UN Chief: Africa must Change, Take Responsibility for its Problems
Africa's leaders must take their share of responsibility for the unending series of crises and conflicts shaking the conflict, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday.
Speaking to the opening session of the summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Annan criticized the "double standards" of the international community, which provided enormous resources to end ethnic cleansing in the Balkans but has done far less in Africa.
"I feel the injustice of these double standards as an African must," said Annan, who is from Ghana.
However too many of Africa's problems are caused by Africans themselves, he said.
Africa is the only region of the world where the number of armed conflicts are increasing, and 33 of the world's 48 least developed countries are on the continent, Annan noted.
"This is not something others have done to us. It is something we have done to ourselves," he said. "We have mismanaged our affairs for decades and we are suffering the accumulated effects," he added.
Annan said talk last decade of an African rebirth was sadly unfounded.
"The rhetoric of African renaissance is greeted with skepticism or even derision today," he said.
The continent's many problems include the sweeping HIV/AIDS pandemic, he said, noting: "Last year alone, this disease killed more Africans than all the conflicts on the continent."
However, evidence shows that problems can be overcome.
Annan pointed to Senegal, which "has shown that an African country can protect itself against HIV/AIDS," while South Africa "continues to transform itself more smoothly than anyone dared hope into a non-racial democracy."
Democracy is taking root in many countries across the continent "and is now being consolidated in Nigeria," he said.
African leaders should now look to ways of resolving the conflicts raging in the continent, even considering economic and political union, he said, holding out the example provided by the 15-member body in Europe - LOME (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)