Sirte- Libya (PANA) -- The upsurge in violent conflicts in Africa over the last s ix months, culminating in the assassination of Guinea Bissau President Joao Bernado 'Nino' Vieira, the killings in Somalia and the increased insecurity in Darfur, Sudan, dominated the opening session of the African Union (AU) talks in Sirte, Libya, on Wednesday.
The leaders voiced concern over the increasing violence in Somalia, where milita nt Islamic factions have been fighting to dislodge the government.
Also, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, represented at the talks by his Deputy, Asha Rose Migiro, warned against attempts to seize power in the Horn of Africa nation.
Ban said unconstitutional power changes, associated with the past, had returned to Africa and that violent conflicts continued to imperil the lives of millions of people.
“Clearly, we meet at a critical time.
More than half of all Africans currently l ive in extreme poverty.
We must use this summit to mobilize action to protect the poorest and most vulnerable and prevent more from joining their ranks,” the UN chief said in a speech read by his deputy.
In his comments at the opening session of the 13th AU Heads of State Assembly, w hich got underway here Wednesday, Arab League’s Secretary-General Amir Moussa said “the waves of violence are back in Somalia.
” “The Arab League adds its voice on the need to drum up regional support for Soma lia.
The generous pledges to support the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) should be honoured,” Moussa said.
Brazilian President Lula Da Silva, who is the chief guest at this year’s summit, hailed efforts by the regional organizations in Africa to combat the upsurge in violent conflicts in Africa.
“We commend the engagements of Africa’s regional organizations to confront confl icts and work for peace,” he said in his opening remarks.
The Brazilian leader, who announced that his country was keen to re- engage with Africa on various development and industrialization projects, took a swipe at so m e Western powers for “their greed and external influence” which he said was to bla me for some of the conflicts on the African soil.
“Brazil is not in Africa to get rid of its colonial past.
Brazil wants to be a p artner in Africa’s development,” he stated.
The leaders discussed peace across the region, noting in particular, the risk of Southern Sudan relapsing back to war, or possibly pulling out of the larger Sud a n “unless unity was made a “strategic objective.
” In March, renegade soldiers assassinated the Guinea Bissau President in an appar ent power struggle with the army chief, who was killed hours before the Presiden t himself was assassinated.
In Somalia, radical Islamist factions have engaged the government of President S harif Ahmed Aden in battles which have lasted since 8 May.