African Union Commission chief says continent situation in "strong contrast"

08:28, February 01, 2010      

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African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson H.E. Jean Ping addresses the opening ceremony of the 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, Jan. 31, 2010. (Xinhua/Mao Siqian)

The African Union (AU) Commission chief, Jean Ping, stressed the "strong contrast" in the political and economic situation at the opening session of the 14th AU summit on Sunday in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

He hailed the political stability and economic progress in certain regions of the continent, while deploring the setbacks on democratic governance, the resurgence of military coup and the economic collapse in some countries.

The AU chief said "notable advances" have been made in Kenya and Zimbabwe, where political parties have formed a government of national unity to end the political crisis.

Progress has been made in the process to seek peace in Sudan's Darfour region, he said, adding peace efforts are gaining a new momentum in Somalia with the establishment of the government under President Sharif Ahmed.

By contrast, some other countries in the continent have witnessed "timid evolution" and "impasse," with "persistent difficulties" with the agreements concluded by parties concerned "blocking the perspectives of peace," according to the AU chief.

In Madagascar, he said, the negotiations on power sharing between the four political camps have hit an impasse over the implementation of the Maputo Accord and the Additional Act reached in Addis Ababa.

The inter-Nigerien political dialogue has failed to make progress as expected since it started in Niamey on Dec. 21 in search for a consensus on the return to the constitutional order, the AU chief told the summit. On the economic situation, the AU chief warned that African countries continued to "occupy a marginal position in the world economy," despite efforts made in the past decade to improve their competitiveness and the macro-economic policies put in place for adaption.

But he affirmed that the AU Commission has succeeded in associating the continent to the governance of the world economy by taking Africa to the G20 summits and consolidating its position with G8 against the backdrop of the global economic crisis. He praised the progress and efforts unveiled in building concrete projects of infrastructure, education and agriculture across the continent, saying the developments are accelerating Africa's integration process with the purpose to make it a key actor in the future on the world arena.

With a theme of "Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Development", the three-day AU summit features ICT as a means to accelerate the development of Africa in its aspirations for common prosperity.

African leaders will also discuss regional conflicts, political and economic integration, climate change and a common stance on UN reforms.

A series of documents will be submitted to the summit for discussions or approval, including reports on the African Year of Peace and Security, unconstitutional changes of government, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, as well as the implementation of decisions already made by the 53-member bloc.

Source: Xinhua
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