May 26, 2001
Article abstract & Photo credit: BBC
A new pan-African body, the African Union, formally comes into existence on Saturday. The new body, loosely modelled on the European Union, is the brainchild of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi - but the idea harks back to pan-African aspirations of the 1950s.
Kwame Nkrumah, who proclaimed Ghana independent in 1957, promoted pan-Africanism as a way for the continent to regain dignity and economic strength after being colonised.
The Organisation of African Unity will be around for at least another year before it is replaced by the African Union. OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim said. "In terms of political and legal reality, as from tomorrow, we will have the African Union," Salim told a press conference at OAU headquarters Friday to mark the 38th anniversary of the pan-African body. But the African Union (AU), the brainchild of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, will only be fine-tuned at a summit in Lusaka in July of African heads of state, he added. The transition from the OAU to the AU will last "at least one year", he said.
The Pan-African Movement says that the creation of the African Union brings Nkrumah's dream of a common African currency, foreign policy, defence structure and economic programme closer to reality.
But even though nearly 40 of Africa's 53 countries have signed the treaty bringing the African Union into existence, the outlines of the project are still to be clarified. AllAfrica.com: African Union to Replace OAU
Africa Union Announced As U.S. Official Denounces Its Foremost Promoter
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