Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.The Libyan revolutionary leader Mouammar Gaddafi, on Friday urged the Community for Sahelo-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) to adopt a common position of several crises rocking the continent.

He expressed surprise that some African regional organizations such as CEN-SAD and even the African Union (AU) have remained silent despite “the explosive situations and conflicts” within nations, citing the armed conflict and the military operations in the Great Lakes region an example.

Gaddafi, who is and AU incumbent chairman, was speaking in Sabratha, 60 kms west of Tripoli, at the start of the 11th Session of the Conference of leaders and heads of state of CEN-SAD.

The Libyan leader also cited the boycott of meetings of CEN-SAD, AU and Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) by the Eritrean President, Isaias Afewerki, as protest against these regional and continental organizations which have adopted “an attitude of spectators” in Eritrea’s conflict Ethiopia, a s an another example.

Gaddafi said he would work to deal with this issue in line with the AU, urging CEN- SAD countries to adopt a position towards anything that might jeopardize security and stability in some African regions and negatively influence efforts for development and fight against poverty and disease.

The Libyan leader affirmed that it was impossible for a federal government to work for the achievement of development on the continent while conflicts, wars and confrontations between Africans remained, saying “wars between Africans are blasphemous and illegal.”

Gaddafi also reviewed several serious problems which are prevailing in three CEN-SAD member countries - the assassination of Guinea-Bissau's president, the coup in Guinea following the death of President Lansana Conté and military takeover in Mauritania.

He said in his capacity as AU chairman he would work to end to such problems.

Gaddafi also criticised African leaders for not attending meetings of the African Union and regional and sub-regional bodies.

He cited as an example proposals to increase the capital of the Sahelo-Saharan Investment Bank (BSIC) and the opening of new branches saying that citizens of countries not represented at the CEN-SAD meeting could be deprived of these advantages.

The Libyan leader also mentioned the proposal to set up a “Rural Bank” in CEN-SAD countries which targets the poor groups and allocates to them small credits to increase their production and the living conditions.

This in line with the policy of poverty eradication and achievement of development through support for small businesses, small agricultural projects and the handicraft industry, he said, and stressed that countries missing in summits might not profit from the facilities of such a bank.

He also mentioned the situation in Somalia which he described as “a serious tragedy”, stating that although it is member of AU and CEN-SAD, these have not do anything about it.

In this respect, Gaddafi condemned foreign interventions in Somalia which, he said, aggravated the situation.

About the activities of Somali pirates, AU chairman affirmed that he would make a submission on behalf of AU at the United Nations, adding that the reason for this phenomenon, which is the illegal exploitation of the wealth in Somalia's economic waters, is known but people pretend it does not exist.

He added that some countries exploited the crisis in Somalia and broke into its economic waters to plunder its important riches of fish and that this situation has brought the poor Somalis to rebel and defend their riche s by holding some hostiles vessels to ransom.

Leader Gaddafi called for the need to dialogue with Somalia's authorities or with the pirates and agree with them an understanding about the respect for the Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEE), which stretches over 200 miles according to the UN Convention on the Right of Sea, to end the piracy.

The Libyan leader also expressed surprise at the silence in AU and regional organizations to hold a special summit devoted to the problem of Somalia and to the opportunity given to foreign countries to send forces to Somalia, Darfur, the Great Lakes region and the crisis between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

He said the next time this situation might lead Africa to be put under foreign domination seeing that the continent was not in a position to handle its problems by itself.

Gaddafi stressed the need for CEN-SAD to adopt a unified position about the agen da for the next AU summit, particularly about the issue related to the transformation of the Commission into a federal authority.

He also called for the need to clarify things and not take Africans as fools, affirming that any federal authority or federal government will not make sense as long as AU's Executive Council, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the African Council for Peace and Security (CPS) continue to exist outside this authority.

Gaddafi noted that CPS, for instance, takes decisions without reference to the Commission, the AU chairman or the summit and that the Executive Council made up of Foreign Affairs ministers is in charge of social issues, women and children as well as mines and maritime riches and other sectors which are not part of its competences.

He urged the Executive Council to be in charge of African foreign policy within the framework of the proposed Federal Authority, NEPAD to become a Federal Ministry for International Cooperation and Foreign Trade and CPS to set up Home Affairs ministry in addition to the existence of an African Council for Defence, which should all be part of the future authority of the union.
Sabratha - 30/05/2009