Al-Qathafi, Chairman of AU, Vows to Achieve African Unity
Photo: The Leader of the Revolution and the new chairman of the African Union Muammar Gaddafi speaks to the media after the closing ceremony of the 12th African Union summit at the United Nations Headquarters in Addis Ababa February 4, 2009.
The African Union (AU) summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa has elected the Leader of the Revolution Muammar Al-Qathafi new chairman AU. The position will give Al-Qathafi the power to influence policies across Africa.
Al-Qathafi immediately vowed to push on with the plan to strengthen the institutions of the AU and make the African states stronger, stable and peaceful in a rather unstable world.
He said in his acceptance speech: "I think the coming time will be a time of serious work and a time of action and not words."
He told Africa's heads of state that there is much to do and that some of the procedures need to be reviewed in order to speed up the establishment of Union's institutions.
He also promised to do all he could to solve the problem of Darfur and other African crises.
In his acceptance speech, Al-Qathafi acknowledged that he some times provoked some of African heads of state in order to push the agenda of the African Union.
However, he said for the African leaders to have different views regarding the future of the content is a healthy thing. He said the credit goes to all heads of state and their sovereign countries for making the right decisions all along during the process of forming the Union.
Al-Qathafi told the summit did not wish to take up the post of the chairman of the AU, despite he was invited to it earlier, because he believed that his position was to help Africa realize its dreams of unity regardless of his official position.
Al-Qathafi is, in fact, the engineer and the founder of the AU. He called for emergency African summit of the Organization of African Unity on 9 September 1999, which was then replaced by the more dynamic and realistic continental body, the AU, whose real objectives are to make Africa stronger, richer and more peaceful.
In 1999 and up to the establishment of the Union in Durban, South Africa in 2002, many dismissed the whole idea as unrealistic. But the insistence by Al-Qathafi on it and his strong belief in the future of an united, prosperous African continent as well as Libya's economic power and money that has been devoted to serve such noble objective truly made the dream a reality.
Al-Qathafi praised the outgoing president of the AU P Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete for his good management of the union during his tenure and insisted that the chairman of the AU Commission Jean Ping to keep his post as he has proved to be rather capable in running the affairs of the Union.
The chairmanship of the African Union is a rotating position held by heads of state for one year and gives the holder some influence over the continent's politics but carries no real power.
Believing, along with some others that only a united Africa can tackle the long-term issues of poverty and disease and make the continent a global powerhouse, he admitted, however, that there was much work to be done and that African leaders were nowhere near agreement.
The new AU chairman is seen as an accomplished statesman in Africa who takes the interests of the continent seriously.
Speaking at the closing session, Al-Qathafi praised the decision of African countries in 1998 to defy a decade-old United Nations ban on air links with Libya as an example of the power a united Africa could wield on the world stage.
The UN imposed an air embargo on Libya for Qaddafi's decision not to extradite suspects in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270.
Telling other African heads of state that they can rely on the AU to protect them from imperialism and foreign oppression, Gaddafi said "Africans defied the force" of the U.S. and the U.K."We are proud of this union which strengthens us," he added.
In his closing speech, Qaddafi said that Libya is alone among oil- producing nations that haven't lost money during the financial crisis because it invested its money in the African continent. "Libya has not lost a single dollar in this crisis," he said. "Libya has invested billions in Africa.
We have not invested in America," he said, adding "therefore we have not lost." Qaddafi praised the new American president and describing Barack Obama's accession to the White House as a victory against racism and urging the first black U.S. president to lead his country boldly.
"The black people's struggle has vanquished racism. It was God who created color. Today Obama, a son of Kenya, a son of Africa, has made it in the United States of America," he said.
"We hope he will be well protected and want him to be undaunted. America doesn't belong to the whites alone. I hope he will be able to accomplish the change he carries in him," he added.
Qaddafi also said he had foreseen the election of President Barack Obama in the U.S. in his Green Book, a revolutionary tract he completed in the 1970s.
In Washington, the US State Department declined to comment specifically on Gadhafi's election but said the United States would remain engaged with the African Union.
"We are going to continue to work with the AU," spokesman Robert Wood told reporters. "It's a critical institution in terms of our dealing with the continent."
African leaders agreed to work to forge a 'United States of Africa', despite the fears of some nations that such a move could threaten national sovereignty.
The outgoing president of the African Union, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, said the goal was to create an institution with a bigger mandate, eventually moving toward a union government.
"In principle, we said the ultimate is the United States of Africa," Kikwete said. "How we proceed to that ultimate, there are building blocks."
On Sunday, the officials agreed to set up a new African Union Authority to replace the existing AU commission. The authority, which the leaders hope to have up and running by mid-year, will have more power to deal with issues such as poverty, infectious diseases, education, and other legal issues.
"Essentially, it's a compromise between those who would have wanted an accelerated transformation to a union government, and those who were looking for a gradualist approach towards this transformation." says Professor Onyejekwe a participant in the discussion of African Unity.
"But what this does basically is now to create secretaries with various responsibilities at the continental level, but falling short of now transforming the AU into a United States of Africa," he said.