Salim calls for more unity under African Union

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- OAU secretary general Salim Ahmed Salim stated on Thursday that the African Union had been the long-term objective since the continental political body was created in 1963.
He stated that the constitutive act of the African Union which takes effect on Saturday, would usher in a new era, a day after the annual Africa Day anniversary marking the creation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963.
In his Africa Day message, Salim described the African Union as "an elevated framework of co-operation and integration of the continent" and a milestone that African have aimed for so long.
Salim said that the union "opens a new vista for the realisation of our potentials and overcoming the many challenges confronting us.
" He commended African leaders for making the union possible by adopting the Sirte Declaration in September 1999 and established it at the fifth extraordinary session of their assembly in early March this year in the same Libyan city.
"It has now become both a political and legal reality," he stated.
"The inspiration of the African Union and the spirit that propelled all of us to pursue it, has been the recognition of the imperative necessity for Africans to pool together our strengths, solidify our unity and solidarity and dedicate ourselves to our common destiny," the secretary general noted "Unity has been our calling these 38 years, and as we embark into the African Union the unity that is being pursued and the institutions and structures of the new entity have to be consummately forged to be linked to the people of this continent," he added.
"The immediate challenge ahead of us is working towards realising this," Salim declared.
The OAU chief highlighted political, economic and social developments in the continent during the past 12 years when he headed the continental body.
On the positive side, salim cited the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea ending their border conflict of over two years.
He also mentioned "positive developments" in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the significant progress in the search for peace in Sierra Leone and the Comoros.
On Somalia, Salim called for the intensification of efforts to bring national reconciliation and end the recurrent armed confrontations.
He also expressed concern at the prevailing "grave situation" in the countries of the Mano River Basin, particularly between Liberia and Guinea, and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Burundi.
Meanwhile Salim blamed Jonas Savimbi's Unita for the continuing armed conflict in Angola.
He said conflict had persisted in southern Sudan despite all the efforts made at national, regional, continental and international levels.
In the economic and social spheres, the OAU chief welcomed the launching of the COMESA free trade area last year and the revival of the East African Community.
He also commended ECOWAS for its decision on monetary harmonisation and the signing of the protocol on relations between the African Economic Community and the regional economic communities by the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CED-SAD).
In the health sector, Salim recalled that a summit held in Abuja, Nigeria in April had addressed measure to curb the furtherspread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases.
He cautioned that AIDS threatened "to tear apart the fabric of our societies and undermine all the achievements we have made in the past four decades of our independence.
" He stated the necessity of meeting the challenges of Africa head-on in unity.
These include HIV/AIDS, natural and human made disasters, abject poverty, an excruciating debt burden and the recalcitrant conflicts and tensions.

24 may 2001 17:44:00

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