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A guide to the AU summit

The Mali conflict is expected to dominate meeting of African leaders, as DRC prepares for peace plan.
Last modified: 27 Jan 2013 09:19

Leaders from across the African continent are gathering for the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Here is my guide of what to expect.

Mali

The crisis in West Africa will dominate much of the proceedings. The west African regional grouping ECOWAS has been leading the military planning, but other AU countries like Burundi and Chad have also offered troops. Other nations may offer small specialist teams, and the AU will continue to look for assistance from western nations, some of whom have already provided air transport help.

The French are keen to see a speedy deployment of African peacekeepers on the ground, but so far only about 1,000 troops have arrived, and few have taken up front line positions. AU leaders will have to counter the suspicions raised by some observers that they waiting for the French to complete all the heavy battles before they fully commit.

The other big Mali issue to be resolved is the funding. No one has yet agreed to foot the bill for the operation. AU leaders will be looking to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who is also in Addis Ababa, for answers.

AU leaders have craftily added a donor's conference to seek money for Mali on Tuesday 29th (the day before the UN donors conference for Syria's humanitarian needs in Kuwait). According to French sources, they need $450m to finance the UN mandated force, AFISMA.

DRC

Monday will see the unveiling of the latest Congo peace plan, with a new component added to the existing UN force. The special intervention brigade will have robust rules of engagement, and will probably be led by the Tanzanians. The other troop contributors need to be finalised.

There will be a formal ceremony with the eight plus one group signing the document. The eight include DRC's President, Joseph Kabila, who will commit to security sector reform, and improved governance in Eastern Congo. The other seven are regional countries, which all will make commitments to support Congo's peace process.

Two of the seven, Rwanda and Uganda have in the past been accused by the DRC of being the main backers of the M23 rebel group. The "plus one" is the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon. The new UN envoy will also be named. Said Djinnit, currently Ban Ki Moon's man in West Africa is the current favourite.

Sudan and South Sudan

Negotiations regularly take place in Addis, under the stewardship of former South African President Thabo Mbeke in an effort to resolve all the outstanding issues. Fresh talks have been held in the last few days, but there seems little hope of a breakthrough.

Central African Republic

The ceasefire seems to be holding, but the rebel forces have still not withdrawn from the streets of the towns they hold. It will remain on the agenda of African leaders as the situation is still fragile. 

Somalia

The AU force, AMISOM has stabilised part of the war torn nations, but human rights groups want answers on recent abuses by Somali pro-Government militia.

Guinea-Bissau

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recently described the small West African country as effectively a failed state. It is the entry port where many drugs shipments arrive, a trade that is a contributing factor to the current unrest in Mali and the region.

Algeria

After the attack on the gas plant, which left more than 81 people dead, the AU has been discussing co-operation, intelligence sharing, and training on counter-terrorism across the continent.