Is the African Union undermining ECOWAS ?

“Apparently because of certain geopolitical interests, some countries are keen on awarding a failure back to ECOWAS, at this stage, so that they themselves would shine,” said James Victor Gbeho, the president of ECOWAS. “And, so they are saying that the whole matter should be looked at, that it seems that Gbagbo was the winner, and that if that is the situation, they must negotiate.”

“We find that others are encouraging Gbagbo not to yield probably because they can give him certain supports that ECOWAS does not have,” Gbeho said. “There is a South African warship docked in Cote d’Ivoire.  Actions such as that can only complicate the matter further. I am surprised that a distinguished country like South Africa would decide to sent a frigate to Ivory Coast at this time.”

South Africa says the frigate is a support vessel with no military purpose. South African President Jacob Zuma is among five heads of state named by the African Union to resolve Ivory Coast’s political crisis.
They are making statements openly disagreeing and calling for the marginalization of ECOWAS,” said Gbeho. “The concern we have is that if we go like this, we will destroy the solidarity that has always existed on our continent, the solidarity that has brought us this far.” Source

Are we heading to a (diplomatic) confrontation between ECOWAS and the African Union ?

On the regional scale, Nigeria and Goodluck Jonathan were leading the crisis management, with the intense pressure on Gbagbo to step down and the threat of a military intervention to remove him from the office. Even if there was some reluctance within the organization, could Ghana and Gambia really oppose the powerful Nigeria ?

But now that the conflict resolution has moved to the higher institutional level, Nigeria faces an unlikely opponent : South Africa and Jacob Zuma. The main concern is whether South Africa can impose its vision of the crisis within the African Union, or at least prevent the institution from threatening Gbagbo’s administration. The conclusion of the AU mission in Côte d’Ivoire will bring more light on that issue in a week.

But there is still a possibility of the two organizations coming to opposite conclusions and recommendations about the crisis. Which institution will impose its solution to the Ivorian crisis : Nigeria-backed ECOWAS or South Africa-backed African Union ?

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