Zambia reaffirms commitment to host OAU Summit

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- The Zambian government says there is no basis to move the venue of the scheduled OAU's 37th Ordinary Summit from Lusaka to South Africa as proposed Wednesday by Libyan leader Col.
Moammar Kadhafi.
Reaffirming the country's commitment to host the meeting slated for July, Zambian acting Foreign Minister Vernon Mwaanga told PANA in Lusaka Thursday there had been no consultations for the venue change.
Kadhafi was quoted as having proposed the change because Zambian President Frederick Chiluba would not be in a position to complete his term as OAU chairman.
The Zambian leader's second five-year term ends in October and the OAU chairmanship is usually for one year.
"President Chiluba today (Thursday) made consultations in the region with various leaders and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in touch with OAU in Addis Ababa and (.
.
.
) leaders in the region have expressed surprise at this (Kadhafi's) proposal," Mwaanga said.
He said he has also briefed African diplomats in Zambia on the same issue, adding that "letters going out to Heads of State inviting them to the Summit are being signed this very moment at State House.
" Kadhafi's proposal follows last week's announcement by Chiluba that he would not stand for a third term.
Mwaanga said the chairmanship of regional Organisations is bestowed on countries/Governments and not on individual Heads of State.
"The Government of Zambia will always be here and President Chiluba will hand over to whoever succeeds him and we have had a number of precedence in the region regarding such succession," the acting Minister explained.
He cited the case of South Africa, which was chairman of the Southern African Development Community, and in June 1999, former President Nelson Mandela handed over power to Thabo Mbeki, who continued the chairmanship of the Community.
An OAU source in Lusaka also said there is no justification to change the venue of the Summit from Zambia because of the possible change in the leadership of the country.
Zambia has since intensified preparations to host the Summit, estimated to cost the country some 17 million US dollars.
According to a schedule agreed at the Algiers (Algeria) Summit in July 1999, Togo hosted the OAU's 36th Ordinary Summit in July 2000, while Lusaka was chosen for the 37th in 2001.
South Africa was named for the 2002 gathering, Mozambique for 2003, Sudan for 2004 and Gambia for 2005.

10 may 2001 18:42:00




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