African leaders wrap up summit

February 2, 2010 12:00 am

, ADDIS ABABA, Feb 2 – African leaders on Tuesday were wrapping up their annual summit less divided and looking at brighter economic propects but still facing a raft of conflicts, including Sudan\’s predicted break-up.

The African Union\’s peace and security commissioner said Tuesday that a resolution was adopted overnight increasing the pressure on Madagascar leader Andry Rajoelina, who seized power in a coup in March and did not attend the summit.

"We have already started getting replies from some of the parties but we are waiting for the response of the party that took the unilateral decisions that have called into question the agreements," Ramtane Lamamra said.

The 53-member body\’s approach to Madagascar had been typical last year of African discordance, with Libyan leader and outgoing AU president Moamer Kadhafi breaking from the tough stance of the organisation\’s executive.

UN Secretary General Ba Ki-moon had also stressed in his opening speech that the continent needed to curb power-grabs.

The situation in Sudan, where tension has been escalating in the run-up to a 2011 referendum in which the south is widely expected to choose independence from Khartoum, has featured high on the summit\’s agenda.

Many observers fear that a secession in Sudan — Africa\’s largest country, bordering nine others — could further destabilise one of the continent\’s most volatile regions.

Senegal\’s president has been trying to drum up support for the fight against Al-Qaeda\’s North African branch, saying the network\’s campaign was taking on "new and disturbing" forms.

Abdoulaye Wade appealed to Senegal\’s neighbours to join a round table with neighbouring countries to tackle resolve the issue of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

"This desert terrorism is taking new and very disturbing forms… But countries like Senegal, or Mali, can do nothing on their own. It is an international problem. Western powers will have to intervene too," he said in an interview.

On the economic front experts said they see signs of a rebound on the continent.

African Development Bank (ADB) chief, the Rwandan Donald Kaberuka, expects the continent\’s economy to grow by between 4.5 and 5.0 percent this year and by some 6.0 percent in 2011.

"The rebound is already here. In 2010 the ADB and the World Bank are expecting growth of between 4.5 and 5.0 percent and around 6.0 percent in 2011, thanks notably to exports picking up and to the price of agricultural products such as coffee and cocoa holding up," Kaberuka said on the sidelines of the summit.

"The problems aren\’t behind us yet but we\’re starting 2010 on a more optimistic note. Contrary to what we had feared the big donors have respected their commitments towards Africa," he said.

Kaberuka\’s forecast is slightly more optimistic than the 4.3 percent growth announced by a top UN official last week at a ministerial meeting ahead of the summit.


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