AU leaders push for a common government in Africa

February 2nd, 2009 - 11:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Addis Ababa, Feb 2 (IANS) The African Union (AU) leaders meeting here have agreed to change the existing AU commission, the group’s legislative body, into an African Union Authority (AUA) as part of an effort to expand the group’s mandate in Africa, BuaNews reported Monday.The heads of states of the 53-member African Union attending the 12th summit in the Ethiopian capital would also discuss political situations in Zimbabwe, Somalia and the global financial crisis, among others.

AU Commission chairman Jean Ping said the new authority would have a broader mandate than the existing commission.

“We are creating an institution with a bigger mandate and capacity, so that it would lead us towards the goal a union government,” Ping told reporters after the end of Sunday’s discussions.

He added that the African governments would still retain their sovereignty under the new system.

“The body will have a president, a vice-president, and secretaries, who would be given different portfolios to handle,” he said.

Ping said the idea is to create a union government in Africa that can tackle all regional issues.

However, many African leaders have expressed reservations on the new system. Some leaders instead favoured the strengthening of regional institutions before creating a continent-wide government that is expected to give a stronger bargaining power in favour of Africa at global forums.

Since 2007, the South African government has embarked on an intensive countrywide campaign to gather views of its citizens on the envisioned African Union Authority, the report said.

Majority of the population has shown support to the idea of Africa’s gradual integration, strengthening multilateral institutions and Regional Economic Communities (RECs), it said.

South Africa falls under the 14-member REC of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), whose other member states include Angola, Botswana, Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The integration of the African governments under a single authority was envisaged by the late visionary leader Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana.

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