African Union Chairman Plans to Visit Russia and Ukraine
The President of Senegal Macky Sall announced on Sunday, May 22nd, that he would be visiting Russia and Ukraine as the Chairman of the African Union. Sall said he had received the mandate to carry out these visits from the organization. The trip to Eastern Europe had been scheduled to take place earlier this month on May 18 but did not happen due to conflicting schedules. Sall stated that new dates had been put forward. Sall is slated to visit Ukraine and Russia is hopes to lobby for an end to the blockade and sanctions on wheat exports from the nations to Senegal.
“As soon as it’s set, I will go of course to Moscow and also to Kyiv and we have also accepted to get together all the heads of state of the African Union who want to with (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelensky, who had expressed the need to communicate with the African heads of state,” he said. “That, too, will be done in the coming weeks.”
Role of the African Union…
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been ongoing for close to four months now. The conflict has divided populations across the globe. This opinion divide in regards to the war has also been evident in Africa. The United Nations held two resolutions, one calling for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and another for Russia to stop the war. Nearly half the African countries abstained or did not vote. Macky Sall’s Senegal abstained from the first resolution, which was adopted, but voted in the second one. “We do not want to be aligned on this conflict, very clearly, we want peace. Even though we condemn the invasion, we’re working for a de-escalation, we’re working for a ceasefire, for dialogue … that is the African position,” said President Sall. President Sall said this at a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who he welcomed to Senegal on a state visit.
The conflict has had a negative effect on the economies of a large number of African countries. The prices of wheat-based food and fuel have increased due to the conflict between the two neighbors. This is due to the fact that Africa imports most of its wheat from both Russia and Ukraine. According to the African Development Bank, wheat imports make up 90% of Africa’s $4 billion trade with Russia while it makes up almost 50% of trade with Ukraine. The European countries are also major exporters of oil and fuel products. The conflict and the sanctions on Russia have made it more difficult for these fuel and oil products to make their way to their desired African locations, causing shortages and price increases. A resolution to the conflict would not only be good for the Eastern European countries but it would also indirectly lend a helping hand to Africa.