Colonel Gaddafi at the AU summit

President Kikwete has completed his term as Chairman of the African Union (AU) and Libya’s leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, has succeeded him. At a summit meeting in Addis Ababa, Colonel Gaddafi lost no time before making some highly controversial statements. “Our parties (in Africa) are tribal parties – that is what has led to bloodshed.” He referred to countries like Kenya where elections were followed by ethnic killings and there was also war-torn Somalia. “We don’t have any political structures, our structures are social” he said. The best model for Africa was his own country (where opposition parties are not allowed).

The meeting had to be extended into a fourth day after disagreements over Gaddafi’s plan to create a United States of Africa. He envisaged a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport so that Africans could move freely around the continent. He called for integration to begin immediately. But many of his fellow leaders said the proposal would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. They said they would study the unity proposal, make a report and meet again in three months time. The BBC quoted one participant as saying that Gaddafi then appeared to admit defeat and laid his head on the table in despair, before he left the meeting. Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said: “He didn’t walk out, he just got tired.”

Before arriving at the summit, Col. Gaddafi had circulated a letter saying he was coming as the King of the traditional kings of Africa because in August 2008 a group of 200 traditional leaders had name him the “King of Kings” of Africa.

The BBC’s Mark Doyle commented that many people were wondering what direction the 53-member African Union would take under his leadership over the next 12 months.

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