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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 01:48 GMT
African Union discusses conflicts
Thabo Mbeki (centre) cuts the ribbon opening the summit
Mr Mbeki (centre) pursued an African security council
The new African Union began its first summit on Monday in Ethiopia, with the gathered leaders discussing the continent's conflicts.

Ivory Coast, Burundi and the Central African Republic were high on the agenda for the 34 heads of state and prime ministers attending the summit in Addis Ababa.

African Union commission chairman Amara Essy said a final communique would be issued on Tuesday.

"We will also have a declaration on Iraq," Mr Essy said.

Ivory Coast

There were reports the delegates had rattled through the agenda more quickly than expected.

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya
Colonel Gaddafi failed with a United States of Africa

"Everything was discussed in a good atmosphere," Mr Essy said.

Delegates indicated the union's communiqué would reiterate its support for a French-backed peace plan for the Ivory Coast and for the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States to resolve the crisis there.

On Iraq, the union would stress that a decision on war would have to be taken by the UN Security Council, Mr Essy said.

The African Union replaced the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in June 2002 to bolster economic and political co-operation.

The only items on the official agenda for the summit had been administrational - the role of women and the African Diaspora in the union and the powers of the chairman of the union assembly.

Intervention

During the morning, union chairman and South African President Thabo Mbeki had urged member states to ratify a protocol establishing a powerful Peace and Security Council (PSC).

The council would give the union the power to intervene in the continent's conflicts.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe was one of 34 leaders present

However, even Mr Mbeki's government has yet to ratify the protocol - along with all but Algeria among the 53 member states.

The new union still has the relatively toothless Central Organ for the Prevention, Management and Resolution of Conflicts it inherited from the OAU.

Mr Mbeki said member states must "urgently constitute the Peace and Security Council on which we have already decided".

"All of us are convinced that this will help us respond more effectively to move the entirety of our continent to a situation of peace and enhanced safety and security for all our peoples."

Twenty-eight heads of state, including Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, and six prime ministers, were at the summit.

Colonel Gaddafi's call for a United States of Africa was rejected last month by the union's foreign ministers.

The historic summit should create a new African Union.

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03 Feb 03 | Africa
10 Jul 02 | Africa
09 Jul 02 | Africa
24 Jun 02 | Business
25 Jun 02 | Business
09 Jul 02 | Africa
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