The Ninth African Union summit meeting in the Ghanaian capital, Accra enters its third and final day Tuesday. Discussions have been centered around the so-called “Grand Debate” for a United States of Africa. Monday’s deliberations saw a split between leaders like Libya’s Moamer Kadhafi who reportedly favors a federated United States of Africa and others like South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki who prefer strengthening the continent's current regional cooperations.
Journalist Kofi Abotchie has been covering the summit. From the Accra Conference Center, he told VOA most of Africa is anxiously awaiting Tuesday’s final communiqué.
“Today in deed is the last day of the summit. Today is the day when every African is standing on his or her toes waiting for the communiqué that will come out of the meeting. They are hoping that something concrete would come out of the deliberations,” he said.
Kofi said the leaders worked late into the night, local Ghanaian time, only to come out with a deadlock over whether to create a United States of Africa or stay with the current African Union commission.
“If you have a country like Libya which is actually commanding oil wealth and which wants a confederacy now as against another large country like South Africa led by (President) Thabo Mbeki asking for a gradual toward integration, then of course there wouldn’t be a quick agreement,” Abotchie said.
He compared the current debate over a United States of Africa to that of the United States when some larger and smaller states had their doubts about entering into a stronger union as opposed to a confederacy.
“If you have a country like Nigeria which wields oil wealth as well as great military power and a large population of over a 130 million, then you can expect a country like Nigeria to be contributing a lot to this grand debate. But Lesotho, a country which is smaller compared to Nigeria, would be embracing a swift action because this action, they will also be benefiting from the economic as well as the political angle of it,” he said.
Unlike the apparent disagreement among the leaders, Kofi said the wives of the African presidents also held their own special summit on HIV/AIDS.
“The wives of the heads of state tend to be united around one thing, that is diseases affecting Africans, and they decided to take up the issue of AIDS so as to make sure that mother to child transfer of the disease is prevented. And for this particular reason they also held their own summit. They call it the Fifth General Assembly of ladies of heads of state,” he said.
Abotchie said the chairperson of the wives of African heads of state summit, Zambian First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa commended U.S. First Lady Laura Bush for her financial contribution toward the fight against mother to child transfer of HIV/AIDS.