African leaders hope to end wars

The closing session of the African Union (AU) summit convened in the Mozambican capital of Maputo on Saturday with leaders hoping to make progress to end wars in half a dozens countries.

    Qadhafi (C) says he is fighting for African Unity

    Other issues on the agenda were the economic revival plan, the New Partnership of Africa’s Development, and the battle against HIV/AIDS.

     

    Discussions were private. But officials said after Friday’s session that the leaders had agreed to have a special summit to work on a common defence and security policy.

     

    They are hoping to set up a pan-African standby force at its heart, according to officials.

     

    Several African countries have plunged into war, hence compelling the African Union to take a more leading role in peacekeeping forces in the continent.

     

    Liberia, Burundi, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and others are countries that are suffering from civil wars.

     

    On Friday, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi caused a security scare when he stopped to sign autographs outside the summit hall.

     

    "I love Africa and I love all of you," Qadhafi told his
    admirers. "We are fighting for African unity, we are fighting to
    end conflicts. We want a united voice for our people."

     

    Opposition leader arrested

    The summit was marred by the detention of the main opposition leader from Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

     

    The head of the People’s United Democratic Movement, Mario Masuku, had traveled to Maputo to call for more freedoms in his tiny country.

     

    But he said he was detained and spent a night at the Matola army camp along with two members of his party.

     

    He was later handed over to the Swazi authorities, who questioned them for an hour before releasing them.

     

    Masuku accused the authorities of leading the Mozambican government to believe that his party was planning to carry out attacks in Maputo.

     

    “Police investigations are continuing and we would not like to get into details, we are looking at a number of things,” said Swazi police spokesman Sabelo Dlamini.

     

    Women elected

     

    Meanwhile, leaders of the AU’s 53 member governments elected five women to the 10-member executive body which runs the Organisation of African Unity.

     

    “There is no other institution in the world with 50 percent women,” Frene Ginwala, the female speaker of South Africa’s parliament, told Reuters.

     

    “Why shouldn’t Africa lead the way for once?” she asked, saying that there were many incompetent men in office.

     

    The AU summit began on Thursday and ends Saturday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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