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'Power of Unity,' Africa That Matters: Experts on Africa's Representation at 78th UNGA

© AP Photo / Craig RuttleUNGA
UNGA - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 20.09.2023
The opening of the UN General Assembly's 78th session on Tuesday gave a number of African leaders the opportunity to speak out on global issues from the continent's perspective, as well as present their stance on multifaceted aspects of international relations and African foreign policy approaches to them.
The African presidents are starting to shape up their narrative about the continent, trying to revive "Africa that matters in global affairs," Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Africa-China Studies, University of Johannesburg, Koffi Kouakou told Sputnik Africa about the continent's representation at the United Nations General Assembly on September 19-23.

"All of them [African leaders] are attempting to resurface the narrative of an Africa that matters in global affairs. I think that's the key. Second, they want an Africa that matters, to be at least a voice to be reflected at the United Nations activities, UN Security Council, and all the major decisions," he said.

Moreover, the expert highlighted that many of leaders probably didn't speak to each other before going to the UN, which indicates that there is "no real coherence among [them]."
"That's something that the West already knows. And the West uses it very well because many of them don't communicate well. They only do when there is a major crises, [...] a specific issue, a global issue, then they start to talk to each other most of the time. And that's a big difference. The continent's unity is still fragile. It's not as strong as many of us would want it to see," the professor added.
Continuing his thought about the importance of the communication between African heads of states, Kouakou underlined this regular communication facilitates the rapprochement of African countries.
"And we want to see a much stronger continental union, not among the countries themselves, the free circulation, movement of people, goods and then, of course, ideas, but that leaders themselves talk to each other regularly. I think that's the power of unity," he underscored.
In addition, Kouakou noted that the African presidents "seem to be reflecting the boldness of the earlier African presidents in the sixties," but 'try to do it in a very much more polite and sophisticated way," noting that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's speech was "well-delivered."
Speaking about the activities of the UN Security Council in the fight against terrorism, the expert agreed with the earlier statment of the Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who had noted that the Security Council lost its effectiveness in its role of maintaining peace and security.

"The UN Security Council has completely lost the effectiveness of its role to maintain peace and security around the world. It's a global plague. [...] It exists because the world is in a mess in terms of security. I think this is a paradox, and that's the only way they can justify their existence. So they have to maintain that kind of insecurity, global insecurity around the world," the professor explained.

On a scale from one to ten, he assessed the effectiveness of the UN body for three, citing the situations in the Sahel, the eastern part of Africa, the Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the eastern Congo and Yemen as the examples of the council's weak performance.
"It doesn't seem that anybody, at least for what we see, any organization, a global organization like the UN, is doing a great job in fending off or finding clear, real solutions against terrorists. [...] there's still a lot to be done on terrorism, fighting terrorism. But they're not addressing the roots of terrorism. It's largely because of the anger and the dissatisfaction, the discontent of human beings that have to sort of get involved into these terrorist activities," Kouakou added.
Moreover, the expert said that the Western countries are maintaining that state of terrorism "to completely destabilize the regions where they steal the wealth and the natural resources."
Commenting on the reform of the UN Security Council, despite the talks about the possibility to include an African state there, the professor stressed that it is going to be "challenging" because the five top UN Security Council members won't let it go easily.
"Most of the top Security Council nations feel uncomfortable to lose largely their power, to dilute their power. And this is where the struggle is going to be," he underlined.
South Africa's President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023 - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 20.09.2023
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Kouakou also suggested some additional criteria for selection of the potential members of the council, including "political, economical, social and even spiritual and military" performance, adding that the reform "should take place in the next ten years or so."
However, the expert remains skeptical about the possibility to modify the UN, highlighting that there are other organizations, which may create a new fair global order.
"So we're now seeing more and more organizations, global organizations, that are paralleling the UN and very soon perhaps a BRICS type of institutions are going to start building up," he noted.
As for the possible military intervention in Niger, the expert is convinced that any intervention in the country "will create a giant chaos and potentially put nations against each other, not just nations of Africa, but also other nations by proxy."
"The US, Russia and perhaps China might be fighting a proxy war there because all of them have great interests in that region of the Sahel. And it's wiser to have a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Niger rather than having a military intervention. That's wisdom 101, however, there are people who don't think that way. And the idea of bringing back a constitutional order by force is even anathema to what they themselves have been arguing against," Kouakou explained.
Furthermore, he criticized the French President Emmanuel Macron's position on the matter, who calls for the restoration of the constitutional order in the West African country with the use of force.
"And I think the French are in the wrong, especially with President Macron, advocating for military intervention in Niger. It's a bad idea. Now, what is important also is that Macron has been pushing the new chair of ECOWAS, the president of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, to go for a military intervention in Niger. I think this is also a bad idea, as I said, and the only compromise that should come out that need to be found must be diplomatic, not military," the professor said.
A coup took place in Niger on July 26. Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum was ousted and detained by his own guard, led by Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani. Following the coup, ECOWAS suspended all cooperation with Niger and threatened a military intervention if the rebels did not reinstate Bazoum.
Speaking about a possible confrontation between ECOWAS and the new Alliance of Sahel States in the event of military intervention in Niger, Kouakou said he hopes it won't happen, however, thinks that it is "inevitable," adding that potential restoration of the ousted president will not be supported by the Nigeriens.
"The reality on the ground is we know for sure that there are people who are keen on attacking Niger with the idea that they want to bring constitutional order back, they bring in the deposed president, Mohammed Bazoum, back into power, but that even if it happens, it's not going to be a legitimate return to power because his military won't be with him, nor the citizens will be with him. So that's a losing battle there already. The confrontation is not inevitable," he stressed.
On September 16, the Aliance of Sahel States was established with Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger signing the Liptako-Gourma Charter.
The professor also underlined that the reason between the military coups in Africa is that the countries fight for their independence from the West that way.
"The coup d'états that are taking place, that have already taken place, I think about seven or eight, are systemic. There are just the products of a disruptive system that doesn't allow most of the people in that region, or at least in Africa, to really have their own sovereignty, economic and political sovereignty. They're still being exploited largely by European companies, especially France and then global companies, resource companies, mining companies," the expert revealed.
Moreover, he highlighted that the new alliance that brings the Sahel states, the three Sahel states of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso "really forces ECOWAS and deters them to attack Niger military," and their actions should be "encouraged."
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune addresses the UN General Assembly on September 19, 2023 - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 20.09.2023
Situation in Niger After Military Coup
Algerian President Warns Against Foreign Military Intervention in Niger
Commenting on why the West is more interested in funding conflicts around the world, rather than contributing to the development of the neediest countries, Kouakou said that they finance "what makes them probably wealthier," as "war is a very lucrative business."
"If they did care about vulnerable countries, they would have made these changes a long time ago. The evidence is there for all of us to see. The evidence is screaming that Western nations don't build, they destroy, be it in Syria, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, Libya. All of these are the evidence of the kind of destruction that they've created around the world," the expert explained.
This was echoed by Abdul Diallo, a Malian analyst and columnist, head of the RMC radio station, who said in a separate interview with Sputnik Africa that the West creates and sponsors conflicts and wars in order to plunder Africa.
"Uranium is mined in Niger, and Niger itself cannot use this uranium. This uranium is used in power plants in France, and there is not even electricity in Niger. Conflicts in Africa are created so that Africans can call on Western countries as rescuers. And then, out of hypocrisy, they pretend to help us. But their own goal is to rob us," Diallo said.
The Malian analyst added that Ramaphosa "is right when he talks about the hypocrisy of some countries that would like to finance wars instead of peace."
"Ukraine does not have the logistical capabilities to resist Russia, but it is supported by France, the US and other European countries. The West is interested in financing the conflict because it is beneficial to them, because large enterprises for the production of weapons are located in the US. And France acts as a telegraph operator for the United States so that they can create wars and conflicts around the world," he stressed.
According to the Kouakou, unlike the West, China has "made an enormous amount of progress in helping build the rest of the world with the Belt and Road Initiative".
"Thanks to China, Africa's growth has been extraordinary. The Chinese, in fact, have democratized capitalism one way or another, making cheap goods, sending them wherever they can send them fast enough, but also functionally enough. And that is the power of how global democracy should be working. And the Chinese are showing the way there. In fact, somebody said the Chinese are doing capitalism better than the West," he elaborated.
As for the statement of the Nigerian President Bola Tinubu that "Africa is nothing less than the key to the future of the world," the expert agreed with the thought, though, noted that "somebody got to make it happen."
"African leaders understand that it will be difficult to make that ideal of Africa being a great world in the multipolar world manifest and visible. But it is possible. It's coming slowly. I think, with the change in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and perhaps Gabon and other places, there is now a resurgence of looking at Africa as a place or at least a continent that matters, but also a continent that can play a role in the multipolar world," the professor underscored.