No new boss yet for AU

2012-07-15 16:02
The presidency has fired another shot in support of Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the race for the position of chair of the African Union. (File, Sapa)

The presidency has fired another shot in support of Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the race for the position of chair of the African Union. (File, Sapa)

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Addis Ababa - Attendees at the African Union summit meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa agreed on Sunday upon a call for the resignation of the military junta in Mali.

In addition, the weekend-long summit saw progress on the conflict between Sudan and its year-old southern neighbour South Sudan.

Also, members agreed a common position on the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, calling for new international peacekeepers to

Mali has suffered double-pronged instability since March, when rebel soldiers overthrew the government in Bamako in a military coup. Islamist rebels in the north exploited the instability to declare themselves an autonomous state.

The formation of a national unity government in Mali was called for by African leaders to help improve the security crisis caused by rebels and armed groups in the north. The new government would be formed before the end of this month.

"It is hoped that the formation of the government will mark the return of state authority to Mali," the AU's Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said.

The proliferation of armed groups has uprooted nearly 320 000 people, with many of them fleeing to neighbouring countries.

The armed groups constitute a "serious threat to regional and international peace and security," added Lamamra.

The AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) demanded "the dissolution of the military junta" responsible for the coup and all "unacceptable interference from the junta" in the management of the transition to be quashed.

Individuals and sponsors responsible for impeding the transitional process in Mali will be hit with sanctions.

Ecowas

Mali and neighbouring countries are currently requesting that the UN Security Council support Ecowas  (Economic Community of West African States) forces combating armed groups and Islamist extremists in northern Mali.

Ecowas chair and Ivory Coast President Alassane Dramane Ouattara briefed journalists near the end of the summit meeting, reaffirming the region's "uncompromising resolve" to return Mali to constitutional rule.

A national unity government in Mali would bring the whole country back under a single leadership and organize fair and transparent presidential elections by the end of the transitional period.

On the topic of DR Congo, 11 countries from eastern and central Africa called for new peacekeeping forces to be sent.

However, a much-anticipated announcement of a new chairperson for the African Union was not expected until later on Sunday.

A previous summit in January failed to decide between South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the incumbent from Gabon, Jean Ping.

Protests

Meanwhile, protests outside the venue in the Ethiopian capital have seen 72 arrests, and about 200 injured. Those arrested, according to police, were Islamists demonstrating against perceived liberal implementation of religious laws.

Earlier, on Saturday, the presidents of feuding South Sudan and Sudan expressed a determination to settle their dispute over territory and oil - after meeting for the first time in six months on the sidelines of the summit.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir met late on Saturday.

"They have agreed in principle on all issues," said Pagan Aman, South Sudan's chief negotiator.

The two countries are currently involved in peace talks in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, under the supervision of African Union mediators. The two sides are expected to negotiate until 2 August.

African Union-led negotiations between the two countries have been continuing since the oil rich south gained independence from the north a year ago.

The two sides have so far been unable to reach an agreement on oil transit fees, the status of citizens, border demarcation, and the final status of the disputed Abyei territory.

The South has 75% of the region's oil, but Juba still depends on the north's pipeline and its Red Sea port to export its crude.

Addressing the disagreement over oil transit fees, Pagan insisted that the two states would reach a solution that is "fair and based on international practice".

       
Read more on:    au  |  jean ping  |  nkosazana dlamini-zuma  |  mali  |  drc  |  sudan  |  central africa  |  east africa  |  west africa
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