Sirte- Libya (PANA) -- African leaders have agreed on the creation of the African Union (AU) Authority, headed by a President and possessing an enhanced role to coordinate foreign affairs, trade and defence pol icies within the continent.
But the AU Authority will come into force only when the 53 African states ratify an amended treaty of the AU, known as the Constitutive Act.
The deal was reached after several hours of painstaking discussions on the subje ct, marked by walkouts by some of the leaders, but the details of how the new authority would work has yet to be hammered out.
As African leaders battled to save the deal on the formation of the AU Authority , an attempt to introduce the formation of an African Defence Council further threw the discussions into disarray as leaders tussled on whether a defe nce council for Africa should replace the Peace and Security Council.
In the end, the leaders agreed to transform the current AU Commission into an Au thority, which is a first step towards the formation of a United States of Africa government - an issue that has divided the leaders since substantive debate on the declaration of an Africa government kicked off in 2005.
Diplomats said the agreement reached would allow the African states at least six years to consult before committing themselves to submitting their authority to the newly-created AU Authority.
“They agreed that the Authority would be created and that the states have six ye ars to further consult their parliaments,” a Kenyan diplomat, speaking on conditions of anonymity, told PANA.
African leaders stayed behind to further debate the proposed establishment of an African Defence Council, an issue which also polarized proceedings in Sirte, venue of the 13th session of the African Union H eads of State and Government Assembly that was meant to discuss agriculture.
Sources said African leaders insisted that the creation of the defence council w ould contravene the treaty establishing the Peace and Security Council of the AU, and that the proposal was eventually shot down.
Debate has been rife on how to create the AU Authority and whether the creation of such an Authority would affect the sovereignty of the various member states of the AU.