AU Facing Many Challenges

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By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK The issue of HIV/Aids, poverty reduction and conflict resolution to enhance democratic principles are high on the agenda of the African Union (AU) as the continental body prepares to celebrate Africa Day on May 25 across the continent. Kenya’s High Commissioner to Namibia, Tuneya Hussein Dado, made this remark when he addressed the media yesterday on a wide range of issues concerning the AU. Dado, who is the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Namibia, said unlike in the past the AU is actively involved in finding long-lasting solutions to raging conflicts as in the case in Darfur, Sudan. It has also intervened in conflict-torn countries by sending peace-keeping forces to several trouble spots dotting the African continent, such as in Liberia. He said as the African Union cannot operate in isolation and because of limited financial resources and taking into consideration the costly nature of peacekeeping missions, the continental body calls on its international partners to assist in these undertakings. Dado, who also serves as the Dean of the African Group and the Dean of the Commonwealth Group, said the Africa Day to be celebrated at a local resort is significant in that it symbolises the day that most African states were liberated from colonialism. The senior diplomat stressed that unlike in the past, Africa is more involved in peacekeeping missions and in conflict resolution as could be attested by the stabilisation of simmering tensions in Liberia, Sudan, Sierra Leone and the DRC. Africa is also united on the issue of good governance, fighting corruption and uplifting the living standards of its people, the majority of whom are wallowing in poverty. And because African states are mainly either Anglophone or Francophone – another colonial legacy – Dado said the language barrier problem should be resolved through a single lingua franca that all African states would use for communication. On the issue of regional integration, he said Namibia has more than a thousand people who have been sent to Zimbabwe for training in the fields of science and mathematics. It has also benefited from his country in the health sector. Nigerian High Commissioner to Namibia, Okun Ayodeyi, said the regional economic and political grouping in West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States, has implemented a single passport for residents of ECOWAS. Ayodeji, who noted that integration affects even the European Union (EU) that is “still fidgeting” with implementing a single currency, further said apart from facilitating the free movement of its people, ECOWAS has successfully established a Central Bank. On a common monetary system in the SADC Region, Botswana’s High Commissioner to Namibia, Norman S. Moleboge said “it is a question of treading carefully” as member states have already been talking about a Common Monetary System. With regard to the issue of having uniform immigration policies in the region, Stanislaus Chigwedere, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Namibia, said recently his country held a workshop to discuss the harmonisation of immigration policies. Responding to a question on why there is little intra-regional trade, Zambia’s High Commissioner, Griffin K. Nyirongo, said the infrastructure erected by colonisers was designed for exporting raw material from Africa to Europe and not for regional trade. It was also felt that Africa was in some cases forced to buy corn from producers outside the continent whose goods were mostly subsidised by rich states. Another reason cited for the limited trade within Africa was that its countries were mainly involved in the production of raw materials unlike industrialised nations. African states are presently battling to have affluent and highly industrialised countries that subsidise their agricultural produce to abolish subsidies.