African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Jean Ping has vowed to protect the supremacy of the organisation, saying he would not allow any state to abuse AU supremacy and undermine its credibility.
In one of his toughest statements since taking over the continental organisation, Ping said the AU would remain the supreme organ and watchdog of the democratic developments in Africa, which is the job for which he was elected.
“We are going to play the guardian role because I am avoiding using the term watchdog. When we see any violation of the democratic ideals for which the African states have agreed to abide by, we shall take action,” Ping said Friday.
Speaking hours after voting closed in Zimbabwe’s maligned presidential run-off elections, Ping said the AU would remain strict in the implementation of democratic principles.
He warned “These ideals are not my own principles. We agreed in the constitution that we shall not accept any undemocratic change of government. It is prohibited to regain power through force and that when we get power through other means, we are not recognised.”
The constitution, which acts as a guide for member states of the continental organization, was signed by African leaders in Lome in 2001.
Ping, who spoke at an Egyptian resort where the continent’s 53 ministers of foreign affairs were meeting to prepare the agenda for the heads of state, due to meet 30 June-1 July, said all attempts to seize power through military means remain illegal.
“We had an attack against the authorities in N’Djamena and we said if the people would be in power, we excluded them,” Ping said, without linking the events of the February power hijack bid in Chad early this year to the presidential polls in Zimbabwe.
African leaders have termed as ‘sham’, the elections in Zimbabwe which saw leader, Robert Mugabe as the sole contestant.
Ping said Zimbabwe was not excluded from the good governance aspects contained in the Lome Accord in democratic elections. He said the constitution also had the backing of a series of other documents on the need to sustain Africa’s democratic principles.
“We are the guardians and we did not invent them, they are democracy, the rule of law and human rights, all these were accepted. The states share these values and we are the guardians,” he said.
The new AU chief, who addressed a news conference, at which journalists pressed him to announce some tough measures against Zimbabwe, said the organisation was awaiting the action of the “appropriate authorities of Zimbabwe” after its presidential polls.
“The AU is supreme, you cannot ignore it. We need to wait for the decisions to be taken by the appropriate authorities of Zimbabwe. Once that has been done, then you will tell me to go further,” he told the journalists.
He emphasised if anybody took power by force, the AU’s supremacy would not be overlooked.