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AU Leaders Suspend Recognition Of New Recs
By Segun Adeyemi
Banjul, Gambia, July 2, 2006 – African leaders rounded off their 7 th bi-annual summit in Banjul, the Gambia, Sunday with a decision to suspend, until further notice, the recognition of new Regional Economic Commissions (RECs).
The decision, which is key to the achievement of Africa's full integration, follows the recommendations of African Integration Ministers, who met in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 30-31 March 2006 on the rationalization of the RECs.
The leaders also decided to recognize only eight RECs, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Common Market of East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
Others are the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), Economic Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (CEN- SAD) and East African Community (EAC).
They urged the recognized RECs "to coordinate and harmonize their policies among themselves and with the AU Commission, with a view to accelerating Africa's integration process".
The RECs are regarded as the pillars of the African integration process, hence their rationalization and harmonization - which is the theme of the 7th AU Summit, is considered crucial to efforts to fast-track the integration process.
On Somalia, the leaders strongly appealed to all concerned within the country to refrain from any action likely to aggravate the situation and to maintain the cessation of hostilities.
Reiterating its full support for Somalia's Transitional Federal Institutions, the leaders urged the international community to provide them with necessary assistance 'to enable them fully assume their responsibilities'.
On HIV/AIDS, they endorsed the Abuja Call for Accelerated Action Towards Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria services in Africa, and re-declares the three diseases collectively "as a state of emergency in Africa".
In decision earlier reached by the Executive Council, which comprises Foreign Ministers, a Democracy and Electoral Assistance Unit was set up within the Political Affairs department of the AU Commission.
The Unit will coordinate and implement the AU Commission actions aimed at promoting democracy and democratic elections in Africa.
A Democracy and Electoral Assistance Fund was also established within the AU Commission "to lend support to the activities of the Unit".
The establishment of the Pan African Radio and Television channel was deferred pending the outcome of a meeting of experts to examine the various aspects of the legal framework.
In the meantime, the AU Commission was mandated to conduct a comprehensive study on the issue and submit a report for consideration by African Information Ministers, who will in turn submit their recommendations to the July 2007 Summit.
More than 30 African Heads of State and Government attended the two-day Summit.
The Presidents of Iran and Venezuela also attended the summit as observers.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also attended what he termed his last AU Summit, as he will soon step down after 10 years in office.