National sovereignty should not block the pathway to African unity


By Paul Dzimano


Revolutionary salutations cadres. We remember the PAN Africanist Colonel Muammar Gaddafi who was assassinated on the 20th October 2011 in Sirte Libya. United we bargain, alone we beg.

Gaddafi knew that unity was both a strategy and solution for African problems. Gaddafi’s quest for a Unified Africa was the basis for his quest for a Unified Africa.

On 9 September 1999, in the city of Sirte, Libya, at the Fourth Extraordinary Session of the OAU Summit, Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, proposed a motion to dissolve OAU and called for a new organization anchored in the idea of a union government. Gaddafi, submitted a blueprint for a complete unification of Africa.

In his opening address, he announced a proposal for “United States of Africa,” with a single African army, a common currency, and a continental leader with presidential powers. However, Gaddafi’s call to replace the OAU with a federal-like organization was rejected by his colleagues, who nevertheless agreed that the continent needed greater unity to meet the challenges of globalization.

Rather, they mandated the Council of Ministers to draft another proposal that would provide the framework for creating another organization that would replace the OAU.

On 11 July 2000 at the Thirty-Sixth Ordinary Summit of the defunct OAU in Lomé, Togo, the follow-up to the Sirte Summit, African leaders debated and adopted the draft AU Constitutive Act, which was to replace the OAU Charter.

Members used the Constitutive Act to give legal backing to the transformation of the OAU into the African Union. However, the new organization could only take off after the deposition of the instruments of ratification by two-thirds of the OAU’s member states. On 26 April 2001, Nigeria submitted its instrument of ratification and became the thirty-sixth member state to do so.



With Nigeria’s ratification, the Constitutive Act legally established the AU, which paved the way for the organization’s formal launch on 9 July 2002 in Durban, South Africa.

Rather than giving up on the union government project, Gaddafi intensified his diplomatic efforts. At the Fourth Ordinary Assembly of the AU, held in Abuja, Nigeria, in January 2005 , African leaders decided to carefully study Gaddafi’s proposal regarding the establishment of ministerial portfolios for the AU.

They went further and set up a Committee of Heads of State, led by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, to look into Gaddafi’s proposal, liaise with the chairperson of the AU Commission, and submit a report by the next summit in July 2005.

At the July Summit in Sirte, Gaddafi moved to persuade his colleagues to support his proposal. In his speech, he articulated his argument around the concept of sovereignty:

“We accept from others outside Africa to reduce our sovereignty and to interfere in our internal affairs, but we do not accept the same in the name of African unity. When we talk of African unity, we say no on the grounds that it is in conflict with our national sovereignty. . . .Yet, we are prepared to cede our sovereignty to foreign powers.

We accept that, saying this is the way things work in our own time, but when we talk of ceding part of our sovereignty to the African Union, we say no our sovereignty is too big a thing to compromise” .



Again, African leaders tactically and tactfully rejected Gaddafi’s proposal by setting up another Committee of Heads of State, chaired by the Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, to draft recommendations. The Obasanjo-led committee soon sent their recommendations to the AU Commission, which took place in Addis Ababa in December 2005.

The AU Commission subsequently commissioned a study group, which looked into the proposal and at a technical workshop held in Abuja in April 2006, drafted a document titled Study on an AU Government Towards the United States of Africa.

This document later became the report submitted by the Obasanjo-led committee to the Seventh Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in Banjul, Gambia, in June 2006.

Subsequently, at the Eighth Ordinary Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January 2007, members decided that national consultations should be held on the issue.

This was followed by the “Grand Debate” on the union government issue by Heads of State and by governments at the Ninth Ordinary Summit in Accra, Ghana, in July 2007.

The Grand Debate bifurcated African leaders into two blocs, which was reminiscent of the 1963 Addis Ababa Summit.

In the first bloc were Nkrumah’s pseudo-incarnates, the maximalists, who favored immediate unification.

Led by Muammar Gaddafi and Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, this bloc, despite its small number, insisted that the creation of a union government with ministries and departments should be of immediate priority in Africa.

In the other bloc, the minimalists, represented by leaders of Nigeria, South Africa, the Gambia, Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mauritius, much like the gradualists of the early 1960s, contended that regional economic communities should be further strengthened before continental integration.



After two days of speeches and debates, the Accra Declaration, produced by a committee led by Ghanaian President John Kufuor, simply summarized the divergent views of leaders rather than taking a position and deciding on the issue of a union government. This is a core value for national ruling elites is the preservation of existing territorial state structures from internal threats and from external surrendering of sovereignties.

Paradoxically, genuine pan Africans should be asking why African states which are the weakest in the political and economic international system, still defend the Westphalian territorial order.

The African Statesmen have refused to move the discourses about Africa’s integration beyond rhetoric.

The AU failed Gaddafi and nullified his efforts. The landing of the Federation of African States (FAS) in the political landscape of Africa marks the diplomatic continuation from where Gaddafi left. We as the heirs of his quest shall not rest until Africa becomes united and free. Its a fresh revolution. #VoteFAS2023


Paul Dzimano is the President of FAS party. The views expressed are his, and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of the Digital Sunday Express.


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