Egypt calls for stronger Arab League

Egypt unveiled a package of reforms Monday to strengthen the Arab League, the 58-year-old organisation which has been in crisis since the US-led war on Iraq.

    Egyptian Secretary-general of the Arab League Amr Mussa (L),

    Government daily Al-Ahram published the complete text of the Egyptian government's initiative, which seeks mainly to reform voting procedures, as well as set up a "security council" and an Arab court of justice.


    Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, meanwhile, visited Libya and held talks with the country's leader Moamer Kadhafi, who has threatened to pull Tripoli out of the League for its failure to act on key Arab issues.


    Libya's official news agency JANA said without elaboration that Maher, at the meeting in the northern town of Sirte, delivered a message from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the situation in the Arab world and ties between Cairo and Tripoli.


    New role


    In its initiative, Cairo said that although the League charter required a unanimous vote, deemed "essential" when the organisation was founded in 1945, today it was "an obstacle to taking vital decisions ... resulting in paralysis".


    Instead, Egypt wants to see the 22-member Cairo-based organisation adopt majority voting.


    "(The unanimous vote) is an obstacle to taking vital decisions ... resulting in paralysis".

    -Egyptian government

    Cairo also wants an "Arab security council" or "decision-making forum" to be set up to deal with security and defence issues across the Arab world.


    In addition, Egypt is calling for the establishment of an Arab court of justice, tasked with ruling on regional conflicts, and an "Arab parliament" for political and financial oversight of the League.


    The Egyptian government wants a body tasked with resolving conflicts, to be set up immediately, as was agreed at a 1996 Arab summit and sanctioned by foreign ministers in 2000.


    Closer Arab ties


    Cairo also calls for greater inter-Arab economic cooperation and the appointment of a "secretary general" to supervise reforms.


    The reform plan is to be presented at the next summit of heads of state in March 2004 in Tunis, Al-Ahram reported.    


    The League was brought to its knees by the war in Iraq, when its member states proved incapable of taking concrete steps to stave off the US and British military action which they opposed.


    Divisions widened when member states pushed through resolutions expressing opposition to war and pledging no support for the Western invaders, angering Gulf Arab states which hosted the coalition troops.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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