Appointees to African Union Panel on Côte d’Ivoire Lack Democratic Credentials
Freedom House today called into question the African Union’s decision to appoint the presidents of Chad and Mauritania to a panel tasked with solving the current leadership crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. While Freedom House applauds regional efforts to reach a peaceful resolution to the stand-off between Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, the participation of repressive, non-democratic leaders casts doubt on the panel’s legitimacy and ability to fulfill its mission.
Other members of the panel include heads of state from Burkina Faso, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania. Although the African Union has recognized Mr. Ouattara as the outright winner of the election, regional divisions about whether to use military force to oust Gbagbo prompted the formation of the panel. The panel is charged with submitting a set of binding proposals for the two rival leaders to resolve the political crisis.
“The make-up of this panel seriously undermines the credibility of the African Union’s diplomatic efforts,” said Freedom House director of programs, Robert Herman. “In addition to granting an international platform to some of Africa’s most repressive dictators, none of whom maintain power through democratic processes, their appointment sends a message that human rights and democracy are not a major concern to Africa’s most important regional body.”
Mauritanian president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz came to power through a coup legitimized through flawed elections, while Chad president Idriss Deby carried out a military coup. The formation of the panel comes on the heels of a decision by the AU to allow the rotating chairmanship of the organization to go to Equatorial Guinea president Obiang N’guema, one of the world’s worst human rights abusers according to Freedom House rankings.
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