General News Sat, 30 Jun 2007

Kenyan President in Accra for AU Summit

NAIROBI, June 30th - President Mwai Kibaki arrived in Accra, Ghana, Saturday to attend the 9th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) summit.

The summit for heads of state and government runs from Sunday to Tuesday.

The Kenyan delegation includes Foreign Affairs Minister Raphael Tuju and other high ranking government officials.

According to a statement sent by the Presidential Press Service in Nairobi, President Kibaki will use the occasion to push for a wider use of the Kiswahili language on the African continent.

"Kiswahili is a language that is now widely spoken in Africa and adopting a common African language provides a strong force of uniting our people, because integration means bringing countries together but above all we are talking about a Union of African people," said President Kibaki.

The AU heads of state and government meeting opens Sunday, and on Monday President Kibaki will take part in the grand debate on the African Union Government.


A proposal by Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi for the African Union to be replaced by a United States of Africa is at the top of the agenda for the AU Summit.

Gaddafi has been touring African countries to drum up support for the closer integration.

At the meeting, Kibaki is expected to share his experiences as the immediate former Chairman of the East Africa Community (EAC). The Community has had formidable growth through the establishment of a Customs Union and expanded membership with the entry of Rwanda and Burundi.

The concept of a political federation in the EAC is currently also being debated by citizens of the member states.

Kibaki who chairs the 19-member Africa's multilateral trading organization, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is also expected to outline other regional experiences through such economic blocs like COMESA.

"Successful regional economic communities are the building blocks of a United Africa," Kibaki said.


The AU summit is due to discuss the political and economic integration of the continent, on the basis of recommendations made by the AU executive council of foreign ministers held in Durban in March.

The issue of political and economic integration has remained on the agenda since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963 in Addis Ababa.

The summit is also expected to discuss a peacekeeping force for Somalia and the Darfur situation.

The three-day meeting ironically takes place in Ghana where founding president Kwame Nkrumah was the first African leader to argue the continent could only exercise real clout by coming together.

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