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Tuesday, 2 October, 2001, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Blair promises to stand by Africa
British Prime Minister Tony Blair at his party conference
Blair has pledged to make Africa a priority
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has described the current state of poverty in Africa as "a scar on our consciences".

And he said that if the world as a community focused on it, it could be healed but if not "it will become deeper and angrier".

In his speech to the annual Labour party conference, Mr Blair called on the international community to back a partnership for Africa, between the developed and developing world based around the New African Initiative.

"This would offer greater investment, aid and debt relief for Africa," he said.

British troops in Sierra Leone
Blair is ready to use troops in Africa again

"But it's a deal: On the African side: true democracy, no more excuses for dictatorship, abuses of human rights; no tolerance of bad governance, from the endemic corruption of some states, to the activities of Mr Mugabe's henchmen in Zimbabwe. Proper commercial, legal and financial systems."

In a speech which correspondents described as ambitious, Mr Blair spoke of a "moral duty" to provide international military and humanitarian action in countries anywhere.

"If the world continues to ignore the sufferings of African nations, like in the war- ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo, it would breed anger and frustration which would threaten global stability," he said.

No walking away

Mr Blair also mentioned the world's inaction during the 1994 genocide in which nearly around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by Hutu extremists.

Skulls from the 1994 Rwanda genocide
World should never let another Rwanda happen
And he promised: "If Rwanda happens again we would not walk away as the outside world has done many times before."

Declassified documents obtained by a US non-governmental agency had showed that the United States knew in advance that the 1994 Rwandan genocide was likely to happen but nevertheless insisted that United Nations peacekeepers should be withdrawn.

Following his government's intervention in Sierra Leone's civil war, Mr Blair indicated that he would be ready to use British troops to implement future peace plans.

During last May's British election campaign, Mr Blair promised that he wanted to make Africa a key priority during his second term in office.

He followed that up with a meeting last month with some African leaders to discuss his proposed partnership with the continent.

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 ON THIS STORY
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
"The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world, but if the world focused on it - we could heal it"
See also:

02 Oct 01 | Europe
Blair pledges victory over terror
19 May 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Rwanda's slow justice
07 Jun 01 | Africa
Rwanda: How the genocide happened
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