Beginning a six-nation African tour in Lesotho, Irish rock star Bono says wealthy nations should cancel the country's debts.

Bono said it is "scandalous" that the southern African nation has not benefited from debt cancellation under a global scheme managed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to write off the debts of the world's poorest countries.

The lead singer of the rock band U2 told reporters in Maseru Tuesday that Lesotho is being punished for its discipline in paying its debts in the past.

Bono also praised Lesotho for an initiative that will give some textile workers access to testing and treatment for AIDS.

His 10-day tour of Africa will also take him to Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Mali and Ghana.

Bono is co-founder of the Africa advocacy group DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa). The organization, founded in 2002, aims to raise awareness about Africa's economic struggles and the rampant spread of AIDS.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.