Last week the chairman of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council Paul Lolo Bulus recommended that the African Union (AU) should not send a delegation to monitor the Egyptian elections scheduled to take place on May 26 and 27. This decision has placed members of the coup in a difficult situation especially if the AU decides to implement the same repercussions that it did on Madagascar in 2009 when the Union suspended Madagascar’s membership after military-backed candidate Andre Juliana became president.
Madagascar’s membership remained suspended until the end of 2013 when new elections took place and Hery Rajaonarimampianina won the elections bringing Madagascar back to constitutional order. Bulus’ recommendation contradicts the statements made by Alpha Oumar Konaré, the chairman of the delegation that visited Egypt recently. Konaré’s tone expressed a desire to reconcile with the coup whereas the AU warned the coup’s leadership of the consequences that would follow and suspended Egypt’s membership in the Union on July 5, two days after the coup.
“It is not within the African Union’s capabilities to mistrust the decisions of the Egyptian people, who not only carried out the January 25 Revolution but also the June 30 Revolution,” said Konaré during his last visit to Egypt, which the coup’s leadership considered to be the end of the AU’s boycott of the country. In this way, Konaré equated the January 25 Revolution with the coup that took place on June 30 and proceeded to echo the coup’s ideology when he said, “Things must progress in a way that is natural. All activities must resume while respecting the law and freedoms.”
Based on my readings on the position of the AU, it is clear that the performance of political and diplomatic opponents of the coup is much weaker than that of the internal Egyptian opposition forces. Though the latter is stronger, they do not possess a strong external cover that mirrors the efforts of all the sacrifices that the Egyptian people are making at home.
Even the external opposition to the coup now finds itself weak and fragmented and they have failed to isolate the coup’s leadership who have succeeded in gaining a sufficient amount of recognition and legitimacy so far. This reality is reflected in the fact that the Egyptian foreign minister is now touring Africa, visiting country after country in his efforts to convince them to change their positions in the next meeting of the AU’s Peace and Security Council. This tour is especially important when considering the AU’s ability to grant and suspend memberships. If the coup is successful in convincing the AU to reinstate Egypt’s membership then political leaders at large bear the responsibility of failing to hold an authoritarian regime accountable, especially when this regime is responsible for injuring, killing, arresting and jailing thousands of Egyptians. All the while, no one is being held accountable.
If the AU, Latin American countries and some Asian countries that are not subject to American or Western influence maintain their position to hold the coup accountable then this position could, in turn, serve as a strong opposition to the coup, one that calls for freedom, democracy and social and legal justice. Even if the external opposition to the coup remains weak and fragmented, as it has been in the past few months, this does not mean that they have lost their chance to achieve a strong and united opposition, especially since the coup is only capable of deriving its strength based on the weakness of the opposition around them.
Translated from Al-Watan newspaper, 29 April, 2014
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.