On the occasion of the visit to Senegal of German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz, the Senegalese Head of State and President of the African Union (AU), Macky Sall, announced an upcoming trip to Moscow and kyiv.
“We had received the invitation from Moscow to go there on 18 (May) last, but for calendar reasons, it was not done. I have proposed new dates, as soon as it is fixed I will naturally go to Moscow… but also to kyiv”, announced Macky Sall this Sunday.
A statement by the AU Chairman-in-Office which demonstrates a desire to "carry the voice of Africa". Macky Sall waited to be invited to interfere in this file before expressing any position of the AU on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. And, above all, he waited for the visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz before talking about his future trip.
A German visit placed under the sign of energy. Macky Sall plays the gas card with his German visitor, saying that “Senegal is ready to supply the European market with gas”. “But we must first be supported in our participation under better conditions than those currently offered by our partners,” warned the Senegalese head of state. In other words, Macky Sall is upping the ante.
In the meantime, and despite the announcement of a future move, the AU boss is tiptoeing forward in the Ukrainian file. “For Africa, we want peace, we don't want to be aligned with this conflict, very clearly. Even though we condemn the invasion, we are working for there to be a de-escalation, we are working for there to be a ceasefire,” he said. Macky Sall also recalls that “in any case, we will end up sitting around a table”.
Does Macky Sall speak to the right people?
Is such a discourse representative of African positions? Egypt, Zimbabwe, Algeria, South Africa, Mali and Equatorial Guinea have already resumed business with Russia. The commitments of certain African countries vis-à-vis the energy shortage in Europe have not prevented them from continuing to have cordial relations with Moscow. But on the side of Senegal, the diplomatic position had evolved, moving from neutrality to condemnation of Russia. And Macky Sall, often aligned with Paris, seems to have to juggle between his country's position and that of the African Union (AU). Not as an institution, but as a bloc.
Macky Sall also declares: "We have also agreed to bring together all the Heads of State, who so wish, from the African Union, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who had expressed the need to communicate with the Heads of 'African state'. The Senegalese president claims to have been "mandated by other African heads of state" in his diplomatic mission in Moscow and kyiv. But so that his tour isn't just a waste of time, Shouldn't Macky Sall also address US President Joe Biden ? Or to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg?
The United States and NATO are parties to the Ukrainian conflict. The European Union (EU), for its part, acts as an intermediary for arms deliveries to Ukraine. Speaking to Putin and Zelensky, does Macky Sall have any chance of causing a de-escalation first?
His mission will in any case be delicate: in Moscow, the Senegalese head of state will arrive as he negotiates the supply of gas to Europe, and just after leaving his neutral position to condemn Russia in the second vote at the UN.