7 July 2004

Africa: Obasanjo Elected AU Chairman

Addis Ababa — PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has been elected the next chairman of the African Union (AU) at its current summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

With his election, Nigeria might be the host of the next summit of the Union in July next year.

President John Kuffuor of Ghana who confirmed Obasanjo's election at a special prayer session proceeding the opening of the summit, had called for "special prayers to be offered for our incoming chairman President Olusegun Obasanjo".

In his acceptance speech, President Obasanjo assured his colleagues that Nigeria would not falter.

With Obasanjo's assumption of the leadership of AU, he has added another feather to his cap as an international statesman in its efforts to provide excellent leadership during its tenure.

He said Nigeria was highly honoured to have been elected chair of the AU assembly and pledged that the country would do its best to move the Union forward and get the continent on the path of speedy development.

"I promise to discharge the functions of the office with utmost diligence and commitment," Obasanjo said, adding that the country would also spare no effort to justify the confidence that was reposed in it by other member AU nations.

He said that Nigeria would, at all times, strive to promote the unity and solidarity as well as the sustenance of the continent's hard-earned independence, while counting on the support of other AU member states.

"Nigeria will also count on the valuable support of all of you in our collective effort to vigorously pursue these ideals.

Obasanjo declared: "We intend to confront headlong, the conflict situations in Africa with renewed vigour and determination. We like to enlist the support of members of the Union, especially its peace and security council and other development partners to achieve the goal."

Among other things, the president said that his tenure would give attention to the continent's debt issue.

He said attention would also be given to Africa's belief in multi-lateralism as the best option to handle issues of peace and collective security arrangement as enshrined in the UN charter.

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