AU foreign ministers begin meeting

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- African foreign ministers opened the 16th session of the Executive Council meeting here Thursday, ahead of a weekend Heads of Sta t e and Government Summit, with African Union (AU) Commission chairman Jean Ping g i ving a mixed picture of conflicts on the continent.
He said some conflicts on the continent were moving towards resolution, while ot hers remained deeply intractable, with no end in sight.
But he said Africa had made progress in the areas of infrastructure, energy, edu cation and agriculture development which the AU has identified as a common prior i ty.
The AU boss said Guinea, Madagascar and Somalia were the main political problems facing Africa, with instability in the three countries far from resolution.
In Madagascar, Ping said ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana and incumbent Andry Raj oelina had failed to agree on an AU-brokered political settlement, keeping the c o untry politically shaky.
He said the parties had been given 15 days to come to agreement, and welcomed th e cancellation of elections which Rajoelina had unilaterally called for, which c o uld have torpidoed the AUآ´s mediation efforts.
آ´آ´We are concerned by the refusal of the parties to sign up to the settlement protocols, but encouraged by the steps taken on the elections,`` he said.
In Guinea, where the militaryآ´s grip on power appears to be loosening, the AU b oss said the situation was uncertain.
Ping said the AU Commission would keep engaged in the country, with a view to re turning Guinea to constitutional rule.
In Somalia, he said Islamists were frustrating peace efforts, but welcomed an in crease in the number of peace keepers to help stabilise the war-torn country.
He appealed for more soldiers.
آ´The worst for Somalia is a situation where there will be no state.
It is an ar ea that will be a threat to everyone,`` he said.
But Ping said conflicts and political instability in other countries such as Bur undi, the Comoros and the Democratic Republic of Congo were coming to resolution , in large part due to intense AU diplomatic intervention.
He said the continental body would continue peace-making efforts in these countr ies to consolidate emerging political stability.
The AU boss said transnational infrastructure projects, such as a big cross-coun try railway project in Central Africa, and power projects in southern Africa, we r e making progress, with donors committing funding to some of them.
In the area of energy, the AU was supporting the expansion of the Inga hydro-pow er project in the DRC, and a similar Kafue Gorge scheme in Zambia.
Ping said various agricultural projects were either being undertaken or in the p ipeline آ´to ensure food security and reduction of hunger, malnutrition and pove r ty.
` He said in the educational sector, which is another AU priority area, plans for a Pan African University had been approved.

28 january 2010 12:07:00

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