5 July 2007
A gradual approach to the political and economic integration of the continent held sway at the 9th African Union heads of state summit in Accra, Ghana this week, with a stormy debate underlining major differences of opinion among African leaders on how to achieve African unity.
In the end, the summit rejected the rapid establishment of a pan-African government championed by Libyan President Muammar Gadaffi and supported by Liberia, Chad, Ethiopia and Senegal.
Instead, the leaders opted for strengthening regional groupings, as well as the organs of the African Union (AU) itself, as steps towards the ultimate goal of a United States of Africa under a “union government for Africa”.
“We all have a shared vision for a united, vibrant continental union,” Ghanaian President and AU chair John Kuofor said at the conclusion of the “grand debate”, minutes before midnight on Tuesday.
“To this end, we agreed to strengthen capacity of the AU Commission and the organs of our union,” Kuofor said, adding that the re-energising of the AU would depend greatly on the will of its 53 member countries.
AU Commission vice-president Patrick Mazimaka, reading out the Accra Declaration adopted by the summit, said there was agreement on the need for common responses to the major challenges of globalisation facing Africa, and for “boosting regional integration processes through an effective continental mechanism.”
The continent’s regional economic communities would be rationalised and strengthened, and their activities harmonised, “with a reviewed and shorter timeframe to be agreed upon in order to accelerate their economic and, where possible, political integration,” Mazimaka said.
The leaders also agreed to create a special committee of ministers to study the concept of a Union Government and its relationships with national governments and regional groupings, as well as its effect on the sovereignty of individual states.
The committee will also have the job of “elaborating the road map together with timeframes for establishing the Union Government,” and identifying sources of financing the institution.
Mazimaka said the committee would report back to the next AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January.
At the same time, Mazimaka said, “we agree on the importance of involving the African peoples, including Africans in the diaspora, in the processes leading to the formation of the Union Government.”
SouthAfrica.info reporter and BuaNews