AU Executive Council ends on high note

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Addis Ababa - The 14th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Executive Council, ended on Friday with the adoption of the documents for submission to the AU Summit of Heads of State and Government.

The African Foreign ministers that comprise the Executive Council, earlier this week discussed the various matters concerning the continent, expressing concern at the resurgence of military coup d'etats and the negative impact of the world financial crisis.

According to the AU information desk, participants generally agreed that conflicts continue diverting Africa from the path of development, delaying the strengthening of its infrastructures.

"Africa's infrastructures, mainly those of the sectors of transports, energy and investments, the Union's Government and the crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur (Sudan) and Zimbabwe, topped the debates of the foreign ministers."

The financial crisis and its impact on the African economies that greatly rely on imports of capitals was also analysed by the Executive Committee, said AU.

One other main topics reviewed by the Executive Committee, was the formation of the African Union's Government, an issue that will be tackled by the Heads of State summit.

The Executive Council also examined the African Union's Commission Strategic Plan for the 2009/12 period, based on four principles, namely peace and security in the continent, reinforcement of institutional capacities, share of common values and strengthening of regional

In AU chairperson Jean Ping's report, which he presented to the Executive Council, he commended the fast-expanding strategic partnership between Africa and the rest of the world, exhorting to the harmonisation of that institutional framework in order to ensure "synergy and a coordinated approach".

The 100-page report, which is the second such report to be delivered by Mr Ping, reviews various projects deemed "bold, but realistic" that should enable Africans to take ownership of the African Union in their lives.

In his report, Mr Ping underscored that the partnership modalities will allow Africa and Africans to get "benefits and concrete outcomes, while further giving higher profile and prestige to the AU in a globalising world".

He said it was high time that Africa took maximum advantage of these partnerships in order to speed up the continent's growth and development.

The report further urges the AU Commission to harmonise the strategies of the various partnerships established by the AU with some countries including India, Turkey, China, South America and Japan

The geographical map of Africa is still dragging along many latent crises , the interim report disclosed.

On situation of peace and security on the continent, the report noted one of the heavy trends as being the resurgence of military coups that "Africa thought was a thing of the past", citing the "anti-constitutional changes in Mauritania in August 2008 and in Guinea in December 2008, and to a lesser extent, the failed coup of last November against the Guinea-Bissau president.

"The development is worrisome", Mr Ping said in his report, noting further that these events are the epitome of real political regression urging for a steady response of the Union's relevant bodies.

The report reviews in turn the concerning crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the deterioration of the situation in Somalia that has been confronted to an indiscriminate violence for two decades, as well as the cases of Djibouti, Northern Uganda, Zimbabwe, the unsettled Darfur crisis and the Eritrea case with "the persistent stalemate" in the Ethiopian peace process.

Mr Ping, however, hailed the encouraging progress achieved in the relations between Chad and Sudan, while the post-conflict situation in Burundi, Comoros, Liberia, Central African Republic, Cote-d'Ivoire and Southern Sudan are subject to geopolitical hazards.

A conflict prevention mechanism is set in motion with an "AU border programme" to monitor the progress in the field with the establishment of a Group of Seniors and a Continental Early Warning System (CEWS) all set to seek consensus in moulding a peace and security environment in Africa.

According to the AU information desk, the participants generally agreed that conflicts continue diverting Africa from the path of development, delaying the strengthening of its infrastructures.