News and Information

Botswana in AU council
January 23, 2006

23 January, 2006

KHARTOM - Botswana, Malawi and South Africa will represent the southern African region in the AU Peace and Security Council.

The recommendation by the executive council, which has been meeting ahead of the summit, will be endorsed by the heads of state and government during their deliberations today.

President Festus Mogae arrived in Khartoum on Saturday to attend the two-day summit. Foreign affairs and international cooperation minister, Mompati Merafhe, who has been attending the council meetings told BOPA that the AU organ on security and peace would be charged with conflict resolution.

Africa is bedevilled by wars, civil strife and human rights abuses. Merafhe said the council also observed in its discussions the need for good governance, democracy, respect for the role of law and other vital ingredients for peace, security and prosperity in the continent.

Africa, he said, needs a common approach to issues of defence and security, especially during these uncertain days of international terrorism.

Regarding the AU budget for 2006, Merafhe said about $130 milllion has been set aside, $69.4 million would go towards the recurrent budget while $60.9 million would be for progarmmes.

The budget is down by nearly $30 million from the $159 allocated last year. The minister said despite the growing problems in Africa the alliance has to prudently manage its finances.

We must tailor our cloth according to our size, said Merafhe. Botswana contributes $1.1 million annually to the recurrent budget. However, 14 countries in the 53 member body, are in arears despite sanctions imposed on defaulters.

As part of the punishment for not paying their dues, those countries are not allowed to take part in certain discussions and their citzens cannot hold positions in the alliance.

Also the AU is still grappling with the adoption of a common stance regarding the UN Security Council reforms especially the issue of African permanent representation in the organ.

Merafhe said some countries that feel their interests are not being met are dragging their feet. He said the southern region had met, under his chairmanship, to caucus and adopt a common stance before the executive council meetings.

The region, he said, advocates for two permanent seats for Africa, and it is only after securing them that a decision could be made on the candidates.

Regarding the bid by Sudan to take over the chairmanship from Nigeria, Merafhe said that was not guranteed. The tradition that the host assumes the role, he said, no longer applied. It is now the prerogative of the leaders.

Khartoums bid has attracted a lot of controversy and opposition from some quarters as the country is accused of human rights abuses especially in the Darfur region where civil strife has left millions homeless and thousands dead. BOPA


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