A "culture of conservatism" : How and why African Union member states obstruct the deepening of integration (21 pages)

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tween 2003 and 2005, 23 states joined the review process, between
2006 and 2009 only seven states decided to participate in the review,
and since 2010 only four states joined. Equatorial Guinea became the
34th and so far last participant, welcomed by the APRM Forum in
January 2014. Equatorial Guinea's membership means that by now
62 per cent of African countries are part of the process. Only 17
countries, that is, 31 per cent of African countries, have completed the
review process.

Despite these setbacks there are a few rather well conducted

reviews that deserve some credit for a fairly candid and critical assess-
ment. The reports on Uganda, for instance, go so far as to highlight
that the country "is in danger of slipping back into a period of neo-
patrimonial rule […] Having rescued Uganda from the Amin and Obote
strangleholds, the current leadership should be concerned about its
own legacy" (APRM 2009; APRM 2009b: xxix). Other challenges to
Uganda's democratic development, however, are omitted in the report.

The APRM has further shortcomings. The plans of action, which

should follow the recommendation of the review report, are not
thoroughly implemented, as the cases of Algeria, Burkina Faso, and
Uganda suggest. This raises doubts about the effectiveness of the
mechanism and its long-term effects. Moreover, the cases mentioned
above create serious doubts whether Africa's leadership wants to be
thoroughly monitored. There seems to be a reluctance to implement the
APRM's main idea of engaging in a transparent and open public
dialogue about national political, social and economic circumstances,
although many African leaders formally subscribed to it when they
established the APRM and voluntarily joined it. The APRM remains a
top-down process with African leaders excluding the public during the
final stage of the discussions.

The so-called Grand Debate on the establishment of the United

States of Africa and the building of a Union Government for Africa as
an intermediate step sheds further light on the top-down approach.
During this debate only a few attempts were made to find grassroots
support for the idea and no national dialogues on this plan have been
initiated. The debate also revealed a rift between the Union Govern-
ment vision, vigorously pushed by a few states, and the vast majority
of member states that aimed to prevent Gaddafi's dream of a united
Africa under his leadership to become reality. Notwithstanding, the
plan of establishing the Union Government was unanimously endorsed

Strategic Review for Southern Africa, Vol 36, No 1 Martin Welz

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