Burundi + 4 more

Africa: AU focuses on conflicts

ADDIS ABABA, 4 February (IRIN) - The African Union summit came to an end late Monday night with several pledges by the continent's leaders to try tackle crises blighting the continent.
African heads of state pledged to tackle conflicts in at least seven states on the continent, during the summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Although the first ever AU summit was to resolve technical sticking points on the fledgling organisation's constitution, attentions soon turned to war.

Crises in Burundi, the Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Comoros and Liberia all fell under the spotlight.

The AU's conflict resolution body - which was attended by the heads of state - spent most of Monday focusing on the crises. In Madagascar, it called on the AU to recognise Marc Ravalomanana as the legitimate president of the country.

The AU reiterated that African peacekeepers would be sent into Burundi and that it would re-double efforts to ensure peace in strife-ridden Ivory Coast.

In the end, it took just 20 minutes for the AU to resolve the technical hiccups that had overshadowed the launch of the organisation in Durban in July 2002.

The 28 heads of state and six prime ministers agreed to six main amendments which included issues such as the role of women and the importance of the African Diaspora.

But, like its much-criticised predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, money again looks set to be an issue that could strangle the AU.

No-one has yet put a price on what running the AU will cost the continent's population. Even senior officials differ starkly in their estimates.

One told IRIN that US $100 million a year would suffice to run four 'organs' - the Assembly, the Executive Council, the Permanent Representatives' Committee and the Commission. Another claimed that the AU would need an annual budget in the region of US $500 million if it were to be taken seriously.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Foreign Minister of South Africa, told journalists on Tuesday that despite an obvious cash flow problem, the AU would push ahead.

"The organisation is functioning but of course we are putting a new structure into place, a new commission, that will have different needs and therefore we may need more resources," she said.


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