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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September, 2003, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
African Union chairman sworn in
Alpha Oumar Konare
Mr Konare was praised for bringing peace to Mali

The former president of Mali, Alpha Oumar Konare, has taken over as chairman of the African Union (AU).

Mr Konare on Tuesday formally replaced AU interim chairman Amara Essy at a ceremony in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where the organisation is based.

Mr Konare said that the AU would strive to help mobilize the continent's resources for development.

The union was set up last year, as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

The OAU originated in the decolonisation struggles of the 1960s.

Nobody could feel safe if Africa does not advance on the path of peace
Alpha Oumar Konare

However critics said it was little more than a talking shop where states routinely failed even to pay membership dues.

After the swearing-in ceremony Mr Konare told reporters he would emphasise peace and security, which he said were "part and parcel of development".

"The survival of Africa is the survival of the world," he said.

"Nobody could feel safe if Africa does not advance on the path of peace."


Analysts say Malians are proud to see their former president between 1992 and 2002, now playing a leading role on the continent.

Mr Konare is highly regarded, having previously led the West African regional grouping, Ecowas.

He earned praise for restoring peace in Mali after years of Tuareg rebellion and managed to bring Africa's premier sporting event, the Cup of Nations, to his country in 2002.

But observers adds that the former Malian president's main challenge will be to persuade African governments to pay for the smooth-running of the organisation.

The OAU was founded by African leaders from young independent countries in 1963.

It was reborn as the AU at a summit in South Africa in July 2002.

African Union: What are its prospects?
15 Jul 02  |  African Debates


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