African Union Celebrates, but Tunisia is Missing

By Zied Mhirsi | May 24 2013 Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Share on pinterest Print

Tags: Addis Ababa ,African Union ,AU ,Bourguiba ,Ethipia ,
Tunisia African Union

African ministers of foreign affairs gather in Addis Ababa for the African Union summit. Photo credit: Zied Mhrisi, Tunisia Live

ADDIS ABABA - African nations are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African States this week, but Tunisia, one of its founding members, is in many ways missing from the festivities.

The Organization was the precursor to the African Union, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

75 heads of state were expected to converge on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this week to attend the golden jubilee of the organization founded to promote the integration of the African continent and advance its decolonization. The theme of the summit is “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance,” and many events took place this week to debate and review the past and the future of the Union. These include an African Youth Forum, a Pan-African Business Conference, and several cultural events that revived the Ethiopian capital.

The Tunisian presence, however, has been much lower than that of most African countries, with key officials absent.

For two months, Tunisia has been without a permanent representative to the African Union.

Tunisian Delegation at AU Executive Council Meeting

Rachid Saidani, the Tunisian Chargee d’affaires in Addis Ababa. Photo credit: Zied Mhirsi, Tunisia Live

“The ambassador post in Addis Ababa has been vacant for two months and we are still expecting the nomination of a new ambassador who will also be our permanent representative at the AU,” Rachid Saidani, the chargee d’affaire of the Tunisian Embassy in Ethiopia told Tunisia Live.

Other Tunisian officials will be missing as well. Minister of Foreign Affairs Othman Jarandi did not attend the Executive Council meeting, and was replaced by Saidani. President Moncef Marzouki will miss the summit of heads of state on May 26 and 27, according to Hedi Ben Abbes, the diplomatic adviser to the Tunisian presidency. The deputy minister of foreign affairs and Ben Abbes are expected to attend the summit is his place.

Tunisia is a founding member of the Organization of African Unity, the precursor to the African Union. In 1963, Tunisia’s first president, Habib Bourguiba, attended the first summit and addressed the Organization’s heads of state.

African Union Founding Fathers

The gallery of African Union founding fathers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo credit: Zied Mhirsi, Tunisia Live

“Tunisia, which hopes to have won your respect by its realism, its sense of moderation, and its constant devotion to the cause of liberty and progress in Africa, is still prepared to do anything that may help us to take the first step on the road to African unity,” Bourguiba said in 1963.

50 years later, some question Tunisia’s commitment to the Union. It has not ratified many African treaties, has not kept up its financial contributions to the organization, and is not well-represented at major African Union events.

A portrait of president Bourguiba is also absent from the gallery of the founding fathers of Africa, as the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed to send one.

Editor's Note: Click here the full text of President Habib Bourguiba's address to the OAU in 1963.

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    not at all surprising ….members of this government would rather be on a more ‘international’ stage. Many tunisians rarely see themselves as black anyway and the politicians often reflect people…..Just another mixed message from this government and yet another decision it has not made.

    • If you still think of Africa as a continent exclusively for blacks, then we are all in trouble. Africa is a real rainbow continent, with the full spectrum of human skin color represented in its constituent countries. Africa is not about skin color, it is more about liberation.

  1. they are sucking qatari dick in doha, thats why they did not show up in addis ababa.

    cheap filthy people are ruling, and people are sleeping….

  2. if marzouki or laraiedh went, Zied Mhirsi would be writing about how troika leaders are leaving Tunisia in such delicate time, how they are not serious about salafi threats or how they are going to a useless commemorative summit for a number of failed states…

    Mhirsi, just focus on 1 thing…acting or honest journalism. not both….also please hire a decent editor around here…

    • Grow up !!?? Provided the facts are correct this is honest journalism – just because you don’t like something someone else has written does not make it dishonest – congratulations to Zied Mhirsi for pointing out that Tunisia has all but abandoned its role within the African Union – that’s an interesting development that needs to be made public and well done the editor who recognised this

  3. incredible, especially considering that Tunisia gave the name to the whole continent! Even if it is quite late, the MFA shouldn’t least send a picture of Bourguiba to post in the gallery if founding fathers – there are some great ones to choose from in the new Museum in the Marble Palace in Skanes/Monastir.

  4. Quite disappointing, especially considering Tunisia was the origin of the name for the entire continent (“Ifriquia”)! Even though it is late, the MFA should at least send a picture of Bourguiba for the gallery of the founding fathers – there are some great ones to choose from in the new museum dedicated to Bouguiba in his former summer marble palace in Skanes/Monastir – which I recently had the chance to visit – put it on your must list!

    • Bourguiba?? Bourguiba a secularist fascist does not speak for what the AFRICAN UNION REPRESENTS. I’d rather no one represent than sending in petty pictures of a man who preferred our identity be ARAB and not AFRICAN because ARAB was a less inferior identity to our colonisers. Please leave this issue to US, the tunisians and not a supposedly ‘well versed’ tourist.

  5. Tunisians are Africans not arabs do not forget “Idha ouribat khouribat”. I am proud to be African.
    Actually Gadafi was the champion of the African unity, it scared the hell out of the Europeans, that is why they went to bomb Lybia.