- Mamadou Faye
- Journalist – BBC Africa
Senegalese President Macky Sall arrived in Russia to meet Vladimir Putin on behalf of the African Union, of which he currently presides.
The Senegalese Head of State met this Friday with his counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, in southern Russia.
What did Macky Sall say to Vladimir Putin?
Senegalese President and head of the African Union, Macky Sall, told his Russian counterpart that he must take into account the impact that the food shortages caused by the conflict in Ukraine is having on the continent, reports the agency.
AFP quotes President Sall as saying that President Vladimir Putin must “realize that our countries, even if they are far from the theater, [d’action]are economically victims” of the conflict.
He added that food supplies must be “outside” of Western sanctions against Russia.
Before the conflict, more than 40% of the wheat consumed in Africa came from Ukraine or Russia.
Prior to his departure from Senegal, President Sall’s office said the visit was aimed at freeing up grain and fertilizer stockpiles – around twenty million tonnes of grain are currently held back in Ukraine due to transport problems.
This situation has exacerbated food shortages caused by the impact of climate, insecurity and poor harvests in many parts of Africa.
The worsening food crisis and the dramatic rise in prices have put many families in difficulty. In Chad, for example, a third of the population needs food aid according to the United Nations and the government has launched an appeal for international aid.
To read especially on BBC Africa:
In his public speech after the meeting, quoted by AFP, Putin said Russia was “always on the side of Africa”.
The Senegalese head of state signaled during a joint press conference on May 22 with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Africa wants peace and not alignment with any position on the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
What does the African Union want?
Senegalese President Macky Sall, who is also the current president of the African Union, has clearly defined the African position in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
“First, it is a conflict that is not regional. It is on another continent, although it affects us and we say. But for Africa, we want peace, we don’t want to be aligned with the conflict, very clearly”, he said. .
“Even though we condemn the invasion, we are working towards a de-escalation. We are working towards a ceasefire, towards a dialogue, because in any case we will end up sitting around a table”, he said. continues President Sal.
“So that’s the African position. It doesn’t mean we’re for or against this or that. And we totally take our position,” he said.
President Sall also expressed to the German Chancellor Africa’s concern about the impact of the war on the continent’s countries.
“As President-in-Office of the African Union, I expressed to Chancellor Scholz my serious concern about the impact of the war on our countries, African countries, in particular the general increase in prices and the shortages that are observed”.
What is Africa’s influence on conflict resolution?
According to the Senegalese Head of State, “the African Union has already started consultations to study ways and means of mitigating the consequences of the war”.
To succeed, he says he relies on bilateral and multilateral partnerships. “May our bilateral and multilateral partners accompany us in this process,” he implores.
But political analyst Ibrahima Bakhoum believes that Africa’s influence “is almost nil”. However, he says, “we cannot say that it would not be in Africa’s interest to get involved” in resolving the conflict.
Finally, Bakhoum believes that the non-alignment shown by most African countries could work in favor of the African Union president who will speak on behalf of his peers.
“The advantage here is that Africa will at least be the only voice not involved in the conflict. And at that moment, we can always say that maybe it is a partner of both countries.”
What does Ukraine expect from Africa?
In its call to align the world with its cause in the crisis that has pitted it against its Russian neighbor since last February, Ukraine called for support from all sides.
Incidentally, during a session of the United Nations General Assembly on March 2, a resolution against the Russian invasion was passed by a huge margin of 141 votes in favor of the 193 member states.
A total of 28 African countries voted in favor of this resolution to condemn the Russian invasion.
But 17 others, including Senegal, abstained from voting on the resolution.
The other countries were Sudan, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Uganda, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Algeria, Mali, Tanzania, Mozambique and Congo.
Eritrea is the only African country that voted against.
In late April, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, tweeted that the Ukrainian Foreign Minister had presented a new “request by President Zelenskyy to address the African Union and his desire to develop closer ties with the African Union”. AU”.
What does Russia expect from Africa?
For political analyst Ibrahima Bakhoum, Russia seeks to expand its geostrategic influence in Africa.
Furthermore, he says, this explains the partnership agreements he signed with some African countries such as Mali, the Central African Republic, among others.
After the invasion of Ukraine, Russia expects its new allies to support it, or at least remain neutral, in international forums like the UN.
What will Macky Sall do during these visits?
“The AU has given me a mandate to call for a cessation of hostilities, as well as the possibility of allowing Ukraine and Russia to export the grain and raw materials that the world needs,” President Sall said.
The AU president also called for “certain sanctions imposed on Russia to be lifted”.
“This will allow us to negotiate with her and buy essential fertilizers for our agriculture,” he explained.
Contacted by telephone, Ousmane Bâ, communication officer for the Presidency of the Republic, indicated that President Macky Sall will have to meet with the two protagonists, Vladimir Poutine and Volodymyr Zelensky.
No date has been announced for a visit to Ukraine.