Bush visit hampers African summit

Hit by the absence of several notable leaders, an emaciated African Union on Friday called for the restoration of peace and development in the continent.

    On the second-day of its summit in Mozambique’s capital Maputo, the 53-member Union reiterated that war and poverty need to be quickly banished.

    But with several leaders not in attendance and the ongoing Africa tour by the US President George W Bush hogging much of the attention, the Union’s pronouncements lacked conviction.

    “Our people need peace and development, not war and poverty,” declared Mozambican President Joaaquim Chissano, the African Union’s new chairman.

    Civil wars in Liberia, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Somalia were all on the agenda of the summit.

    But the presidents of Liberia, Burundi, Congo and Somalia were notably absent from Friday’s closed session.

    Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni had also left the summit early in view of Bush’s visit to both their countries.

    Before leaving, Obasanjo told a news conference that the Liberian situation could ease with the deployment of a West African peacekeeping force with possible US military support.

    The Nigerian president said the Economic Commission for West African States could send as many as 1,500 men to stabilize Liberia within two weeks.

    African Union officials said the fighting in Burundi would come up for discussion in the summit.

    Having elected the first chairman of its commission on the first day of the summit, the Union is expected to elect eight new commissioners during the day.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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