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Holbrooke told off. (Around Africa - Africa).

The 114-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the single largest political group at the United Nations, has hit back at the former US ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke, who urged African nations to break away from the group.

South Africa, NAM's current chairman, says Holbrooke's proposal is "an insult" to the entire membership of the Movement.

"This attempt by a non-NAM member to prescribe to the African members of the Movement is at best uninformed, or at worst misguided, misleading and constitutes an affront to the NAM members as a whole," says Dumisani Shadrack Kumalo, South Africa's ambassador to the UN.

In his recent farewell address to the African group at the UN, Holbrooke asked African countries to "reconsider their association with the Non-Aligned Movement. I have not seen a single issue in which NAM positions actually benefited the African group," he said, to the utter annoyance of the Africans assembled there.

Holbrooke continued: "African countries should consider distancing themselves from that you can protect African interests and not allow yourself to be pushed by less than 10 radicalised states into positions that you don't need."

Although he is no longer the US ambassador to the UN, the US Mission at the UN yet circulated Holbrooke's speech as an official document to the General Assembly. This "can only be seen," says the South African ambassador, Kumalo, "as an attempt to question the legitimacy of NAM."

In a letter to NAM members also circulated as an official General Assembly document, Kumalo says South Africa is proud to be the NAM chair.

"For our people, NAM will always be remembered for having stood steadfast in support of our struggle against apartheid whilst many outside NAM were either complacent or supportive of the racist regime of our past," Kumalo added.

An Asian diplomat at the UN said Holbrooke was just trying the old colonial tactic of divide and rule. "He was trying to play the Africans against the Asians and Latin American members in NAM. But it just didn't work."

NAM was founded in 1961 and has remained united despite occasional political differences among its members. Since its founding, it has taken strong collective decisions on several political issues involving developing nations -- issues such as apartheid, nuclear disarmament, the right to self-determination, terrorism and the Middle East peace process.

At the UN, a NAM caucus has been formed in the 15-member Security Council. Last year the caucus was responsible for sponsoring a resolution calling for a UN monitoring force in the Israeli occupied territories in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem -- a proposal that was strongly opposed by America and the other Western countries in the Security Council.

South Africa is expected to hand over the NAM chairmanship to Bangladesh early next year.
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Title Annotation:former US ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke
Author:Dean, Thalif
Publication:New African
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:May 1, 2001
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