Friday, July 09, 2004

African Union: location, location, location

The third African Union (AU) Summit was held July 6-8 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The following is the second of eight summit summaries.

On Wednesday, July 7, the AU announced that South Africa would be the permanent seat of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). The choice was between South Africa and Egypt ... and the decision was made easier when Egypt withdrew on that Wednesday. (Libya dropped its bid back in March.)

Some observers had said Egypt didn't have a strong chance of being picked because of President Mubarak's perceived lack of leadership in the affairs of sub-Saharan Africa.

South African President Thabo Mbeki was happy to bring PAP to his country. And while the Democratic Alliance, a South African opposition party, welcomed the AU's decision, the party is wary of the cost.

It's still not clear who will cover the PAP's estimated $30 million cost. Since South Africa is one of the richest countries on the continent, my guess is that it will end up covering bulk of the cost.

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Libya's Moammar Gaddafi was a notable absentee at this year's summit. He still managed to cause a bit of a stir by campaigning for the relocation of the AU's headquarters to Sirte, Libya (some reports say he wanted it moved to Tripoli). He insisted that the issue be put on the agenda for debate. Though the leaders, as expected, decided that the headquarters would remain in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia didn't take anything for granted and mounted a fair campaign to keep the headquarters.
Addis Ababa has offered land worth over $50 million to the African Union, in what diplomats said was a counter to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's pledge of free residential houses to AU staff aimed at enticing the headquarters to his country. (source)
Late last month, Gaddafi told the state-run Jamahiriya News Agency that he would not attend the AU summit because his role had been to get "the train under way" and now that the AU is "on the rails", he's not needed. (Or... it could be that he's upset about not getting his own way on things like the headquarters and the continental army.)


Previous AU Summit summaries ....
  • African Union: who pays?