African summit


A recent summit of the 54-nation African Union (AU) did little to address the continent’s major problems.

The summit’s subject was improving agricultural production, and thus food security, in Africa. Discussion instead turned to the conflicts in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Mali.

The failure to achieve previous goals to reduce food insecurity got short shrift. Summit delegates attributed that deficiency — correctly — to insufficient government and private funding, weak rural infrastructure, and inadequate government and private attention to research. There were pledges to do better, with pleas for more international aid.

African nations have provided United Nations and AU peacekeeping forces for some of the conflicts on the continent. These efforts are financed almost entirely by France, the United States, and other external donors. The European Union pledged another $34 million in such aid at the conference.

The officials who attended the summit had no original or decisive solutions to propose to the continuing conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. The tangle in the Central African Republic could be ending with the expulsion from the country of Chadians and Muslim Central Africans in the south, perhaps 10 percent of the population. They are held responsible for last year’s coup d’etat that installed a Muslim president in the Christian-majority country.

But South Sudan remains an unworkable mix of tribes and regions. A coherent government has yet to emerge after more than two years of independence.

An example of how the African Union does business was the election at the summit of Zimbabwe’s tyrannical, 89-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, as first vice president of the union. The union clearly is incapable of dealing with Africa’s difficult political and economic problems, in no small part because of its split leadership.