In the aftermath of President Morsi’s ousting earlier this week, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) decided Friday to suspend Egypt’s membership to the AU, reported France 24. Tunisia Live interviewed renowned Tunisian diplomats Hatem Ben Salem and Ahmed Ounaies to understand the repercussions of the decision.
“Such a decision seems very logical to me, since the AU doesn’t intervene in internal affairs, but this comes under its protocol. This is purely a formal measure,” stated Ounaies.
“Since 2000, the AU no longer accepts member states who come from military coups,” added Ben Salem.
“The AU’s presidency came to this decision systematically, and it’s only a suspension. This means that Egypt will no longer be part of the Union’s decision-making process, it will no longer attend meetings of the foreign affairs ministries, or attend the Union’s regular sessions,” continued Ben Salem.
Although the suspension is just a formality, Ben Salem noted that this is a “serious decision.”
Suspending a founding state of the AU is serious, as Egypt has an embassy in every country in Africa and has a big geopolitical role to play, he explained.
“This is going to spark a huge debate in the continent on whether to consider this as a military coup or a legitimate popular revolt. Member states will convene to decide on its status, since it’s only a suspension and Egypt will get the chance to defend itself.”
When asked about the reason behind the AU’s different position with the 2011 ousting of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Ben Salem replied that, “Mubarak conceded to willingly give up power, however, Morsi didn’t accept it.”
“The problem is that we are applying Western democratic principles in third world countries. There should be a certain harmony between the legal framework and the reality on the ground,” explained Ben Salem.
Finally, when asked about the potential Arab League reaction to recent events in Egypt, Ben Salem replied that, despite having the same mechanisms as the AU, the Arab League, “is less likely to take such measures, since its most influential countries are backing the popular revolt.”
On Thursday, President Marzouki criticized the military intervention in Egypt.
Ben Salem concluded by urging the Tunisian diplomacy to be careful when addressing the recent events in Egypt, and cautioned them not to rush into giving definite positions.