Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim, arrived in Lusaka Saturday, assuring that the 9-11 July Summit of the continent's foremost political grouping taking place in the Zambian capital would be a huge success.
Salim, who arrived at the Lusaka International airport Saturday afternoon at the head of a top-level OAU delegation, said African leaders would work ardently on the institutions of the African Union.
"This Summit is an important Summit not only because of the political and economic situation of our continent, but also because it will focus on the practical measures for the operationalisation of the African Union," he told reporters.
These issues, he added, make the Summit "a historical one.
" The legal requirements of the African Union (36 signatory States) had been received since 26 of May, automatically launching the transition period for the transformation of the OAU into the African Union.
"The period of transition would last for one year.
The Heads of State may decide to prolong or shorten this, but in our own estimation, we talk of an allowance of one year," Salim said.
On the status and term of the next OAU Chairman, host President Frederick Chiluba, Salim said African leaders would decide the issue.
"The African Union does not come into being until after the Assembly of the Union has taken place," he emphasised.
On candidates now vying for the post of Secretary-General of the OAU, which becomes vacant at the Summit, Salim stressed that this too would be decided by the Assembly of African leaders.
"The post of Secretary-General is for the OAU.
In technical terms, any of the candidates that will be elected will be the Secretary-General of the OAU.
Then when the African Union comes into being, of course the Heads of State may decide to re-elect or confirm the same person," he explained.
"Technically, the Summit of the OAU can only elect the Secretary-General and then the Assembly of the African Union will elect the Chairman of the Commission," Salim added.
He reiterated his decision not to seek re-election to the post.
Asked to comment on the scepticism that has greeted the African Union project backed strongly by Libyan leader, Col.
Moammar Kadhafi, Salim said the success of the project would eventually prove the sceptics wrong.
"This is not the first time Africa will have sceptics concerning any African project," he said, recalling that when the OAU was formed, most African countries were still fighting for the liberation of the continent.
"We are now in a different era and a different situation.
The African Union will come and will be operational," Salim said, adding: "It will take time to achieve all the objectives of the African union just as it has been the case of other unions in the world.
" "Through the will of our leaders, the Constitutive Act was adopted in Lome in July 2000, and before July this year we now 45 countries that have already ratified the African Union, the fastest ever in the ratification of any convention," the OAU chief said, describing it as a clear indication of the staunch commitment on the part of African States to forge unity.
"There is a commitment on the part of African States that dealing with the crisis, be they of conflict situations, economic situations or the AIDS pandemic among others, we are better equipped when we work together," Salim added.