Friday, October 9, 2015

African Union Suspends Burkina Faso, Then Reinstates it Again (Map)

Map of the African Union, including active and suspended member countries, updated for the September 2015 suspension and reinstatement of Burkina Faso (colorblind accessible).
Map by Evan Centanni, from this blank map by Eric Gaba. License: CC BY-SA
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Article by Evan Centanni

Coup Crisis
On September 18, Burkina Faso was suspended from the African Union (AU) by the organization's Peace and Security Council. The action was in response to a government takeover by soldiers loyal to the country's former president Blaise Compaore, who was pushed out in a popular uprising a year ago.

A military coup usually gets a country automatically suspended and sanctioned by the Peace and Security Council, which aims to promote constitutional rule in all AU member countries. (This pro-democracy policy has no affect on dictatorships that are already long-established.)

Resolution & Reinstatement
In a quick resolution to the crisis, Burkina Faso's coup was over just a week after it started; the internationally-supported president was released from custody, and the coup leader stepped down apologetically after popular protests and mediation by neighboring countries. The AU Peace and Security Council, which is always in session, responded by lifting Burkina Faso's suspension on September 26.

After Burkina Faso's return to active membership, there is only one remaining suspended AU member: the Central African Republic (CAR). The CAR was suspended in March 2013 after a rebel takeover, followed by the installation of a weak compromise government. Planned elections probably would have gotten the CAR reinstated to the AU later this month, but they've been delayed after a new outbreak of violence.

Flag of the African Union (AU)Organization Name:  
• African Union (English)
• al-Āthḥād al-’Āfrīqī (Arabic)
• Union africaine (French)
• União Africana (Portuguese)
• Unión Africana (Spanish)
• Umoja wa Afrika (Swahili)
Launched: 2002 in Durban, South Africa
Headquarters: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
What is the African Union?
Formed launched in 2002 as a replacement for the earlier Organization of African Unity (OAU), the AU is an intergovernmental organization that works on increasing cooperation, stability, and development within the continent of Africa. The organization is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Ethiopia is the only African country that the European empires were never able to colonize, and is also the second most populous country in Africa.)

Compared to the neighboring European Union (EU), the AU is only a loose forum for cooperation between its member countries. AU members do not have an integrated economic system, union-wide laws, or shared foreign policy, though further integration is a possibility for the future.

The African Union includes every UN-recognized country in Africa except for Morocco. Morocco withdrew from the OAU in 1984, after the organization chose to admit the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), a disputed country that claims ownership of the mostly Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara territory. The only other parts of Africa not represented in the AU are a few groups of offshore islands controlled by European countries, as well the small Spanish enclaves in North Africa. The breakaway Republic of Somaliland is not a member, but is considered by the AU to be part of member-state Somalia.

Low-resolution graphic of the African Union flag is displayed under fair use principles (source).