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Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

African Union row over Muammar Gaddafi's role

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli on 15 April 2009
Col Gaddafi envisages a single African military, currency and passport

A diplomatic row has broken out at the African Union over attempts to extend Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's chairmanship of the organisation.

The role rotates every year on a regional basis and southern Africa has picked Malawi as its candidate.

But Tunisia has now floated a proposal before a heads of state summit next week suggesting Col Gaddafi stay on.

The BBC's Uduak Amimo in Addis Ababa says some diplomats have been angered by the pressure.

A Malawian diplomat told our correspondent the country would not give up its candidature without a fight.

But she says it is a delicate issue and diplomats at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa are reluctant to speak on the record about the negotiations.

US of Africa?

Mozambique's deputy foreign minister said it was southern Africa's turn to chair the organisation and insisted the rules would be followed.

"Personally I am confident that the candidature of Malawi is going to be endorsed by the whole African Union," Eduardo Koloma told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

On Thursday, Libya's foreign minister in Addis Ababa said Libya's vision for a "United States of Africa" needed more time and energy to be completed.

Our reporter says Libya is one of the continent's heavyweights and is one of member countries that bears the financial burden of contributions to the AU.

Analysts say the AU is in a difficult position: its budget is $170m (£104.6m), but it needs an extra $1.3bn for its programmes.

The organisation needs a country chair with strong financial muscle, which Libya clearly has, our reporter says.

But it also needs to be seen to be respecting its own rules and processes, as well its smaller member countries.



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Gaddafi: Africa's 'king of kings'
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