African leaders condemn Israel’s offensive in Gaza


Moussa Faki, the chair of the African Union Commission, said Israel’s offensive was the “most flagrant” violation of international humanitarian law…reports Asian Lite News

Leaders at an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Saturday condemned Israel’s offensive in Gaza and called for its immediate end.

Moussa Faki, the chair of the African Union Commission, said Israel’s offensive was the “most flagrant” violation of international humanitarian law and accused Israel of having “exterminated” Gaza’s inhabitants.

Faki spoke alongside Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, who also addressed the summit.

“Rest assured we strongly condemn these attacks that are unprecedented in the history of mankind,” Faki said to applause from delegates. “We want to reassure you of our solidarity with the people of Palestine.”

Azali Assoumani, president of the Comoros and the outgoing chairperson of the African Union, praised the case brought by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice while condemning “the genocide Israel is committing in Palestine under our nose.”

“The international community cannot close its eyes to the atrocities that are committed, that have not only created chaos in Palestine but also have disastrous consequences in the rest of the world,” Assoumani said.

A quarter of Gaza’s residents are starving because of the war, which began with Hamas’ assault into Israel on Oct. 7, in which militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250.

Israel strongly denies committing genocide in Gaza and says it does all it can to spare civilians and is only targeting Hamas militants. It says Hamas’ tactic of embedding in civilian areas makes it difficult to avoid civilian casualties.

During last year’s AU summit, an Israeli delegate was unceremoniously removed from the plenary hall amid a row over the country’s observer status at the continental body.

Concern over conflicts and the resurgence of coups across the African continent also underscored the opening of this year’s summit. Faki cited tensions over Senegal’s postponed election and violence in eastern Congo, Sudan, the Sahel, and Libya. He called for a revival of “the spirit of African solidarity and Pan-Africanism” to overcome the many challenges facing the continent of 1.3 billion people.

Ethiopia-Somalia friction boils over at summit

Tensions between Horn of Africa rivals Ethiopia and Somalia boiled over on Saturday on the opening day of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

The two neighbours — already at odds over a controversial maritime pact — locked horns over Somalia’s claims that Ethiopian security tried to block its President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud from accessing the summit venue.

The feud is one of a “litany of difficulties” referred to by AU Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat in his opening address to the gathering in the Ethiopian capital.

Faki painted a “bleak picture” and said leaders of the pan-African body had to step up and tackle the myriad conflicts, coups and political crises blighting the continent of 1.4 billion people.

The 55-nation AU, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, has long been criticised for being ineffectual and taking little decisive action in the face of numerous conflicts and power grabs.

In a sign of the uneasy relations between two member states, Mogadishu accused Addis Ababa of “outrageous conduct” and a “provocative” act over the reported security incident and demanded a full AU investigation.

Mohamud told reporters he had been blocked by Ethiopian security agents as he tried to enter a summit venue, a second time while accompanying Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh. “A soldier with a gun stood in front of us and denied us access to this facility,” he said after later attending the summit.

Ethiopia insisted Mohamud was warmly welcomed and that the Somali delegation was blocked when its security detail tried to enter a venue with weapons.

Mogadishu has accused Addis Ababa of violating its sovereignty over a January maritime deal with Somaliland, which declared independence in 1991 in a move not recognised by the international community.

Under the memorandum of understanding, Somaliland agreed to lease 20 kilometres (12 miles) of its coast for 50 years to landlocked Ethiopia, which wants to set up a naval base and a commercial port on the coast.

Faki had earlier spoken of “worrying trends” in the Horn of Africa without directly referring to the maritime pact, but said respect for the sovereignty of all countries in the region was crucial.

The commission chief also blasted a failure of African leaders to counter multiple “unconstitutional changes of government”.

Gabon and Niger are absent from the summit following their suspension over coups last year — joining Mali, Guinea, Sudan and Burkina Faso, which are also barred for similar reasons.

Faki also voiced worries about the crisis in Senegal, set off by President Macky Sall’s last-minute move to push back this month’s elections in a country usually considered a beacon of democracy in West Africa. But he said he hoped for a “spirit of consensus” to organise “inclusive, free and transparent elections as quickly as possible” after the Constitutional Council overruled Sall’s move.

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