WORLD / AFRICA
AU condemns ‘wave’ of coups
Warning of democratic ‘backpedaling’; Israel vote dodged
Published: Feb 07, 2022 06:45 PM
Participants attend the 33rd ordinary session of the assembly of heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, Feb. 9, 2020. (Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)

Participants attend the 33rd ordinary session of the assembly of heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, Feb. 9, 2020. (Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)

The African Union closed its annual summit Sunday by condemning a recent "wave" of military coups that has seen an unprecedented number of member states suspended from the bloc, spurring fears of what its top official described as democratic "backpedaling."

The putsches were among the main issues raised at the two-day summit, though leaders from across the continent also got bogged down in heated discussions over the AU's ties to Israel. 

Less than two weeks before the summit began Saturday, Burkina Faso became the fourth country to be suspended by the AU after disgruntled soldiers toppled president Roch Marc Christian Kabore. 

Guinea, Mali and Sudan are also currently suspended. 

"Every African leader in the assembly has condemned unequivocally... the wave of unconstitutional changes of government," Bankole Adeoye, head of the AU's Peace and Security Council, told a press conference Sunday.

But the AU has been accused of an inconsistent response, notably by not suspending Chad after a military council took over following the death of president Idriss Deby Itno on the battlefield in April 2021.

And while Adeoye touted the AU's use of suspensions to punish coup leaders, analysts say the body must be more proactive to prevent putsches.

Also on Sunday, leaders agreed to suspend debate on Faki's controversial decision to accept the accreditation of Israel, postponing a potentially divisive vote.

Faki's move in July 2021 drew protest from influential members including South Africa and Algeria which argued that it flew in the face of AU statements supporting the Palestinian Territories. 

Both countries pushed to have the issue put on the summit agenda.

During Saturday's session, Faki defended Israel's accreditation, noting that 44 member states have diplomatic ties with Israel.

But Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh on Saturday called for Israel's accreditation to be revoked.

AFP