Monday, February 09, 2009

Museveni, Gaddafi clash in Ethiopia over the formation of a United States of Africa

February 9, 2009 report from The Daily Monitor by Henry Owour and Argaw Ashine Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA:
Museveni, Gaddafi clash in Ethiopia

President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday night openly clashed with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, after the two disagreed over the direction of the formation of a single government for all African states.

According to sources at the summit, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe reportedly helped Mr Museveni take on Col. Gaddafi, who besides mooting the single African government plan, also sought to be bestowed the title “King of Kings”.

Col. Gaddafi reportedly clashed with Mr Museveni over his calls for speeding of the single African government plan. Whereas Mr Museveni calls for strengthening of regional blocs, a position he reiterated in Addis Ababa, Col. Gaddafi wants an immediate fast track to form the United States of Africa.

In what looked like a parliamentary debate characterised by points of order, the two leaders also disagreed on the involvement of traditional leaders by Col. Gaddafi in his pursuit of the United States of Africa dream.

Col. Gaddafi sponsored Mr Museveni’s National Resistance Army guerilla war that brought the Ugandan leader to power in 1986.

Their current disagreements could bring one of the longest political relationships to an end. At the AU summit, Mr Museveni reportedly warned that he would arrest any traditional leader in Uganda who claimed to speak for Col. Gaddafi.

The Ugandan government last month cancelled a summit of traditional leaders across the continent convened in Kampala and funded by Col. Gaddafi, saying the leaders had discussed politics.

The Ugandan Constitution bars traditional leaders from participating in partisan politics. In Col. Gaddafi’s proposal for the single government, Africa is to have a president, a vice-president and secretaries handling various portfolios such as foreign affairs, research and the battle against pandemics.

However, with much opposition from the other African leaders, Col. Gaddafi stormed out of the meeting at about 2am and a few minutes later, all the leaders filed out.

Asked why Col. Gaddafi had stormed out, Tanzanian Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe said Gaddafi ‘’may have felt unwell”.

The summit ended yesterday with no concrete agreement on the way forward over a single government.

Col. Gaddafi said a special meeting of the group’s Council of Ministers would meet in three months’ time to iron out what powers its newly created African Union Authority should have.

This came after the 53-member group’s marathon talks that failed to agree on ways to transform the current Africa Union Commission into an authority, a process that will end with the creation of the “United States of Africa.”

Yesterday, at a meeting with journalists, Col. Gaddafi struck a conciliatory figure, talking of his vision for a “continent that relies on itself and which is a key player in world affairs.’’

He added that the continent has adopted a “step by step’’ approach to “this historic effort’’ on a single government. But, AU Commission chairman Jean Ping said ‘the whole process may take years.’’

According to Mr Ping, amending the AU Charter is not a simple task and two thirds of the 53 states must accept to proceed with the amendment.

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