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How India swung African Union in G4 favour
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
It took sustained laser-focus diplomacy by India in recent months, particularly last 25 days, to swing the 53-member African Union (AU) in favour of the G4 and make it agree to drop its demand for veto power.

Those involved in the secret parleys and backroom diplomacy told The Tribune today that India, on which other G4 countries (Brazil, Germany and Japan) pinned their hopes for managing a turn-around in AUís stated position, got an opportunity to sink in its teeth in the African pie last month when it was invited to attend the Ministerial Meetings and Summit of the African Union in Sirte, Libya from July 1-5. Minister of State for External Affairs Rao Inderjit Singh led the delegation.

But despite this, there was considerable uncertainty in the Indian delegation prior to its departure about the degree of access it would get to the venue of the summit. The reason: three days before the Indian delegationís departure, the Libyan protocol had conveyed that only African delegations would be allowed to stay in Sirte. In other words, the Indians were going for the Sirte summit only to be stranded in Tripoli.

The Libyans relented on the day of the Indian delegationís arrival, though it had to stay in privately rented accommodation in Sirte. The odds were stacked heavily against the Indians, primarily because of Indiaís observer status at the event. As a result, the Indian participation in the formal events was limited to the opening and closing sessions only.

This major constraint notwithstanding, the Indian diplomats were able to lay their hands on important documents even before they were released.

The Sirte conference proved to be a goldmine for the Indian delegation which had useful interactions with over 20 Foreign Ministers, covering key countries like South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Libya, Senegal, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Niger. Meetings with Presidents of Ghana, Niger, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast came as a bonus.

The first breakthrough came on July 3 when Rao Inderjit Singh met Prof Alpha Konare, Chairperson of the AU Commission. Prof Konare, a former President of Mali and a member of AU Troika on UNSC reforms, was the key player in the Sirte deliberations. Prof Konare told the Indian minister that the AU intended to formally table its own resolution in UN General Assembly and pointed out that AUís resolution was very close to the G4 resolution. More importantly, he said here were bright chances of the two groups working together to bridge the gap.

By July 3, it was becoming clear to the Indian delegation that despite the opposition of China and the Coffee Club, a large majority of AU countries were supportive of India, in marked contrast to the lack of enthusiasm for the G4 resolution.
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