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African leaders to seek solution to Libyan crisis at summit

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2011-06-30

African heads of state are due to seek a roadmap out of the Libyan conflict at the African Union summit which opens Thursday in Equatorial Guinea – without Muammar Gaddafi’s usual flamboyant presence.

African leaders open a two-day summit Thursday overshadowed by the conflict in Libya, with rebel representatives invited for talks amid criticism of an international arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi.         

Heads of state tasked with finding a solution to the fighting met late into the night Wednesday after announcing at the weekend that Gaddafi had agreed to not take part in negotiations.
They were likely to insist on their roadmap out of the conflict after the summit opens at 10:00 am (0900 GMT) in a new conference centre completed about 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Equatorial Guinea's capital for the event.
Criticism of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant and supply of weapons, after France's announcement that it had air dropped arms to the rebels, follows African leaders' complaints about the NATO-led air raids in Libya.
"It complicates the situation," African Union Commission chairman Jean Ping told reporters Wednesday of the warrants for atrocities for Kadhafi, one of his sons and his intelligence chief.
The Libyan minister for African Union affairs Joma Ibrahim Amer said he had come to the summit for African Union support, with his regime backing the roadmap.
A delegation from the rebels' Transitional National Council, which has rejected talks unless Gaddafi quits, was also at the meeting.
The African Union's refusal to publicly back calls for the continent's longest ruler to step down is part of its diplomacy of persuasion that could be undermined by bold statements against him, a diplomat said.
But there is division among the delegates with some firmly backing the man who has funded many African causes, from conflicts to development, and held the rotating presidency of the African Union just two years ago.
Others say it is time for him to go. "He has to leave. Noone wants to say it because he has financed more than one of them," said a member of one delegation on condition of anonymity.
Containing flaring tensions in Sudan ahead of the south of the country's independence on July 9 will be another task for the African leaders.
The uprisings in Tunisia that spread to Egypt and Libya and elsewhere have been followed by a wave of demonstrations in sub-Saharan countries like Burkina Faso, Senegal and Swaziland and appear to have rattled others like Zimbabwe.
The official theme of the summit is youth development, seen as vital to containing social discontent on a continent wracked by chronic poverty, even in the oil-rich states like Equatorial Guinea.
"You see the youth just standing around in the villages, anybody can use them for their own purposes -- they must be constructively engaged," said delegate Thelma Awori from the Femmes Africa Solidarite civil society group.
"The leaders are also looking for homegrown ways of addressing the chronic poverty conditions in which the continent finds itself, issues of unemployment, issues of protecting the environment," said UNAIDS senior adviser Djibril Diallo.


Date created : 2011-06-30


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