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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 14:08 GMT
Blair targets African dictators
Ghanaian president John Kuffuor and Tony Blair
Blair sees Ghana as a democratic model for Africa
Nick Assinder

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged African states to back a war crimes court to bring to justice brutal and violent former leaders.

The prime minister presented a paper on conflict resolution, whilst visiting an army training institution in Ghana's capital, Accra.

He set out specific goals that African states, in partnership with the United Nations, and Western governments, should pursue to help bring stability to the region.

In a later speech to Ghana's parliament, Mr Blair also called for a new plan that would set out specific obligations between Africa and industrialised nations.

"This should be done as a partnership between us - not aid as a handout, but aid as a hand up, to help people to help themselves."

Court

In the conflict resolution paper, Mr Blair specifically urged African states to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which should come into existence in the middle of next year.

Chad's Hissene Habre now lives in Senegal
Blair's plan is aimed at exiled ex-dictators like Chad's Hissene Habre
That court would have the jurisdiction to prosecute those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Former dictators still at large include Idi Amin of Uganda, Ethiopia's Mengistu Haile Mariam and the former leader of Chad, Hissene Habre.

Mr Blair also urged the G8 group of industrialised countries to encourage African states to ratify the creation of a court of human and people's rights.

He also stressed the need to tackle the massive problem of small arms held in the continent.

There are currently 100 million such weapons in the possession of about one in six people.

They include hand guns, machine guns, hand grenades, rocket launchers, surface-to-air missiles and other lethal materials.

Ghana

Mr Blair held Ghana up as a model for the way other states can develop.

Refugee flees ethnic fighting in Lagos, Nigeria
The West wants to see more stability in African nations

The country currently has a peace-keeping force and it has deployed troops in Sierra Leone, the Congo, the Lebanon and Kosovo.

The Staff College in Accra trains such forces, with the help of expertise from the UK and elsewhere.

Stressing the scale of the problem, Mr Blair talks of: "Entrenched and long-running conflict such as those in Angola, Sudan and Somalia."

"They have already condemned millions of people to poverty, disease and displacement and early death and are all but ignored by the developed world."

He also referred to long-running conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi.

Mr Blair is later due to visit tribal chiefs and a cocoa co-operative, in his campaign to boost fair trade in the region.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Marr
"Behind the smiles there is real suspicion"
The BBC's Nick Robinson reports from Ghana
"Tony Blair is trying to change the familiar rhythms and tunes"
See also:

08 Feb 02 | Africa
Blair receives tribal welcome
08 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Perils of a globetrotting PM
07 Feb 02 | UK Politics
In Africa with Blair
07 Feb 02 | Africa
Blair begins African tour
07 Feb 02 | Africa
Blair's African contrasts
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