African leaders postpone decision on NEPAD/AU integration

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- After holding talks here African leaders have shifted decision on integration of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) into the African Union (AU), but succeeded in electing Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi as NEPAD chairman.
"We had a little bit of a handcuff," said Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who chaired the NEPAD Steering Committee meeting, also attended by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
He said the body had a consensus on Premier Meles' ascension to the post of NEPAD Chairman.
"We held two meetings today (Sunday) on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Forum and the NEPAD Heads of State implementation Committee," President Obasanjo told a news conference after the Summit ended here Sunday.
NEPAD was expected to officially become an institution of the African Union, if the proposal, brought up at the Banjul Summit in July last year, was adopted.
Sources said it caused discomfort with the South African delegation to the Summit.
"We reviewed the progress made in the integration of the NEPAD into the AU and we had a little handcuff.
In Banjul, we agreed to set up a brainstorming session to look into the issues of that are very critical to Africa's development," Obasanjo told journalists.
The brainstorming session was slated for Senegal, but it did not take place.
The NEPAD Summit has now postponed the decision until March, when a similar meeting would be held in Algeria, to brainstorm on the issue, Obasanjo said.
Experts criticised the failure to make the decision in Addis Ababa, saying it reflected on the leader's indecisiveness on issues that would have provided the AU Commission with a pool of experts.
"The failure once again to agree on the integration of NEPAD reflects indecisiveness on the part of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee," commented Irungu Houghton, the Pan African Policy Advisor for Oxfam GB.
The failure to agree on the plan, he said "leaves AU Commission and NEPAD staff working within a divided house, but more importantly leaves Africa unsure who is effectively championing development in the continent," Irungu said.
Meanwhile, President Obasanjo said the APRM Summit was the sixth in a series since it was established, mainly to champion Africa's commitment to best practice in self-governance.
The APRM summit reviewed reports presented by Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda, the first among 25 African countries that have submitted to the review.
Obasanjo said the reports were "satisfying" and had also identified areas in need of improvements.
Sao Tome and Principe became the latest entrant onto the APRM chain, bringing the current membership to 26, while South Africa has agreed to take the governance test this year.
"Our assessment is a good start because we are getting reports that must be copied and we are moving forward," Obasanjo told a news conference.

28 january 2007 17:47:00

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