- OAU Statement on Davis Nomination
- A) Addis 1941 B) State 40694 C) State 43528
1. I spoke with OAU Assistant SecGen Peter Onu (protect) evening of Feb. 26 regarding background OAU statement on Davis nomination (ref. C). Onu was in Mogadiscio on official visit to brief President Siad on OAU MinCouncil initiatives (Mogadiscio 0289). He left Mogadiscio for Nairobi Feb. 27 and expects to return Addis Feb. 28. He had not seen Secretary Kissinger’s message to Eteki at time of our conversation but had been informed in general terms of its contents. I gave him gist of Kissinger statement and supplied him with text at airport on morning of his departure.
2. ONU said he believed spirit of OAU statement on Davis nomination might have been misunderstood in US. Intent of OAU ministerial action was not rpt not to interfere in US internal affairs but to attempt to draw attention in constructive way to US action which would cause difficulties for US in Africa. OAU had made declaration in spirit of qte Afro-American unqte cooperation because it deeply felt it had responsibility to speak out in this special case. Initiative had thus been taken because of special nature of US-African relations.
3. Onu admitted, however, that OAU statement might have been wrong both in approach and in substance and he deeply regretted its personal implications for Davis. He said that mood of OAU Ministerial Council at time declaration was adopted was that OAU had to move quickly and decisively in view of Senate confirmation hearings and had little time to fully consider diplomatic complexities involved. He personally believed quiet diplomacy might have been best way for Africans to discuss their reservations about Davis nomination with Washington but there had been no time for that. He explained that, once Davis issue had surfaced at Ministerial Council meeting, it had been impossible to more prudently channel African energies, which are chaotic at best during OAU sessions.
4. He claimed in addition that ministerial meeting had been besieged by appeals to OAU for public support from American groups interested in Africa and that OAU Ministers felt they had moral obligation to support their American brothers. He stressed this point on several occasions and I had impression that US opposition to nomination, initiated in Africa at Anglo-American dialogues in Kinshasa, and evidently sustained by appeals to OAU from US groups since that time, may have persuaded OAU Min Council in some misguided way that it spoke for an American constituency as well.
5. When I asked Onu whether any African reps at ministerial session had taken floor against OAU initiative and pointed out diplomatic inadvisability of action as well as personal injustice to Davis of OAU statement, Onu said that this had not been case. He said that among charges made during OAU discussion of Davis nomination was allegation that USG had requested agreement for Davis both at Kinshasa and Lagos and that both capitals had declined nomination. I said this was patently false and asked whether any attempt was made at time to clarify record. Onu said both Zairian and Nigerian delegations had declined comment on charge and ministerial session had accepted reports as true. Onu said cynically that OAU rhetorical utterances generally are accepted as true by OAU reps, most of whom have neither time nor inclination to distinguish smoke from fire during heat of debate. This had been case in Addis Ababa.
6. Onu claimed that rhetoric had run particularly high during discussion of Davis nomination. At one point Davis had been characterized as qte specialist in coup d’etats unqte and allegations were made that he had played hand in Chilean coup and events in Guatemala as well. As result of discussion, OAU francophone delegate had taken floor and had said that, on basis of what he had heard from his OAU colleagues, he wished to inform them that regardless of US action on nomination, he could assure OAU that Davis would never be received in his capital. Onu believed this was fairly representative of OAU feelings at time. He added, however, that ministerial reps had not rpt not sought instructions from capitals in voting on Davis issue. This is, of course, not unusual.
7. When I queried Onu on his discussion with President Siad regarding Davis statement, he refrained from discussing Siad’s reaction or his comments.
8. Onu told me he would meet Eteki in Nairobi Feb. 27 (I was under impression Eteki had departed for West Africa), and would probably be in touch with Addis Pol Counselor Sebastian on Feb. 28 or shortly thereafter.
9. Onu added final note of irony later in evening when he observed that many Africans were greatly concerned about US intentions in Ethiopia. He said feeling in some OAU quarters was that US was abandoning friend in Ethiopia and he, like they, found that deeply disturbing.