Thursday, July 05, 2007

Does this look like a small bump in the road towards One World Government? Sure looks like it

Reality bites for United States of Africa dream after summit

ACCRA (AFP): The drive towards forging a United States of Africa was running out of steam Wednesday as leaders filed away from a summit without agreeing on a timeline for creating a new government for the continent.

The three-day summit in Ghana, which wrapped up shortly before midnight on Tuesday, was devoted to a grand debate on a union government with burning issues such as Darfur and Somalia barely getting a look in.

But when host President John Kufuor delivered a closing declaration, it was clear that leaders who favour a gradual approach towards integration had stymied the fast-track ambitions of Libya's Moamer Kadhafi and Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade.

In the absence of any timetable, Kufuor announced an audit of the current executive body, the African Union commission, and the commissioning of four studies on the prospects of a new government.

"Africa shall evolve," he told journalists. "It's not a revolution we are invoking so we cannot give you a timeline."

One of the studies will focus on "the contents of the union government concept and its relations with national governments" while another will examine its "domains of competence and impact ... on sovereignty".

The others will concentrate on the "elaboration of a road map and timeframe for establishing the union government" and how such a project would be funded.

The scope of the topics under review illustrate the lack of consensus among leaders of the world's poorest continent on how they want to move forward.

While many paid lip service to the idea of an alternative USA, few went along with Kadhafi's blueprint for the creation of a 15-member cabinet -- including defence, foreign and trade ministers -- by 2008.

For all the talk of unity, analysts believe differences among the 53 nations are too vast to accommodate a centralised executive which could speak with one voice.

"The United States of Africa has immense emotional appeal but as a political programme it does not have an enormous amount of traction," said Terence Corrigan of the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg.

"Among countries like South Africa there's a realisation, which they are reluctant to express too loudly, that you have a big gulf in terms of economic development and political cultures which militates against the rush towards a union government.

"You also have the competing tradition within Africa that the notion of sovereignty is a very powerful one."

Indeed, in an echo of the arguments within the European Union, many heads of state expressed fears about sovereignty.

In an address to the summit on Tuesday, EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said Europe's experience was political integration came after and not before economic integration.

Kadhafi arrived in Accra after stopovers in some of Africa's most impoverished countries such as Guinea and Sierra Leone, calling for "the voice of the people to be heard.

The shortcomings of the AU, established five years ago in Durban, have been exposed by its failure to persuade anyone bar Uganda to send peacekeepers to Somalia and the inability of a poorly-equipped force to stem the bloodshed in Sudan's western Darfur region.

Many leaders, including Mbeki who hosted the Durban summit, believe the AU needs nurturing rather than a complete overhaul.

Much of its troubles have stemmed from a lack of finance. An eve of summit meeting of foreign ministers was handed a report which showed only seven states were up-to-date with their dues.

Ludeki Chweya, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, said many leaders want to give the AU more time to prove its worth.

"I think there's scepticism among some leaders because the matter has come up too suddenly," he said. "It seems to me that it was a bit rushed."

Original article posted here.

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