AU to hold two annual summits in future

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- The African Union (AU) will henceforth hold its ordinary summits biannually (one per semester), a reliable source told PANA.
The decision, which was taken Thursday as the Heads of State wound up their 3rd summit here, is based on Article 6 of the AU Constitutional Act adopted in 2000 in Lome, which stipulates that the conference, supreme organ of the AU "convenes at least once a year in ordinary session.
" By implication, the traditional "budgetary" session of the Executive Council hitherto held between January and February every year by African Foreign Ministers would now be coupled with African summits.
Whereas this ministerial session had until now been devoted to budgetary and administrative issues, it will have to "closely monitor" decisions made in Addis Ababa as part of the implementation of the vision, mission and action plans adopted by the Addis Ababa Summit.
The session will also provide a platform for better coordination of the current efforts towards a merger between the structures of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and AU bodies, and the steering of other institutions, already existing or to be created.
However, current chairman Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria said the decision does not reduce the duration of his mandate, since it is mentioned in the same Article 6 of the Constitutional Act that "the chairmanship of the Conference is assured for a period of one year by a Head of State or Government elected upon consultation among member states.
" Sources told PANA the unexpected was justified by the fact that the Heads of State themselves had decided to appropriate and support the Vision, Mission and Programmes proposed by Alpha Oumar Konare.
Rather than leaving everything with the Commission and the serving chairman and seeing them bump into multiform obstacles often imposed by national sovereignties, and waiting for a far- off annual meeting to discuss the issues, reducing the interval between the summits will actually help overcome these obstacles the soonest possible.
Also, in light of Africans' commitment to put an end to the conflicts raging on the continent, a resolve that resulted in the setting up of a Peace and Security Council, these close summits will enable the leaders to convene more often and step up the opportunities and chances to prevent any deterioration of the climate of peace and security on the continent.
Observers recall that in comparison with the institutional running of the defunct OAU, it was, in the past convene, up to the 15-member Bureau and the serving chairman to convene at least once between two summits to deal with urgent issues.
But, all along the OAU's institutional life, only former Senegalese President Abdou Diouf had convened for the first time, during his first mandate at the head of OAU in 1985, a meeting of the organisation's bureau in Addis Ababa, half-way through his tenure.
This was the time of the strong mobilisation against the Apartheid system then in force in South Africa, when the entire continent, its politicians, intellectuals and artists moved to deliver the death blow to this segregationist system.
The example of the former Senegalese president was later followed under the mandate of Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso (1986) and Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso (1998), at the peak of a campaign of solidarity with Libya, then facing Western embargo.

08 july 2004 20:42:00

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