|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives | Search|
AU Summit Ends With No Consensus on US of Africa
By Naomi Schwarz
Accra, 3 July 2007 - African leaders meeting on the final day of the African Union Summit, in Ghana, remain divided over whether and how to create a single African government. Meanwhile, civil society organizations continue to protest for more discussion of issues they say affect the development of the continent. For VOA, Naomi Schwarz has more from VOA's regional bureau in Dakar.
On the last day of the African Union Summit in Accra, African students from across West and Central Africa protested what they say are detrimental trade agreements with developed countries.
Dominique Jenkins is attending the summit for Oxfam America, which has partnered with the students. She says the students are concerned about the impact these agreements will have on African farmers.
"The students, as well as other members of civil society, are quite concerned because these free-trade agreements really do not speak to the economic development of the continent," she said. "They threaten local industries and services that would be in direct competition with products and services coming from a much higher-developed economic region of the world."
She says other protests she has seen outside the summit have addressed issues related to African unity and women's rights.
Ghanaian groups have also organized events to raise awareness for human rights across the continent, as well the as for the conflict in Darfur and the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Inside the official meeting rooms, there is little consensus on the main issue at hand: unified African government.
The head of British-based Chatham House's Africa program, Alex Vines, says there has been tension between proponents of a gradualist approach and those who want immediate action.
"There has been this struggle with President Wade of Senegal and Colonel Gaddafi of Libya saying there has to be rapid federalization to create a United States of Africa, whereas most other sub-Saharan states have indicated that they are in favor of a gradualist approach with increasing economic integration and eventually the goal of an African Union in a more federal pattern," said Vines.
Nigerien human-rights activist Saidou Arji, who is based in Ghana, says he doubts anything will come of the three days of discussions.
"I think that our heads of state, most of them, they are not confident in this process. It has become an issue they talk every year at the summit and forget it just outside the meeting rooms," said Arji.