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African Leaders Urge Reform, Democracy - 2002-03-26

Leaders of the member states of the New Partnership for African Development have pledged themselves to new standards of good governance. About two dozens African leaders, meeting at a one-day session in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

Reporter Gilbert Da Costa says the new body, also known as the "peer review mechanism," is similar to a code of conduct commission; he says it would require African leaders to meet their responsibilities and obligations to their peoples. He says the leaders agreed to promote democratic reforms and monitor human rights abuses. A joint statement issued after the meeting also calls for free trade and additional debt relief and Western economic aid.

In his opening address, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo called on all African states to resolve their conflicts, saying peace and security are the bedrock of economic development.

The New Partnership for African Development, launched last year, grows out of the merger of two previous blueprints for African development.

Tuesday's summit comes in advance of the June meeting in Canada of the world's top industrialized countries, plus Russia, which will take up the issue of African development. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien will hold talks with six African leaders in Nigeria on April 5.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.