Former Ivorian foreign minister Amara Essy came on
board as the continental body’s new secretary-general, replacing
Tanzania’s Salim Ahmed Salim, whose sterling 12-year service was
heralded by the member states.
Pres. Frederick Chiluba and Mr. Essy were charged
with the task of putting into place the institutions and organs of the
AU, an integrated and more focused body aimed at improving the lot of
African countries and their peoples.
The three-day summit endorsed the establishment of a
General Assembly, Commission, an Executive Council, and an African
Parliament as the four key organs of the AU. A Court of Justice and a
Central Bank and an institution grouping African civic societies are the
other AU institutions.
Still ahead for the AU:
- a proposed formation of a common currency
- a passport to allow free movement of citizens of
Africa from one country to another
- a national defense force
- the question of dual citizenship for Africans in
Addressing the concern that the AU not become a
"president’s club that will gather annually and do nothing," a criticism
bandied about by critics, Pres. Chiluba said during the closing session:
"The Assembly is determined that the African Union should be more than
just another OAU with a different name. It should effectively address
In an earlier statement, Pres. Chiluba said that
during Zambia’s tenure as chairman of the OAU/AU, the country would try
its best to ensure that necessary arrangements are finalized to be able
to put the African Union in operation.
"The honor you have bestowed on our country is a debt
that we must pay back by successfully carrying out the tasks you have
entrusted us to do. We have neither the wish nor intention to disappoint
you," Pres. Chiluba said.
He also disclosed that the Assembly had elected four
commissioners for the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and
12 members of the African committee on the Rights and Welfare of the
During a closing session address, Libyan leader and
the prime-mover of the African Union, Col. Muammar Gadhafi, said Pres.
Chiluba and the people of Zambia will go down in history for hosting the
last OAU summit which set up the AU, adding that the body would lift the
continent from several years of enslavement and bondage.
"The continent that was humiliated and its peoples
treated like animals is now prepared to come together as one," he said.
Col. Gadhafi, whose speech was interrupted by a
power-outage for about two minutes, commended the summit’s resolution
backing Zimbabwe’s distribution of land to the landless Black majority.
He said African land should be left for Africans. On the civil war in
Sudan, Col. Gadhafi called for additional efforts to end the killing on
innocent civilians and enslavement of children. But he spoke against
calls to re-draw the map of the country.
The summit resolution supporting Zimbabwe’s land
reform program goes against the grain of U.S. and European Union stands
that reject Pres. Mugabe’s taking land of white farmers without
compensation. The resolution criticized Britain for reneging on a
promise made at independence in 1980 to fund the land reform program.
The Zimbabwean government is taking over thousands of
idle farms from white farmers to resettle landless peasants, accusing
most of the farmers of keeping the land unproductive. A handful of
whites own the bulk of arable land in the country, a privilege they have
enjoyed from the colonial period.
Brushing aside the international uproar generated by
the land seizures, the African leaders "reaffirmed that the resolution
of the land issue is central to ensuring durable peace, stability and
economic development of Zimbabwe."
They called on Britain "to co-operate fully and enter
into dialogue with the government of Zimbabwe with the purpose of
finding a final solution to this colonial legacy."
A major economic initiative agreed upon at the summit
could be launched as early as next March, according to Senegalese Pres.
The "New African Initiative" is a plan that emanated
from the merger of Pres. Wade’s Omega economic initiative and the MAP
economic plan, co-authored by Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa,
Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria.
Donors who participate in the plan will be "closely
associated" in the management of funds which they would allocate to
African countries to finance projects that will be selected from the new
plan, according Pres. Wade.
The Senegalese president said he hoped that, through
the implementation of the "New African Initiative," Africans "will lift
themselves from the pangs of underdevelopment and, once and for all,
stop their long exclusion in the world that is about to be globalized."
He, however, disclosed that nearly $4 billion had
already been announced by various partners, including international
institutions and major private companies, which showed their interest in
a project that cannot be considered as "wild."
Meanwhile, it was announced in Lusaka that Pretoria,
the South African capital, would host the inaugural General Assembly of
the African Union in July 2002.
Concerning the civil wars occurring across the
continent, Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare told delegates that the
OAU’s mechanism for the prevention, mediation and resolution of
conflicts, should be transformed into a Security Council for the African
Union. This is to help tackle persistent armed conflicts and the
proliferation of small arms on the continent, he said.
He said with the African Union becoming a "reality,"
the continent must cease to be the home of conflicts. The Malian leader,
who is also current chairman of ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West
African States, said the African Union "should be light, operational and
Pres. Konare also noted that under ongoing
democratization processes, Africa should have permanent representatives
at the UN Security Council.
Meanwhile, the summit endorsed the establishment of a
18-month transition government in conflict-ridden Burundi, under the
leadership of incumbent President Pierre Buyoya. A Hutu president would
head the transition government for the second 18 months after which
elections would be organized.
The struggle to get the African Union to be seriously
considered has been "an uphill battle," Nation of Islam International
Representative Akbar Muhammad told The Final Call upon his return from
the summit. Min. Akbar accompanied a Nation of Islam delegation headed
by the Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan, including Supreme Capt. Mustapha
Farrakhan, Fatima F. Muhammad, daughter of Min. Farrakhan and his
personal nurse, and Sultan Muhammad. The meeting was of such importance
that Min. Farrakhan traveled to Zambia while still recovering from
"Those seeking to find fault with the forming of the
organization had to deal with the will of the people," Min. Akbar said,
"and some leaders are very pessimistic about whether it will work.
"In the final analysis, most voted to give the
African Union a chance to change the quality of life for the masses of
the people," he said.
Min. Akbar said Blacks in the Diaspora play an
important role in the African Union because they can bring the skills
and knowledge gained growing up in the west to Africa, and they can help
to push African leaders to make the African Union work.
Min. Akbar said the Nation of Islam delegation was
the only representation of Blacks from the Diaspora and the Min.
Farrakhan’s presence confirmed for the leaders that Blacks in the
Diaspora are concerned.
(Final Call news wires contributed.)