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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 21:23 GMT
Bloggers mull African summit
African Union flags being held by a guard of honour in Addis Ababa

The BBC News website looks at what the blogosphere made of the performance of African leaders at their Ethiopian summit.

"It seems not much has changed over the past 20 years how presidents are greeted when they arrive in Addis Ababa," commented Adey on Meskel Square where Andrew Heavens described the protocol, red carpets, flower bunches, hand shakes, brass bands and Libyan Muammar Gaddafi's three-jet entourage arriving for the African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital.

Screen grab from Nature newsblog
Every political summit needs a young-Turk, someone to remind the old guard that leadership isn't for life
Nature newsblog

Ehsan Masood, however, blogging his thoughts throughout the summit, felt the gathering had got off on the wrong foot.

"'This is not a football summit,' said one minister as he left the conference hall," he reported on Nature newsblog.

"Scientists and science ministers ended the inaugural session somewhat in a state of shock. Rather than focus on science, the opening speeches from heads of state focused mostly on the international year of football in Africa."

But by the last day it seemed the scientists had gained control of the ball.

"Several leaders are known to be cross at having been lectured to for a day-and-a-half (by scientists) when they could have spent the time actually taking policy decisions."

Own goal

For Ehsan, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame was the most impressive player fielded.

Screen grab from the Captain's Quarters blog
The African Union... appear to have blown it
Captain's Quarters

"Every political summit needs a young-Turk, someone to remind the old guard that leadership isn't for life... Kagame is not from the evangelical school of public speaking, but he managed to hold his audience with carefully-chosen words, and a vision that few (if any) of his colleagues were able to match.

"This includes a promise that Rwanda will aim to spend 3% of its national income on research and development within the next five years - matching the proportion of spending that is common in the developed world."

But Captain Ed in California felt that Africa's statesmen scored an own goal.

"The African Union had an opportunity to demonstrate that they can act independently to stabilise problem areas on the continent, and appear to have blown it," he blogged at Captain's Quarters.

"Instead of acting quickly to tamp down anarchy in Somalia by providing peacekeeping troops to replace the Ethiopians, the member nations of the AU could not even provide half of the forces necessary for the mission."

Foxes and hens

To make it worse, he noted, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, and Malawi all agreed to send the 4,000 troops prior to the start of the meeting.

Danny J Norman
One possible reason why countries didn't want to get involved it because why suffer the same humiliating defeat the US did in Somalia
Free Thinking Americans
Blogger Danny J Norman, a US Air Force reserve officer, thinks he understands this reticence.

"One possible reason why countries didn't want to get involved is because why suffer the same humiliating defeat the US did in Somalia [in 1993]," he wrote on his Free Thinking Americans blog.

"If the only chance for peace for the Somalis [is] to succumb to Islamic fanaticism and live under a Taliban-like state, why wouldn't they choose this option. Especially when the rest of the world isn't willing to expend the effort required to establish a viable alternative," he concluded.

Tim Worstall blogs his relief that African leaders did not hand over the baton of the AU's chairmanship to Sudan's Omar al-Bashir.

"Finally the African Union appears to be showing a little spine, given that the African Union is the only outside military force in Darfur that would have been putting the fox in charge of the hen coop."

But where does the AU go from here, he wonders.

"When do those who don't uphold the UN's Declaration of Human Rights get thrown out of that organisation?"

Jeff Weintraub's Commentaries and Controversies blog also has more questions than answers.

"The AU is embarrassed by genocide - Are the rest of us?" he headed his posting.

"I suppose we should be thankful for small favours," he wrote about Mr Bashir's rejection.

"But the real scandal is that the head of a genocidal government like the one in Khartoum was a strong candidate in the first place."

Why Sudan's chairmanship was turned down

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

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