AU chair admits failures in first term as he seeks second chance

Friday February 05 2021
Moussa Faki Mahamat.

Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat on July 4, 2019. PHOTO | ISSOUF SANOGO | AFP


African Union Commission boss Moussa Faki Mahamat says the continental body failed to attain some of its goals, including ending violence as a result of “emerging threats”, which overwhelmed member states.

In a speech to African Union’s group of Foreign Ministers on Wednesday, Mr Mahamat said Africa will have to address old and new problems at the same time, if at all the continent can end continual violence.

Ahead of the virtual Assembly of Heads of State on February 6, Mr Faki listed the continental free trade area agreement (AfCTA) launched last month, launch of protocol on free movement and the Single African Air Transport Markey (SAATM), concerted efforts to fight disease outbreaks as well as counter-terrorism measures among his successes.

When he took power of the continental body in April 2017, the African Union intended to end conflicts by 2020, through a programme known as "Silencing the Guns". The Programme itself is part of a 50-year Vision called Agenda 2063, passed in 2013 to help the continent sustain peace, develop infrastructure, grow internal trade, integrate more and prosper.

But Mr Faki who is seeking his second and final 4-year term as the AU Commission Chairperson said the results have been mixed.

“The year 2020 was initially scheduled as a cut-off year to silence the guns on the Continent, the year from which democratic peace would function as a powerful lever for justice and socio-economic development. Looking at the state of affairs, I note that we have moved only half way,” he told the Foreign Ministers during a virtual sitting of the African Union Executive Council, the second highest organ of the African Union.


Faki named the rise of violent extremism, religious radicalism, post-electoral conflicts, recurrent attacks by terrorist groups, “the violent awakening of communitarianism, various socio-political expressions of the public governance deficit” as challenges member states “must take up to place the Continent on the irreversible trajectory of political modernity.”

Faki’s argument had been lifted directly from this year’s End-Term Report by a team of Commissioners he has chaired since taking power in 2017.

Though they cited cases such as peace deals in South Sudan and Sudan, as well as concerted efforts to beat back terrorism in the Sahel and Somalia, they did admit that violence on the continent continued to change form, challenging all member states to think ahead.

“Silencing the guns will require enhancing state-society relations and addressing structural causes and triggers of conflict and emerging threats in a sustained manner and should therefore become a rallying call for the Union beyond the current term of this Commission,” the Report published on Tuesday said.

Faki is contesting unopposed for the seat that technically places him as the CEO of the continental body, even though he must still garner at least two thirds of the vote to take second term. But the positions of deputy Chairperson as well as eight other departments headed by commissioners are up for grabs in a race whose campaigns are being run virtually due to Covid-19.

In his pitch for second term, Faki said the Covid-19 pandemic, dwindling resources, the growing global challenges, “national egoism and the decline of multilateralism have hampered our forward march.”

“The loosening of the chains of solidarity, the weakening of the humanist values of generosity, respect for others, the decline in spirituality and the pervasiveness of material and mercantile considerations, all this has worsened the objective difficulties of existence in Africa, as in the rest of the world,” he said in a campaign pamphlet circulated on Monday.

Faki was a Chadian Foreign Minister before winning the African Union Commission seat, defeating Kenya’s Amina Mohamed.

But his tenure saw the continental body accused of nepotism and a culture of sexual harassment. Faki responded by inviting external auditors who confirmed the vices and recommended tougher sanctions on culprits. Faki’s critics argue he sat on the report ostensibly to protect cronies.

But in his pitch for second term, Faki cited the inflexibility of the Commission and the lack of “leeway” his office has in making decisions.

“I wonder if the still unfinished debates on the reform have sufficiently outlined this undeniable handicap,” he posed in the pamphlet.

“It is critical to continue strengthening governance frameworks and systems to enhance accountability in all areas of administration and finance. To this end, all Departments and Offices will be instructed to draw inspiration from results-oriented performance and prudent management of resources in conformity with the relevant established Rules, Regulations and Policies.”