The third African Union summit of the year is underway, with longtime Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi playing host… again. Just two months ago, AU representatives gathered in Sirte, Libya for the annual summit; now, they have convened at the behest of the “king of kings” in the Libyan capital ostensibly to address the continent’s most serious conflicts, including Somalia and Darfur among others, according to AU documents. Certainly, those two conflict zones – where African Union peacekeepers serve on the front lines and in some cases have paid the ultimate price – provide more than enough fodder for the AU delegates to discuss. However, it seems that Darfur and Somalia may have been more of a pretext for ensuring that the celebration of Qaddafi’s 40 years of (authoritarian) rule has a good turnout. Said one anonymous African minister to AFP:
"We are at about the same point where we were at the last summit in Sirte. There have been no major advances… [By calling the summit,] the Libyans want to guarantee a high level of representation at the festivities.”
It comes as no surprise that Sudanese President Bashir, wanted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, has jumped at the chance to yet again thumb his nose at the international community and make an appearance.
The festivities to mark 40 years since Colonel Qaddafi seized power in a coup begin tomorrow.