African Leaders Scorn Campaign Against Qaddafi

But critics say their concerns about human rights are just "lip service."

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Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

African leaders scorned the international campaign against Libya's Muammar Qaddafi at an African Union summit at a resort in Equatorial Guinea today, Bloomberg reports.

Equatorial Guinea's leader, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, oversaw the summit, during which leaders demanded that NATO halt its bombing campaign in Libya. Yesterday, AU Commission head Jean Ping accused the International Criminal Court of pouring "oil on the fire" by issuing an arrest warrant for Qaddafi.

"The interventions for human rights are nowadays causing a massive scourge to mankind," Obiang said during the opening ceremony. Countries and organizations outside Africa "should not intervene in the solutions of Africa's problems without a consensus from Africa," he added.

But some, like Festus Aboagye, an analyst at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, accuse the AU of doing no more than "paying lip service" to human rights. 

Political activists, students and migrants were detained ahead of the summit as the government pledged to ensure "perfect security," Human Rights Watch said in a June 22 statement. And while Obiang has overseen an oil boom that brought gross domestic product per capita to $34,680, and has housed each head of state in a lavish villa for the summit, most of his country's population of 660,000 lives in poverty. "You see a lack of consistency and a bit of betrayal in what the AU espouses toward governance," Aboagye said.

"When the population doesn't have water and electricity, this kind of extravaganza is political exhibitionism," Fabian Nsue Nguema, a human rights lawyer, said in an interview in his Malabo apartment. "To us, [Obiang] looks like just another Qaddafi."

Are the views of summit attendees on human rights hypocritical? Inconsistent? If they are, can they still have any value? Weigh in.

Read more at Bloomberg.

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