Africa resents US 'friendly advice'
A number of African leaders say the United States is responsible for wrecking two attempts to hold the Organization of African Unity's summit meeting in Libya last year.
The ranks of these African leaders extend well beyond Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, who was prevented from assuming chairmanship of the OAU this year when the scheduled Libyan summit never came off.
And now that a renewed attempt is being made to convene the summit at Addis Ababa in June, there is fresh interest on what ''friendly advice'' (or pressure, as critics prefer to call it) can be expected from the US State Department.
Before last August's abortive attempt to hold the summit in the Libyan capital, American diplomats presented what was termed ''talking notes'' to selected African governments.
The secret document, which expressed the Reagan administration's views and wishes on seven African issues, angered some of the ''recipients'' and has been widely misrepresented by some who have not seen its actual text.
The first item in the talking notes deals with Colonel Qaddafi's chairmanship of the OAU and reads:
''US has made it clear since the Nairobi summit (of the OAU in 1981) that Qaddafi's unprincipled behavior would make it impossible for us to work with him as OAU chairman. If OAU members follow tradition and elect Qaddafi chairman, we hope something will be done to limit the damage he could do the organization by bending it to serve his purpose. How this might be accomplished is for the members to decide, but we trust Qaddafi's support for disruptive and subversive forces throughout the continent and beyond has left OAU members without illusions about his ambitions.''
The second item in the notes relates to the office of the OAU secretary-general, which is due to be filled.
According to the talking notes, ''If Qaddafi is to become OAU chairman, it is more important than ever that the next secretary-general be someone truly representative of the continent, someone who will have the international respect and access which Qaddafi does not. With Africa's economic problems becoming more acute in a world buffeted by economic distress, it would be unfortunate if the premier African organization were represented by individuals who were impediments to dialogue with the rest of the international community.''
The third item raises the thorny issue of the Western Sahara and the admission of the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) - the putative government formed by the Polisario movement - to membership of the OAU.
The US asserts that it ''continues to believe that the admission of the SADR to the OAU would be a grave mistake. Not only would it frustrate the OAU's laudable efforts to resolve the Western Saharan conflict by negotiation. It also would violate the charter's principles by admission of an entity which is a political organization rather than a state as commonly defined by international law and practice. It would set a precedent which would haunt the OAU in the future, and it could well prompt the withdrawal of several members from the organization.''
The fourth item deals with negotiations for eventual independence of Namibia (South-West Africa). Here, the US expresses the optimistic view that rapid advances are being made in negotiations - though nothing is said about the issue of Cuban withdrawal from Angola - and adds:
''It would be a disservice to the people of Namibia if the OAU were to engage in emotive rhetoric which might complicate the negotiating process.''
The fifth item refers to Diego Garcia, the military base in the Indian Ocean that the US leases from Britain. A particularly sharp warning is sounded on this question:
''The US would not take lightly any one-sided resolution on issues involving its national interests. The US military presence in the Indian Ocean area is related to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and other indications of Soviet expansionism in southwest Asia.''
The sixth item deals with Ethiopian incursions into Somalia, which are described as clear violations of OAU principles. It continues:
''Ethiopian disclaimers of involvement should be treated as the canards they are. The participation of their aircraft in attacks against a Somali town is only the most obvious example of Ethiopian direct engagement. We hope the OAU can find ways to convince Ethiopia that its aggression against Somalia is no more acceptable than was Somalia's aggression against Ethiopia in 1977.''
The seventh item, titled '' representation,'' is perhaps the most controversial - and the most deeply resented by African leaders, even among those not normally overly critical of Washington.
The item suggests how the US would like Africans to respond to any pressure exerted by Libya. African leaders view the suggestions as paternalistic to a point of caricaturing third-world attitudes about the behavior of the superpowers and treatment of Africans as though they need foreign tutelage.
''Delegates to the ministerial and summit meetings undoubtedly will be subject to great pressure by the Libyans and their allies. Firmness will be required to resist the blandishments and threats they will encounter. We would hope that delegations have authority to withdraw from the meetings, should Libyan behavior prove to be such that responsible Africans would not want to be associated with it.''