At the initiative of Togo, an African political alliance has set itself the mission of restoring Africa to its rightful place on the international stage. The alliance also aims to be a catalyst for development and counterterrorism efforts. Professor Robert Dussey, Togolese Minister of Foreign Affairs, outlines its objectives.
Representatives from several North, West, and Central African countries gathered in Lomé, Togo, on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. The ministerial meeting took place within the framework of the African Political Alliance (APA).
This alliance aspires to be a network of exchanges among African countries to restore Africa to its rightful place on the international stage. The Alliance also aims to be a driver of development and counterterrorism efforts. It was established at the initiative of Togo.
“Read or listen to the interview with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Togo, Professor Robert Dussey.”
DW: Hello, Mr. Minister Robert Dussey. Is the African Political Alliance (APA) essentially a second African Union?
Robert Dussey: Not at all. The African Political Alliance has no intention, rest assured, of replacing either the African Union, ECOWAS, or any sub-regional organization. The African Political Alliance aims to be an informal framework for enhanced cooperation. Its ambition, if you will, is very focused on what we could call African priorities, including our development, our autonomy in making decisions for ourselves, and our security.
DW: It seems that the initial assessment indicates a certain failure, a certain inadequacy in the results achieved so far by sub-regional organizations.
Robert Dussey: It’s true that on all fronts, when we look at African sub-regional organizations, there are many comments to be made. But we always support all sub-regional organizations. However, this alliance aims to highlight the ideals of Pan-Africanism, and this alliance is determined to work for a politically strong, independent, confident, non-aligned Africa, if you will, capable of playing a significant role in global governance.
DW: Robert Dussey, you mentioned Pan-Africanism earlier. What can you tell us about what you are currently observing with Pan-Africanist movements? How can we ensure that the defense of Africa’s interests and values does not turn into extremism and violence in every sense of the word?
Robert Dussey: Pan-Africanism is primarily a movement of emancipation and is not meant to serve extremism or violence. I acknowledge that there may be attempts to instrumentalize Pan-Africanism for unorthodox causes, which we do not support.
The real significance of Pan-Africanism today lies in the fact that it is by being united that the continent can truly participate in global governance. However, in practice, we are not united. The fact that we are not united is not the fault of others; it is primarily our own fault, even though external manipulations are sometimes recognized. But here, we take responsibility ourselves.
To avoid any drift, we need a clear and thoughtful Pan-Africanism, as it is possible to defend the interests and values of Africa without resorting to violence.
DW: In front of the United Nations General Assembly, during the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, Robert Dussey, you stated that Africa expected more equality, respect, equity, and justice in its relations and partnerships with the rest of the world, including the major powers, whoever they may be. What did you mean exactly?
Robert Dussey: But that’s evident to the naked eye! Africa is not respected! We find it unacceptable for 54 countries and over a billion and a half inhabitants.
So, it’s high time to consider Africa. Moreover, you can see for yourself that since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, etc., there are many diplomatic lackeys on the African continent. Now, some realize that Africa is important, but we don’t want this Africa where they come to court us only for our votes in the United Nations Security Council. We want them to come to us as partners and work with us for world peace.
DW: So, does this mean that Africa needs to rely on certain levers, Mr. Minister, to claim a place on the global stage? What should Africa be based on and rely on, as you desire, to make its voice heard?
Robert Dussey: Africa is in a world where the dynamics are geared towards an arms race. But the truth is, we believe today within the African Political Alliance that Africa, the Africa we want to be politically strong, independent, confident, non-aligned, and capable of participating as an actor in global governance—this Africa, at some point, must consider its military defense.
DW: The African Political Alliance (APA) is an initiative of Togo, which is very active in resolving certain crises on the continent. What does Lomé gain concretely through this activism, especially when the government is regularly accused of not respecting human rights?
Robert Dussey: Those familiar with the history of Togo’s foreign policy should know that Togolese diplomacy is a diplomacy of mediations.
There have been several meetings since the 1980s. Every time there are conflicts, such as the conflicts in Chad in the 1980s, Chadian rebels found themselves in Togo. When the Ivorian crisis began in 2000, Ivorian rebels at the time also sought refuge in Togo. The crises in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and so on.
So, you see, Togolese diplomacy promotes dialogue and peace as values and advocates for them as a horizon to strive toward.
And for the President of the Republic, Togo must and has always been committed to this cause, through dialogue and negotiation.
DW: Mr. Minister, Robert Dussey, thank you.
Robert Dussey: Thank you.