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Africa Summit Ends With Condemnation of Chad Rebel Attacks


The newly-elected head of the African Union, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, says Chad will be expelled from the organization if rebels take power by force. VOA's Peter Heinlein has this report from the closing session of the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The Chadian rebel attack on N'Djamena vied with Kenya's ethnic clashes for the attention of Africa's leaders Saturday as the African Union wrapped up a three-day summit meeting.

At his first news conference since his election as AU chief a day earlier, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete condemned the rebel offensive in Chad, and ruled out the possibility of recognition for the Sudanese-back rebels if they unseat President Idriss Deby. "Whatever happens in Chad, if the rebellion succeeds, certainly we will excommunicate them from the African Union until normalcy and democratic institutions are restored in that country," he said.

Kikwete said Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi have been named to lead an African Union mission to find a peaceful settlement of Chad's crisis.

While the final summit communiqué condemned the rebel attacks in Chad, the language was milder in addressing the post-election violence in Kenya. The statement expressed 'deep concern' about Kenya's troubles, and about its potential consequences for east Africa.

The communiqué also expressed concern about tensions in the Comoros, an Indian Ocean archipelago where President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi Friday threatened military force to crush a rebel movement on the island of Anjouan.

Amid the talk of conflict, Libya's flamboyant leader Moammar Gadhafi provided a welcome change of pace at the summit's final session. Mr. Gadhafi wore a flowing bronze robe and matching pillbox hat as he addressed the summit, urging prompt adoption of his proposal for a union government that has been dubbed the United States of Africa.

Speaking in Arabic through a translator, he told African leaders that union is the way to prosperity for a struggling continent. "We have indeed this will and perseverance in achieving the federal government, and the United States of Africa, so that Africa becomes like Europe, like America, like China, like all the great countries of the world," he said.

The Libyan leader urged his fellow leaders to ratify a union charter agreement before the next AU summit, which will be held in July in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik.

The idea for a union government has strong support among African leaders at the meeting. But several are skeptical of the Gadhafi plan to move quickly, and observers at the three-day meeting say many of his fellow heads of state suspect he harbors a secret ambition to be president of the continent. But when a reporter asked Mr. Gadhafi if he would like to lead the United States of Africa, he answered with one word, "no."

Mr. Gadhafi also launched a lengthy criticism of democracy. Though a translator, he questioned the wisdom of elections on a continent where all too often, as in Kenya for instance, elections trigger violence. "Kenya is a country that is highly civilized, and now there are bloodbaths and this is because of elections…What can we do for Kenya's sake, for the Comoros, for Chad. We don't know what to do and this is painful for us. Under the eyes of the whole world as we kill each other, and fight each other and demolish and destroy…This is what the application of mulit-partyism has led to," he said.

The three-day gathering of nearly 40 African heads of state and government also attracted a wide-range of senior officials from other countries hoping to improve ties on the continent.

Washington was represented by the top U.S. diplomat on Africa, Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori was here to offer a $4 million grant to help the 250,000 Kenyans displaced by political violence.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki held a news conference on the summit sidelines Saturday. He called on the U.N. Security Council to be patient, and to put off action on any further sanctions against the Tehran government until after the International Atomic Energy Agency issues its next report.

The five permanent Security Council members plus Germany were reported to have reached agreement last week on a resolution calling for a third round of sanctions.

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