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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 13:15 GMT
Africa leaders duck thorny issues
By Adam Mynott
BBC News, Addis Ababa

Omar al-Bashir
Sudan's Mr Bashir failed to become AU chairman
The African Union (AU) summit closed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, without much, if any, progress on the two main issues facing the continent - resolving Sudan's Darfur crisis and stabilising Somalia.

A year ago the meeting of African leaders in Sudan was surrendered to one issue - who would lead the African Union for the next 12 months.

A repeat performance was threatened this time, as Sudan claimed it had been promised the top job.

Many African leaders, embarrassed by the ongoing Darfur conflict, refused to accept that President Omar al-Bashir, whose government has been accused of war crimes in Sudan, should lead the organisation.

In face of unanimous opposition, Sudan backed down and Ghana - in the 50th year since it became independent - was given the chairmanship for the coming year.

'Unmoved'

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon - only one month into his tenure - was invited to the summit and he came determined to seek a breakthrough on Darfur.

Ethiopian soldiers in Somalia
Peacekeepers are wanted to replace Ethiopian soldiers in Somalia

He met Mr Bashir and told him that the only way to provide safety and security was to allow UN troops to start peacekeeping operations alongside the existing African Union (AU) force.

But the president remained completely unmoved.

He repeated that yes, he would allow extra resources to be given by the UN to the 7,000-strong AU force and yes the UN could provide some logistical back-up, but no to troops.

Mr Moon says Darfur is his top priority, but it looks as though he will face huge obstacles in attempts to achieve any meaningful progress.

Any delay in security improvements on the ground in Darfur means a worse and deepening misery for more than 2m people forced from their homes over the last four years and into displacement camps.

Persuasion

Somalia is the other crisis facing Africa after the defeat in December of the Islamist group that ruled much of Somalia for six months.

Africa faces some of the most dire effects of global warming

The victorious transitional government - backed by Ethiopian troops - is struggling to maintain control in a country that has known nothing but anarchy over the past 16 years.

The AU says a stabilisation force of 8,000 troops is needed soon to help sort out the security in the country but the cost and other commitments mean only a handful of African countries have been prepared to contribute.

At the closing news conference the new AU chairman, President John Kufuor of Ghana, said that so far only 4,000 of the necessary 8,000 had been offered by African countries.

He said it remained an objective to get the full contingent of 8,000 and moves were going on to persuade African countries to contribute.

Energy opportunities

The main themes of the AU summit were science and climate change.

Africa faces some of the most dire effects of global warming.

Huge areas of the continent are turned to desert every year and there has been drought and flooding on a devastating scale in the past year in the Horn of Africa.

Sir Nicholas Stern, an adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and author of the Stern Report, told the heads of African states that, yes, climate change posed threats to the continent.

But he said that adaptation to the threats of climate change also threw up opportunities in the shape of bio-fuel production, other alternative energies and sustainable development.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Why Sudan's chairmanship was turned down



SEE ALSO
AU fails to secure Somali force
31 Jan 07 |  Africa
Profile: African Union
01 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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