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09.06.2007 General News

African countries gear up for AU summit in Accra


Representatives of various African countries in Ghana, have jointly launched an exposition in preparation for the African Union Summit slated for Accra, from June 15th to July 3rd.

The exposition dubbed: "AU EXPO," was to serve as a platform for Africans to interact, study and participate in the various cultural and traditional norms across the continent.

Participating countries in the seven-day expo at the W. E. B. Du Bois Centre for Pan African Culture were; South Africa, Libya, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Liberia.

Speaking at the inaugural EXPO, the South African High Commissioner, Mr. Rapulane Molekane explained that the country had experienced a different history from other nations in Africa as a result of early immigration from Europe.

He noted the strategic importance of the Cape Sea Route and said European immigration started shortly after the Dutch East India Company founded a station at (what was to become) Cape Town in 1652.

The country's relatively developed infrastructure made its mineral wealth available and important to Western interests, particularly throughout the late nineteenth century.

Mr Molekane said South Africa is an ethnically diverse nation with the largest white, Indian, and racially-mixed communities in Africa. Most Black South Africans speak nine officially-recognized languages and many more dialects, account for slightly less than 80% of the population.

He said racial strife between the white minority and the black majority has played a large part in the country's history and politics, culminating in apartheid, which was instituted in 1948 by the National Party.

The South African High Commissioner said the laws that defined apartheid began to be repealed or abolished by the National Party in 1990 after a long and sometimes violent struggle.

He said during the struggle, two philosophies originated in South Africa: "ubuntu - the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity; and Gandhi's notion of passive resistance, developed while he lived in South Africa."

He said regular elections had been held for almost a century; however, the majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994.

On the Economic front, Mr Molekane said South Africa was the largest and best developed on the continent, with modern infrastructure common throughout the country.

He said the country is often referred to as "The Rainbow Nation," a term coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and later adopted by former President Nelson Mandela.

Former President Mandela used the term "Rainbow Nation" as a metaphor to describe the country's newly-developing multicultural diversity in the wake of segregationist apartheid ideology.

The AU profile obtained by the Ghana News Agency in Accra, named the Assembly of Heads of States as the continental body's highest decision making organ.

Other institutions of the AU include the Executive Council, made up of foreign ministers; the Permanent Representatives Committee, made up of the ambassadors to Addis Ababa of AU member states; the Pan African Parliament.

The rest were the Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), a civil society consultative body.

The AU covers the entire continent with the exception of Morocco which opposes the membership of Western Sahara as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

According to the AU information, Morocco has a special status within the AU and benefits from the services available to all AU states from the institutions of the AU, such as the African Development Bank.

The AU has adopted a number of important new documents establishing norms at continental level, to supplement those already in force when it was created.

These include the African Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (2003) and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007), and its associated Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance.

The AU was launched in Durban on July 9, 2002, at the first session of the Assembly of the African Union.

Source: GNA