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African Leaders to Discuss Increasing Investment, Debt Relief

Leaders of 20 African nations are meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, for discussions on how to implement the economic development plan known as the New Partnership for Africa's Development, or NEPAD.

The one-day summit seeks to put the NEPAD initiative into its practical phase. The plan's aim is to draw added investment and debt relief from wealthy nations in exchange for guarantees of good governance on the African continent.

NEPAD has drawn praise and support from the West because, in return for aid and investment, African nations agree to promote good governance by putting in place a peer-review mechanism. According to the plan, African nations would monitor each other to ensure that they observe basic rules of democracy and respect for human rights.

Members of the G8 group of industrialized nations have agreed to increase development aid and debt relief to nations who abide by NEPAD principles.

At the top of the summit agenda in Abuja were discussions on how to put the peer review mechanism in place to comply with the G8 partners' expectations.

But on Friday, South African President Thabo Mbeki, a member of the founding committee of NEPAD, said he disagreed with the terms requiring governments to submit to the peer-review mechanism.

An Mbeki statement said the peer review mechanism is contrary to the original agreement signed by the founders of NEPAD.

A European Parliament official visiting South Africa, Deputy Michael Gahler, said that removing the guarantees for good governance from NEPAD could put in danger the G8 support for the initiative.