Ministers to discuss transformation of AU Commission

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Libya - The African Union (AU) Council of Ministers will on Wednesday hold an extraordinary meeting in Libya to discuss the transformation of the AU Commission to the AU Authority.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, departed on Monday for Libya where she will lead a senior South African government delegation to the special two-day meeting, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

"This meeting will be looking at such things as the function of the Authority, the size of the Authority, whether new commissioners would be established within the context of ongoing discussions that some of the commissioners have very wide mandates," said Foreign Affairs Director-General, Ayanda Ntsaluba.

The transformation of the commission into the authority was resolved during the 12th summit of the AU in Ethiopia in January.

At the time the leaders explained that the new entity will be given a bigger mandate and the definition of duties and responsibilities to guide the AU members states on the process of ultimately forming a Union Government.

However in the January summit, the leaders could not conclude on the structure and fill in the portfolios of the authority.

Accordingly, the agenda of the AU Executive Council of Ministers will focus upon the implications of transforming the Commission to an Authority, the size and the functions of the Secretaries; and the financial implications of establishing the Authority.

Dr Ntsaluba said a decision was taken to look at what implications the Authority could have on the constitutive act because the understanding was that whatever changes are to take place to the Commission the decision of Heads of State was that it should be done within the context and framework of the current constitutive act.

"This is likely to be a very robust meeting for the simple reason that as you would understand the formation of an Authority was decided as a compromise between the points of view that wanted consolidation of the existing commission and those that wanted to move forward with the establishment of an African Union government immediately," explained Dr Ntsaluba.

A unified continent, which would give Africa stronger bargaining power at international forums, has been a dream of several generations of pan-Africanists.

However, many African leaders were reluctant to relinquish any of their sovereignty to a new government, while some favour strengthening regional institutions before creating a continent-wide system.

The idea of creating a future union government for Africa, which is believed would boost Africa's international standing, has been discussed for several years among the region's leaders.

The idea has been spearheaded by Libyan leader, President Muammar Gaddafi who is eager for a union government, with other African leaders calling for a gradual process towards the formation of the United States of Africa.

President Gaddafi was elected the Chairperson of the AU during the summit made it clear he would pursue his vision of a union government for Africa, despite reluctance from many members.