"Africa shall evolve. It's not a revolution we are invoking so we cannot give you a timeline," John Kufuor, Ghana's president, said latye when asked why no timetable had been set out in the final declaration.

Tailor-made union

"We are not going to copy any [other union] that you may know like the United States of America or EU but something that is tailor-made for us and will suit our continent."

Your Views

"Gaddafi's idea is good in theory but it won't work for a very long time"

Van Zwam, Dendermonde, Belgium

Send us your views

The studies commissioned by the African Union will examine the impact of the united government on the sovereignty of individual nations, its functions, a timeframe for its establishment and how it will be funded.

The push for a union government reflected a belief among some member states that the current African Union commission was failing to  deliver, with even Alpha Oumar Konare, the commission chairman, acknowledging that the body's powers were ill-defined.

"We have all agreed that our common and final goal is the United States of Africa. The debate was not easy," Konare said.
  
"An audit has to be done to clarify some of the concepts because there is a lot of confusion."
  
Time to mature

However some leaders such as Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president, said he wanted to give the African Union more time to mature rather than be completely overhauled.

Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's leader, and Abdoulaye Wade, his Senegalese counterpart had advocated the immediate formation of a continental government.

Diplomatic sources saying that Wade had at one stage threatening to begin his own fast-track process with a group of mainly west African states.

Gaddafi and Wade were not in their seats in the conference hall when the closing Accra Declaration was read to reporters.