Not everyone is invited to the Africa-American Summit –

Africa is poised to include the United States in the upcoming Summit of US-Africa Leaders in Washington (December 13-15), but not everyone has been invited to the meeting.

Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Sudan are the four countries whose leaders were banned from attending the summit. The countries suspended from the December meeting were invited to the first round of the summit in 2014, with the exception of Sudan. Zimbabwe, the Central African Republic and Eritrea were the other countries barred from attending the first summit. Reasons cited for not calling include the inclusion of then-President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe in US sanctions, the suspension of the Central African Republic from the African Union following the coup, UN sanctions on Eritrea, and, in the case of Sudan, the issuance of an arrest warrant against President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court.

Similar reasons were given for not inviting the four countries this time around. Mali is under military rule following the coup led by Colonel Assimi Guetta, who has been the interim president since May 2021. Mali has been suspended from the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and sanctions imposed over the coup. leaders. Guinea also underwent a coup in September 2021 that overthrew President Alpha Conde, who is accused of tyranny and economic mismanagement. He was replaced by Colonel Mamadou Doumbouya, who has served as interim president since then after suspending the constitution and locking down the country. Guinea was suspended from membership by both the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union, urging a return to constitutional rule and civil order.

Burkina Faso suffered a military coup on September 30, 2022, which led to the overthrow of interim President Paul-Henri Damiba, and his replacement by coup leader Captain Brahim Traore. The coup leaders cited President Damiba’s failure to deal decisively with the Islamist insurgency in the West African country as the reason for the power grab. Damiba himself came to power through a military coup that overthrew President Christian Kabore. He then negotiated with the Economic Community of West African States a deadline for the transition to civilian rule by 2024.

Sudan has been under military rule since October 2021, when Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was overthrown in a coup led by Major General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Prime Minister Hamdok returned to office under a power-sharing deal, citing the need to stabilize the country’s economy for his partnership with the coup leaders. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that his country strongly condemns the military coup and calls for the immediate restoration of civilian rule. The United States also suspended $700 million in aid to Sudan in the aftermath of the coup.

Another curious case is that of Zimbabwe. The southern African country was invited this time after being excluded from the first summit in 2014 due to sanctions imposed on its leadership.

Since 2001, Zimbabwe’s leadership has been subject to sanctions by the United States, based on allegations of human rights abuses and undermining of democracy. Earlier this year, Washington renewed sanctions on Zimbabwe, arguing that the country’s leadership had not done enough to reverse the decline of democracy and respect for human rights. This comes despite repeated calls from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union to lift the sanctions.

Sanctions include asset freezes and travel restrictions on people identified as perpetrating human rights abuses and undermining democratic processes. Among those targeted for sanctions are senior leaders in the ruling party and government, such as Oba Mushenjori (Minister of Defense), ruling party-linked businessman Kodakwashi Tagweri, ZANU-PF advocate Patrick Chinamasa and former State Security Minister Owen. Ncube, among others. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is subject to travel restrictions and can only travel to the United States on United Nations business missions. Although President Mnangagwa will not be able to travel to Washington, his government has accepted the invitation and will be represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Frederic Gava. Perhaps this is an indication of the Zimbabwean leader’s desire to reconnect with the United States and repair relations between the two countries that have cooled over the past two decades.

The US invitation to Zimbabwe may be a sign that calls from the African Union and the SADC group to lift sanctions on the country are falling on deaf ears and that Washington is open to a fresh start. In general, the US choice of participants in the US-Africa Leaders Summit can be interpreted in several ways. It can be seen as consistent with the new US strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, one of whose main goals is to achieve democratic and security gains. The document states, “The United States will seek to halt the recent wave of authoritarianism and military appropriation, and work with allies and partners in the region to respond to democratic backlog and human rights abuses, including through a targeted mix of incentive, positive and punitive measures such as sanctions.” On the other hand, Washington’s selective involvement can be seen as meddling in domestic political affairs, a trend loathed by African leaders due to paternalistic overtones.

Earl Warner

"Devoted bacon guru. Award-winning explorer. Internet junkie. Web lover."

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