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African Union Summit in focus

Feb 1, 2011, 11:19 AM

The political crisis in Cote d'Ivoire, the social unrest in Tunisia and Egypt, the post-referendum reconstruction in south Sudan, and the deteriorating situation in Somalia were the issues that overshadowed the 16th African Union Summit.

According to reports, more than 25 African leaders and government representatives were in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the two-day summit conference which focused on the theme: 'Towards Greater Unity and Integration Through Shared Values.'

Regarding the theme of the summit, it was relevant and fitting considering the present day realities on the continent.

Unity could be the best way to harmonise our efforts and work on a common agenda of development. African leaders must now realise that unifying the continent would give it more strength, and promotes economic growth.

It is sad that the efforts towards unity the continent has been yearning for, is being confronted with serious impediments, such as the political unrest in several African states.

We have said it in this and other columns, that there is a great need for Africans to unite and be each other's brother's keeper.

African leaders, particularly, must remain united in tackling the Ivorian crisis, and should not accept the vote recount or power-sharing government that former President Laurent Gbagbo  is seeking. 

It was most heartening at the AU summit this week to hear French President Nicholas Sarkozy express support for Africa's representation at the UN Security Council.

This is paramount, and we call on the African Union to push the agenda forward.

Sarkozy also spoke at length about unfair global trade practices that has continued to stifle Africa's growth. Of major concern to him was the issue of powerful developed countries subsiding agricultural production for their farmers, and the low prices offered to Africa for unprocessed produce.

These are other issues that require the attention of Africans, especially our leaders, who must continue to advocate for a change to such unfavourable trade policies and practices.

Meanwhile, we were disappointed by the appointment of Equatorial Guinea's Theodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo as chairman of the African Union.

We wondered how such an African leader, whose democratic credentials, according to reports, are highly questionable, could spearhead the strivings of Africans to a more unified, democratic, peaceful, and prosperous continent.

African Union leaders, we believe, must be guided in their deliberations, not by considerations of individual member states’ sovereignty, but by the need to reward those among their peers who uphold human rights, and are against all forms of dictatorship and corruption.

"A tragedy of unprecedented proportions is unfolding in Africa"

Nelson Mandela