African leaders could serve longer terms at AU helm

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- African Foreign Ministers Monday began detailed discussions on an audit report compiled on the African Union (AU), which proposes a longer-term limit for the prestigious post of the organisation's chairmanship.
The audit, which seeks to strengthen the continental body and eradicate perceived organisation weaknesses, has also made recommendations on how to correct structural weaknesses within the AU Secretariat, which hampers its effectiveness.
AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Konare, speaking during the opening of the meeting of Foreign Ministers Sunday, appealed for the strengthening of the role of the Commission chairperson and called for "real authority to ensure teamwork.
" The report, an indictment of sorts, pointed out glaring weaknesses in the conduct of AU businesses and blames the busy schedule of African leaders as part of the reason why most of the organisation's work agenda is often delayed and left behind schedule.
The panel has recommended that African leaders agree to a seriously devolved system of governance at the top to allow for more serious diplomatic engagements among the leaders.
It seeks to elongate the term of serving chairmen from the current one-year term limit to two-years to give room for follow-up on the implementation of AU declarations.
The audit team, drawn from Africa's leading governance scholars, have asked the Heads of State to de-link the hosting of the continental assembly from assuming the chairmanship and recommended the lessening of emergency summit meetings.
It notes that differences of opinion among the Commissioners of the continental body regarding the approach and understanding of the AU constitution had given rise to varied disagreements among the Commissioners, the Chairperson and the Deputy Chair.
Managers and directors holding senior posts at the Commission have also complained to the audit team that their roles had been widely overlooked.
The team has therefore sought to reinstate the seniority of the AU Commission chairperson in the running of the Union's affairs and called for proper induction of all new staff members to make them responsive to the visions and aspirations of the Union.
The audit report, compiled by a high-level panel of the continental body appointed last July to audit the organs of the organisation, has brought out stunning revelations of several factors crippling the AU, including a lack of better qualified staff at African missions Ghanaian Foreign Minister Akwasi Osei-Adjei said the High-Level Audit Panel, headed by a former Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Adebayo Adedeji, has concluded its work and handed in its report to the AU Commission Chairperson.
"I have no doubt in my mind that we would be able to synthesis the full reports and come up with condensed but insightful and focused recommendations, as directed by our (AU heads of state) principals," Osei-Adjei told the opening session of the Executive Council.
The audit report has recommended an overhaul of the organisation's top organs and a re-make of the institutions, to broaden their mandate and make them more efficient in the discharge of their mandate.
In particularly, the report has recommended the expansion of the Foreign Minister's panel, tagged the Executive Council, through a transformation process to infuse expertise in its deliberations.
The audit panel noted that the Executive Council should be transformed into a Council of Ministers to allow various ministers holding various portfolios to sit on its deliberations.

28 january 2008 13:25:00




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