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13.06.2007 General News

Referendum before decision making is paramount.


A political science expert has appealed to all foreign affairs ministries within Africa to consult their citizenry and ask for their participation in the formulation of a position for the creation of a United States of Africa at the upcoming African Union Summit (AU).

Professor Kwame Boafo-Arthur, Head, Political Science Department, University of Ghana, Legon, recommended that prior to the AU Summit, to be held in Accra in July, information about the proposal should be disseminated to all member governments.

"The Proposal should be disseminated for widespread scrutiny and feedback by both member governments and constituents.

"The Heads of States should arrive in Accra in July more informed and with the mandate of their people to vote on a Union Government and make suggestions towards the improvement of the proposal," he said.

Prof Boafo-Arthur was contributing to a public forum on the topic: "Achieving United Nations of Africa by 2025", organized by the Statesman Newspaper in partnership with the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) with support form Citi FM and Metro TV.

He said the return to the centre stage of an idea that was popular with many Pan-Africanists since the inception of the Organization of African Unity towards the creation of a continental government for Africa, must be considered carefully and strategically.

"It is the best thing to do under the circumstances of global economic development and the growing dichotomy between the industrialized countries and Africa. However, caution is an important ingredient in such enterprises," he said.

Prof Boafo-Arthur said: "Within each country, there should be a discussion about whether the citizens support the proposal, what their amendments are to its structures and the formulation of a coherent list of inputs on how the Union Government should be structured and the suggestions of a reasonable timeframe for its execution.

"Although there may be consensus about a continental government, the debate must continue, with all possible stakeholders about why, when and how a Union Government can be achieved up until July and even after the summit," he said.

Prof Boafo-Arthur recommended that the citizens of all African countries should be familiar with the idea of a United States of Africa and begin to think through what is at stake for them as citizen and their government as the process moved forward.

"Regardless of the outcome of the debate, as many voices as possible should be heard," he said, adding that "We must haste with caution".

He advocated that each country should solve internal problems such as corruption before calling for a union government since the issue at stake would not affect a particular country but the entire continent in case of a mistake.

Prof Boafo-Arthur also asked summit participants to consider what it meant to be a signatory to the proposal of the Union Government, what the obligation of member state were adding that "membership of the United States of Africa should not be de facto membership of all African states.

"Ascension to the United States of Africa should be based on specific conditions and performance indicators rather than on verbal commitment by Heads of States about African Integration," he said.

Prof Boafo-Arthur said the nature and quality of the debate on the proposal for a United States of Africa would reveal a lot about the status of African Integration, the level of engagement of African leaders and the citizenry and the prospects for the success of a Union Government.

Source: GNA