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AU chairperson Sall aims to upend African relations with the West

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Dakar, June 4 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – June 4, 2022): Senegalese President and African Union Chairman Macky Sall entered a meeting on Friday and shook hands with a smiling Vladimir Putin before sitting down at next to him to discuss the war in Ukraine.

In a notable reversal of typical roles, Sall led an African delegation to Russia to hold talks with the Russian president about the European war.

The seemingly cozy scene – which unfolded in the southwestern city of Sochi on the 100th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – marked a significant step forward in Sall’s efforts to strengthen the position Africa’s global politics.

“Much of humanity is very attentive to what is happening” in Ukraine, Sall said, referring to the need to free up grain and fertilizer stocks for export.

“I have come to see you to ask you to realize that our countries, although far from the theater (of war), are the victims of this crisis on the economic level”, he declared.

Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine and a deluge of international sanctions against Russia have cut off the supply of fertilizers, wheat and other staples to both countries.

Cereal prices in Africa, the world’s poorest continent, have surged, accentuating the impact of conflict and climate change and raising fears of social unrest.

Four months into Sall’s one-year tenure as AU chair, the diplomatic mission to Russia is just one of many ambitious campaigns the Senegalese leader has launched on the world stage.

He also called for two permanent African seats on the UN Security Council, advocated for the AU to join the G20 and demanded OECD reform to allow longer loan periods to African countries.

“It’s good leadership, making sure the voice of the African continent is heard and heard loud and clear in today’s world,” said Alioune Tine, the founder of Dakar-based think tank Afrikajom Center. .

He described Sall’s mission in Europe as “completely unprecedented”. “It’s normally the Europeans who get involved in African wars. Now, if the Africans mediate, that’s a great thing,” he said in French.

A dozen African countries, including Senegal, depend on Russia and Ukraine for at least half of their wheat imports, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Many countries are feeling the combined effects of delayed grain exports and rising fuel prices.

– Noble goals – In a recent joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Sall said African countries were “deeply divided” over the Ukraine conflict. He repeated calls for a ceasefire.

“For Africa, we want peace… We want peace even though we condemn the invasion,” he said, although he himself was reluctant to outright condemn the aggression. Russian.

Senegal abstained on March 2 in a UN General Assembly vote to demand “that Russia immediately cease the use of force against Ukraine”.

“He passed a second resolution on March 24 asking Russia to stop the war immediately.

Almost half of African countries abstained or did not vote in both votes.

Russia has made inroads in Africa in recent years through military alliances and arms deals. In 2019, Putin hosted dozens of African leaders in Sochi in a bid to reassert Russia’s influence on the continent.

Sall, who was invited by Russia on Friday, also spoke by phone with Putin on March 9. On April 11, he held a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

On Saturday, Sall will take part in an ECOWAS summit in Accra to discuss putsches in neighboring Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.

He was also invited to this month’s G7 summit in Germany.

“President Macky Sall’s goals are quite ambitious…but he cannot reform the UN, the G20 and the OECD in six months,” said Ibrahim Nyei, a researcher at the Center for Democracy and Development. based in Liberia.

“I think the African Union should take these issues step by step and prioritize them, and the biggest international organization you’re going to influence would be the UN Security Council.” – ‘Africa must have a say’ – In a recent speech to young African leaders, Sall said he wanted two permanent African members on the Security Council – or a reform of the rules so that one country cannot veto decisions.

He estimated that African issues make up 70% of the council’s business.

“Africa must have a say,” said Mbaye Babacar Diop, a Dakar-based consultant. “We have over a billion people.” With close ties to France and the United States, as well as relations with China, Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Senegal has one of the broadest diplomatic policies in Africa.

“Senegal has always been a great country of diplomacy,” going back to the first president, Léopold Sedar Senghor, Tine said.

But, analysts say, to maintain his legitimacy abroad, Sall needs to make sure his own house is in order.

Senegal has faced a number of internal crises in the four months since it took the reins of the AU.

Last week, a fire at a hospital in the western town of Tivaouane killed 11 newborn babies, one of several recent tragedies that have sparked a national outcry against the country’s health services.

Sall had to return from an AU summit in Equatorial Guinea.

Meanwhile, critics fear he could exploit constitutional changes approved in 2016 to argue that a presidential two-term limit does not apply, in order to run for a third term in 2024.

Those fears contributed to Senegal’s worst protests in years in 2021.

He said he would announce his decision after the July legislative elections.

“He mustn’t neglect Senegalese issues, he mustn’t neglect African issues, he mustn’t neglect global issues – he must do everything at the same time,” Diop said.