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ARAB-AFRICAN AFFAIRS - July 9 - OAU Summit In Lusaka Adopts Qadhafi's African Union Plan.

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) opens a 3-day summit in Lusaka, Zambia. Its 35 rulers agree to end the OAU, after 38 years, and begin a yearlong transition into the African Union (first proposed in 1999 by Libyan leader Qadhafi who has since pursued his plan most vigorously, despite suspicions and doubts expressed by Western powers). Addressing the summit, OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim says AU's creation marks the beginning of the realisation of the pan-Africanist dream of a united continent. He adds: "This is a time of true promise and opportunity for achievement. We must make great capital of this hope". Plans for the AU (loosely modelled on the European Union) include an African Central Bank, an AU court of justice, a single currency and a parliament. Pres. Frederick Chiluba of Zambia is elected as AU chairman. Addressing the summit, UN Sec-Gen. Kofi Annan says the African leaders need courage and leadership to rebuild the continent, a task he compares to Europe's reconstruction after the devastation of the two world wars. He urges the leaders to shake off their deep divisions and work together against the continent's poverty, wars and health crisis. He says the transition will challenge all African leaders, adding: "This historic effort will require leadership, courage and a willingness to depart from the ways of the past if it is to do for Africa what the European Union has done for Europe. That, Excellencies, should be our aim: to rebuild, as Europe did, after a series of devastating wars, uniting across old divisions to build a continent characterised by peace, co-operation, economic progress and the rule of law".

To reach that goal, he says, Africa needs to overcome huge obstacles, including the AIDS pandemic and mass poverty. Africa must also "reject the ways of the past and commit itself to building a future of democratic governance subject to the rule of law. Such a future is within our reach, I am convinced. But only on one condition, that we end Africa's conflicts, without which no amount of aid or trade, assistance or advice will make the difference". (To achieve its goals, the African Union will require far more money than the OAU had. It remains unclear how that money is to be raised. Many analysts question whether the new body would ever realise the goals set out in its charter. Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, briefed the leaders on his efforts to foster peace in Burundi. He said he would soon announce a breakthrough in the deadlocked peace talks. The AU is expected to put its weight behind the Millennium African Recovery Plan - MAP - sponsored by the South African, Algerian and Nigerian governments. MAP seeks to promote good governance and development. African rulers are to fly to Genoa next week to brief the Group of Eight meeting on MAP and seek aid to fund its huge projects. But western powers are highly suspicious of the AU plan, in view of widespread corruption and the fact that most African leaders are dictators. Before the summit, OAU's FM's unanimously decided to back Zimbabwe Pres. Robert Mugabe in his thuggish attempt to retain power under the pretext of land redistribution. The summit's opening was also overshadowed by mourning in Lusaka for Paul Tembo, a prominent and popular Zambian opposition leader shot dead on July 6 at his home in front of his family. He was expected to give testimony in a government corruption case that could have implicated 3 cabinet ministers for abuse of their positions. Opposition leaders and lawyers said the killing may have been orchestrated by the state to silence a powerful witness in the corruption tribunal. His position as a former aide to Chiluba made him privy to the workings of the inner circle of the ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy and the president himself. This is not the first killing of a politician close to Chiluba. Ronald Penza, the flamboyant former minister of finance, was shot dead in similar circumstances in 1998 - apparently the victim of violent crime after leaving office. The suspicion of politically-motivated murder and arrangements for a discreet memorial service cast a pall over the election of Chiluba as the first chairman of the AU. Earlier this year, Chiluba was thwarted in his desire for an unconstitutional third term in power. Should Chiluba not stand for presidential office again, he is expected to pass on the chairmanship of the AU to the next president of Zambia).
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Title Annotation:Organization of African Unity
Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:6ZAMB
Date:Jul 14, 2001
Words:748
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