22.04.2005 South Africa

Asantehene addresses South African chiefs

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From Kojo Yonkah, GNA Special Correspondent, Johannesburg

Pretoria, April 22, GNA - Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, now on the fifth day of his 10-day goodwill visit to South Africa, has emphasized that traditional leaders in Africa could make greater impact on the Continent if they united to support the African Union and New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Initiative.

He asked traditional rulers in Africa to hold firmly to the positive aspects of their cultural practices, values and ideals that strengthened the morals of the people and motivated entrepreneurial skills in their communities.

He further charged them to consider the objectives of NEPAD as a challenge and called on them to "support the political and socio-economic development and integration of the African Continent". The Asantehene was addressing the National House of Traditional Leaders of South Africa in Pretoria on Thursday.

Otumfuo proposed to the African chiefs to consider themselves as "Partners in Development".

"Let us partner local government bodies, the private sector and even international donor agencies in our drive to supplement national efforts at bringing development to the people', he emphasized. "As traditional leaders, do we just sit by, and expect only the politicians to bear the responsibility of reducing poverty? Do we just look on as our populations are decimated by HIV/AIDS and other preventable diseases?" Otumfuo asked.

The Asantehene, who was greeted with a spontaneous standing ovation, repeated his call on the African Union to consider granting traditional leaders a seat at their regular meetings.

The President of the National House of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, Nkosi MB Nzimela, congratulated Otumfuo for his "enlightening and refreshing speech" and pledged on behalf of his colleagues that they would work tirelessly to pursue the establishment of a Continental Union of African Traditional Leaders.

The Asantehene would be the guest of the King of the Royal Bafokeng Kingdom, King Leruo Molotlegi, on Friday.

He is expected to address the Supreme Council of Chiefs in the Kingdom and visit Sun City, a tourist paradise in the North West Province. 22 April 05

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