Mon, Jul 02, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Qaddafi calls for one African nation

UNITED WE STAND During his last stop in a weeklong international road trip, the Libyan leader said the African continent must have one united government and army

AGENCIES , ACCRA

Clad in an outfit featuring legendary African leaders, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi waves to wellwishers as he arrives in the Ghanan capital city of Accra, on Saturday. Heads of state and African Union foreign ministers convene this week for talks on the creation of the United States of Africa.

PHOTO: AFP

Declaring himself a "soldier for Africa," Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi called on the continent on Saturday to unite under a single government so it could compete in a globalized world.

Speaking on the eve of an African Union (AU) summit in Accra, Ghana, Gaddafi said AU leaders had not yet achieved the dream of unity voiced half a century ago by Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, founding father of African independence.

"For Africa, the matter is to be or not to be," Qaddafi told a cheering audience of students, activists and local Muslim leaders at the University of Ghana. "My vision is to wake up the African leaders to unify our continent."

Flanked by female bodyguards dressed in camouflage, Qaddafi wore dark glasses and a brown shirt emblazoned with images of pan-African leaders and a map of the continent.

Holding up posters of the Libyan leader, students and activists shouted "African Union Now" and "African Government Now" in a hall decked with posters calling for unity.

Accra is the last stop in a weeklong road trip by Qaddafi to the summit via the West African capitals of Bamako, Conakry, Freetown and Abidjan.

At each stop, Qaddafi held rallies calling for the establishment of a government of the United States of Africa.

AFRICAN MASSES

"If the African masses are enlightened and aware and make the right decision, then Africa will come into being," he said. "Those at the summit should hear the voice of the masses."

Few of the summit leaders share Qaddafi's vision of an immediate African government. Many say there must be gradual steps toward unity, first consolidating the continent's regional economic blocs.

Civil society gsroups have also criticized the summit's single-item agenda, saying leaders are discussing a utopian ideal while ignoring urgent problems on the continent like violence in Sudan's western Darfur region and repression in Zimbabwe.

ONE VOICE

Africa needs one voice and one army, Qaddafi said.

Uniting the continent would also staunch the flow of migrants to Europe, Qaddafi said.

A united Africa would better exploit its own resources and create jobs to keep young Africans at home, Qaddafi said.

"Either we live in Africa or we die in Africa, no more migration. Africa is our mother, how can we leave our mother?" he said.

Meanwhile, Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir on Saturday warned the West not to botch the handling of the crisis in the troubled southern region of Darfur as it did in Iraq.

Speaking to journalists via a satellite link from Khartoum, Beshir, who is skipping the summit following the death of a close advisor in a car crash, said the West had hyped the crisis in Darfur because of its interest in his country's oil reserves.

"The US wants to make mistakes in Sudan in exactly the same way it did in Iraq," said Beshir, who regularly accuses the West of seeking to topple his regime.

"We can say that most of Darfur's region's safe," he said.

"The situation on the ground in Darfur is improving. Now IDPs [internally displaced persons] are voluntarily returning to their villages," he said.

According to UN estimates, at least 200,000 people have died from the combined effects of war and widespread famine since the conflict started in Darfur in February 2003. Other sources give a much higher toll, but Khartoum disputes the figures.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top