Thursday, February 5, 2009

AU to develop three years strategic plan for unity government

February 3, 2009

The 12th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly of the Heads of State and Government, would end today Tuesday 3, with the adoption of the strategic plan for 2009 to 2012, which aims at addressing bottlenecks impeding the vision of a Union Government for the continent.

The 53-member Union would appoint members of the Advisory Board to tackle corruption within the organization and consider a report of the AU Commission on the review of the protocol relating to the proposed African Union.

A closed door meeting on Monday elected Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi as the new AU chairman. He replaces Mr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, the President of Tanzania.

The meeting is also considering a proposal to transform the African Union Commission into an Authority as part of the road map that would lead to the formation of a continental unity government.

The authority would have a broader mandate than the commission, which comprises 10 commissioners, who carry out the policy decisions of the AU.

Ghana’s Vice President, Mr John Dramani Mahama is the leader of the Ghanaian delegation to the meeting, which is on the theme: “Infrastructure Development in Africa.”

President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal who spoke on the theme noted that through his personal initiatives he was able to raise huge capital from the donor community to improve on infrastructure especially energy, investment and transport in Africa.

He said while the international community was interested to help Africa to develop the infrastructure sector, the regional leaders do not know what to do with the money.

President Wade said as a lecturer in Infrastructure for many years, he knew that building of roads, bridges and improving on energy supply were some of the interventions to end poverty and accelerate the development of Africa.

He said presently most African leaders lacked the political will and commitment to harness the resources at their disposal to turn things around.

Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director at the World Bank said recent studies had shown that the factors hampering infrastructural development in Africa had to do with incompetent management of utility services and poor pricing of services.

She said while Africa needed additional 40 billion dollars to improve on infrastructure, an estimated 30 billion dollars could be made available through local revenue, if the authorities cut down waste and let consumers of utility services pay the appropriate fees for services.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said cost of energy in Africa was the highest in the world and expressed the need for the regional leaders to stop using the public treasury to subsidize the price of utility services to those who can pay.

Touching on the Zimbabwean crisis, the Tanzanian President, Mr Kikwete called on member countries of the AU to facilitate the difficult task of forming and running a Union Government in Zimbabwe.

He said the Zimbabwean problem could be solved through efforts to bring together politicians with different stands and with a history of hostilities.

Mr Kikwete appealed to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to continue their efforts to enable President Robert Mugabe and the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai to break the deadlock on the sharing of ministerial posts.

“While we congratulate our leaders from SADC for the good work done…we call upon the leaders of Zimbabwe to put forward the interest of their nation and their citizens,” he said.

Mr Kikwete described the conflict in Somalia as a big challenge for the AU stressing that, “The high sea piracy in the Gulf of Aden internalises this conflict and called on the international community to help solve the problem.

He asked the new Head of State of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed who was attending the summit for the first time to explore ways of finding lasting peace in his country.

Mr Kikwete who also spoke about the conflict in Darfur said although the AU had no objection about the war crimes being brought against the Sudanese leader, President Al Omar Bashir, there is the need to suspend the international warrant issued by the International Court of Justice for his arrest and prosecution since he is a major actor in the peace process.

Mr Jean Ping, Chairman of the AU Commission spoke against the coup d’Etat in Guinea and Mauritanian and said such interventions were signs of political retrogression.

He called on the AU to adopt measures to avert the extremist tendencies.