July 13, 2003
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Union summit vows to end wars

By Fienie Grobler

    MAPUTO, Mozambique The second summit of the infant African Union ended in Maputo yesterday, with heads of state appointing a leadership to oversee collective action to end the civil wars tearing the continent apart.
    Newly appointed AU Chairman Joachim Chissano, the president of Mozambique, said Africa would attract investors only once it achieved peace.
    "At this assembly, a consensus was reached that peace and stability are basic conditions for ensuring Africa's harmonious and sustainable development," he said at the closing session.
    "It is, therefore, incumbent on us to find a durable solution to the situations of tension and conflict still prevailing so as to transform Africa into a region attracting investments," he added.
    The heads of state focused on 10 conflicts currently raging in Africa, emphasizing the need to create a Peace and Security Council able to deploy an African Standby Force to intervene in genocidal wars.
    Mr. Chissano reiterated a statement by outgoing AU Chairman Thabo Mbeki of South Africa at the start of the event, urging countries who had not yet ratified the Peace and Security Council protocol to do so. A minimum of 27 ratifications are required, but just 17 countries had endorsed it by Friday.
    The assembly elected a nine-member team responsible for the daunting task of establishing AU organs.
    "It will be their primary responsibility to define priorities in terms of the organic units of the structure of the union, which should be immediately put in place," Mr. Chissano said.
    The former president of Mali, Alpha Oumar Konare, will head the AU Commission, along with his deputy, Rwanda's Great Lakes Minister Patrick Mazimhaka, and seven commissioners two men and five women, in line with the AU constitution. The commission has representatives from all five regions in Africa.
    Ghanaian President John Kufuor said leaders showed serious commitment to bringing peace to the myriad conflicts.
    "We are very positive, very serious and very determined to end the conflict around the continent. We want to restore peace and normalcy everywhere so as to allow development," he said. "The atmosphere has been very businesslike, there is a lot of commitment. It has been a very successful summit."
    The AU was inaugurated in the eastern harbor city of Durban in South Africa a year ago, with Mr. Mbeki appointed as its first chairman. He handed the revolving post over to Mr. Chissano at the Maputo meeting.
    The organization succeeded the Organization of African Unity, disbanded after 39 years, partly because it did not have the clout to intervene in political crises.
    The AU constitution, on the other hand, allows for interference in wars involving crimes against humanity, and also supports a peer-review mechanism where leaders will evaluate each other's performances in good governance and democracy.
    The organization envisages a pan-African parliament, which Mr. Mbeki wants up and running before the end of the year, a court of justice and, in the long term, a common African currency.
    Its pet project is the New Partnership for Africa's Development, designed to boost social and economic levels. It promises sound governance in exchange for more aid from the developed world.
    "During our debates, we concluded that NEPAD is the driving force and the vanguard instrument for the development of Africa," Mr. Chissano said.

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