Syrte - The 15th session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU) kicked off in Syrte, Libya, on Sunday, with Libyan leader and AU Chairperson, Muammar Gaddafi, calling for urgent steps to be taken to transform the AU into an "African Government."
"The formation of an AU authority is a necessary step for Africa to be capable of defending its political, economic and social interests," said President Gaddafi, speaking at the opening of the session.
The idea of creating a future union government for Africa, which has been seen as necessary to boost Africa's international standing, has been discussed for several years among the region's leaders.
African leaders agreed in principle in their January summit to transform the AU commission into an authority, however, they disagreed over its transformation into an African government due to concerns over the sovereignty of states. The Addis Ababa summit, which had been extended to discuss the issue, ended without a consensus being reached.
Since taking Chairmanship, Libya made it clear it would pursue the vision of a union government for Africa.
President Gaddafi is using his hosting of the 13th AU Summit this week to make his views clear. Banners have been put up across the city of Syrte bearing slogans such as "Africa is home", "one Africa - one passport" and "one country - one currency".
On Sunday, he voiced dissatisfaction over the slow movement in achieving complete African unity similar to that of Europe over the ten years since establishing the AU.
He was hoping that the African countries could achieve complete unity in a short time.
The Libyan leader pointed out that the African population wanted to move in freedom and work in any part of the continent. The lack of this freedom had led to the African youth moving to Europe to look for work despite the huge resources the continent has to offer.
President Gaddafi said a unity government was the only way to meet the challenges of globalisation, fighting poverty and resolving conflicts without Western interference.
"Africa has been unable to protect its interests. If we are not careful, we may fail to even develop our economies. We will remain under-developed and this will pave the way for others to continue to dominate us," he said.
The AU is currently composed of several organs, including the Heads of State and Government Assembly, the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), the Executive Council and the Permanent Representatives Committee, with the AU commission being the secretariat.
President Gaddafi said that the formation of a unified authority through the merger of some of these organs was a must in achieving complete unity.
Libya is also asking the AU Assembly to include the establishment of an African Common Defence Council in its agenda when it meets later this week.
The proposed item notes that this stems from the backdrop that defending any African country is closely linked with the defence of other African countries.
The establishment of an African Common Defence Council would become one of the organs of the AU with a provision that its functions are selected and defined in accordance with a protocol to be designed for that purpose.
The 15th Session of the Executive Council is being held ahead of the 13th ordinary session of the AU Heads of State and Government, under the theme: Investing in agriculture for economic growth and food safety.