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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

AFRICA: AU granted $812,000 for peacekeeping and communications

ADDIS ABABA, 20 January 2004 (IRIN) - Alpha Oumar Konare, the chairman of the African Union (AU), on Monday pledged to take effective action to end conflicts on the continent saying the AU would not be a toothless body.

His comments came as German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder announced a grant of €650,000 (about US $812,000) towards boosting the AU's peacekeeping operations and communications.

"The African Union is not the former OAU," Konare said at AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. "They are completely different. The AU will provide the political leadership and take appropriate action without which conflicts cannot be resolved."

The AU replaced the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 2002. The OAU had been heavily criticised for its inaction in the face of Africa's many conflicts.

Konare, who is also a professor of history and archaeology, said there was now a "ray of hope" for war-torn Angola, Burundi, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sudan.

Schroeder described the establishment of the AU as a "clear step" towards greater integration, good governance and the rule of law.

"The African Union is a manifestation of the effort to lead Africa on a new path, which will help Africa shed its image as the continent of wars, crises, disease and catastrophes," he told senior AU officials.

"We are determined to help Africa tackle its serious problems, ranging from poverty and unemployment to epidemics and ethnic wars," Schroeder said.

He also welcomed the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), singling out its African Peer Review Mechanism through which African leaders plan to hold each other accountable.

Schroeder's five-day tour of Africa, where almost 300 million people live below the poverty line, started in Ethiopia and will take him to Kenya, South Africa and Ghana.

Since its establishment, the AU has gradually been establishing itself. Last month, it set up a critical Peace and Security Council, a Pan-African Parliament and an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict

[ENDS]

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