African Union Summit opens in Ethiopia

Monday, February 2, 2009

Addis Ababa - African leaders on Sunday gathered for the 12th African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit dedicated to developing transport and energy systems on the continent.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe is attending the summit, accompanied by a high-level delegation including Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. The delegation's participation in the summit is within the context of the country's priority to consolidating the African Agenda, through amongst others, the strengthening of institutions of the AU.

While the theme for the summit is: "Development in Africa", the agenda will include high-level discussions on conflicts on the continent.

Last year's coups in Guinea and Mauritania, who were suspended from the AU; developments in Zimbabwe, where a deal on a unity government could ease a year-old crisis; Madagascar's political crisis and Somalia, where old rivals are moving closer to a coalition government will come under the spotlight.

The global economic crisis is expected to receive special attention, with officials expressing concern over how a recession in developed nations will affect the most poverty stricken in Africa.

Only about 20 leaders from the union's 53 members attended the first day-long session on Sunday, which was held entirely behind closed doors.