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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July, 2003, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Liberia high on leaders' agenda
By Peter Biles
BBC, Maputo

Leaders of the African Union have begun meeting in the Mozambique capital Maputo, at the start of their annual summit.

Charles Taylor
Liberia's leader will not be at the summit
They are likely to discuss the current conflict in Liberia, the problems caused by HIV/Aids and the moves to achieve closer integration in Africa.

The African Union, first set in motion by Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya, is just a year old.

Its predecessor, the OAU, lacked political clout and the new African Union is designed to make a real difference in dealing with conflict resolution and economic development.

However, the ambitions for a peace and security council, a pan-African parliament and a common court of justice remain a long way from being fulfilled.


The war in Liberia is certain to be high on the African Union's agenda this week. Liberia's president Charles Taylor will not be attending the summit here in Maputo.

He is now an indicted war criminal although he has been offered asylum in Nigeria.

In the meantime, African leaders will be considering the plans to send a contingent of West African peacekeepers to the Liberian capital Monrovia.

To the surprise of some delegates, Zimbabwe is not being discussed formally at this summit.

An African Union spokesman said Zimbabwe wasn't a priority at the moment given the serious conflict and refugee crisis not just in Liberia, but in other countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Further hampering Africa's development is the spread of HIV/Aids across the continent.

So this is a moment of reckoning for Africa's leaders and their search for consensus may be as difficult as ever.

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