Last week, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) met in Addis Ababa with two burning issues on the agenda; Cote d’Ivoire and Libya.
Rwanda, a member of the PSC was represented by Prime Minister Bernard Makuza - standing in for President Paul Kagame - and Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
There was no surprise in the resolutions taken on the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, with the PSC reaffirming its previous position recognizing Alassane Ouattara as the rightly elected leader of his country and providing guarantees for the “outgoing” President Laurent Gbagbo.
However, the communiqué coming out of the discussion on the situation in the Libya crisis raised some eyebrows. Firstly because the situation is more complex than it appears.
Sources close to the debate in Addis Ababa reveal that although the African Union seeks to play a positive role in resolving the crisis, the complexities of this particular situation provoked a heated debate with some countries very cautious on casting the Libyan leadership in a negative light.
One line in particular stands out “…Council takes note of the stated commitment of the Libyan authorities to embark upon the path of reforms.”
The second surprise was Rwanda’s decision to opt out of the ad-hoc High Level Panel established to mediate on behalf of the AU, and instead hand the position to Uganda, a non-member of the Peace and Security Council.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Rwanda was the first choice for the East Africa region representative, with members of the region actively lobbying for the country’s presence on the team of five Heads of State.
When asked, Minister Mushikiwabo told The New Times; “Rwanda is very committed to its role in the Peace and Security Council and we have contributed actively to the debates, but we declined participation in the High Level Panel on Libya because for the moment Rwanda is busy with other commitments on the continent, particularly with peacekeeping in Sudan.
Our position in these types of situations is first and foremost prevention of loss of life and utmost care in the protection of citizens by the State. Rwanda also always advocates for Africa speaking with one voice.”
Regardless of whether Rwanda participates or not, how two of the continent’s hot button issues will be resolved is uncertain; but the African Union’s active engagement and efforts to bring about peaceful resolution are being carefully watched here and around the world.