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Last Updated: Monday, 4 July, 2005, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Stop begging, Africa leaders told
A delegate in a hallway of the Sirte conference centre observes a billboard with Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi .
The summit is being held in Gaddafi's home town of Sirte
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has told other African leaders to "stop begging" for Western charity.

He was speaking at the start of an African Union summit ahead of the G8 summit of the world's rich and powerful nations in Scotland.

Africa's leaders are expected to set out their views on trade and aid.

Colonel Gaddafi thanked British PM Tony Blair for his "enthusiasm" for Africa. But he told him "we are not beggars at the doorsteps of the rich".

Africans did not like all the conditions the West attached to aid, Colonel Gaddafi said in a 30-minute speech which received muted applause from African leaders.

"If you give a poor man money, you don't ask him to change his clothes or the way he prays."

Praising African leaders for making progress on democracy, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced the creation of a UN Democracy Fund to help poor countries prepare and hold elections.

He said that "almost all" of the countries represented at the summit in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte were committed to holding elections.

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has criticised African heads of state for failing to condemn President Robert Mugabe saying it is damaging their "credibility" with G8 leaders.

US President George W Bush insists that Africa must improve its governance and democratic accountability if it is to benefit from debt relief and more aid.

Fighting poverty

The 53-nation African Union has already reached a consensus agreement to press for two permanent seats on an expanded UN Security Council.

It is a lifetime's work where we empower the people of Africa and the developing countries to make decisions for themselves
Gordon Brown
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer

Trade and debt relief for Africa will be discussed by Western leaders at the G8 summit at Gleneagles, starting on Wednesday.

There is a real sense that the three-year-old union - which succeeded the Organisation of African Unity - is finally coming of age, says the BBC's Mike Donkin.

The AU is looking to have its own ministries of foreign affairs, defence, trade and others.

There has also been discussion of opening up borders between states with the creation of an African passport, but this is far from agreed.

Africa is also keen to have its own standing army ready to go to trouble spots at a moment's notice.

And it wants to set up its own financial fund so that aid and grants allocated by organisations like the World Bank or the European Union can be spent faster and not just sit in Western coffers, our correspondent says.

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