Regimes Arising From Coups Should Be Barred From U.N. Institutions, African Official Says
Namibian Foreign Minister Marco Hausiku was addressing a gathering in New York chaired by a man whose government seized power in a coup four decades ago. At least 12 other governments in the chamber came to office in the same way.
Hausiku’s comments came three days after African representatives called for a vote to prevent Madagascar’s self-proclaimed leader, Andry Rajoelina, from addressing the General Assembly session.
Madagascar’s elected president was ousted in a coup last March after street protests led by Rajoelina, then the mayor of the capital, Antananarivo. Rajoelina later proclaimed himself president of a transitional government, a position he said he would hold until elections scheduled for 2011.
International condemnation of the coup included a decision by the 53-member African Union (A.U.) to suspend Madagascar.
Rajoelina was on the list of General Assembly speakers last Thursday, but after objections and walkout threats from African governments, his name was removed. On Friday, however, General Assembly President Ali Triki announced that U.N. legal officials had advised that Rajoelina should be permitted to speak, pending a ruling by a credentialing body.
Triki then put the decision to a vote, and of the small number of delegates that cast ballots, a majority (23-4) voted to bar Rajoelina from speaking. The Madagascar government said at the weekend that it would formally protest.
Jean Victor Nkolo, a spokesman for Triki, told a briefing Monday that a member state had raised a procedural objection to Rajoelina speaking, and the General Assembly president had followed the rules of procedure.
In his speech Monday, Namibia’s Hausiku said the U.N. should “support the A.U. principle positions of not recognizing governments that come to power through military coups.”
“Namibia calls upon the U.N. General Assembly to urgently pass a resolution prohibiting the participation of such governments in the activities of all the U.N. institutions.”
Hausiku did not elaborate, but at least 12 U.N. member-states besides Madagascar are ruled by regimes which took power in coups. Monday’s list of speakers included representatives of five coup governments – the prime minister of Burma, and the foreign ministers of Sudan, Tunisia, Oman and Guinea.
Fiji’s coup leader spoke on Saturday, and on Friday – the same day Rajoelina was blocked from speaking – the speakers’ list included Burkina Faso’s president and a representative from the Central African Republic.
Thursday’s speakers’ list included the president of The Gambia, and on Wednesday, the president of Equatorial Guinea and the emir of Qatar spoke.
On Wednesday, the opening day of high-level debate, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who took power in a coup four decades ago, also addressed the session at length.
Gaddafi enjoyed a prime speaking slot, immediately after President Obama, because Libya holds the presidency of the A.U. this year. A Libyan, Triki, is president of the General Assembly and Libya has also been a non-permanent member of the Security Council since January 2008. Queries sent to the Namibian foreign ministry in Windhoek and to the Namibian mission to the U.N. in New York on Monday elicited no response.
The ministry and mission were asked whether Namibia included countries like Libya, Equatorial Guinea and Burkina Faso in its call for member states whose governments came to power in coups to be denied recognition and excluded from U.N. activities.
Honduras an exception
Aside from Madagascar, the only country whose de facto leader was not permitted to address this year’s General Assembly was Honduras.
Interim President Roberto Micheletti and Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez were denied U.S. visas and were not able to travel to the New York. Had they been able to make the trip, neither of them would in any case have been allowed to speak.
President Manuel Zelaya was ousted last June in what the U.S. and international community say was a coup. The interim government contends that the troops who removed him were acting on orders of the Supreme Court after Zelaya violated Honduras’ constitution by proposing to amend its presidential term limits.
Zelaya’s foreign minister, Patricia Rodas, did speak in New York late Monday, delivering an appeal for stronger international pressure on the “putschists.”
Zelaya himself slipped back into Honduras last week and is holed up in the Brazilian Embassy, from where he is urging his supporters to protest in the streets.
Burkina Faso: Army captain Blaise Compaore came to power in a violent 1987 takeover. He addressed the U.N. on Friday.
Burma: Burma has been under military rule since a 1962 coup, and Than Shwe has been head of the ruling junta since 1992.
Central African Republic: Former army chief Francois Bozize overthrew an elected president in 2003, the latest in a string of coups (1966, 1979, 1981) and abortive coup attempts.
Equatorial Guinea: Military police officer Teodoro Obiang mounted a takeover in 1979 and executed his predecessor. He addressed the U.N. last week.
Fiji: Navy Commodore Frank Bainimarama twice seized power, in 2000 and 2006, and is currently “prime minister.” He addressed the U.N. last week.
The Gambia: Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh became head of state after a military coup in 1994. He addressed the U.N. last week.
Guinea: Army captain Moussa Dadis Camara seized power in a coup last December after the president died of illness.
Libya: Gaddafi took power in a coup he calls the Great al-Fatah Revolution, in 1969. A.U. leaders early this month joined him to celebrate the 40th anniversary.
Oman: Qaboos bin Said Al Said ousted his father in 1970, becoming sultan.
Qatar: Hamad bin Khalifa seized control in 1995, toppling his father. He addressed the U.N. last week.
Sudan: Omar al-Bashir seized power in 1989.
Tunisia: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali grabbed power in 1987, after declaring the incumbent medically unfit to remain in office.