By Pr Jean-Emmanuel Pondi
The UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/ES-II/L1 on Wednesday 02 March 2022, at 11.55am New York time. It demanded that “Russia immediately cease the use of force against Ukraine.”
The result of this vote is very interesting, especially as far as Africa is concerned.
Although 141 of the 193 UN member states approved the text, it is true that 05 formally opposed it (Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Eritrea).
The purpose of this reflection is to present to all of you, dear subscribers to this page, the details of the position adopted by the highest political leaders of each of the 54 African countries on this vote. So that no one is unaware of it, and above all, so that we can know their real position, beyond the official speeches that they may make in various circumstances.
The African countries will therefore be classified into four categories, to facilitate understanding of their behaviour.
First, those that voted in favour of the above-mentioned resolution, then those that voted to abstain, followed by those that chose to be absent from the voting room and finally, those that clearly voted against the resolution.
Among the African countries that approved the resolution condemning Russia were:
Benin; Botswana; Cape Verde; Chad; Comoros; Côte d’Ivoire; DRC; Djibouti; Egypt; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Malawi; Mauritania; Mauritius; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Sao Tome; Tunisia; Zambia; Somalia; Seychelles and Sierra Leone.
That is a total of 28 countries out of 54.
The presence of the DRC, whose President has just completed his term as the current President of the African Union, is surprising to informed observers. That of Ghana, the country of Kwamé Nkrumah, the most fervent Pan-African President of his time (1963-1966), sounds like a spectacular turnaround, difficult to understand.
The second list, presented below, lists the countries that chose to abstain from the vote:
Algeria; Angola; Burundi; CAR; Congo Brazzaville; Equatorial Guinea; Mali; Mozambique; Namibia; Senegal; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Uganda; Tanzania; Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
That is a total of 17 countries out of 54.
Two presences are striking in this list, because they are relatively unexpected. These are Senegal, which is generally very close to France’s international positions, and the CAR, which, in view of the current dispute with the member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) over the Russian presence on its territory, could easily have been among the countries openly opposed to this resolution.
The third group of African countries in this typology are those that chose to express themselves through their physical absence from the voting hall.
Classified in this category are:
Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Morocco and Togo.
That is a total of 8 countries out of 54.
In terms of diplomatic positioning, this category should be placed in the abstentionist bloc. Two of the countries on this list were wards of the League of Nations (Treaty of Versailles of 27 June 1919) and the United Nations (UN Charter of 24 October 1945).
Another country, Ethiopia, was for a long time and remains (to this day) an Empire that no nation has managed to colonise.
Two other members of this group are Kingdoms: Eswatini (former Kingdom of Swaziland) in Southern Africa and the Kingdom of Morocco in North Africa.
Although no characteristics revealed here about the individual backgrounds of the countries in this category can explain their choice, it remains true that most of these nations have a very long experience with international law as applied to territories under domination (more than a hundred years for Cameroon and Togo, and for Ethiopia, as a founding country of the League of Nations and the UN).
The last category of countries that expressed themselves on this “anti-Russia” resolution is probably the one where the African position was most expected by the man (or woman) in the street, in most of the countries of the continent: it is the list of countries condemning unreservedly the terms and intentions of this resolution. It must be acknowledged that in this regard, “the mountain gave birth to a mouse”, since only Eritrea, out of the 54 countries of the continent, clearly voted against this UN resolution, i.e. a percentage of 1.85%.
Whatever one may think, a trend is nevertheless emerging on the horizon: the progressive awareness of Africans of the need to better defend their own interests, instead of serving as a sounding board for the defence of those of “their allies”.
In this new salutary posture, but which should be further strengthened, we should never forget the very questionable role played by NATO in the assassination of a head of state in office in Africa: Muammar Al Khadafi of Libya, on 20 October 2011 at 12:30 pm near Sirte, his native village.
Can NATO, which today claims to present itself to the world as a defensive military organisation, deign to explain to Africans what justifies its major involvement in this assassination, when no Libyan tank or air force plane had attacked any part of NATO-controlled territory?
As indicated in my book on this crime, which has plunged the economic momentum of Africa (Life and Death of Muammar Al Gaddafi: What lessons for Africa? Yaoundé, Éditions Afric’Eveil 2012 available on amazon), several publishing reactions were recorded in the Western camp after this heinous murder:
Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, proclaimed on 20 October 2011: “An important step in the battle of the Lybian people to free themselves from the dictatorship and violent regime that was imposed on them for more than forty years!”
NATO Secretary General Anders Togh Rasmussen had the audacity to deliver the following message on that fateful day: “NATO and its partners have successfully fulfilled their UN mandate to protect the people of Libya… I call on all Libyans to put aside their differences and build a brighter future together.
All is said and all is clear.
What was Russia’s reaction that day?
Sergei Lavrov said that “the killing of Gaddafi was a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit summary executions of prisoners of war”. And the prime minister at the time, a certain… Vladimir Putin, asked “whether the bloody, public and untried execution of a President was in accordance with the canons of democracy”.
We Africans should finally understand that the West, like the Russians, is defending its own interests, first and foremost, by taking the decisions we know about.
There is nothing more normal than that.
The time has come for Africans to have the courage and dignity to finally defend our positions in relation to the interests of our peoples who have suffered too much from our defeatism (I am talking about the ruling elites).
The change of mentality that is essential for the refoundation of our continent aims to achieve a single objective: to allow Africans to (re)become the masters of their destiny. Is this a crime?