene these two countries but also Somalia, Uganda, Mozambique, Niger or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The advance of the activity of these armed groups, especially linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, towards the north of the Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin or Ghana is a reality that worries African leaders and that requires new approaches.
The low vaccination rate that Africa maintains against covid-19, around 11% of the population with the complete regimen, was evoked during the debates by the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, who insisted on the need to make additional efforts to reach at least 30% of the population by the end of 2022 and recalled the need to commit to vaccine autonomy. Different projects in South Africa itself, Rwanda and Senegal are underway to have vaccine factories that will alleviate the continent’s dependence on this matter.
The AU heads of state also insisted on the need to seek joint strategies that allow the continent to emerge as quickly as possible from the economic crisis derived from the harsh measures adopted to combat covid-19 and which has brought the brakes to a screeching halt for the stable growth maintained by a large part of the African economies. Finally, a controversial issue has crept into the AU’s agenda and has once again reflected the deep divisions between African countries. It was planned to vote for the accreditation of Israel as an observer in the AU bodies, but the pressure exerted by Algeria and South Africa prevented it in extremis. The vote was finally postponed to avoid the staging of a new rupture.
The decision that was adopted was to support the appointment of the Senegalese Macky Sall as the new president of the continental organization. He comes to office when he has two years left as president of Senegal and after having suffered a serious warning in the local elections held two weeks ago in his country, with an opposition that managed to seize or maintain power in important cities. Sall, a 60-year-old engineer, will try to impress a marked economic and social inclusion character on his presidency of the AU, as well as work for peace and security on the continent.
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