Apr 11, 2008, 5:53 AM
The conflicts undermining Africa and acting as a break on its development will be high on the agenda of the 20th Summit of the African Union to be held on 27-28 January on the theme: “Pan-Africanism and African Rebirth,” six months after the 19th Summit devoted to “Promoting Intra-African Trade.”
AU foreign ministers are expected to meet on 24-25 January to discuss the same issues, in addition to the crisis in Mali.
The war in Mali against Islamic militants/jihadists, who took control of the country’s north about ten months ago is likely to overshadow the planned evaluation of the promotion of intra-African trade, which has been subject to several studies and conferences, but never got off the ground, due to the national deep-seated selfishness.
After a series of meeting on the Malian crisis, Africa was forced to let France take the lead in stopping the offensive of the jihadists, who were threatening not only Bamako but the other countries in the sub-region.
In the hallways of the brand new Conference Centre, which is a Chinese gift to Africa, journalists and representatives of some NGOs still wonder about the decisions that could be made on the war in Mali, where some African troops are already in place to fight the enemy.
The crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR), whose resolution is under favorable auspices, with the recent appointment of Nicolas Tchangaye, a fierce opponent to President Francois Bozize a Prime Minister, will also be discussed by the foreign ministers and later by the heads of state, as the Seleka rebels are still reluctant to lay down their arms.
The DR Congo currently engaged in a cacophonous dialogue with the M23 insurgents who want a new transition, arguing that the last elections were rigged and the government, which insists on the necessity to respect the constitutional order, is still struggling with insecurity.
Another contentious issue to be dealt with is the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, after the new round of talks hit a snag last week in Addis Ababa, over the delimitation of a portion of their common border and the issue of Abyei.
In Somalia, the African Union has recorded some positive moves on security matters, but will need time to sort out the situation in this country of the Horn of Africa caught up in a bloody conflict since President Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.
Other latent conflicts in countries such as Guinea-Bissau will also be discussed by the AU, which has invited its representatives in all countries whose stability is threatened by complex democratic transition to attend the Summit in Addis Ababa.