Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Which organization has lower standards, African Union or ASEAN?

Admittedly, it's a close call.

When the Myanmar junta failed to allow assistance to reach victims of Cyclone Nagris, not a single member state of ASEAN called for the suspension of Burma. Nor, last year, in the wake of the bloody crackdown against protesting Burmese monks, did any member of ASEAN hold the Burmese regime to account for its crimes.

On the other hand, on Monday, while the African Union conference convened in Sharm el-Sheikh, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga called for the suspension of Robert Mugabe from the African Union, until he allows a "free and fair" election. AllAfrica.com reports:
Odinga told a press conference in Nairobi that 'Mugabe should be suspended until he allows the AU to facilitate free and fair elections,' adding that the AU will be setting a dangerous precedent if Mugabe is allowed to participate in it's meetings. The African Union has a rule not to accept leaders who have not been democratically elected, but observers say it is unlikely the AU will immediately take strong action against Mugabe.
Of course, the African Union's record on the Zimbabwe question has been nothing short of appalling. But surely the first step toward raising the standards of an organization is when a prominent national leader speaks out, as Kenyan leader Odinga just did.

It is a shame that Southeast Asia has lacked a statesman of Odinga's courage.
Hat-tip J-P
Photo: Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga via Africa Press.

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