AU's Konare bemoans "leadership crisis" in Africa

DAKAR Mon Jul 9, 2007 3:11pm EDT

Chairman of the African Union Commission Professor Alpha Ouma Konare talks to reporters during the 3rd Session of the AU Conference of Ministers of Health (CAMH3) in Johannesburg in this April 10, 2007 file photo. Africa is suffering a crisis of leadership and its heads of state must show more mutual confidence and solidarity if they want to advance continental integration, Konare said on Monday. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Chairman of the African Union Commission Professor Alpha Ouma Konare talks to reporters during the 3rd Session of the AU Conference of Ministers of Health (CAMH3) in Johannesburg in this April 10, 2007 file photo. Africa is suffering a crisis of leadership and its heads of state must show more mutual confidence and solidarity if they want to advance continental integration, Konare said on Monday.

Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

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DAKAR (Reuters) - Africa is suffering a crisis of leadership and its heads of state must show more mutual confidence and solidarity if they want to advance continental integration, the African Union's top diplomat said on Monday.

Alpha Oumar Konare, who chairs the AU Commission, was giving his analysis of an inconclusive AU summit in Ghana last week that debated the goal of creating a United States of Africa, from the Cape to Cairo, under its own single government.

The three-day meeting in Accra, in which Libya and Senegal pushed unsuccessfully for immediate establishment of the continental government, ended with a vague accord to set up a ministerial committee to study the details and possible timing.

"There was unanimity about the fact that we should all head towards a United States of Africa," Konare said in an interview with Radio France International, monitored in Dakar.

But he acknowledged that the 53-nation AU summit had become bogged down in a narrow debate about whether the continental union and government should be proclaimed immediately.

"We shouldn't hide the fact that we ended up, after a difficult and sometimes painful debate, in a kind of confusion," Konare said, referring to the summit's low-key conclusion.

Libya's flamboyant leader Muammar Gaddafi and octogenarian Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who like to cast themselves as crusaders of African unity, both lobbied noisily for the immediate proclamation of a government for Africa.

But many states, including the continent's economic and political powerhouse South Africa, preferred a more cautious approach which sought to first strengthen regional economic communities before advancing to the political union goal.

Konare regretted that the debate about a union government had obscured the general acceptance of the need to seek greater unity on the world's poorest continent.

"You felt that many people came with fixed positions, you felt that what you were hearing were monologues," he said.

"For my own part, following these debates, I feel there is a crisis of leadership, I don't hesitate to use the word," the AU Commission chief said.

But he said the heads of state were agreed about the need to give the commission more executive powers.

Konare would remain at its head until the next AU summit in Addis Ababa in January, which would hear the report from the ministerial committee and the results of an audit into the AU's current structures.

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