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General News Sun, 25 Jul 2010

15th Summit of African Heads of State opens in Kampala

Kampala, July 25, GNA - African leaders, including Ghana's President John Evans Atta Mills on Sunday began a three-day summit of Heads of State of the African Union (AU) in Kampala, Uganda.

The 15th summit condemned the rise of terrorism in parts of the continent, citing the bomb blast that claimed 76 lives in the host country, stressing that Africa cannot be left in the hands of terrorists.

The meeting is being held under heavy security checks in apparent reaction to the Somalian-based Al Shabaab bombings two weeks ago.

The summit is focusing on improving maternal and child health care in the African development process within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and with a wide range of issues such as climate change, infrastructure and the resurgence of terrorist activities.

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The Sudanese Leader Al- Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court, is not attending the Summit, Ugandan Foreign Ministry sources have revealed.

President Mills is billed to talk on how far Ghana had gone in enhancing maternal and child health in relation to the summit on the theme: "Maternal and Child Care and Development in Africa."

He is also pushing for Ghana's representation on the African Human Rights Commission, and would brief the AU on the celebration of the centenary birthday celebrations of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first President.

The summit is also looking at issues like climate change, infrastructure and the resurgence of terrorist activities.

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Mr Yoweri Museveni, the host President, linked maternal and child health to income levels and called for the reduction of poverty on the continent to reverse the situation.

He called for strategic measures to turn the rich natural resources of Africa into wealth for better health care.

This he said requires closer commitment of the continental leaders, as they meet in Washington to stimulate a transition in Africa from the Third World to the First World.

President Museveni stressed home grown solutions and a move from excessive reliance on foreign aid.

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The continent, according to President Museveni, should develop its infrastructure, and move away from factors as superstition that sometimes causes unnecessary delays in the implementation of projects.

"Dependence on external grant is very dangerous. African economies can grow faster if we build our infrastructure by our own money," he said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan pledged his personal commitment to realise the ideals of the AU.

Chairman of the AU Commission, Dr Jean Ping entreated the leaders to make it a priority and commitment to ensure that no child dies from malnutrition and hunger in the next five years.

Meanwhile, the USA has also condemned the terrorist attack in Uganda, saying such attacks are nothing more than reprehensible acts of cowardice, inspired by a radical and corrupt ideology that systematically denies human rights.

US Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement at the summit said his country had provided a team of federal bureau investigators, forensic experts as well as intelligence and technical assistance to track those who carried out the bombing in Uganda.

He said the US Department of Justice is launching a new Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, aimed at large scale foreign official corruption and recovering of stolen funds.

"We are assembling a team of prosecutors who will focus exclusively on this work and build upon efforts already underway to deter corruption, hold offenders accountable, and protect public resources," Mr Holder said.

Source: GNA