“The second big mistake by Gaddafi was his position vis-à-vis the African Union (AU) Continental Government “now”. Since 1999, he has been pushing this position. Black people are always polite. They, normally, do not want to offend other people. This is called: ‘obufura’ in Runyankore, mwolo in Luo – handling, especially strangers, with care and respect. It seems some of the non-African cultures do not have ‘obufura’. You can witness a person talking to a mature person as if he/she is talking to a kindergarten child. “You should do this; you should do that; etc.” We tried to politely point out to Col. Gaddafi that this was difficult in the short and medium term. We should, instead, aim at the Economic Community of Africa and, where possible, also aim at Regional Federations. Col. Gaddafi would not relent. He would not respect the rules of the AU. Something that has been covered by previous meetings would be resurrected by Gaddafi. He would ‘overrule’ a decision taken by all other African Heads of State. Some of us were forced to come out and oppose his wrong position and, working with others, we repeatedly defeated his illogical position. ” ( Museveni)
It’s significant that President Museveni talks about Gaddafi’s problems with “Africa South of the Sahara” ( Black Africa)
A question that must be in everyone’s mind is this one : If Gaddafi cannot achieve unity within his own borders in Libya, how on earth is he ( even as King of kings of Africa) going to preside over a “United States of Africa” ?
To get a more realistic idea of some of the hurdles and setbacks that could have to be overcome, in the long journey to birthing “ The United States of Africa “ – the whole continent, North and South, East , West and Central ( including Mauritius and Madagascar) let’s continue with the history of Gaddafi’s engagement for Arab Unity:
Pages 345-349 of Raphael Patai’s “ The Arab Mind “ ( 1983 edition)
“Consultations on the draft constitution of the FAR took place on June 17-28. On August 20, the three heads of state approved and signed it in Damascus . On September 1, the referendum took place, and in each of these three countries the vote was very close to 100% for the federation. Next day, the name of Egypt, United Arab Republic ( this name was the last survival of the short-lived union with Syria), was changed to Arab Republic of Egypt. On October 4, the three-man presidential council meeting in Cairo, chose Sadat as president of FAR. Two days later, after approving plans for a foreign policy council, a federal cabinet, military coordination, the first meeting of the presidential council adjourned.
For the next several months the FAR seemed to be dormant. All that happened was that on December 24 the presidential council announced the first federation cabinet, and on March 12, 1972, the presidential council of the three member states took the oath of office as the presidential council ( after it had had a manner of existence for more than five months), and the first assembly of the FAR was convened in Cairo. On June 23-24, the three presidents met in Mersa Matruh and resolved to unify the trade unions and news agencies and to create a land transport company.
In contrast to these symbolic moves and minor technical steps, major differences began to emerge . Syria seceded from the federation. Egypt and Libya could not agree on the pace at which the union between them should be realized . On July 23, 1972, Qadhdhafi let it be known that as far back as February he had offered to merge Libya with Egypt, but that Sadat had asked for five months to consider the proposal. Finally in August 2, 1972, Sadat and Qadhdhafi announced in Benghazi that they had agreed to establish complete unity between Egypt and Libya, as soon as possible. Seven committees would be formed to draw up plans for a unified political leadership, to be submitted to national referendum by 1 September, 1973, exactly two years after the first referendum. At a subsequent (September 18,1972) Sadat and Qadhdhafi agreed that the two countries should have a single president elected by a popular vote, a single party, and a single government , and that the capital of the union should be Cairo. Meetings between Sadat and Asad ( September 28, 1972) and between Sadat, Asad and Qadhdhafi ( October 5 1972) continued , with some of them designated as official sessions of the presidency council of the FAR( February 4-5, 1973), at which problems of the unification were thrashed back and forth , plans were made only to be abandoned , ways of understanding were sought, and new differences surfaced.
On April 15,1973, Qadhdhafi , the younger and more impetuous of the two leaders, stated in a speech in Tripoli that the planned merger between Libya and Egypt was “ a matter of destiny and a matter of life and death.” In the same speech he accused Egypt and Syria, Libya’s partners in the FAR , of being willing to settle with Israel for the return of their territories seized by Israel in the 1967 war, and charged “the Arab regimes” in general with having destroyed the Palestinian revolution in collaboration with Israel. On June 28, he told reporters in Cairo that he and Sadat had differences over the proposed union of Egypt and Libya. Libya, he said, was prepared to sacrifice its wealth for a union, but not its cultural revolution. And he announced that if a complete union was not achieved by September 1 of that year, he would resign.
In order to increase pressure on Egypt, Qadhdhafi arranged on July 18, 1973, for an unusual mass demonstration: he sent 20,000 Libyans on trucks to Egypt. Sadat warned that the demonstrations would lead to “ risks and dangers,” and ordered his forces to stop the mechanised caravan at the border. The Libyans withdrew. The next day( July 19) , Cairo Radio announced that Egypt had proposed a plan to Libya under which the union would be postponed for at least a year. On July23, Sadat said that the union with Libya should be carried out in stages and that emotion was not a firm foundation for unity – a transparent rebuke of Qadhdhafi. On the same day Qadhdhafi announced that he withdrew his resignation of September 1, and would remain in his post until unity with Egypt was achieved.
On August 5-10 , Egyptian Deputy Premier Abd el-Qadir Hatim held talks in Tripoli with Qadhdhafi about the planned unification and on the 7th Cairo Radio said that the two countries had reached agreement on the “steps and manner“ of declaring a union on September 1.
On August 26, Qadhdhafi arrived in Cairo unexpectedly to discuss the proposed merger , but the next day he announced that Egypt had turned down a proposal to hold a referendum asking voters to decide between immediate unity or unity in steps. Two days later ( August 19) it had become clear that Sadat’s plan of step-by-step union had won out over Qadhdhafi’s insistence on instant union. The two leaders issued a joint statement that said that on September 1 ( that is, three days later) Egypt and Libya would (1) establish a constitutional assembly to draft a joint constitution; (2) adopt a new monetary unit, the dinar, for trade between the two countries; (3) exchange resident ministers , and (4) set up a joint secretariat to assist the constituent assembly and the resident ministers.
Having effectively blocked Qadhdhafi’s plan for an immediate union on September 1, Sadat devoted his attention to other issues, which he considered more urgent. On September 10-12 he conferred in Cairo with President Asad of Syria and King Hussein of Jordan , the main subject presumably being the plan to attack Israel on October 6. The absence of Qadhdhafi from this strategic meeting was conspicuous. Nor did Libya play any role in the October war launched by Egypt and Syria against Israel. Only after the cease-fire between Egypt and Israel did Qadhdhafi arrive in Cairo ( October 25) to discuss the military situation.
During the ensuing six months , again no significant development occurred with respect to the Egyptian -Libyan union, although the Egyptian. Syrian- Libyan Federal Assembly continued to exist, at least on paper. On February 16, 1974, Qadhdhafi announced that he was ready to train revolutionaries to impose unity on Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt. Two days later he paid one of his surprise visits to Cairo.
In the spring of 1974, the relations between the two countries , which were supposed to be on the verge of union , deteriorated rapidly. On April 19, a group of leftists and leftist students attacked the Egyptian Military Technical College. Elven persons were killed and twenty-seven injured. That the attack was instigated by Libya was taken for granted in Egypt. As a first reaction, the Egyptian members of a mixed parliamentary delegation from the Egyptian—Syrian-Libyan Federal Assembly refused ( on April21) to travel to Libya, in protest over alleged Libyan contact with leaders of the attack. Three days later, Egypt’s state prosecutor charged that the attack was a plot to overthrow Sadat, and that its leader had previously had a long meeting with Qadhdhafi. On April 28, Egypt and Libya simultaneously took steps that increased the tension between the two states which officially were still committed to a complete union: an official Egyptian document explicitly accused Qadhdhafi of having instigated a plot to arrest Sadat and to overthrow his moderate government; and Qadhdhafi said that Egypt had forfeited its right to financial aid as a “ confrontation state” – the term used to designate those Arab sates whose attitude to Israel was most bellicose.
In May and June, 1974 Libyan Premier Abd al-Salam Jallud had several nonproductive meetings with Sadat ( on May 12 he arrived in Cairo unexpectedly.) Libya thereupon recalled the mirage jets it had loaned to Egypt. On August 7, Sadat unleashed a strongly worded attack on Qadhdhafi. Three days later Qadhdhafi again appeared unexpectedly in Alexandria in an apparent move to improve strained relations between the two countries.
For more than a year thereafter , the situation was quiescent. It heated up up again in June , 1975, when the Libyan Revolution Command Council condemned Egypt’s opening of the Suez Canal as “high treason” . On the 24th, the Egyptian police broke up a ring of saboteurs allegedly backed by Libya and training to assassinate political leaders. In August, Libya banned Egyptians from entering the country, and a border clash took place between Libya and Egypt. After another seven months of silence, events took a dangerous turn. IN the spring of 1976 the two countries mutually accused each other of sabotage, and travel across the border was banned. In the summer there were numerous bombings in Egypt for which Libya was considered responsible; the Libyan ambassador was expelled from Egypt; Egypt sent troops and weapons to its Western border to protect it from Libya; and on August 19, it closed its Libyan border. Libya in turn asked Egypt to close its diplomatic bureau in Benghazi ( August 23) , and arrested two Egyptians who, it was announced confessed to having been sent to Libya to carry out assassination and sabotage. Frustrated in his plans to bring about a union between Libya and Egypt in which he would have been the chief of the united forces, Qadhdhafi resorted in September 1976, to a gesture that had no practical significance , but which represented symbolically what he was unable to achieve in reality: he had official maps issued that showed some 52,000 square miles of Algerian, Chadian and Nigerian territory as being within the borders of Libya.
At this point contact was resumed between Egypt and Syria, and, after talks in Cairo between Sadat and Asad , the two countries announced on December 21, 1976, that they would form a “united political leadership, ” and study the possibility of a future union. This announcement was a masterpiece of vagueness as it represents a verbal statement of intention without any concrete commitment to its realisation.
In February 1977, events between Egypt and Libya took a further turn for the worse. A bombing in Alexandria was followed by a confession by five suspects of being Libyan agents sent to Cairo to commit sabotage ( March 11) Thereupon , on March 26, Egypt again closed its borders with Libya , and, on April15, shut down its consulate in Benghazi. On July 21, fighting broke out between Egyptian and Libyan troops, with each side calling the other aggressor; air strikes were carried out on both sides of the border, and, according to Libya, even deep inside Libya. Armed conflict inevitably brought into play the traditional Arab method of ending it by accord. However the war of words between Egypt and Libya continued.”
( To be continued)
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