OAU Summit Closes in Togo, Endorses African Union
The 36th Organization of African Unity summit officially closed Wednesday in Lome shortly before midday, with African leaders signing a plan for continental union that foresees a supreme body and an executive council.
The closing ceremony took place in the presence of more than 30 African heads of state and government, among them Moamer Kadhafi, who first promoted the grand idea of a United States of Africa.
The type of union agreed on is akin to a watered-down version of the European Union.
The constituent act will take effect 30 days after ratification by two thirds of Africa's 53 nations, replacing the OAU charter of 1963, though the pan-African organization's founding text would remain in force for a transitional year.
The act specifies that the African Union will be based in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital and OAU headquarters. Its founding principles are "equality, sovereignty and the independence of states", with "respect for borders", "non-interference" and a ban "on the use of force or the threat of force against another member state."
OAU's secretary general, Salim Ahmed Salim, said the adoption of the constituent act was an "historic decision."
He also said next year's OAU summit would be held in Zambia.
OAU's rotating presidency is held by Togo, which has taken over from Algeria.
Several African leaders, Presidents Paul Biya from Cameroon, Paul Kagame from Rwanda and Thabo Mbeki from South Africa had already left the Togolese capital before the closing ceremony - LOME (AFP)
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