On 26th May, the Organisation for African Unity will become the African Union, a stronger and more effective body than the OAU with its own organs and greater power of intervention, giving Colonel Muammar Khadafi of Libya a spectacular diplomatic triumph. The news was divulged by the Tanzanian Secretary-General of the OAU, Salim Ahmed Salim, who declared that the necessary minimum of 36 votes in favour, two-thirds of the 53 member states, had been reached in this week’s AIDS conference in Abija, Nigeria. The votes in favour are to be presented on 26th May, the date on which history will be transformed by the creation of the African Union. The Organisation for African Unity was set up in 1963, after the colonial powers (The United Kingdom, France and Belgium) had granted independence to the majority of their African possessions, with only Portugal stubbornly remaining until the Revolution of 25th April 1974, in Lisbon, started the decolonisation process. Due to the inefficiency of this organism, Colonel Muammar Khadafi of Libya, envisaged a new, more dynamic structure. He presented his vision at the extraordinary Conference of the OAU at Sirta, Libya, in September 1999. The African Union was officially approved by the OAU in Togo, in July 2000. The African Union will have its own Parliament, Central Bank, Crisis Fund, Monetary Fund and Court. This is a personal diplomatic triumph for Muammar Khadafi, a figure misunderstood outside his country but who proves with this project to have a political vision which few imagined him to have. The African Union will have many problems to face, namely the great diversity of economies in the continent, where in South Africa, the per capita income is around 300 USD per month, whereas in Ethiopia, it is 100 USD and also the ethnic legacy inherited from the colonial powers. The great number of straight lines on maps of Africa are proof of this legacy, lines drawn in comfortable offices in Whitehall, Paris and Washington. A total lack of respect was shown for cultural and ethnic issues, creating without exception all of the ethnic problems in Africa today. However, the African Union is the first step towards this continent assuming its position on the world stage, firmly and proudly, acting as one, while having its own organism (the African Parliament) to discuss its problems in a democratic fashion. The fact that the African Union will have its own bank is very important for this continent to shake off the shackles of colonialism, imperialism and economic intrusion which have held Africa back for so long. The surmise of this continent, if the opportunity of the moment is assumed by all with the same degree of responsibility, will be much faster than many believe. Colonel Muammar Khadafi is the saviour of this continent.
TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY, PRAVDA.RU, LISBON
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