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A review of the African Union’s experience in facilitating peaceful power transfers: Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Libya and Sudan: Are there prospects for reform?

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Abstract:

Succeeding the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), whose main concern had been decolonisation, the African Union (AU) began focusing on enhancing human security and consolidating democracy. The new Union was faced with huge challenges, however. Of 47 Sub-Saharan Africa states that had embarked upon democratisation, 42 failed to transform and democratise. Then, early in 2011, the grassroots in five North African states rose to overthrow their near monarchical regimes and succeeded in spreading the initiative into the rest of the Arab World. The AU found itself engaged in attempts to resolve complex conflict situations, but with the international community as an active participant. With limited resources, but boasting political legitimacy over African member states, the AU intervened into the various crises with mixed results. It was unable, however, to enforce the compelling tools at its disposal – such as mediation forums, suspension of membership, withdrawing recognition of legitimacy and even imposing sanctions on truant political players and member states. It also had to fight a credibility battle as an African organisation not taken seriously, undermined by former colonial powers and marginalised in the international security system. This paper, therefore, seeks to make a critical evaluation of four AU intervention efforts in situations of blocked political-democratic transitions, and to make suggestions on strengthening such efforts and enhancing credibility – in the eyes of ordinary Africans and the international community. African Journal On Conflict Resolution, 12(2) 2012

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