How AFCON final distracted AU leaders from taking position on Israel

African Union leaders at a session

African Union leaders at a session

By Abdul Oroh

The African Union Heads of State Summit, in a closed meeting Sunday decided to set up a committee to deliberate on the question of Israel’s accreditation to the AU, granted by the AU Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamet.

The committee will consist of the heads of state of South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, DRC, Rwanda, Cameroon and Senegal as the AU chair,

In the meanwhile, while the committee does its work, Faki’s July 2021 decision to grant accreditation to Israel will be suspended.

Before the decision could be properly drafted and a resolution presented, Israel began lobbying individual member states, and putting pressure on many diplomats.

As a result, on Sunday afternoon, in the last session, the matter was tabled for debate.

The issue of the establishment of the committee was not in contention, but the issue of the suspension of the July 2021 decision was.

From the beginning, the debate, chaired by Senegal’s President Mackey Sall, was not smooth-sailing .

Sall called, more than once, for the debate to end quickly because he wanted to watch football! His country’s Teranga Lions were playing in the AFCON final against Egypt in Cameroon.

Another country’s deputy-president made a similar appeal.

South Africa began the debate by calling for a suspension of the decision of the chair in granting accreditation to Israel.

Macky Sall of Senegal, chairing, without listening fully, insisted that the decision must be reviewed by the committee.

He reiterated that he wanted to stop the discussion, because he wanted to watch Senegal play Egypt.

Namibia supported South Africa. It called for a suspension of the decision.

Namibia reminded the meeting that suspension was part of the initial agreement made this morning.

Ivory Coast supported Sall that the issue be examined by the committee.

Algeria supported South Africa and reminded the Chair that suspension was the original part of the decision from this morning.

DRC supported the Chair and challenged the suspension.

The DRC wanted Israel’s accreditation to stand. The leader also implied he wanted to go and watch football.

Liberia opposed the suspension of the July 2021 decision and argued that Liberia sits with Israel at the UN

Chad supported the Chair

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Equatorial Guinea supported the Chair

Sengal, chairing, seemed more concerned about missing the football.

Cameroon supported the chair. Rwanda supported the Chair

Tunisia supported the South African position, calling for suspension of the July 2021 decision

The chair tried to stifle Tunisia. He reminded the meeting that they need to watch football.

Uganda opposed the decision to suspend the July 2021 accreditation

Gambia: “ We should not spend so much time on outside issues.” Supported the Chair.

Added: “We must go and look at the football.”

Nigeria supported South Africa

South Africa wanted to respond, Chair initially refused to allow South Africa to speak again.

Libya supported South Africa

Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic supported South Africa

Morocco opposed the position of South Africa, Nigeria, Namibia, etc. Fully supported the Chair

South Africa spoke again, insisted that the suspension of the July 2021 decision must prevail.

“Its logical… This is like an appeal and based on an appeal the decisions implementation are stopped.” South Africa asked the Chair to be “logical and rational”.

Algeria spoke again, reminding the body that 24 countries had objected to the decision to accredit Israel.

Senegal repeated need to watch football

Senegal said African problems are more important than such foreign issues (or, perhaps, put another way, football is more important than the plight of Palestinians.

Senegal, chairing, declared that the committee must meet and discuss the issue of suspension.

Senegal declared that Israel will remain an observer until the committee decides otherwise.

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